April 26, 1986: Backman's Play Foils Redbirds

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Date: April 26, 1986
Mets starter: Sid Fernandez
Mets: 4
Cardinals: 3
Winning pitcher: Sid Fernandez
Key player(s): Sid Fernandez, Lenny Dykstra, Danny Heep, Wally Backman
Key play: Dykstra’s home run, Heep’s two-run single, Backman’s play in 9th

The Mets faced the Cardinals on a Saturday afternoon in St. Louis. The teams played the third of four games in a weekend series. In the ninth inning, Wally Backman made a diving stop of a ground ball and turned a double play to close out a 4-3 Mets win over the Redbirds.

Lenny Dykstra hit a home run against Cards’ starter Danny Cox to lead off the top of the first. Backman lined out to third baseman Terry Pendleton and a single by Keith Hernandez followed. Darryl Strawberry singled and advanced to third base on Gary Carter’s double that drove home Hernandez. Danny Heep hit a single to bring home Strawberry and Carter for a four-run Mets lead. Cox then got Ray Knight to hit a grounder to shortstop Ozzie Smith for an inning-ending double play.

Vince Coleman drew a walk against Mets’ starter Sid Fernandez to begin the bottom of the first. Coleman stole second base and Willie McGee grounded out to Fernandez. Tommy Herr singled to send Coleman to third. Jack Clark’s force play ground ball to third baseman Knight brought home Coleman and cut the Mets’ lead to 4-1. Tito Landrum flied out to center fielder Dykstra to end the inning and Cox gave up only a single to Howard Johnson in the top of the second. Fernandez hurled a perfect bottom half and Cox yielded only a single to Hernandez in the top of the third. Sid then struck out the side in order in the bottom of the inning.

Fernandez and Cardinals’ reliever Tim Conroy each pitched scoreless and hitless ball from the fourth inning to the eighth. St. Louis’s Ken Dayley gave up just a single to Heep in the top of the ninth and McGee singled against Fernandez to open the bottom half. Herr hit a double against Mets’ reliever Roger McDowell to bring home McGee. Clark singled to score Herr and reduce the New York lead to one run. Landrum got a bunt single and Mike Heath hit a ground ball on which McDowell threw to Knight for an out at third on pinch-runner Jose Oquendo. With reliever Jesse Orosco on the mound, Pendleton hit a grounder towards the middle of the infield. Backman made a diving stop and threw to shortstop Rafael Santana for an out on Heath. Santana then made a throw to first baseman Hernandez to complete a game-ending double play. The Mets had fought off a Redbirds rally effort and come away with a victory.