In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopeda.com
The New York Mets complete a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a 5-3 win at Busch Stadium. Bob Ojeda goes the distance as the Mets win their ninth consecutive game to improve to 11-3. The Mets began the series with a half-game lead end it with a four-game cushion. The Cardinals had won the East in 1985, having a tight race with the Mets. The Mets would win the division in a runaway, posting a record of 108-54 on the way to a World Championship.
The 1985 season ended in bitter disappointment for the New York Mets as they fell three games short of the National League East, posting a record of 98-64. The Mets battled the St. Louis Cardinals for first place but settled for second after the Cardinals posted a record of 101-61. The division title was decided in the final week of the season, as the Cardinals held a three-game lead over the Mets with six games left. The Mets won the first two games of a three-game series at Busch Stadium but could not complete the sweep necessary to keep their hopes alive.
As Spring Training began in 1986, Mets manager Davey Johnson boasted that the Mets would dominate the East. The Mets had to deal with three rainouts in the early season as they started 2-3, including a loss to the Cardinals in the home opener. However, the Mets quickly recovered and won their next five games and went into St. Louis with first place on the line. It is said that pennants are never won in April, but this series would prove otherwise.
On Thursday, April 24th, the series began with Ron Darling starting for the Mets against Bob Forsch. The Mets took the lead in the second inning as Darryl Strawberry hit his first home run of the season. The Cardinals took the lead in the sixth inning as their top-of-the-lineup speed continued to give the Mets fits. Gary Carter had an RBI single in the eighth, but George Foster dropped a fly ball in the bottom of the inning, giving St. Louis a 4-2 lead entering the ninth.
Foster led off the ninth with a double as Todd Worrell came on for the save. After a Ray Knight groundball, the Mets tied the game on a two-run home run by Howard Johnson. Roger McDowell got the game into extra innings, shutting down St. Louis in the ninth, while George Foster gave the Mets a lead with an RBI single in the tenth. McDowell pitched around a leadoff error in the tenth to close out the game earning his second win of the year.
While Chornobyl was melting down on one side of the world, the Mets were going nuclear in St. Louis, winning the second game of the series 9-0, with Dwight Gooden allowing five hits and having five strikeouts. Ricky Horton matched Gooden for the first four innings before Ray Knight led off the fifth with a home run. The Mets added a run in the seventh on a Kevin Michell double. The Mets broke the game open with five runs in the eighth, while Knight added a second home run in the ninth with Gary Carter on base to stretch the lead to 9-0.
The third game was NBC's Saturday Game of the Week, as Danny Cox, who shut down the Mets in September, got the start against Sid Fernandez. Lenny Dykstra led the game off a home run as the Mets plated four runs in the first. The Cardinals scratched across a run in the bottom of the inning as the score remained 4-1 until the ninth inning.
Sid Fernandez was strong for the Mets as he allowed one hit over the first eight innings but gave up a lead-off single to Willie McGee in the ninth. Roger McDowell, in relief, gave up a double to Tom Herr and a single to Jack Clark, scoring two runs to make it a one-run game. After a single by Tito Landrum, Mike Heath failed to get his bunt down, as McDowell threw out pinch-runner Jose Oquendo at third. Jesse Orosco entered the game, with Busch Stadium waiting to erupt. Terry Pendleton hit Orosco's first pitch; the ball skimmed off the mound with Wally Backman making a diving stop to start a game-ending double play allowing the Mets to hang on to a 4-3 win.
The Sunday finale had Bob Ojeda getting the start for the Mets against John Tudor. The Cardinals scored first as Tim Teufel booted a ground ball in the first inning. The Mets tied the game in the fourth inning, as Kevin Mitchell hit the first home run of his career. The Mets added two runs, taking advantage of a Terry Pendleton error to take a 3-1 lead. The Cardinals got a run back on a home run by Willie McGee but did not get any closer. As Ojeda did the rest, Tim Teufel had a two-run bomb in the fifth. Jack Clark would make it 5-3 with a home run in the eighth, but Bob Ojeda would not be denied. Spreading three runs and nine hits while pitching a complete game.
Following the series, Cardinals manager conceded the division to the Mets, as the East was won. The Mets would win the division by 21 and a half games, posting a record of 108-64, as the Cardinals finished a distant third with a record of 78-83.