Skip to main content

Stars in Alignment

Check back in this weekend, as I'll have another "Minutiae Break," albeit a rather sad one related to Dwight Gooden's arrest on Thursday.

The Mets have had more than their share of unusual walk-off moments against the San Francisco Giants. A cursory glance at my database shows the presence of the five-run rally, the muffed pop up, the 1-0 14th-inning triumph and a bunch of walk-off walks. For whatever reason, it seems that when these two teams meet, the stars align with the rest of the baseball world to produce something memorable.

On August 31, 1990, the Mets were 1 1/2 games behind the Pirates for first place in the NL East and hosting San Francisco, while Pittsburgh was visiting Houston. This was right on the eve of the postseason roster deadline, one in which, on the cusp of the trade deadline, the Mets obtained Tommy Herr, Charlie O'Brien and Pat Tabler in separate last-minute deals, but the events on the field proved to be more important. Both games turned into pitchers duels. At Shea, Mets ace Frank Viola battled Don Robinson, while in Houston, Pirates southpaw Zane Smith faced Astros ace Mike Scott.

The outlook didn't look brilliant for the Flushing 9 that night, The scoreboard showed them down by two, 3-1, while the Pirates led, 2-0, with the help of a home run by future Met Jay Bell, and both games were running not quite simultaneously, but close enough that it looked like Pittsburgh would add a game to its lead as the season headed into September.

It looked like the Mets would go meekly in the ninth as Robinson retired Tom O'Malley on a flyout, then struck out Darryl Boston to position himself and batterymate Gary Carter within one out of a win. Then the Mets staged a rally, reminiscent of October 25, 1986. Dave Magadan singled, and scored when Greg Jefferies' double chased Robinson in favor of closer Steve Bedrosian. Giants manager Roger Craig decided to gamble, walking Darryl Strawberry to put the winning run on base. Still, Bedrosian, the closer, needed only one more out. He didn't get it. Kevin McReynolds whacked a fastball away past diving shortstop Mike Benjamin, for a base hit that scored Jefferies, tying the game at three.

Next up was shortstop Howard Johnson, who wasn't having a great season after a terrific 1989, but had shown flashes of brilliance enough to finish the campaign with 90 RBI. Johnson was a big-time pull hitter and turned on a Bedrosian offering, that hung in the air for nearly five full seconds along the right field line. Giants rightfielder Mike Kingery, inserted in the ninth for defense, sprinted towards the ball, turning the scene into a high-speed chase. Kingery dove, but hadn't reached full stretch as he reached out with his glove. The ball landed a few inches to his left, about a foot inside the foul line. Strawberry came home, arms raised, with the winning run.

"What a game! What a game for the Mets!" shouted TV broadcaster Rusty Staub.

Meanwhile, a ways south of Shea Stadium, the ninth inning began in Houston, where Pirates manager Jim Leyland pulled Zane Smith in favor of Stan Belinda, hoping to finish a 2-0 win. That didn't look like it was going to be an issue as Belinda set down Ken Caminiti and Glenn Davis to move within an out of victory. But this was one of those bizarre nights in which the Baseball Gods appeared to be working in tandem. Astros catcher Craig Biggio singled, then scored when pinch-hitter Casey Candaele doubled, making it a 2-1 game. The ever-nervous Leyland made a pitching change, getting the lefty-lefty matchup he wanted by bringing in Bob Patterson to pitch to Franklin Stubbs. That was foiled when Stubbs singled to right, bringing in Candaele with the tying run.

This was one of those days when not having a great closer really cost the Pirates (another would be in 1992 when the Braves beat Pittsburgh with a three-run ninth in Game 7 of the NLCS). Leyland again made a pitching change, bringing in Bill Landrum after Dave Rohde singled to advance Stubbs to second. Pinch-hitter Glenn Wilson didn't mind facing the righty. He was a tough out regardless, and on this occasion, he singled to right field. Bobby Bonilla scooped the ball up with that sarcastic sneer Mets fans would come to know, as Stubbs scored uncontested, giving the Astros a win, the Pirates a crushing loss, and putting the Mets within 1/2 a game of first place.

True Metfranciscos know...Howard Johnson is the only Mets player with two walk-off hits against the Giants. Ron Swoboda won two games via walk-off for the Mets against the Giants, but one came via walk-off walk.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Cliff Notes

Alright, so it's 2 days later and the challenge for me now, after reading through about a dozen game stories and listening to talk radio, is to provide a fresh perspective on walk-off #324. If you're going to be a serious reader of this blog, you know what happened already, so let's look at what made this particular walk-off stand out. It would seem that the place to start is with the idea that everything broke just right on both sides of the ball. Particularly, I'm talking about Carlos Beltran's catch in the 7th inning, where he went over the center field fence to rob Jose Molina of a home run. Every no-hitter seems to have one defensive gem that makes it possible and perhaps that's true of great walk-off moments as well (We'll be looking into that!) Marlon Anderson's home run required a remarkable combination of events. It was only the sixth inside-the-park home run at Shea Stadium by a Met and the first since Darryl Strawberry in 1989. It required t

Walk-Offs in Movies, TV, and Other Places

Note: I'm leaving this post up through the end of the week, a) because I don't have time to pump out something new and b)because I was hoping to build a really good list of entertainment industry walk-offs...so if you're looking for something new, check back on Monday or so... Of course, if there's a major trade or move, I'll adjust and try to post something... In the meantime, click on the "Table of Contents" link as well. It has been updated. SPOILER ALERT: Read at your own risk Caught the ending of "A League of Their Own" on one of the movie channels the other day and it got me to thinking that it would be fun to compile a list of walk-offs from movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. Here's the start, and only the start, as I spent about 30 minutes or so thinking it over Help me fill in the blanks by filling out the comments section. "A League of Their Own"-- Racine beats Rockford for the All-American Girls

The greatness and the frustration of Nolan Ryan the Met

I was looking over dominant pitching versus opponents and over various stretches in Mets history and came upon one I found interesting. In his first six starts in 1971, Nolan Ryan went 5-1 with an 0.77 ERA. In 46 2/3 innings, he allowed 19 hits and struck out 47. Opponents hit .121 and slugged .172 against him. And oh yes, he walked 37 batters (!), or more than 7 per 9 innings. As you go back through those six starts, you can see both the brilliance and the frustration that eventually led to Ryan’s departure in one of the worst trades in baseball history. April 29 at Cardinals – 6 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 5 K, 8 BB Ryan’s first start of the season was 7-0 win over the Cardinals that completed a four-game sweep, though it wasn’t the most artful of efforts. Ryan walked eight, but held the Cardinals to only two hits. That included the thwarting of Joe Torre’s season-opening 22-game hitting streak. Torre would go on to win the MVP. The big moment in the game came with the score 1-0 in the