Jacob deGrom can add to a rich history of series-clinching wins for the Mets
Thursday night will be a game that will live in the minds of Mets fans for many years to come, regardless of the outcome.
“A game like game 5 is a legend making game for a guy like deGrom,” A fan exclaimed at Citi Field on Tuesday.
Indeed it is.
DeGrom, the Mets clear-cut ace of 2015, will once again toll the mound at Dodger Stadium and will try to outduel LA’s other ace, Zack Greinke.
DeGrom fared well versus Clayton Kershaw last Friday, throwing seven brilliant innings of shut-out ball with 13 strikeouts. While it might be hard to replicate that performance on Thursday night, deGrom has a chance to pitch his way into Mets lore.
The organization known for their rich pitching history has already seen dominant pitching performances in series clinching games. Here are a few to refresh your memory…
Jerry Koosman, Game 5 of the 1969 World Series
Pitching line: 9 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 HR. 69 game score
With the Mets up 3-1 in the World Series, the Mets turned to Jerry Koosman to complete the miracle season and capture their first championship title while shocking the world in the process.
Koosman was coming off of a campaign where he went 17-9 with a 2.28 ERA and being named to the National League All-Star team, although that stellar performance was overshadowed by Tom Seaver’s Cy Young Award winning 25-7, 2.21 ERA.
The Orioles took game one in Baltimore, but the Mets taking the next three games. Koosman needed to navigate between a lineup that featured Hall of Famers Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson, but he held them to 1-for-7 combined in the must-win game for the Orioles in a complete-game effort to give the Mets their first World Championship in just their seventh year of existence.
While Koosman might not have been dominant on that cool and gray afternoon at Shea Stadium, the complete game was enough to send the Mets home world champs and create a single moment that has lasted a lifetime.
Bobby Jones, Game 4 of the 2000 NLDS
Pitching line: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K. 88 game score
Similar to the 1969 World Series, the Mets were down 1-0 in a playoff series in the 2000 National League Division Series. This time though, it was in a best of five series. The match-up in 2000 featured the Mets taking on the 97-65 San Francisco Giants, featuring Barry Bonds in the middle of San Francisco’s vaunted lineup.
Once again, it wasn’t a must-win game for New York, but the Mets looked to put away the Giants in Flushing instead of taking a trip back to San Francisco for a decisive game five, something they were very vocal in not wanting to do.
The hero in this game was Bobby Jones, who had an 11-6 record and a 5.06 ERA in 2000. He wasn’t particularly well liked for his performance, either and was probably the last person expected to shutdown a lineup that featured Bonds and Jeff Kent.
But shutdown the Giants is what he did.
Jones pitched the Mets way into the 2000 NLCS with a complete game one-hitter. And that one hit was a line drive just out of the reach of Robin Ventura off the bat of none other than former Met, Jeff Kent.
Naturally, of course.
Mike Hampton, Game 5 of the 2000 NLCS
Pitching line: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K. 88 game score
Following the extraordinary pitching efforts of Jones that helped the Mets clinch a spot in the NLCS, they went on to win games 1 and 2 versus the Cardinals rather easily in St. Louis.
They came home to Shea Stadium two days later, but lost game three by the score of 8-2.
The Mets took game four and looked to close out the series and book their first trip to the World Series since 1986 in game five.
They left that task in the capable hands of Mike Hampton. He was tasked with clinching the National League pennant by naviating through a Cardinal lineup which included Placido Polanco, Jim Edmonds and Edgar Renteria.
However, due to injury, Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire did not start in this must-win game.
Hampton would never give the Cardinals a chance to break through, throwing a complete game, three-hit shutout. The celebration was on of winning the NL pennant was on.
This would be the final time the Mets would celebrate a playoff series victory at Shea Stadium.
The last time the Mets were in Los Angeles for a win-or-go-home game was the 1988 National League Championship Series, and that did not go so well for New York.
The Mets tied that best-of-seven series at Dodger Stadium the day before after dropping two of three games in dramatic fashion at Shea Stadium. But Orel Hershiser was too much for the Mets to handle in game seven, and the Dodgers completed the upset win over the Mets, starting an 11-year playoff drought and a lot of lean, painful and controversial seasons in between.
Now, it can’t be expected Jacob deGrom to pull a Bobby Jones and one-hit the Dodgers, but this is a game deGrom will be remembered for, one way or another.
The guy that nobody expected to burst on the scene last season only to go on and win the National League Rookie of the Year will have a chance to pitch the Mets into what might be an memorable NLCS matchup with the Cubs.
DeGrom may have to be as close to perfect as one can be on Thursday night, as the Mets offense will be facing one of the best pitchers in the game in Zack Greinke.
But deGrom has shown he is capable of being that bulldog Hershiser was in 1988, or the ace in the hole Hampton was in 2000, and even the dark horse Koosman was in 1969.
The time is now for deGrom to shine.