Just in time for the holiday season, Mets 101's Seven in Seven series returns as our gift to you. Each week, the Mets 101 staff will begin a countdown of topics related to the New York Mets (i.e. best third baseman, worst defeat, etc.). We will begin our countdowns with the number seven and work all the way to number one. This week's Seven in Seven list takes a look at the most memorable moments in the history of our beloved Mets. We will continue our countdown today with number six, the Grand Slam Single.
6. The Grand Slam Single
Date: October 17, 1999
The Buildup: The 1999 season marked a renaissance for the New York Mets. The Mets, who had been left for dead on the season's last weekend, swept the Pittsburgh Pirates to force a one game playoff with the Cincinnati Reds. The Mets won that game to finish the season at 97-66 and earn a trip to the NLDS, where they walked off with a series win (courtesy of Todd Pratt). The Mets would then face their hated rivals, the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta quickly jumped out to a three games to none series lead. The Mets won Game Four at Shea, closing the deficit to 3-1 before the critical Game Five.
The Moment: Game Five of the National League Championship Series was destined to be a long affair. The Mets scored two runs in the first to grab an early lead, which the Braves matched in the fourth. No one would score again as the game trudged along in a nasty rainstorm that wasn't quite strong enough to delay the game. The Braves finally broke through in the top of the fifteenth inning when Keith Lockhart tripled in a run to give Atlanta a 3-2 lead. Rookie reliever Kevin McGlinchy was called upon to hold the lead, which he could not do. McGlinchy loaded the bases with one out as third baseman Robin Ventura took his turn at bat. Ventura worked the count to 2-1 before McGlinchy hung a fastball over the middle of the plate. Ventura deposited that fastball into the right field bullpen for a walk off grand slam. Ventura was then mobbed by Todd Pratt and his teammates after touching first, never actually reaching home. Two runs came in to score and Ventura was officially credited with a single, which would be coined as the "Grand Slam Single". The Mets would win the game 4-3 and earn a return trip to Atlanta for Game Six. (Video of the moment below is courtesy of MLB.com).
The Aftermath: Game Six would turn out to be another thrilling affair. Atlanta jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the first, but the Mets kept chipping away. The Mets eventually tied the game at seven and took an 8-7 lead in the eighth inning. That lead would not hold, and the game went to extras. After each side scored in the tenth, the Mets went scoreless in the top of the 11th. The Braves would strike in the bottom of the 11th, as Kenny Rogers entered for the Mets and gave up a leadoff double to Gerald Williams. Williams was quickly sacrificed to third, and after a pair of intentional walks Rogers had to try and get the young Andruw Jones to either strike out or hit into a double play. Rogers walked Andruw Jones to force in the winning run and end the Mets season, handing the pennant to Atlanta.
In Hindsight: While the euphoria of the Grand Slam Single did not last too long, the Mets' strong fight in the series convinced ownership that the team was on the brink of a World Series run. Ownership committed to this group of players in the offseason, signing Todd Zeile to replace the departing John Olerud and acquiring ace Mike Hampton via trade. The Mets would make the World Series the very next year, an event that was strongly influenced by the Grand Slam Single.
Check back tomorrow when the fifth most memorable moment in Mets history is revealed!
Tags: Baseball, Grand Slam Single, MLB, New York, New York Mets, Robin Ventura, Seven in Seven