August 14, 1986: Mitchell Decks Cards in DH Opener

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Date: August 14, 1986
Mets starter: Ron Darling
Mets: 4
Cardinals: 3
Winning pitcher: Roger McDowell
Key player(s): Kevin Mitchell, Mookie Wilson
Key play: Mitchell’s home run and single

The Mets faced the Cardinals in a doubleheader on a Thursday evening at Shea Stadium. The teams began a six-game weekend series with the opener of the twinbill. Kevin Mitchell drove in three runs in a 4-3 Mets win over St. Louis.

Ron Darling and the Cards’ Tim Conroy each pitched a scoreless first inning. With one out in the top of the second, Terry Pendleton homered for a 1-0 St. Louis lead. John Morris flied out to center fielder Mookie Wilson and a strikeout of Clint Hurdle ended the inning. Ray Knight hit a one-out single in the bottom half. Knight advanced to third base on a double by Tim Teufel and scored the tying run on Rafael Santana’s fielder’s choice ground ball. Conroy then threw a called third strike past Darling for the inning’s final out.

After scoreless third and fourth innings, Hurdle and Mike LaValliere drew back-to-back walks to begin the top of the fifth. Conroy followed with a bunt on which Darling threw to third baseman Knight for an out on Hurdle. Vince Coleman singled to drive home LaValliere for a one-run Redbirds lead and Ozzie Smith popped out to shortstop Santana. Darling retired Tommy Herr on an inning-ending fly ball to Wilson and doubled to lead off the bottom half. Wilson flied out to center fielder Coleman, who threw to third baseman Pendleton for an out on Darling and a double play. Conroy then struck out Mitchell to finish off the inning.

Darling set down the Cardinals in order in the top of the sixth. Conroy hurled a scoreless bottom half and Darling gave up only a single to Hurdle in the top of the seventh. Wilson doubled with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Mitchell slugged a two-run homer to give the Mets a 3-2 lead and Keith Hernandez hit a single to right field. St. Louis reliever Ray Soff got Gary Carter on a grounder to Pendleton for the inning’s third out. For the Mets, reliever Jesse Orosco yielded just a single to Curt Ford in the top of the eighth. Soff then pitched a perfect bottom half.

Pinch-hitter Tito Landrum singled with one out in the top of the ninth inning. Pinch-hitter Alan Knicely drew a walk and a pinch-hit single by Tom Lawless loaded the bases. Coleman reached on an error by Santana that allowed Landrum to score and tie the game. With Smith at bat against Mets’ reliever Roger McDowell, pinch-runner Andy Van Slyke got caught on an attempted steal of home and was tagged out by McDowell. Roger then retired Smith on a grounder to Knight to close out the inning.

Santana doubled against Cards’ reliever Todd Worrell to begin the bottom of the ninth. Wally Backman grounded out to Pendleton and a single by Wilson ensued. On his own hit, Mookie went to second base as Coleman’s throw to catcher Steve Lake caught Santana at home for the inning’s second out. Mitchell then delivered a single to score Wilson and end the game. The Mets had a thrilling win to start the doubleheader.