July 22, 1986: The Wild Night in Cincinnati

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Date: July 22, 1986
Mets starter: Bob Ojeda
Mets: 6
Reds: 3
Winning pitcher: Roger McDowell
Key player(s): Howard Johnson, Keith Hernandez
Key play: Parker's error in 9th, Johnson's homer in 14th

The Mets and Reds played on a Tuesday night at Riverfront Stadium. Each team had 21 players used in a crazy game that went 14 innings and took five hours to complete. When in finally ended, the Mets had a 6-3 win on Howard Johnson's three-run homer.

The Mets were shut down by Cincinnati's Scott Terry over the first four innings of the game. They got two singles in the second and a third-inning double by Keith Hernandez, but did not score. Meanwhile, Mets' starter Bob Ojeda allowed four hits, one of which was a home run by Dave Parker in the third that gave the Reds a 2-0 lead.

In the top of the fifth inning, the Mets got a run when Len Dykstra tripled off Terry to bring home Ojeda. Wally Backman followed with a ground ball on which Dykstra was thrown out at the plate by Cincinnati second baseman Ron Oester. Buddy Bell homered in the bottom half to make it a 3-1 game in the Reds' favor. Neither team scored in the sixth, during which Darryl Strawberry got ejected after arguing a called third strike and was replaced by Kevin Mitchell.

After two more scoreless innings, the Mets came to bat in the ninth trailing by two runs. With two outs and the bases empty, Cincinnati reliever Ron Robinson walked Dykstra and gave up a double to Tim Teufel. With Hernandez coming to bat, Reds' manager Pete Rose brought in lefthander John Franco to pitch. Keith hit a fly ball that was dropped by right fielder Parker, allowing Dykstra and Teufel to score the tying runs. Franco then recorded the third out and Doug Sisk shut down Cincinnati in the bottom half to send the game into extra innings.

Despite loading the bases against Franco, the Mets failed to score in the top of the tenth inning. With one out in the bottom half, Rose got a pinch-hit single off Jesse Orosco and pinch-runner Eric Davis stole second base. As Orosco struck out Eddie Milner, Davis stole third and got into a fight with Mets' third baseman Ray Knight that ignited a bench-clearing brawl. Knight and right fielder Mitchell (along with Davis) were ejected from the game. Forced to make sudden moves, manager Davey Johnson brought in Roger McDowell to pitch and moved Orosco to right field. He also shifted catcher Gary Carter to third as Ed Hearn came in to catch. The inning ended with McDowell retiring Wade Rowdon on a ground ball to second baseman Teufel.

From the 11th inning to the 13th, Orosco and McDowell switched back and forth between the mound and the outfield. The two relievers combined to hold down the Reds while manning left and right fields. In this unusual scenario, Mookie Wilson moved from left field to right field and back again. With Orosco pitching in the 12th, Hernandez started a double play with a throw to Carter at third off an attempted sacrifice by Cincinnati's Carl Willis. McDowell retired Tony Perez for the second out of a perfect 13th on a fly ball to Orosco in right field.

Hearn led off the top of the 14th inning with a double off Willis. Orosco walked and Ted Power came in to pitch for the Reds. After striking out McDowell, Power yielded a three-run homer to Johnson that put the Mets in front. Wilson and Dykstra followed with consecutive ground outs to end the inning.

In his familiar mound position, McDowell set down Cincinnati in order with three ground outs in the bottom of the 14th. The Mets had a victory in a game that featured a series of wild occurances.