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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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One of a Kind (Runs Affair)

That creature you thought you saw rumbling across the landscape at Citi Field late Friday night…it wasn’t your imagination. It was that most elusive of baseball figures, the Unicorn Score.

The New York Mets posted what was for them an unprecedented final, beating the Colorado Rockies, 14-2. Thanks to Baseball Reference’s Play Index tool and my selectively insatiable curiosity, we know that in the 8,864 official regular-season Mets games that preceded Friday’s (and, for that matter, the 89 games the Mets have played in the postseason), winning 14-2 had never happened. There had been wins by 14-0 twice, 14-1 four times, three each of a 14-3 and 14-4 nature, five 14-5s, a lone 14-6 and a pair of 14s doubling a duo of 7s, yet somehow in all the possible digital scenarios wrought when the Mets blow out opponents, it could never before be accurately reported, “The Mets won, 14-2.”

It can be now. We have a 14-2 Unicorn, our twenty-third Unicorn Score overall, our first since 17-0 galloped by last September.

For those of us who populate the Mets statistical underground, this was a huge get. Take another gander at all those wins directly or fairly proximate to 14-2, and you’ll understand why we’re beside ourselves with numerical joy. In the realm of anomalous results, it was unfathomable that this franchise could notch a 13-12 nailbiter in its second year, a legendary 19-1 romp in its third and toss in a 16-13 all-nighter before it turned twenty-five, yet keep stepping around a seemingly more attainable tally far into its sixth decade. All told, once you count two 14-11 wins (one of them at Coors Field) and two 14-9 wins (both famously at Coors Field), the Mets had previously prevailed 24 times while totaling precisely 14 runs, but somehow in 55½ seasons missed landing on the exact winning score of 14-2.

13-2 was achieved five times, 15-2 three times. 14-2 not at all. In its obscure way, it was as mystifying as not having had a no-hitter until 2012 or a three-homer game at home until 2015. How do you win 14-1 four times and 14-5 five times but 14-2 never?

You don’t, not anymore, not when the Mets properly space fourteen singles, three doubles, two homers (from T.J. Rivera and Michael Conforto) and seven walks; Jacob deGrom tames Colorado in his usual if uncertified All-Star style (eight innings, four hits, one walk, eleven strikeouts — plus Jake singled twice on his own well-supported cause’s behalf); and video replay review works as it’s intended to, which is to say it prevents a third Colorado run and preserves the chance for a 14-2 Unicorn to see light.

The play of the game, brought to you by narrowly defined hindsight, occurred in the top of the sixth, deGrom nursing, as it were, a 9-2 lead. (The Mets have won 32 games by a final of 9-2, though none since April 3, 2011, constituting the longest current winning-score drought encompassing only single-digits; yeah, I keep pretty close track of this stuff.) With one out and DJ LeMahieu on third, Gerardo Parra lifted a fly ball to medium-deep left field. Yoenis Cespedes — en route to collecting four hits and, hopefully, rejoining the living — fired a throw to Travis d’Arnaud as LeMahieu took off. It was Cespedes’s arm at its strongest but not quite its most accurate. D’Arnaud gathered Yo’s bullet in on the second hop, just to the left of the plate before shifting his mitt quickly to tag the runner’s trail foot before the lead one could touch home. Umpire Mike Everitt said safe, but Terry Collins and his people saw different and challenged. Once the play appeared on the expansive screen beyond the outfield fence, everybody knew the call was going to be reversed. The Mets walked off the field before Chelsea would confirm the third out had indeed been registered, which as showing up umps goes, is way more effective than a manager kicking dirt ever was.

I don’t think the Mets defense was being rude to Everitt. They knew they had to hurry back to the dugout, grab their bats and start putting five more runs on the board to reach the unreachable stat. Three in the seventh, two in the eighth and Josh Edgin loading the bases in the ninth with two out before flying Pat Valaika to center made it so. It had happened — Mets 14 Other Team 2.

The blips that will make a fan happy. After four days of break-enforced nothingness, I would have settled for a baseball game of any shape or size. To get not just a win, but a win of contextually historic proportions, well, that’s a “welcome back” that will have you feeling warm all over, maybe afflicted by the slightest touch of the second-half fever. Noting the Mets picked up ground on the Rockies and moved to within 9½ Citi blocks of the second Wild Card might be a delusional framing device, I grant you, but until Friday night, I could only imagine a 14-2 Unicorn Score.

You don’t have to imagine what it was like to be at Shea Stadium during the New York blackout of 1977. Patrick Sauer tracked down a half-dozen individuals with rich memories of that darkest of nights and wrote an engaging article about it, which you can and should read here. One of his eyewitnesses (if you can be an eyewitness to pitch blackness) is my brother-in-law, former Shea Stadium vendor Mr. Stem, as we know and love him internally. Due respect to the others in the story, his is the most entertaining account of the bunch.

15 comments to One of a Kind (Runs Affair)

  • Greg Mitchell

    Sparking another round of: What is T.J. Rivera’s future with the team? Seems horrid at 3B (among others things, bad arm) but is he adequate enough to start at 2B for a season–given his bat? Or just happy he can be super-sub filling in at 1B also? But where does that leave Wilmer, who is marginally better defensively at 2B, 3B and 1B (not saying much)? Does TJ playing regularly this year further erode Wilmer’s development? But if TJ plays regularly at least that will answer question if he can hit close to .300 playing everyday, which many doubt. And he does have to hit close to .300 because he never, ever, walks. Then again, Wilmer has same issue.

    • At the risk of being laissez-faire, I guess we’ll find out. Rivera’s tabula is more rasa than Flores’s at this point.

      • Rochester John

        I’m afraid that a few more months of competence at the plate will allow the present administration to justify (to themselves) that Rivera is next year’s answer at first base (when they don’t sign Duda). Sort of like Wilmer was the answer at short a few year’s ago.

        • Young players who do one thing extraordinarily well for a while will always inspire overconfidence that he can figure out the rest. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t yet hone that singular skill to the point where it becomes very valuable shortly after you let them go. Not thinking of any Met infielders of recent vintage, no sir.

          I wouldn’t count on the present administration being the future administration into perpetuity.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Once Josh Edgin finally threw a strike or two and I felt confident he was in fact going to hold that 14-2 lead, I glanced at my tablet and noticed that the Red Sox were down 4-3 in the 9th but had 2 men on base and Aroldis Chapman on the ropes.

    What an unexpected bonus (not that a Mets 14-2 win, or for that matter 14-1 or 14-3 or any of the other 14 to’s would be expected). The timing was perfect, switched over just in time for a Yankee error and a game-ending bases loaded walk.

    All that and a Unicorn Score too. Nice night. Thanks.

    • I try not to pay attention to the actions of that other team, partly to feign maturity about it, partly because I tend to jinx things when I do. When I dared to glance, it was indeed a bonus.

  • Rob in SF

    Love the Spinners reference! The Mets are a one of a kind love affair… now if they can become Rubberband Men (lats, hammies) and have their season snap back, that would be something!

  • UpstateNYMetfan

    My brother and sister-in-law, both big Mets fans too (she, an even bigger Jacob fan), were at the game last night. We were texting about their experience during the beginning of the game and I had texted to ask if they were enjoying their game-day Citi Field experience so far? My brother somewhat cryptically texts “Yes. Let’s just say when DeGrom does something right, my shoulder feels it.” Not understanding his point, I lob back a lame attempt at humor (and an admittedly roundabout way of trying to find out his meaning) “are you saying you are pitching too?” He responds “No, I’m saying Karen gets so excited she keeps whacking me in the arm.”

  • Left Coast Jerry

    There were 2 occurrences this week which I normally find abhorrent, but I was OK with in certain instances.

    Use of the DH in the All Star Game doesn’t bother me, but as a National League fan I can’t stand it in real games.

    Normally, I react in disgust every time I see Josh Edgin take the mound, but with only 3 outs to get in a game where we have a double digit lead, it’s all right.

    But what does it say in that situation when Terry had to have someone else warming up.

    Greg, would 14-3 or 14-4 still have been a unicorn? How about 14-6 if Edgin had given up a grand slam?

    • As noted in the second paragraph above, all the 14-x variations up through 14-7 had been posted in the past, so it was either 14-2 or let it get to 14-8 for the next nearest Unicorn…and we didn’t want that. Not that it wasn’t possible with this bullpen.

  • Andy

    Do unicorns apply to losses as well as wins? Wondering if they had ever lost by a score of 14-2.

    • I don’t track losses as obsessively as I do wins, so I couldn’t say. But for you, I’ll look it up on Baseball Reference…

      It has happened twice, both games I remember, one from 1985, in Cincinnati (Roger McDowell’s last start, from when Davey was still figuring out what to do with him) and this one from 2014, when a future Rochester Red Wing was Big if not yet Sexy.

      • Rochester John

        Yes, my wife has laundered her “Big Sexy” shirt in anticipation of the coming Red Wings homestand.