Ok, so let’s stick with the Mets theme for another post.
We’re coming up on an NFL Sunday, which means we’re going to be treated to another week of the high-flying offense of the Kansas City Chiefs, whose quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, was photographed wearing his father’s Mets Jersey upon entering a stadium. It’s well known that Mahomes is the son of a former major league pitcher, though quite frankly Pat Mahomes wasn’t that good. He had a 5.47 ERA in a little more than 700 innings, spread out over 11 games.
But since we were talking most clutch Mets the other day, let’s talk about Mahomes as relates to that. He had a little clutch in him.
|Best Win Pct – Mets History|
|Pat Mahomes||.813 (13-3)|
|Jerry Blevins||.778 (14-4)|
|Terry Leach||.727 (24-9)|
|* Minimum 15 decisions||—|
Mahomes was on the 1999 and 2000 Mets, good teams to be on. His role was as long reliever and the guy who could come in when the Mets were losing to hold the opponent at bay. As such, he got to pitch in some highly notable games.
If you ask Bobby Valentine, he’ll tell you that wearing the fake mustache in the dugout after getting ejected was well worth it, because the Mets came back and won the game against the Blue Jays that night. Mahomes was the winning pitcher with three innings of scoreless relief.
He also pitched a scoreless 9th inning on July 10, 1999, with the Mets trailing the Yankees by a run in a game that featured six Yankees home runs. Matt Franco’s pinch-hit two-run single in the bottom of the ninth made Mahomes the winning pitcher.
Mahomes also pitched four scoreless innings in relief of Al Leiter in Game 6 of the 1999 NLCS against the Braves. This came after escaping a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning of a tied Game 5, one eventually won on Robin Ventura’s grand slam single (I remember liking Mahomes for staying on the mound to wish the pitcher who replaced him good luck). Mahomes’ effort would have been much more highly regarded had the Mets completed the comeback from five runs down and beaten the Braves in Game 6, then won Game 7 (Kenny Rogers ensured that wouldn’t happen).
But the best Mahomes clutch story comes from August 1 and a game against the Cubs in Wrigley Field. The Mets had a one-run lead in the ninth, but Henry Rodriguez homered against Armando Benitez to tie the score. Edgardo Alfonzo put the Mets back ahead in the 10th, but a John Olerud error allowed the tying run to score (that John Olerud made an error in a key spot is unfathomable to me).
By the 12th inning, the Mets had used five relievers and this wasn’t a time when teams carried 12 or 13 pitchers, so they were a bit short. Mahomes hadn’t pitched, but there was good reason. Two days before he pitched 4 2/3 innings in another win over the Cubs. Alas Valentine called on Mahomes to get the last out of the 12th, Sammy Sosa. Sosa grounded out.
In the Mets’ 13th, Roger Cedeno led off with a double, but was on the way to being stranded after Todd Pratt lined out and Rey Ordonez popped out. Cubs pitcher Scott Sanders intentionally walked Benny Agbayani, bringing up Mahomes, who was basically left to win his own game. On an 0-2 pitch, he lined a single to center, plating Cedeno with the go-ahead run.
“Just trying to make contact,” Mahomes told the media afterwards (the standard quote for a pitcher who gets a two-strike hit).
Now Mahomes had to finish his work on the mound. Amazingly, he retired the first two batters before giving a double to Sanders, who did his best to enact revenge. But Mahomes recovered to get Jeff Reed to strike out and end one of the weirdest games in Mets history.
Mahomes went 8-0 that season, in fact dating to 1996, and ending in 2000, Mahomes won 12 straight games. That will be a tough accomplishment for his son to duplicate. But it should be fun to watch him try these next few years.
– This is the only time in club history that a Mets pitcher got a go-ahead RBI in extra innings. Mets legend Neil Allen had a go-ahead reached on error in the 12th inning of a game against the Astros in 1982 (for those unfamiliar, Allen is my all-time favorite baseball player).
– Pitch by pitch data isn’t pristine for 1999, but within the data that Baseball-Reference has, pitchers hit .050 when the count was 0-2 that season (48-for-967). Mets pitchers fared a little better. They hit .123.
– Patrick Mahomes was born on September 17, 1995 (a Sunday of course, and the the 9th anniversary of the 1986 division clincher). Pat Mahomes pitched the next day, getting the save after a 3 1/3 inning scoreless effort in a 10-4 win over … Kansas City (aka the Royals, but I like the KC connection).