There’s a reason why I still watch every Mets game. Even though many would agree that for all intents and purposes the Mets’ 2011 season is certifiably over, I still watch every game. I learned how important it was to watch every Mets game going all the way back to the time I saw Steve Henderson take Giants reliever Allen Ripley deep in the summer of 1980 – a season in which we lost 95 games. Hendu hadn’t homered in well over a year, but on June 14, 1980, his three-run walk-off home run won the game, and in my house we celebrated like the Mets had just won the World Series. It was pure magic and I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Moments like that can shape a baseball fan forever, and that one certainly made me the Met fan I am today. Since that incredible night, I’ve had an amazing love affair with the game and each season I watch every single Mets game waiting for that “Steve Henderson Moment” to strike again.
Last night it happened… For those Mets fans who were there at Citi Field or tuned in and watching from home, last night you witnessesed and experienced a bona fide “Steve Henderson Moment”.
What an unexpected and tantalizingly wonderful baseball moment… It was a thrill ride that was easily the best game of this largely forgettable season, and the heroics came from an unlikely hero; left-handed starter Chris Capuano, who only five days ago I myself suggested that the Mets should move him to the bullpen. There is nothing better than eating crow especially where my beloved Mets are concerned.
So how special was Capuano’s complete game, two-hit shutout of the Braves last night?
Not only was it the best pitched game of his career, and the best pitched game of this Mets season, but according to sites that chart this kind of stuff, Capuano pitched the best game in all of Major League Baseball this season. Yes, even better than the Ervin Santana no-hitter. Capuano pitched the game of his life.
His 13 strikeouts were a career high and every single one of them was absolutely delectable – aren’t they all when they come against the Braves? Cappy didn’t just rely on one out pitch either as six of his strikeouts came on fastballs, five were on changeups, and two whiffed on sliders. The 13 K’s were the most ever in a shutout by a Mets southpaw. – a new Mets record – move over Kooz and Johan.
Capuano faced just one batter over the minimum last night and it was only the second time in franchise history that a pitcher threw a shutout, allowed two hits or fewer, struck out 10+ batters and walked none. The only other one to perform the feat? That would be Tom Seaver when he tossed his near-perfect game against the Cubs on July 9, 1969.
I knew this game was going to be special from the moment Capuano struck out the side in the bottom of the second inning. I was doing a few things around the house while the game was on, but after that second inning I stopped dead in my tracks and said to myself, “something’s happening here”. I ceased all activity, sat down, and focused intently on what was transpiring on my TV. I relished every single second of it.
For those of you who didn’t watch, I feel bad for you because 90% of the thrill is watching it live – you missed a heck of a game – a magical moment – a signature Mets moment… And yes, you missed a Steve Henderson Moment.
This is why we watch the games.