June 30, 1989: Darling Homers Again in Rout of Reds

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Date: June 30, 1989
Mets starter: Ron Darling
Mets: 11
Reds: 1
Winning pitcher: Ron Darling
Key player(s): Ron Darling, Darryl Strawberry, Howard Johnson
Key play: Mets’ three home runs

The Mets faced the Reds on a Friday night in Cincinnati. The teams played the opener of a three-game series. Ron Darling hit a home run in his second consecutive start in an 11-1 Mets win.

Darling and Cincinnati’s Rick Mahler each pitched two scoreless innings to begin the game. Ron led off the top of the third with a single to center field. Juan Samuel singled and Dave Magadan was called out on strikes. A double by Howard Johnson scored Darling with the first run of the game. Darryl Strawberry hit a three-run homer for a 4-0 Mets lead. Mahler retired Kevin McReynolds on a ground ball to shortstop Barry Larkin and got Gregg Jefferies on an inning-ending line drive to right fielder Paul O’Neill. Darling then set down the Reds in order in the bottom half.

Following a scoreless fourth inning, Mahler hurled a perfect top of the fifth. O’Neill singled to lead off the bottom half. Todd Benzinger was struck out and a single by Luis Quinones advanced O’Neill to third base. On Bo Diaz’s ensuing ground ball, catcher Mackey Sasser threw to first baseman Magadan for the out as O’Neill scored the Reds’ first run of the game. Darling then retired pinch-hitter Herm Winningham on a grounder to Magadan to close out the inning.

Sasser drew a two-out walk against Cincinnati reliever Norm Charlton in the top of the sixth. Kevin Elster hit with a single to left field and balk by Charlton moved the runners to second and third base. Darling followed with a three-run homer to increase the Mets’ lead to 7-1. Charlton got Samuel on a fly ball to left fielder Kal Daniels for the inning’s final out. Darling held the Reds to a double by Daniels in a scoreless bottom half and Charlton shut down the Mets in the top of the seventh. Darling then allowed only a double to Benzinger in the bottom of the inning.

Reds’ reliever Tim Birtsas set down the side in order on three ground balls in the top of the eighth. Darling hurled a scoreless bottom half and pinch-hitter Lee Mazzilli drew a walk against Cincinnati’s Mike Griffin to begin the top of the ninth. Samuel hit a single and Magadan singled to drive home Mazzilli. Against Cincinnati’s Kent Tekulve, Johnson hit a three-run homer that lengthened the Mets’ lead to ten runs. Tekulve then retired the next three batters to end the inning.

Mets’ reliever Don Aase got Eric Davis on a grounder to shortstop Elster to start the bottom of the ninth. O’Neill grounded out to Magadan and an error by second baseman Jefferies allowed Benzinger to reach base. Aase then retired Quinones on a fly ball to center fielder Mazzilli to end the game. The Mets had a series-opening victory.