In 1985, under the leadership of former club shortstop Bob Lillis, the Astros had gone 83–79, finishing third in the National League West. In other words, they sometimes gained the advantage only to kick it right back to you before you even realized you had it.”[fn]Izenberg, The Greatest Game Ever Played, 91.[/fn]. I really haven’t had a great series. The 1986 National League Championship Series was a best-of-the seven Major League Baseball postseason series between the NL East champion New York Mets and NL West champion Houston Astros.It is the lone MLB playoff series in which the opponents were two "expansion" teams that had begun play in the same season and was won by the Mets, four games to two, culminating with their 7–6… It admired the Yankees, but loved the underdog like the old Dodgers.
Over the next four years, Scott won 14 games for the New York club, while losing 27. Although he only struck out five, Scott induced 13 ground ball outs and issued no walks. The 1986 Mets, their tenacity tested by the Astros, are no underdogs but they sure are easy to love.”[fn]“New York, of the National League,” New York Times, October 17, 1986. Disappointment thy name is Houston. The game was over, and the shadow of Mike Scott was vanquished. Whether one believed that Scott enjoyed super powers, employed an emery board to doctor the ball, or simply possessed two superior pitches, Scott dominated the Mets with a 3–1 victory. Orosco struck out Doran to start the inning, but the next batter, Billy Hatcher, who hit only six home runs during the regular season, worked Orosco to a three-two count before hitting a home run off the left-field foul pole screen. Based upon his interviews, Izenberg concluded that the entire Mets team was convinced that they could not beat Scott. [/fn], Yet for much of the series the Astros had outplayed the Mets.
Doran proceeded to steal second, and the next batter, Hatcher, hit a ground ball to Knight at third who flipped the ball to shortstop Santana covering third in an effort to retire Doran. [fn]Roger Angell, “The Arms Talks,” The New Yorker, 63 (May 4, 1987), 103–23; and Dennis Tuttle, “The Split Decision: Does It End Careers or Resurrect Them?,” USA Today Baseball Weekly (March 27, 1988), 12–7.[/fn]. [/fn], Brocklander’s decision gave a lift to the Mets. Ashby then ended the inning with a soft liner to Mets shortstop Rafael Santana. Popular left fielder Jose Cruz, who at age 39 was perhaps being given his last opportunity to play in a World Series, looped a single to right, plating Davis for a 3–0 Houston lead and sending Bass to third. The dangerous Dykstra was intentionally passed to load the bases, and Lopez responded by striking out Mookie Wilson. . Earlier in the season, Craig suggested that the movement on Scott’s pitches was due to scuffing the ball—a charge that the Mets would parrot during the League Championship Series. Both Orosco and Lopez were effective in the 15th, but in the 16th inning the game added a new note of high drama.
The ’86 Mets were led by first baseman Keith Hernandez (.310 batting average); outfielders Darryl Strawberry (27 home runs and 93 runs batted in), Lenny Dykstra (.295), and Mookie Wilson (.289); catcher Gary Carter (24 home runs and 105 runs batted in); and second baseman Wally Backman (.320). Game Five was scoreless in the top of the second when a controversial call by first base umpire Fred Brocklander may have altered the outcome of the series. Although Strawberry struck out 12 times in 22 at bats in the series with a .227 batting average, he had started what proved to be the winning rally. Going into this series, some people were saying that we hadn’t had to win a ‘must’ game all season.
I don’t want to watch the World Series on television. Visit Baseball-Reference.com for the complete box score, play-by-play, and win probability The Astros now trailed by two runs, and the partisan crowd was growing quiet. Billy Hatcher summed up the pain many felt, explaining, “Any time you play a one-run game, a sixteen-inning game, it just eats you up. [/fn], Trying to preclude a Game Seven, Johnson emptied his bullpen and bench. Perhaps it was appropriate that the Mets were the nemesis for Houston in 1986. With his career in jeopardy, Scott followed the advice of teammate Enos Cabell. The Astros were now down to their last out with the club’s best power hitter, Glenn Davis, approaching the plate. Knepper, however, was sharp, and it looked like three runs might be enough. The Astros now entered the bottom of the 16th trailing 7–4.
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