June 26, 1996: Five Runs in 8th Give Mets Sweep

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Date: June 26, 1996
Mets starter: Pete Harnisch
Mets: 9
Rockies: 5
Winning pitcher: Dave Mlicki
Key player(s): Alex Ochoa, Lance Johnson, Butch Huskey
Key play: Johnson’s home run, Ochoa’s double and single, Huskey’s double

The Mets faced the Rockies on a Wednesday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The teams played the finale of a three-game series. The Mets scored five runs in the eighth inning for a 9-5 win over Colorado and a sweep of the series.

Pete Harnisch and the Rockies’ Armando Reynoso each pitched one-hit scoreless ball over the first two innings. In the top of the third, Walt Weiss reached on an error by first baseman Butch Huskey. Weiss moved to second base on Reynoso’s sacrifice bunt and to third on a fly out by Eric Young. Quinton McCracken singled to score Weiss with the first run of the game. A double by John Vander Wal plated McCracken for a 2-0 Colorado lead. Harnisch then retired Dante Bichette on a ground ball to shortstop Rey Ordonez to end the inning.

Harnisch got a one-out single in the bottom of the third. An ensuing home run by Lance Johnson tied the game. Reynoso got Jose Vizcaino on a grounder to second baseman Young and issued a walk to Bernard Gilkey. Jeff Kent hit into a force play for the third out. The Rockies loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the fourth. Harnisch retired Young on an inning-ending fly ball to center fielder Johnson. Reynoso then set down the Mets in order in the bottom half.

McCracken walked and stole second base to begin the top of the fifth inning. Vander Wal drew a walk and Bichette lined out to third baseman Kent. Andres Galarraga hit a single to left field to load the bases. Vinny Castilla singled to bring home McCracken and Vander Wal for a 4-2 Colorado lead. Harnisch retired Jeff Reed on a fly ball to left fielder Gilkey and got Weiss on an inning-ending line drive to right fielder Alex Ochoa. The Mets were then held without a run by Reynoso in the bottom half.

Harnisch pitched a scoreless top of the sixth inning. Gilkey opened the bottom half with a single and went to second base on a one-out walk to Brent Mayne. Ochoa hit a double to score Gilkey and send Mayne to third. Facing reliever Darren Holmes, Huskey grounded out to Young to drive home Mayne with the tying run. Holmes then retired Ordonez on an inning-ending ground ball to Young.

With one out in the top of the seventh, Galarraga and Castilla got back-to-back doubles to put the Rockies ahead by a score of 5-4. Harnisch walked Jeff Reed and was replaced on the mound by Jerry DiPoto. Weiss hit a force play grounder to Huskey and pinch-hitter Jason Bates was retired on a fly ball to Johnson. Colorado relievers Lance Painter and Steve Reed combined for a scoreless bottom of the inning. For the Mets, Dave Mlicki pitched a perfect top of the eighth.

Mayne drew a walk with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Pinch-runner Carl Everett stole second base and scored the tying run on an ensuing single by Ochoa. Huskey hit a double to drive home Ochoa and give the Mets a 6-5 lead. Ordonez was hit by a pitch and Edgardo Alfonzo reached on an error by first baseman Galarraga to load the bases. Rockies’ reliever Bruce Ruffin got Johnson for a force play grounder on which Young threw out pinch-runner Tim Bogar at home. Pinch-hitter Todd Hundley reached on third baseman Castilla’s error that allowed Ordonez and Alfonzo to score. A wild pitch brought home Johnson with the Mets’ fifth run of the inning. Ruffin then fanned Gilkey for the third out.

Bichette singled off Mets’ reliever Paul Byrd to start the top of the ninth. Galarraga went down on strikes and Castilla came to bat. Byrd got Castilla to hit a ground ball to second baseman Alfonzo for a game-ending double play. The Mets had a comeback victory to complete a three-game series sweep.