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A Unicorn Is Cloned

You don’t see too many games like we saw Saturday night at Coors Field [1], and — as the Irish Rovers could tell you [2] — you’re never gonna see no unicorn. But if you see the Mets win by a score you’ve never seen them win by before and there’s no telling if or when you’ll ever see them win by it again, well, lads and lassies…just wait a day.

Recent evidence suggests your modicum of patience will be rewarded

The Unicorn Score the Mets won by on Friday, which instigated a deep dive on the topic in this very space [3] on Saturday, is no longer a Unicorn Score. A Unicorn Score, we have established, is a score by which the Mets win once and never again. Through the games of August 21, 2015, we could identify 23 distinct Unicorn Scores in Mets history. Through the games of August 22, 2015, we can revise our list to include only 22 — the same 22 we had through the games of August 20, 2015.

In short, the Mets had never won by a 14-9 score in their entire freaking lives until Friday. And then they won by another 14-9 score on Saturday. This is a positive reflection of the Met offense, not very good news concerning the workload of the Met bullpen and an indictment of the Coors Field humidor, assuming the Rockies still store baseballs and not cigars in that ineffectual container.

Mostly, though, it means the Mets’ 14-9 Unicorn Score is dead. It died as it lived, scoring 14 runs while allowing 9.

Long live the 14-9 Uniclone Score.

What’s a Uniclone? A Uniclone is a score by which the Mets win twice and never again (“never” obviously being a malleable concept). They are so named because they are clones of erstwhile Unicorns. As it turns out, Uniclones are rarer than Unicorns. There are fewer than half as many scores answering to the call of Uniclone than there are that can be identified as Unicorns. Only 10 known Uniclone Scores exist.

The Mets have been cloning winning scores since 1962. On May 15 and May 16 of our inaugural season, the Mets won back-to-back 6-5 games, both at home, both in extra innings, marking the first time the Mets had won twice by the same score. The hot streak elevated the Mets into eighth place, dizzying heights for a team that wasn’t on the verge of winning many games by any scores. But 6-5 didn’t stay a Uniclone Score for long. In fact, the very next Met win, on May 19, was also by 6-5. Perhaps 6-5 should be the official score of Met victories. The most famous Met victory of them all, October 25, 1986, over the Red Sox, was by 6-5.

There have been 108 regular-season and four postseason 6-5 wins, so we can assume the cloning of 6-5 was conducted successfully enough to no longer be considered experimental. But you have to wonder about the 10 Uniclones. Why were those scores cloned once and only once?

Like most movies whose plots hinge on cloning, the whole process is shrouded in mystery. Nothing is as mysterious as deducing how it took until deep into the 54th season of Mets baseball to see a 14-9 Mets win and then exactly one more game to see another 14-9 Mets win. Clearly, something has gone awry in the laboratory.

While nefarious forces try to tamp down the questions that surround the sudden cloning of 14-9 Met wins, we will reveal the identities of the other nine Uniclone Scores (with, as always, an assist from Baseball Reference).

1) 14-4
Unicorn Born: May 31, 1970 (1) vs Astros.
Unicorn Cloned: July 7, 1984 vs Reds.
About the Uniclone: The resurgent, first-place Mets were in the midst of sweeping a five-game series from Cincinnati, the only five-game series they’ve ever swept at home. This was the fourth in a row. It was a beautiful time to be alive and a Mets fan.

2) 14-7
Unicorn Born: April 17, 1975 vs Cardinals.
Unicorn Cloned: August 8, 1985 vs Expos.
About the Uniclone: There was a very brief baseball strike in the summer of 1985. As soon as it was settled, the first-place Mets streamed through customs and came out swinging at the Big O, scoring in each of the first six innings.

3) 15-10
Unicorn Born: July 21, 1985 vs Braves.
Unicorn Cloned: June 13, 1990 (1) vs Cubs.
About the Uniclone: These were Buddy Harrelson’s Mets fully revived and busting out all over after sagging through the last days of Davey Johnson [4]. The day before produced the Unicorn Score of 19-8. The nightcap that followed this doubleheader opener was a 9-6 triumph. In a little more than 24 hours, the Mets had blown out the Cubs by a combined score of 43-24.

4) 14-0
Unicorn Born: July 29, 1965 (1) vs Cubs.
Unicorn Cloned: April 19, 1998 vs Reds.
About the Uniclone: It was a fairly conventional 5-0 game through six, when the Mets got Methodical, adding three runs in each of the final three innings. By matching their largest shutout margin, the 1998 Mets climbed into first place by a half-game. They didn’t stay there.

5) 14-11
Unicorn Born: April 26, 1966 vs Cubs.
Unicorn Cloned: April 30, 2000 vs Rockies.
About the Uniclone: Just guess where 25 combined runs scored on 25 total hits and 14 total walks. Just guess. Why, yes, it was Coors Field! It would probably not shock you to learn the Mets led, 11-3, heading to the bottom of the eighth. The Rox knocked around Met pitching for six in the eighth and — after the Mets cushioned their margin with three in the top of the ninth — two more in their last licks. Armando Benitez [5] held on, though officially it wasn’t a save situation.

6) 11-8
Unicorn Born: September 2, 1972 vs Astros.
Unicorn Cloned: June 30, 2000 vs Braves.
About the Uniclone: The Uniclone was the Ten-Run Inning capped by the Piazza Homer. It doesn’t need a bit of elaboration. The Unicorn, however, deserves more light shed on it. It was, literally, the greatest comeback in Mets history. As impressive as the Mets were in 2000 roaring from an 8-1 deficit to defeated the hated Braves, those 1972 Mets spotted Houston an 8-0 edge and then kept charging and never stopped, shoving 11 runs down old nemesis Leo Durocher [6]’s throat. Why wouldn’t you want to clone a result like that?

7) 15-6
Unicorn Born: August 27, 1997 vs Giants.
Unicorn Cloned: June 27, 2008 (1) vs Yankees.
About the Uniclone: ¡Viva Delgado! Carlos the First Baseman, shaking off a year-plus slump, exploded for nine runs batted in during the final game the Mets ever played at Renovated Yankee Stadium. It’s still a team record, Yoenis Cespedes [7]’s best efforts notwithstanding.

8) 18-5
Unicorn Born: August 14, 1979 vs Braves.
Unicorn Cloned: September 5, 2010 vs Cubs.
About the Uniclone: If you score 18 runs, there’s a good chance even your No. 8 hitter is heavily involved. Sure enough, rookie Ruben Tejada [8] was The Man in this one, with five runs batted in, including his comical first major league home run. What was so funny about it? Ruben was so certain he couldn’t have hit a ball out of any park (even Wrigley Field, birthplace of so many Unicorn Scores), that he slid into third base before being informed by the umpire that he could get up and trot home. Well, at least he hustled.

9) 14-3
Unicorn Born: July 21, 1966 vs Giants.
Unicorn Cloned: June 28, 2011 vs Tigers.
About the Uniclone: Remember how the Mets went forever and a day without hitting a grand slam? This was the game when forever and a day announced their departure with authority. Jason Bay [9] homered with the bases loaded in the fourth — and Carlos Beltran [10] did the same in the fifth. Most electric, though, was Jose Reyes [11], going 4-for-4 and raising his league-leading average to .349.

And now we have the tenth Uniclone in Mets history. Whereas the first 14-9 game was all about Cespedes, there was a torrent of offense to go around for the rest of us in the second.

• 21 hits
• 9 doubles
• A third inning in which the first nine batters — that’s all of them, including starting and winning (5.1 IP) pitcher Jon Niese [12] — reached base. I believe that’s known as batting round and round and round.

The first-place, five-games-up Mets led, 14-3, after the top of the fifth. Inside the incubator that is Coors Field, there was no telling what the final score was going to be. There was no telling it would be the final score from the night before, the final score that, to that point, had never represented a Mets victory.

Now it has twice.

In a tangentially related development [13], the Mets have reacquired Eric Young [14], Jr. EYJ figures to bring the team some much-needed speed once he’s promoted from Las Vegas, though you might question how big the need for speed is. Just look at how lightning-fast our assumptions tend to change around here.