Every year produces one of those wild games where the box scores that scrawl down a quarter of the way down the paper and leaves the manager scratching his head for immediate solutions.
This day in 1986 generated one of those games in a 6-3 victory at Cincinnati in 14 innings. Gary Carter wound up at third base and both Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell playing right field. McDowell also briefly played left field.
Manager Davey Johnson shuffled Orosco and McDowell, depending on the Reds’ hitter, in the 10th through the 13th innings. In fact, Orosco and McDowell batted back-to-back in the 14th inning.
The Mets won it on Howard Johnson’s three-run homer off Ted Power. Scoring ahead of him was Orosco, who had walked.
On this date in 1962, Rod Kanehl became the first Met to hit a grand slam homer in a 10-3 rout of the Cardinals in the Polo Grounds. Kanehl connected off Bobby Shantz.
KANEHL: A Casey favorite.
Kanehl played eight seasons in the minors with the Yankees and Reds organizations before getting his shot at age 28 with the Mets in 1962.
Kanehl became of favorite of Casey Stengel for his hustle and versatility, playing everywhere but pitcher and catcher. Reportedly, when Stengel died in 1975, Kanehl was the only former Met to attend the funeral.
Kanehl played in 340 games over three years and batted .241 with six homers and 47 RBI.
Kanehl died in Palm Springs, Calif., at 70, in 2004.
It was one of those games I had forgotten, but fit in with the wildness and uniqueness of the early Mets. This time they came out on the winning end.
LEWIS: Beats Maloney.
On this date in 1965, Cincinnati’s Jim Maloney threw a gem against the Mets with ten innings of no-hit ball and 18 strikeouts. The Mets’ only baserunner came on a leadoff walk to Ed Kranepool in the second. Maloney came out for the 11th inning and gave up a homer to Johnny Lewis, the first batter he faced. He also gave up a single to Roy McMillan later in the inning.
Frank Lary pitched eight scoreless innings for the Mets that day, giving up five hits and walking one.
Among the notables who played in that game were Pete Rose, Vada Pinson and Frank Robinson for the Reds, and Kranepool and Ron Swoboda for the Mets.
ON DECK: Let’s forget about Santana for this year.
RYAN: Seven no-hitters.
The Mets knew early there was something special about Nolan Ryan, he with the electric arm that threw thunderbolts that sizzled.
On this date in 1968, Ryan established a then club record by striking out 14 Cincinnati Reds. “I threw nothing but fastballs the last two innings,’’ said Ryan, then 21.
Ryan pitched in parts of five seasons with the Mets and compiled a non-descript 29-38 record with a respectable 3.43 ERA.
Ryan’s stay in New York was interrupted with stints in the National Guard, wildness, and blisters that required soaking his fingers in cups of pickle brine.
Above all Ryan never felt comfortable in New York, and the Mets, weighing all this and in need of a third baseman, dealt him to the Angels prior to the 1972 season.
The Mets were to receive All-Star shortstop Jim Fregosi, who was at the end of his career and would be shifting to third base. The trade sounded good in theory at the time, but a 27-year Hall of Fame career said the Mets clearly lost this deal.
However, the Angels let him get away, too, to Houston and then the Texas Rangers. When it was all over, Ryan had thrown seven no-hitters.
The Mets are riding high with five straight victories, and tonight behind R.A. Dickey can climb out of last place in the NL East. Who would have thought that two weeks ago?
With a victory tonight at Washington, coupled with a loss by Atlanta, the Mets could finally be looking down at somebody in their division. Yes, small steps.
This winning streak hasn’t convinced us the Mets have reached contending status, but what it has done has made the team worth following again. Last night was especially important in that they found a way to win.
Chris Young was gassed early as three home runs indicated, but the Mets overcame blowing the lead and adding tack-on runs. They did not play as crisply as they have but still found a way to manufacture runs and a victory. And, they did it on the road against a team they are supposed to beat.
All this victories have come across teams they should win – Houston, Arizona and Washington – but this isn’t fishing, you don’t have to throw anything back.
Sure, you’d like to see the Mets beat the Phillies, Reds and Giants, but one step at a time. The important thing is they are finally taking steps.