October 3, 1990: Viola Wins 20th Game

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Date: October 3, 1990
Mets starter: Frank Viola
Mets: 6
Pirates: 3
Winning pitcher: Frank Viola
Key player(s): Frank Viola, Pat Tabler, Chris Jelic
Key play: Tabler’s hit-by-pitch, Jelic’s home run

The Mets and Pirates faced each other on a Wednesday afternoon. Three days after the Bucs’ clinching of the National League East Division title, the teams concluded a season-ending series at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium. The Mets came away with a 6-3 victory as Frank Viola recorded his 20th win of the year.

Darren Reed led off the first inning with a double against Pirates’ starter Jerry Reuss. With one out, Pat Tabler singled to score Reed. Tim Teufel followed with a double that bounced over the left-center field wall and Tabler came home from third on Tom O’Malley’s ground out. Reuss retired Chris Jelic to end the inning and Viola set down the Bucs in order in the bottom half.

The Mets still had a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning. Jose Lind led off with a ground-rule double and went to third base on Reuss’s sacrifice bunt. Gary Redus grounded out to third baseman O’Malley to drive home Lind for the first Pittsburgh run. Viola struck out Jay Bell for the third out of the inning. Frank then pitched scoreless ball in the fourth and fifth while Reuss shut down the Mets with only a single by Reed and a walk to Kelvin Torve.

Leading off the sixth, Teufel homered to extend the Mets’ lead to 3-1. Reuss and reliever Mike York recorded ground ball outs on each of the next three batters. Viola retired the first two Pirate hitters before yielding a double to Bobby Bonilla in the bottom of the inning. Carmelo Martinez followed with a two-run homer to tie the game. After a single by Jeff King, Viola got Don Slaught on a fly ball to center fielder Reed to end the inning.

Viola singled off York with one out in the top of the seventh. Reed drew a walk and Torve singled to load the bases. Tabler was hit by a pitch, forcing home Viola to give the Mets a 4-3 lead. York struck out Teufel and retired O’Malley on a fly ball to center fielder Steve Carter. The Bucs then failed to score against Viola in the bottom of the inning.

Jelic led off the top of the eighth with a home run against Pittsburgh reliever Doug Bair. Todd Hundley reached first base on a wild pitch third strike. Bair got Kevin Baez to hit into a double play and retired pinch-hitter Keith Hughes on a fly ball to Carter. In relief of Viola, Dan Schatzeder pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth inning.

Reed led off the top of the ninth with the third ground-rule double of the game. Following an out, Tabler doubled to bring home Reed for the Mets’ sixth run. Bair then struck out Teufel and retired O’Malley on an infield grounder to end the inning.

Mets’ reliever Alejandro Pena pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth to end the game. The Mets had their 91st victory to finish off their season. The triumph made Viola the Mets’ second lefthander (with Jerry Koosman in 1976) to have a 20-win season for the team.


  • Jelic’s home run was the only hit of his major league career.