The dominant Mets officially died in 1993. They’d been in steep decline since 1991 and there were frantic attempts to stem the tide of the inevitable: the signings of Bobby Bonilla and Eddie Murray, the trade for Bret Saberhagen, the hiring of Jeff Torborg to manage. None of it worked. Management was slow to pick up on the idea that throwing money at their problems, Yankee-style, would not work. Oh, there were remnants of the glory days still around. Howard Johnson, Sid Fernandez and Dwight Gooden were the last holdovers from the ’86 champs; they would all be gone by season’s end. A franchise that from 1984 through 1990 averaged 95 wins a season found itself scrambling for relevance. The symbol of this plummet was a talented, likable pitcher who had no luck at all. His name was Anthony Young.
Young broke out fairly well for the team. As a late-season call-up in 1991, he posted a 2-5 record with a 3.10 ERA in eight starts and two relief appearances. At the start of 1992, he broke out magnificently, tossing a 7-1 complete game over the Cardinals in his first start of the year. By the end of June, he had made 13 starts, four relief appearance and compiled a 2-8 record with an ERA close to 5.00 for a dreadful team that thought it was “in it” all year. He moved to the bullpen, having lost seven of his last eleven starts. Once ensconced in the ‘pen, he seemed to right himself a bit. His ERA gradually leveled off in the mid-to-high 3’s, finally settling at 4.17 at the end of the year. He notched 15 saves and two holds from June 27 on. He just couldn’t win.
Down the stretch that year, from September 3 through the 29th, he saved three games, but took blown-save losses in five. He finished 1992 with a record of 2-14, having not won a game since April 19. He had to be better the next year, right? The next year, pitching solely out of the bullpen until May 28, he had a record of 0-5. Switched to the starting rotation in June in the face of pitcher injuries and futility, he ran his record to 0-12. Switching back to relief, he lost a game in Los Angeles in extra-innings on July 24. 27 losing decisions. A record. His next appearance came four days later at Shea Stadium against the fledgling Florida Marlins.
Saberhagen started the game strongly, retiring the first eight Marlins he faced before surrendering a single to his opposite number, Jack Armstrong, in the third. By then, he’d been staked to a 1-0 lead on a Joe Orsulak homer in the first. The Mets added another run in the fourth when Tim Bogar plated Jeromy Burnitz with a single. But Saberhagen faltered in the sixth, giving up a single to Chuck Carr and a game-tying home run to Bret Barberie. Ryan Thompson got the lead back for the Mets in the seventh with a home run, but Saberhagen gave it right back in the eighth on a couple of singles and a double by Orestes Destrade. The only thing that kept the game tied was a canon relay from Burnitz to Bogar to catcher Todd Hundley which nailed Gary Sheffield at the plate on that double. Our friend Mr. Young was called in in the top of the ninth to keep it tied. He could not. A single and two botched plays on bunts gave him a bases loaded, no out jam. He did induce pinch hitter Rick Renteria to hit into a third-to-home-to-first double play which left runners on second and third. Carr then plated the go-ahead run with a drag bunt to second. It looked like loss number 14 would be hung on Young. But then…
Jeff McKnight lined a single to right leading off the bottom of the ninth. Dave Gallagher bunted him up to second and Thompson’s Texas-Leaguer brought him home. At the very least, Young was off the hook. After Orsulak popped up to left, Murray pulled a rifle shot into right for a double and the ballgame.
5-4 Mets, winning pitcher, Anthony Young.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.