April 20, 1983: Backman and Wilson Bury Bucs

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Date: April 20, 1983
Mets starter: Mike Torrez
Mets: 7
Pirates: 5
Winning pitcher: Carlos Diaz
Key player(s): Wally Backman, Mookie Wilson
Key play: Backman’s two-run single, Wilson’s triple and RBI single

The Mets faced the Pirates in a doubleheader on a Wednesday evening at Shea Stadium. After winning the opener of the twinbill, the Mets looked for a sweep in the nighcap. Wally Backman and Mookie Wilson combined for five runs batted in as the Mets defeated Pittsburgh, 7-5.

Following a scoreless first inning, Jason Thompson drew a walk to lead off the top of the second. Mike Easler hit a single on which left fielder Rusty Staub made an error, putting Pirate runners on second and third base. Johnny Ray grounded out to second baseman Brian Giles to drive home Thompson and send Easler to third. On Dale Berra’s ensuing ground out to third baseman Backman, Easler came home with the Bucs’ second run. Mets’ starter Mike Torrez then retired Steve Nicosia on a ground ball back to the mound to end the inning.

Danny Heep drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the second. Mike Bishop doubled to advance Heep to third base. Backman hit a single to score Heep and Bishop with the tying runs and Giles singled to center field. Torrez popped up a bunt that was caught by Pittsburgh starter Lee Tunnell. Wilson followed with a triple that plated Backman and Giles for a 4-2 Mets lead. Tunnell then got Ron Gardenhire to ground out to second baseman Ray and finish off the inning.

Torrez and Tunnell each pitched a scoreless third. Easler drew a walk to begin the top of the fourth. Ray fouled out to Backman and a double by Berra brought home Easler. On Torrez’s strikeout of Nicosia, catcher Bishop made an error that allowed Berra to score and tie the game. Tunnell flied out to center fielder Wilson to close out the inning and shut down the Mets in the bottom half. Consecutive singles by Lee Lacy and Lee Mazzilli began the top of the fifth. Carlos Diaz came in to pitch for the Mets and got Richie Hebner to hit a force play grounder to back to the mound. Diaz then recorded strikeouts of Thompson and Easler to end the inning.

Wilson singled to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Mookie stole second base and Gardenhire flied out to center fielder Mazzilli. Dave Kingman popped out to Ray and Pirates’ reliever Rod Scurry completed a walk to Staub that was charged to Tunnell. Heep singled to load the bases and Wilson scored on a wild pitch to put the Mets back in front. Bishop drew a walk that reloaded the bases. Scurry then fanned Backman for the inning’s final out.

Ray drew a leadoff walk in the top of the sixth inning. Berra followed with a single that moved Ray to third base. Nicosia hit a ground ball to Giles for a double play on which Ray came home to retie the game at 5-5. Diaz got Brian Harper on an inning-ending grounder to Backman and the Mets were retired in order by Scurry in the bottom half. Diaz set down the Pirates 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh. Scurry then held the Mets to a double by Kingman in the bottom of the inning.

Diaz gave up only a single to Ray in a scoreless top of the eighth. With two outs in the bottom half, Giles and pinch-hitter George Foster drew back-to-back walks against Pittsburgh reliever Kent Tekulve. Wilson singled to drive home Giles with the go-ahead run. On the play, an error by catcher Nicosia allowed Foster to score the Mets’ seventh run of the game. Tekulve then retired Gardenhire on a ground ball to first baseman Thompson to finish off the inning.

Mets’ reliever Neil Allen got Nicosia on a grounder to shortstop Gardenhire to open the top of the ninth. Harper hit a fly ball to Wilson for the inning’s second out. Allen then got Lacy to ground out to Giles and end the game. The Mets had a sweep of the doubleheader.


  • Bishop’s double was his only hit in the major leagues.
  • The save for Allen was his 69th and last as a Met.