April 11, 1991: Whitehurst Wins on Birthday

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Date: April 11, 1991
Mets starter: Wally Whitehurst
Mets: 6
Expos: 3
Winning pitcher: Wally Whitehurst
Key player(s): Wally Whitehurst, Howard Johnson, Vince Coleman
Key play: Johnson’s sacrifice flies, Coleman’s double

The Mets faced the Expos on a Thursday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the opener of a four-game series. On his 27th birthday, Wally Whitehurst recorded his first win as a starting pitcher in a 6-3 Mets victory over Montreal.

Whitehurst set down the side in order in the top of the first inning. Vince Coleman and Gregg Jefferies drew consecutive walks against Expos’ starter Rick Mahler to begin the bottom half. A passed ball by catcher Nelson Santovenia moved the runners to second and third base before Dave Magadan grounded out to Mahler. Hubie Brooks drew a walk to load the bases and Howard Johnson hit a sacrifice fly to score Coleman for a 1-0 Mets lead. Mahler then retired Daryl Boston on a grounder to second baseman Delino DeShields for the third out.

Whitehurst pitched a perfect top of the second. Tommy Herr got a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning. Rick Cerone singled and Whitehurst’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third base. Coleman followed with a double to drive home Herr and Cerone, increasing the Mets’ lead to 3-0. Jefferies was retired on a fly ball to center fielder Dave Martinez. Magadan then lined out to Martinez to end the inning.

Spike Owen hit a one-out single in the top of the third. Owen advanced to second base on Mahler’s sacrifice bunt and came around to score on a triple by DeShields. Martinez singled to score DeShields and reduce the Mets’ lead to 3-2. With Ivan Calderon at bat, Martinez was caught stealing on catcher Cerone’s throw to second baseman Herr for the inning’s final out. Mahler then yielded only a single to Boston in the bottom half.

Whitehurst retired the Expos 1-2-3 in the top of the fourth. Mahler set down the Mets on three straight infield ground balls in the bottom of the inning and Wally hurled a scoreless top of the fifth. Jefferies drew a walk against Mahler to open the bottom half. Magadan doubled to score Jefferies and advanced to third base on Brooks’ ground out to DeShields. Against Montreal reliever Mel Rojas, Johnson hit his second sacrifice fly of the game to bring home Magadan for a 5-2 Mets lead. Rojas then got Boston to ground out to first baseman Andres Galarraga and finish off the inning.

Whitehurst pitched a perfect top of the sixth. The Mets failed to score after loading the bases against Rojas in the bottom half and Wally set down the Expos in order once again in the top of the seventh. Brooks hit a double to lead off the bottom of the inning. Johnson singled and Boston flied out to left fielder Calderon. Herr followed with a sacrifice fly to bring home Brooks and extend the Mets’ lead to 6-2. With Cerone at the plate, Johnson was caught stealing second on Santovenia’s throw to shortstop Owen to end the inning.

Santovenia singled to begin the top of the eighth. Owen drew a walk and Whitehurst was replaced on the mound by Mets’ reliever Alejandro Pena. Pinch-hitter Eric Bullock hit a force play ground ball back to Pena and a strikeout of DeShields followed. Pena retired Martinez on fly ball to left fielder Boston to close out the inning. Expos’ reliever Bill Long then pitched a scoreless bottom half.

Tim Wallach got a one-out single against Pena in the top of the ninth. Larry Walker popped out to second baseman Keith Miller and a double by Galarraga ensued. Santovenia singled to bring home Wallach with the third Montreal run. Mets’ reliever John Franco then retired pinch-hitter Marquis Grissom on a pop-up to Miller that ended the game. The Mets had a series-opening victory as Whitehurst celebrated his birthday with his first win as a major league starter.