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Queens Chronicle

Our hometown heroes for 50 years — Part XIII: 2002-2006

A New York Mets anniversary special

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Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 9:28 am, Thu Jul 19, 2012.

The first years of the 21st century were not kind to the Mets, but after Willie Randolph took over as manager in 2005, things started to turn around, and the next year the Amazin’s took their first division title in nearly 20 years.

2002

Record: 75-87, fifth in National League East.

As of July 31, the Mets are 55-51, but a disastrous August (12-game losing streak, 6-21 overall) dooms them to a fifth-place finish.

Mike Piazza again leads the club with 33 home runs and 98 RBIs; newcomer Mo Vaughn hits 26 after a slow first half. Al Leiter goes 13-13, Pedro Astacio is 12-11, and Steve Trachsel is 11-11. Armando Benitez saves 33. Following the end of the season, Bobby Valentine is fired as manager and replaced by Art Howe.

2003

Record: 66-95, fifth in National League East.

With new manager Art Howe at the helm, the Mets suffer their worst season in 10 years.

Trachsel leads the pitching staff with a 16-10 mark, including a one-hit shutout over the Angels on June 15. Leiter is 15-9, while Tom Glavine, acquired via free agency from Atlanta, is 9-14.

With Piazza missing more than half of the season, Cliff Floyd leads in RBIs with 68 and ties Jeromy Burnitz in home runs with 18.

Jose Reyes makes his major league debut and scores 47 runs in just 69 games.

 

2004

Record: 71-91, fourth in National League East.

The Mets flirt with .500 for much of the season before losing 29 of their last 41 games. Mike Cameron leads with 30 homers and 76 RBIs. David Wright makes his major league debut and hits 14 homers and drives in 40 in just 69 games. Glavine is 11-14 and Trachsel is 12-13.

The Mets win the season series from the Yankees (4-2) for the first time in Subway Series history, which includes a three-game sweep at Shea, also a first. At the end of the season, Howe is fired and replaced by Willie Randolph.

2005

Record: 83-79, third in National League East.

Under new manager Willie Randolph, the Mets overcome a 0-5 start to finish over .500 for the first time since 2001.

Floyd leads in home runs with 34 and drives in 98 runs; Wright hits 27 home runs, scores 99 and drives in 102; Piazza, in his last year with the Mets, hits 19 home runs and drives in 62 in 113 games. Reyes scores 99 to tie Wright for the club lead.

Newcomer Pedro Martinez leads the staff at 15-8, while Glavine goes 13-13. The highlight of season is a 5-3 win over the Angels on June 11, the winning runs coming on Floyd’s walk-off three-run homer. The Mets also win a series at Yankee Stadium for the first time ever.

 

2006

Record: 97-65, National League East Champions, Division Series winners.

The Mets get off to their best start ever, 10-2, and easily win their first division title since 1988.

Reyes, batting leadoff, scores 122 runs. Carlos Beltran scores a team record 127 runs, while tying another one with 41 home runs; he also drives in 116. Wright hits 26 home runs and also drives in 116, while newcomer Carlos Delgado hits 38 homers and drives in 114. On the mound, Glavine is 15-7 and Trachsel is 15-8, while newcomer Billy Wagner saves 40.

In the Division Series, the Mets avenge their 1988 League Championship Series loss by sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers in three games. In the LCS, against St. Louis, the Mets win the opener at Shea 2-0 but lose the second game 9-6. After losing Game 3 5-0, they tie the series with a 12-5 win in Game 4, but the Cardinals win Game 5 4-2. Back home at Shea, the Mets force a seventh game with a 4-2 win.

In Game 7, the score is tied 1-1 in the top of the ninth, when Yadier Molina hits a two-run homer to give the Cardinals a 3-1 lead. In the bottom of the ninth, the Mets have the bases loaded with two outs, when Beltran is called out on strikes to end the team’s dream of a World Series.

Over the course of the year, the Mets draw 3,379,535 fans to Shea.   

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