Last night’s loss to the Pirates is still hard to believe. Especially after thinking about Sunday’s similarly blown lead to this lowly team. I haven’t even had a chance to connect with JonnyIce, who was there adding to his on-the-road experiences. But after two cups of Sunday morning coffee, the rationale side of me says the city of Pittsburgh just owns the Mets.
Here are some memorable (or not so memorable) moments in the Steel City.
Celebration on Ice: 2006 Clinchers
The beloved 2006 Mets had a chance to clinch the National League East division with a road win over a three-game series vs. the lowly 60-87 Pirates. Unfortunately, the champagne was on ice for all three games as the Mets got swept. Pedro Martinez, Aaron Heilman and John Maine (aka, “The Habitual Liar“) all took losses over this stretch. The upside? The Mets got to clinch the division at home the next day against the Marlins. I still get pumped hearing Gary Cohen’s call when Cliff Floyd catches the final out.
Heilman’s Choke: August 16, 2007
Poor Aaron Heilman will sadly forever be remembered for giving up a home run to Yadir Molina in Game 7 of the 2006 NLDS. What folks forget is that he was usually a reliable 7th or 8th inning set-up man out of the pen. However, on this night, he took the loss giving up three unearned runs in the 8th, caping off the 49-69 Pirates’ stunning comeback. The Mets led 5-0 and 7-3 at points during the game. In some ways, the loss foreshadowed what was to come in the month of September. We won’t talk about that though.
Call it the All Star Game Home Run Derby curse. After making the finals of the 2006 Home Run Derby contest and hitting a homer in his first all star game at bat, David Wright would experience a power drought in the second half of the season that year. Wright finished the year with 26 HRs, but only 5 came after his experience in Pittsburgh. Thanks a lot PNC Park.
Taken for a Loop: July 8, 2005
I’ll take back what I wrote earlier about Aaron Heilman. On this Friday evening, the Mets entered the bottom of the 9th up 5-1 against the Pirates. Starting pitcher Victor Zambrano had probably his best start of his Mets career, going 8 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits. Enter Heilman, who gave up 3 over 2/3rds of an IP. Closer Braden Looper, who we’ve talked about previously, couldn’t clean up the jam inherited, allowing the game to go extra innings. In the 10th, Looper gave a walk-off single to Humberto Cota (?!?!?!), allowing the Pirates to complete the comeback and improve their record to a stellar 38-47. Damn you PNC Park.
It’s well-chronicled the 2015 Mets of the first half were not an offensive juggernaut. Look no further than this May three-game series where the Mets were outscored 21-4. That’s not a typo. In fairness, the Pirates did have Gerrit Cole and A.J. Burnett start games in that series. The counterpoint of course is the Mets line-up in the finale, where they had John Mayberry Jr. and Darrell Ceciliani. Also not a typo.
Writing this post was somewhat therapeutic. It doesn’t make last night any easier to accept, but there’s overwhelming evidence that shows PNC Park is the Mets shop of horrors and in no way a barometer for the Mets outlook the remainder of the year. Heck, maybe I’ll even buy the line-up card from this loss someday. As hard as it is… we’ll just have to keep the faith, as we always do. Now let’s go get swept… I mean, Let’s Go Mets!