April 9, 1987: Mets Win Second Straight Over Bucs

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Date: April 9, 1987
Mets starter: Ron Darling
Mets: 4
Pirates: 2
Winning pitcher: Gene Walter
Key player(s): Darryl Strawberry, Kevin McReynolds, Howard Johnson
Key play: Strawberry’s and McReynolds’ home runs, Johnson’s sacrifice fly

The Mets faced the Pirates on a Thursday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The teams played the latter half of a two-game series to start the season. The Mets completed a series sweep with a 4-2 win over Pittsburgh.

After a scoreless first inning, Mets’ starter Ron Darling retired the side in order in the top of the second. To begin the bottom half, Darryl Strawberry and Kevin McReynolds connected for back-to-back home runs against the Bucs’ Doug Drabek. Howard Johnson went down on strikes and Rafael Santana flied out to center fielder Barry Bonds. Drabek then got Darling on a ground ball to second baseman Johnny Ray to end the inning.

Darling and Drabek each pitched a perfect third. Ron gave up just a single to Bobby Bonilla in the top of the fourth and Drabek set down the Mets in order in the bottom half. Jim Morrison hit a double to begin the top of the fifth. Mike Lavalliere drew a walk and Rafael Belliard was struck out. Drabek followed with a grounder on which first baseman Keith Hernandez threw to third baseman Johnson for an out on Morrison. Bonds drew a walk to load the bases and Darling retired Andy Van Slyke on an inning-ending fly ball to left fielder McReynolds. Drabek then set down all three batters on infield ground balls in the bottom half.

Darling shut down the Pirates in the top of the sixth. Drabek yielded only a single to Wally Backman in the bottom of the inning and Belliard singled against Darling to open the top of the seventh. Pinch-hitter R. J. Reynolds doubled to advance Belliard to third base. Bonds followed with a sacrifice fly to score Belliard with the Bucs’ first run. Van Slyke hit a double against Mets’ reliever Gene Walter to drive home Reynolds and tie the game at 2-2. Walter then got Ray to ground out to Johnson and retired Bonilla on a line drive to Howard that closed out the inning.

Strawberry hit a double against Pittsburgh reliever Logan Easley (in his major league debut) to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Darryl moved to third base on McReynolds’ ground out to Ray and came home on Johnson’s sacrifice fly for a 3-2 Mets lead. Santana grounded out to Easley to finish off the inning and New York’s Jesse Orosco hurled a perfect top of the eighth. Lenny Dykstra singled against Easley with one out in the bottom half. Backman got a bunt single and Pirates’ reliever Don Robinson retired Hernandez on a fly ball to Bonds. Gary Carter hit a single to bring home Dykstra with the Mets’ fourth run of the game. Trying to score on the play, Backman was out at home via a relay throw by first baseman Sid Bream to catcher Junior Ortiz to finish off the inning.

Orosco struck out pinch-hitter John Cangelosi to begin the top of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Mike Diaz also went down on strikes. Jesse then fanned Bonds to end the game. The Mets had their second consecutive victory to open the new season.