When you’ve heard your team won a game by the score of 2-0, you assume there was very good pitching. When you’ve heard your team won a game by the score of 9-5, you assume there was a good bit of hitting. When you’ve heard your team won a game by the score of 6-2, you assume…what? Your team was probably in control, they pitched well enough, they hit well enough, there was likely an inning that definitively separated the two teams from a more nerve-wracking outcome. Somebody must have scored some runs to put the game away. Somebody must have prevented some runs that would have made things tighter. Mostly you assume it wasn’t the most compelling of games. You won by four. Good. Next!
The Mets beat the Phillies on Sunday, 6-2.  It wasn’t the most compelling of games. Chris Flexen and four relievers pitched well enough. Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto in particular (a homer each, five RBIs between them), hit well enough. The Phillies — mostly Odubel Herrera, attempting to tag up to an occupied base — ran themselves out of a potentially bountiful fifth. The Mets scored six. The Phillies scored two. It took three hours and thirty minutes, but it got the job done. A 6-2 win, three out of four in the series, on to the bus, and off to the Bronx.
And I wouldn’t dwell too much on the final, except, because I keep track of how often the Mets win by whatever score they win by, I discovered that Sunday’s 6-2 win was the Mets’ 100th 6-2 regular-season win in their history.
Yeah, I don’t know what to make of it either, but a round number is a round number, even when applied to a score that isn’t round and doesn’t instantly imply much beyond eight runs were distributed in a satisfying manner. Earlier this season, the Mets also notched the 100th 6-3 regular-season win in their history, and while it wasn’t a terribly memorable game , a scan of the scrolls showed the Mets had made plenty of their previous 99 6-3 wins indelible.
Bartolo Colon’s lone home run was in service to a 6-3 Mets win. So was Jeremy Hefner’s. The first time a Met hit three home runs in one game — Jim Hickman in 1965 — the Mets beat the Cardinals, 6-3. When the Mets tied their team record for most consecutive wins, eleven, in 2015, it was on a 6-3 victory over the Braves. Frank Viola’s 20th win was 6-3. Matt Harvey’s return from Tommy John surgery was 6-3. The first Met ever taken in an amateur draft, Les Rohr, got his professional career off to a promising start by defeating the Dodgers, 6-3, at the tail end of 1967. Ike Davis’s last great Met moment, his ninth-inning, come-from-behind, pinch-hit grand slam that shocked the Reds, resulted in a 6-3 triumph. Darryl Strawberry’s last great Met moment, when he blasted Doug Drabek and the Pirates practically out of Shea Stadium in September 1990’s end-of-an-era pennant race, presaged a 6-3 final. And perhaps the most mind-bogglingly craziest game the Mets ever played that didn’t end at 3:55 in the morning, the one in Cincinnati on July 22, 1986, with Dave Parker dropping the presumptive last out, Eric Davis and Ray Knight exchanging punches, Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell swapping right field, Gary Carter playing third, Keith Hernandez fielding a bunt about six inches in front of the plate and Howard Johnson blasting a three-run homer in the fourteenth…that was a 6-3 Mets win.
Even the first 6-3 win the Mets ever managed was pretty Amazin’. They downed Don Drysdale and the Dodgers at the Polo Grounds on August 24, 1962, the first time they beat the former Brooklynites in New York. Drysdale won 25 games and the Cy Young that season, and the Dodgers wound up tied with the Giants after 162 games, setting the stage for the three-game playoff that gave San Francisco the pennant. If those Original Mets, who were 40-120 overall and 2-16 against their otherwise most overwhelming opponent, hadn’t decided to uncharacteristically jump up and bite L.A. with a 6-3 nip, the Dodgers (theoretically) would have gone to the World Series instead. The 1962 Mets weren’t so much Giant-killers as they were Dodger-doomers.
Six-Three encompasses a world of Met wonder. Six-Two, by comparison, lacks regular-season historical intrigue. The Mets won the fourth game of the 1986 World Series, 6-2, and the first game of the 2000 NLCS, 6-2, but in the regular season, I would nominate, as most anomalously exciting 6-2 win, Mets 6 Dodgers 2, June 11, 1980, better known as the Mike Jorgensen Game.
The Mike Jorgensen Game? You probably had to be there, or at least have been watching it or listening to it to understand its significance. The game was at Shea and it ran ten innings, and if you don’t mind indulging in a little arithmetic, you will thus infer the game ended on a grand slam if the margin of victory was four runs at home in extras. It dramatically concluded off the bat of Jorgensen, a Met then in his second Flushing go-round. Jorgy graduated from nearby Frances Lewis High School and the Mets, that particular week (as New York State regents exams loomed), were matriculating toward .500, a.k.a. the unreachable star. This was the week when The Magic Is Back, up to that point a silly advertising slogan, became the mantra of Mets fans everywhere. The eternally crummy Mets had begun the season 9-18. Comebacks like this one — engineered against teams considered far better than ours — had pulled us to the edge of respectability. The Mets climbed to 25-27 on Mike’s four-run four-bagger off future tormentor Rick Sutcliffe. It was, quite seriously, Magical.
So why haven’t you heard more about this most massive 6-2 moment in Mets history ? Because three nights later, Steve Henderson would hit an even more Magical home run — for three runs off Allen Ripley — capping a ninth-inning comeback from five runs down to beat the Giants, 7-6, and it became the emblematic victory of a generation. Seven-Six automatically tells you something spectacular occurred. Six-Two suggests you need to take a closer look and bring a calculator.
There have been a few other 6-2 wins of surpassing situational interest over the past 56 seasons. Joe Torre’s first managerial outing, an oasis of optimism amid the ongoing desert of Queens crumminess, was won by that score on May 31, 1977. When the Mets clinched their second consecutive Wild Card, on September 27, 2000, it was by beating the Braves, 6-2. The win unleashed the most ambivalent clinching celebration in Met history given that we really wanted to win the division from the Braves in 2000…and the Braves had won the division directly from us the night before. But we were in the playoffs again and 6-2 did it.
Six-Two was also the score attached to an outcome that was either emblematic of its time or just a triviality. On April 5, 1994, the day after the exponentially more famous Tuffy Rhodes Game, the Mets won, for the first time, a game in which they fielded a starting lineup consisting of nine players who were each born after April 11, 1962, which is to say after the franchise itself was born. Seeing as how the Mets’ image desperately required rehabilitation after 1993 was marked by a tendency to play with parking lot firecrackers and bleach-filled Super Soakers, it was nice to know the Mets were sort of growing up at last. Behind Jose Vizcaino, David Segui, Joe Orsulak, Bobby Bonilla, Jeff Kent, Jeromy Burnitz, Kelly Stinnett, Ryan Thompson and Pete Smith, the Mets beat the Cubs at Wrigley Field, 6-2. The next time the Mets won by that score was August 10, 1994. The next day, the Mets played their last game of the season as a strike cancelled the rest of the schedule.
Six-Two is a shy kind of score, apparently. It doesn’t always want to come out to play. The Mets didn’t win a 6-2 game until they’d won 103 other games. Its first appearance on behalf of a Mets victory came Saturday, May 30, 1964, at Shea Stadium against the Giants. Jack Fisher went nine. Charley Smith went deep. Willie Mays went to third on a triple, but he was with the other team then. Buoyed by the 6-2 sensation, the Mets rushed right back to Shea the next afternoon for a Sunday doubleheader and wouldn’t surrender the field until it was nearly Monday morning. They played 32 innings, the final 23 in the nightcap. The Mets scored six off San Francisco pitching again, but gave up eight. Willie Mays played shortstop for the other team.
From 1966 to 1974, the Mets won only one 6-2 game, over Atlanta on May 21, 1971. It was also at Shea. Nolan Ryan gave up a home run to Hank Aaron but was otherwise good enough to raise his record to 5-1, lower his ERA to 1.32 and attract the interest of California Angels scouts. Once Ryan bloomed in Anaheim, the Mets may have decided winning 6-2 only led to bad trades, thus explaining the one such victory in an eight-year span. Since the mid-1970s, however, 6-2 wins have been a recurring feature of Met seasons. Only in 2011 and 2013 have the Mets not won a 6-2 game. As recently as 2009 they won four of them. The first was achieved in rather mundane fashion versus the Yankees the day after the Mets lost on Luis Castillo’s one-handed grab at infamy. That was a 9-8 loss. You can tell by 9-8 that it was exciting. Some days you prefer mundane. Tonight at Yankee Stadium a mundane 6-2 win would be just fine. The use of two hands on pop flies would also be appreciated. It always is.