In January 2004, Braden Looper signed with the New York Mets as a free agent and had his best season to date going 2-5 with 29 saves and a 2.70 ERA. However, Looper had many crucial blown saves during the 2005 season, including blown saves on Opening Day, in a game that would have clinched a Met sweep at Yankee Stadium and as part of an eight-run collapse by the Mets pen against the Nationals. These performances still fresh in fans’ minds, he was greeted with loud boos and “Looper sucks!” chants upon his returns to Shea with the Cardinals, most prominently during the 2006 NLCS.
In September 2005 Looper underwent shoulder surgery to repair a blown AC joint. This, in addition to the emergence of Aaron Heilman and acquisition by the Mets of other relief pitchers, kept the Mets from picking up his $5 million option for 2006. Indeed, on December 15, 2005, he signed a three-year, $13.5M contract with the Cardinals to set up star closer and former Met Jason Isringhausen.
Off To A Bad Start or Finish
Friday, April 9, 2004
Todd Zeile doubled to break an 11th-inning tie Friday night, leading New York to a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Expos.
In the bottom of the ninth with the score tied it at 2, Montreal’s Brian Schneider hit a line drive to left field that Shane Spencer caught at the warning track.The Expos tied it in the eighth after Schneider singled off Mike Stanton and pinch-hitter Jamey Carroll walked. Peter Bergeron sacrificed and new Mets closer Braden Looper allowed a two-run double to Vidro.
Ex-Mates Loop Braden
Saturday, May 29, 2004
Mike Lowell and Braden Looper shared many great moments together as teammates. They had another on Saturday, one that only Lowell will recall fondly.
Lowell homered off Looper, Florida’s former closer, in the 10th inning to give the Marlins a 3-2 victory over the New York Mets. The homer, Lowell’s 14th, tied him for the major league lead and helped Florida (29-20) move a season-best nine games over .500.
Looper (0-1) was making his first appearance in his former home park since signing with the Mets in the offseason. He worked out of a jam in the ninth, but couldn’t retire Lowell in the 10th, giving up a homer that easily cleared the left-field wall.
Ex-Mates Do In Looper Again
Sunday, May 30, 2004=
Miguel Cabrera tied it with an RBI single off closer Braden Looper, who gave up four straight hits in the ninth, spoiling Scott Erickson’s bid for his first major league win in nearly two years.
Shane Spencer hit a three-run homer for the Mets, who built a 5-2 lead for Erickson in his first big league appearance since Aug. 31, 2002, with Baltimore.
But Cabrera hit a two-run single off Orber Moreno in the seventh, and the Marlins jumped on Looper (2-2), their ex-teammate, two innings later.
“Scotty threw a great game and deserved to get the win. I just didn’t get the job done,” Looper said.
It was Looper’s third blown save in 22 chances.
Looper Wastes Effort
Thursday June 10, 2004
The Mets were one out from winning, but pinch-hitter Jose Offerman hit a tying double in the ninth off closer Braden Looper to spoil a strong outing by starter Matt Ginter.
Looper blew his second save of the year when Matthew LeCroy singled with two outs and Offerman drove him in with a double to the wall in left-center field.
“I wish I could have had that one back,” Looper said.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Brad Ausmus and the Houston Astros trudged through the slop to a much-needed victory.
Ausmus’ RBI single in the 10th inning sent Houston to a 5-4 win over the New York Mets on a strange and slippery Wednesday night at Shea Stadium. Morgan Ensberg had three hits and scored twice for the Astros, who won for only the second time in seven games.
Morgan Ensberg led off the 10th with an infield single against Braden Looper (2-3), stole second and went to third on Jose Vizcaino’s groundout.
Giants Comeback To Beat Mets
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Tom Glavine left with a 7-5 lead, but the Giants tied it in the sixth when Barry Bonds hit an RBI double and scored on Dustin Mohr’s single.
Wilson Delgado’s RBI single in the eighth gave the Mets the lead, but Mike DeJean gave it right back in the bottom half.
Braden Looper then blew a lead in the 10th after the Mets went back ahead on Jason Phillips’ RBI single. Looper gave up singles to Grissom and Bonds to open the inning and San Francisco tied it on Edgardo Alfonzo’s double-play grounder.
Burrell Kills Another Met Pitcher
Saturday, September 11, 2004
There are five teams ahead of them and the calendar is counting down the days in the season. Still, the Philadelphia Phillies think they have a shot at the NL wild card, especially after Saturday’s 11-9, 13-inning victory over the New York Mets.
David Bell had four hits, including a pair of home runs. The second broke a 9-9 tie and lifted the Phillies to their fifth straight victory and eighth in the last nine games following a 1-9 homestand.
Pat Burrell’s 21st home run of the season, a two-run shot in the eighth off Braden Looper, had put the Phillies ahead for the first time at 7-6. It was the 25th homer of his career against New York, his 13th at Shea Stadium.
Cubs Rally Against Looper
Friday, September 24, 2004
The “Let’s Go Cubs!” chant began almost immediately after Derrek Lee singled to give Chicago the lead in the 10th inning.
Chicago gave its fans plenty to cheer about Friday night, rallying for a 2-1 victory over the Mets and maintaining its lead over San Francisco in the NL wild-card race.
Mark Grudzielanek was walked by Braden Looper (2-4), pitching for the third straight night, to lead off the 10th. Grudzielanek advanced to second on Corey Patterson’s tapper in front of the plate — he failed twice at a sacrifice attempt — and scored on Lee’s single to center with one out.
Looper Has Meltdown After Matsui Error
Saturday, October 2, 2004
Brad Wilkerson’s three-run homer in the ninth inning led the Expos to a 6-3 victory over the New York Mets on Saturday night.
Brad Wilkerson connected against reliever Braden Looper (2-5) after an error by Kaz Matsui — making his second start at second base — and a walk to pinch-hitter Ryan Church.
Looper Blows Pedro Opening Day Performance
Monday, April 4, 2005
Pedro Martinez blew ’em away. Carlos Beltran knocked ’em in. Everything was going exactly according to plan for the new-look Mets — until Adam Dunn exposed the one area they overlooked.
Adam Dunn’s second homer of the game tied it in the ninth, and Joe Randa followed with a solo shot off Braden Looper that sent the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-6 victory Monday in front of the biggest crowd in Great American Ball Park’s history.
“I’ve been through this a lot,” said Looper, who had 29 saves in 34 chances last season. “I’ve definitely given up my share of whatever you want to call it. But on Opening Day, it stinks. Pedro pitched a great game. He struck out the world.”
Manny Aybar gave up Jason LaRue’s RBI double in the seventh. Looper then let it slip away in only 14 pitches — Austin Kearns’ single, Dunn’s homer and Randa’s final swing. The third baseman raised his fist as he rounded first base, then got pummeled by his new teammates at home plate.
Castro Saves Looper
Saturday, April 16, 2005
More than 55,000 fans filed into Shea Stadium to see Pedro Martinez pitch another gem.
They went home happy thanks to Ramon Castro.
The backup catcher singled home the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning as the New York Mets beat the Florida Marlins 4-3 on Saturday for their sixth straight victory.
Braden Looper (1-1) couldn’t hold the lead. He gave up three hits in the ninth, including Juan Encarnacion’s tying double with two outs, for his second blown save in three chances this year.
Looper Blows Another Pedro Start
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Trailing 3-0 going into the fifth inning — thanks partly to Pedro Martinez’s first RBI in nearly nine years, the Angels bounced back after blowing a 3-2 lead in the 10th inning Saturday night and took two of three from the Mets to finish their 12-game road trip 6-6.
“They called that an error?” Angels manager Mike Scioscia asked. “I thought it was a clean hit all the way. It took a nasty hop to his backhand, and even if he picks it clean he’s going to have to make a heck of a throw to get Ersty.”
Mets closer Braden Looper (2-2) walked Jose Molina to start the ninth. Robb Quinlan advanced to second on pinch-hitter Josh Paul’s sacrifice and moved to third on a groundout. Darrin Erstad then hit a groundball down the third-base line that David Wright tried to backhand, but ball hopped up high and skipped off his glove, allowing Quinlan to score.
Looper Lets Bombers Back In
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Jason Giambi saved the New York Yankees from a Subway Series sweep.
Giambi capped a ninth-inning rally with a two-run single and the Yankees avoided an embarrassing three-game sweep with a 5-4 victory over the New York Mets on Sunday night.
Taking advantage of more sloppy defense by their crosstown rivals, the Mets scored three unearned runs in the seventh off Randy Johnson to take a 4-1 lead.
Derek Jeter, who went 1-for-3 with two walks on his 31st birthday, and Alex Rodriguez began the comeback with RBI singles in the bottom half off Aaron Heilman, and the Yankees came through in the ninth against Braden Looper (2-3).
“You can’t walk the leadoff hitter. There’s no excuse for that,” said Looper, who had converted 14 straight save chances. “We had a one-run lead and we should have won the game. I didn’t do my job. I stunk.”
Looper Blows Game Twice
Friday, July 8, 2005
A terrible at-bat the night before made Tike Redman determined to get Pittsburgh’s rally going. A decisive at-bat the night before made Humberto Cota confident he could finish off the Pirates’ most meaningful victory of the season.
Cota’s game-winning single completed a frantic comeback in the 10th inning after Mets closer Braden Looper wasted a four-run lead in the ninth, and the Pittsburgh Pirates stunned New York 6-5 Friday night.
The Mets, coming off three wins in a four-game series at NL East leader Washington, opened a 5-1 lead on Ramon Castro’s homer and RBI single, but one of the league’s most reliable closers couldn’t hold it.
With Looper (2-4) still on in the 10th, Rob Mackowiak reached on second baseman Miguel Cairo’s two-base error when his hard throw from short range handcuffed first baseman Jose Offerman. After Jose Castillo grounded out, the left-handed hitting Daryle Ward was intentionally walked so Looper could face the right-handed Cota.
Opposing right-handed batters had only a .212 average against Looper before Cota lined the single into left field. After Looper came in, pinch-hitter Tike Redman repeatedly fouled off pitches during a 12-pitch at-bat before grounding a two-run single up the middle to make it 5-3. Despite giving up the hit, Looper still had a chance for his 21st save in 24 opportunities.
Looper Blows Yet Another Pedro Start
Wednesday, August 3, 2005
One night after blowing a lead, the Milwaukee Brewers handled the late innings perfectly.
Lyle Overbay singled home two runs in the ninth, and the Brewers rallied after Pedro Martinez left to beat the New York Mets 6-4 Wednesday.
Bill Hall homered in the seventh to end Martinez’s most dominant stretch of the game and Carlos Lee added a tying shot in the eighth for the Brewers, who couldn’t hold a four-run lead in Tuesday’s 11-inning loss but rallied against the Mets’ bullpen Wednesday.
With two outs in the ninth, Wes Helms reached on an infield single against Mets closer Braden Looper (4-5) and Brady Clark singled. Looper walked Rickie Weeks, loading the bases, before Overbay singled up the middle for a 6-4 lead.
Looper Makes Excuses
Friday, August 12, 2005
Dioner Navarro hit his first major league home run with two outs in the 10th inning and the Dodgers rallied to beat the injury-hampered Mets 7-6 Friday night.
Braden Looper (4-6), pitching for the first time in six days, started the 10th and retired his first two batters. But Navarro drove a 3-2 pitch into the pavilion seats in right-center — earning his first curtain call in the big leagues.
“It’s pretty exciting. I’m going to go out and enjoy it tonight,” Navarro said.
Looper admitted afterward that was wasn’t at his best because of the inactivity.
“I was a little rusty,” the Mets’ closer said. “You try to throw as many bullpens you can in-between. It’s not the same as getting in the game, but there’s no excuses. You have to make a pitch, but I just left that one pitch up and out over the plate and he made me pay for it.”
Looper Blows Another Pedro Start Again
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Brian Schneider drove in four runs as the Nationals rallied against the New York bullpen. His two-run, two-out double in the ninth against Mets closer Braden Looper capped Washington’s comeback and cost Pedro Martinez his first win in almost a month.
Martinez left after six innings of shutout ball, but the Mets bullpen gave it all back.
Danny Graves started the seventh with a walk to Schneider. After an infield out, Reyes threw low on Cristian Guzman’s grounder for an error, giving Washington runners at first and third. Pinch-hitter Carlos Baerga doubled for one run and Graves walked Brad Wilkerson. Carroll’s single made it 8-2 and finished Graves.
Dae-Sung Koo relieved and struck out Nick Johnson, but Church followed with a two-run single, making it 8-4. Aaron Heilman relieved and his first pitch hit Preston Wilson, loading the bases. Schneider followed with a two-run single, making it 8-6.
Heilman finally got the third out and sailed through a 1-2-3 eighth. Looper came on in the ninth, looking for his 25th save. He retired the first two batters but gave up singles to Church and Wilson before Schneider’s double tied it at 8.
Martinez took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of his last start at Los Angeles but wound up losing 2-1. He has not won since July 23, but this one seemed a cinch.
Looper Blows Up In Atlanta
Wednesday, September 7, 2005
Ryan Langerhans came through in the ninth inning. Then he topped himself in the 10th.
The rookie outfielder hit a two-out, two-run single and the Atlanta Braves rallied twice for a 4-3 victory over the slumping New York Mets, finishing off a three-game sweep in stunning fashion Wednesday night.
Langerhans was right in the middle of both rallies. He tied the score at 2 with an RBI double off Braden Looper (4-7) in the ninth.
After inheriting a bases-loaded, no-out jam from Looper, Shingo Takatsu was one pitch from giving the Mets a much-needed victory.
But Langerhans fought off one 3-2 pitch, then drove the next one to the gap in left-center to bring home the tying and winning runs.
Langerhans’ last two at-bats were right from the textbook. In the ninth, he fouled off three two-strike pitches before delivering off Looper’s ninth pitch, driving an opposite-field double to left-center.
New York squandered a chance for more runs in the 10th. With the bases still loaded after Woodward’s blooper to center, Ramon Castro lined out to shortstop Rafael Furcal, who flipped to second to double off David Wright.
Looper couldn’t even get an out in the 10th. Chipper Jones, who had 34 homers and 102 RBI in his career against the Mets, led off with a single to left. Andruw Jones was plunked in the back by Looper. After falling behind 0-2 on two failed bunt attempts, Julio Franco managed to coax a walk from Looper, loading the bases and bringing on Takatsu.
Looper Helps Mets Plan For Off-Season
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Vinny Castilla drove in the go-ahead run with two outs in the 10th inning after Braden Looper and the Mets’ sloppy defense blew a ninth-inning lead, and the Nationals beat New York 6-5 on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep.
Pinch-hitter Ryan Zimmerman singled to right, taking second when the ball got past Gerald Williams for an error. Pinch-runner Kenny Kelly went to third on a groundout before Looper hit pinch-hitter Jose Guillen with a pitch. With the infield in, second baseman Kaz Matsui let Brad Wilkerson’s grounder go under his glove for another error, tying the game. Looper kept it tied by getting Jamey Carroll to bounce into a double play with runners at the corners.
Looper Blows Eight Start Of The Year
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
After Florida’s slender wild-card hopes were jolted Wednesday night when the New York Mets scored in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Marlins 5-4.
Mets closer Braden Looper then got his eighth blown save of the season when he walked Paul Lo Duca and surrendered hits to Lowell and Harris, the all-time leader in pinch hits with 209 in 17 major league seasons.
Shingo Takatsu relieved Looper and Willingham singled home the go-ahead run.