The 2017 World Series will require a Game 7.
Every pitch of a Game 7 is brimming with the tension of the best Hitchcock thriller, and will be a must-watch for any baseball fan. This year, an already classic series between LA and Houston will get the final chapter it deserves.
But for our Mets, Game 7 has been marred with a somewhat spotty history, albeit with a small sample size. The Mets are 1-3 all-time in these decisive match ups, but their lone win was a big one.
Here is a quick look at each of these contests, the context in which they were played, and some highlights.
1973 World Series: Mets vs. A’s
The first Game 7 in franchise history, this match up between Yogi Berra’s Mets and Dick Williams’s Athletics was the end to a storied season for the Mets. At the bottom of NL East in late August, the team and fans rallied behind Tug McGraw’s newly-coined motto, “Ya Gotta Believe!”
Despite an injury-plagued first-half of the season, the Mets won 27 of their last 39 games and clinched the division title on October 1st, then took down the heavily-favored Reds in the NLCS.
Yogi Berra’s decision to throw Tom Seaver on three day’s rest in Game 6 instead of George Stone was controversial, with the Mets up 3-2 in the series and Stone having thrown well that season. Seaver was outdueled by Catfish Hunter, leaving the fate of the Mets’ unlikely run in the hands of 1972 Rookie of the Year, Jon Matlack. Unfortunately, Matlack was not up to the task.
1986 World Series: Mets vs. Red Sox
For obvious reasons, Game 6 overshadows Game 7 in the annals of baseball history, but this is the contest that gave the Mets their first World Series title since '69.
In his first of two appearances on this list, Ron Darling surrendered back-to-back home runs to Dwight Evans and Rich Gedman to open the frame, then gave up a two out RBI single to Wade Boggs to stake the Red Sox to a 3-0 lead. However, following the theatrics of Game 6, the Mets refused to go down without a fight.
Keith Hernandez's two-run single, and an RBI ground out from Gary Carter, pulled the Mets even in the sixth, then took a 6-3 lead in the seventh, thanks in part to a home run from eventual-World Series MVP Ray Knight leading off the inning.
The Sox fought back to get within one, but Jesse Orosco’s two innings of scoreless relief (and unbelievably, insurance RBI-single) put the game away. Every Mets fan can picture Orosco in their mind’s eye triumphantly throwing his glove in the air and falling to his knees. Few moments can match the sheer joy Orosco displayed as he basks in victory.
1988 NLCS: Mets vs. Dodgers
Ron Darling is a fantastic color analyst, had a long successful career, and, most likely, is a kind, gentle man. He’s been an All-Star, a Gold Glove winner, and a World Series Champion. He even won a freakin’ Emmy, for crying out loud. However, Ron’s weakest professional moments came in high-leverage games that hinged on his success.
In his defense, Ron was pitching this game on three day’s rest, and up against a man who had just ended a streak of 67 consecutive scoreless innings, Orel Hershiser. To put it mildly, those were less than ideal circumstances.
Darling allowed a run in the bottom of the first, then failed to record an out after that. The Dodgers totaled six runs (four earned) off Darling on a night where he needed to be perfect, and just did not have it.
The Mets were heavy favorites to begin the series, winning 100 games on their way to their second division title in three years. They even took 10 of 11 from the Dodgers in the regular season. But Hershiser would not be denied. The eventual NLCS and World Series MVP scattered five hits throughout the game, four of them mere singles. The late ‘80s Mets felt like a dynasty in the making, but they ran into The Bulldog, and he derailed everything.
2006 NLCS: Mets vs. Cardinals
My colleague Tim Reilly covered this game extensively two weeks ago, so we don’t need to belabor the point on arguably the most heartbreaking game in franchise history. But allow me to add one thing: any Mets fan who is still upset at Carlos Beltran for not swinging at that final pitch needs to re-watch this GIF (if you can bear to see it).
Wainwright’s curveball was filthy, and was setup perfectly by the previous pitch (the first pitch of the at bat...that's another story).
Was it soul-crushing? Of course. Would most hitters get jelly legs in the same situation? Definitely. Hats off to Wainwright for executing that pitch. But it's a loss some Mets fans still haven't recovered from.