If you asked most Mets fans what is the greatest individual game in team history, most would answer Tom Seaver and his outing on July 9, 1969. Seaver took a perfect game into the 9th inning, when with one out Jimmy Qualls broke it up with a single. Seaver retired the next two batters and finished with a one-hitter with 11 strikeouts.
But as dominating as Seaver was that day, ultimately it was a one-hitter. The Mets have never had a no-hitter but there have been 23 one-hitters in club history, the last by Aaron Heilman in 2005. And while 11 strikeouts is an impressive total, the club record is 19, shared by Seaver and David Cone.
So, my pick as the best game in club history goes to Edgardo Alfonzo, who had a monster game August 30, 1999 against the Astros. The game was impressive enough all by itself, but the fact that it came in the Astrodome, one of the best pitching parks in the majors, helps make it even more memorable.
Alfonzo was playing second base in this game and hit second. After a strikeout to start the game, Alfonzo came up and hit a home run to left center, to stake starter Masato Yoshii to an early lead.
After the Astros went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first, the Mets blew open the game in the second inning, when they scored six times to take a 7-0 lead. Alfonzo singled to right and came around to score on a two-run double by Olerud.
In the fourth inning, Alfonozo extended the lead to 9-0 when he hit a two-run homer to left field. His next time up in the sixth, Alfonzo led off with another homer, his third of the game.
Again in the eighth inning, Alfonzo was the leadoff hitter and this time he delivered a line drive single to left field and later came around and scored. The Mets sent six hitters to the plate in the frame, leaving open the possibility that Alfonzo would get one more chance to bat.
Back-to-back singles with one out in the ninth brought Alfonzo to the plate for the sixth time in the game. He drilled a line drive to deep right field that resulted in an RBI double. Two batters later, Alfonzo crossed the plate for the Mets’ final run in their 17-1 rout.
Alfonzo finished the game 6-for-6, with 3 HR, 6 R and 5 RBIs. He set team records in a game for hits, runs, total bases (16) and tied for the team lead in homers. He became just the seventh player in Mets history to homer three times.
He also had two putouts and three assists, helping Yoshii to his ninth win of the season. Yoshii allowed two hits and struck out eight in six shutout innings.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Alfonzo’s game is that it came during a mini-slump. In his previous 10 games, Alfonzo had just six hits in 39 at-bats and had a .154/.267/.308 line.
“Every player goes through a slump,” Alfonzo told Judy Battista of the New York Times after his 3-HR game. ”I tried to find out what I was doing wrong. Every day, I try to be positive and to hit the ball really hard. The home runs, I don’t think about. They just come.”
Alfonzo played for the Mets from 1995-2002. In his eight years with the club, he amassed a career .292/.367/.445 line in 4,449 PA. He left as a free agent following a season where he posted an .851 OPS as a 28-year old. Alfonzo never came close to those numbers again.
He bounced around from the Giants to the Angels to the Blue Jays and his major league career was over after the 2006 season. He bounced around with several independent leagues, made it back to the affiliated minors, even spending time in the Mets’ farm system in 2006. He last played with the Newark Bears in 2010.
Alfonzo is now a minor league hitting coach for the Houston Astros. Perhaps not a glorious end to his career, but Alfonzo was always a fan favorite when he was with the Mets. And on August 30, 1999, he had the best day in club history.