October 3, 1999: Mets Clinch Tie for Wild Card

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Date: October 3, 1999
Mets starter: Orel Hershiser
Mets: 2
Pirates: 1
Winning pitcher: Armando Benitez
Key player(s): Melvin Mora
Key play: Klontz’s wild pitch in 9th

On the last official day of the regular season, the Mets were tied with the Cincinnati Reds atop the standings for the National League Wild Card. As the Mets’ game against the Pirates was going on, the Reds were sitting through a rain delay in Milwaukee. Focusing on the task at hand, the Mets came up with an exciting 2-1 win to lock up at least a tie for the Wild Card.

Pittsburgh leadoff hitter Al Martin drew a walk to start the game. Martin advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and stole third base. Kevin Young singled to score Martin for a 1-0 Pirate lead. Mets’ starter Orel Hershiser shut down the Bucs from there, facing the minimum twelve batters over the next four innings.

In the bottom of the fourth, John Olerud led off against Pittsburgh’s Kris Benson. Olerud reached second base on an error by Young and went to third on Mike Piazza’s fly out to right field. After the second out was made, Darryl Hamilton hit a double to left to bring Olerud home with the tying run. The Mets got runners into scoring position in each of the next two innings, but failed to go ahead.

Turk Wendell came in to pitch for the Mets in the top of the seventh. Wendell retired the Pirates in order and did so again in the eighth. He also got the first two hitters out in the ninth before giving up a single to Young and being removed. Reliever Armando Benitez struck out Aramis Ramirez to end the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, Melvin Mora got a one-out single off Pirates’ reliever Greg Hansell. Edgardo Alfonzo followed with another single, sending Mora to third. Hansell walked Olerud intentionally before Brad Klontz came in to pitch to Piazza. Klontz’s first pitch got past catcher Joe Oliver and Mora came scampering home with the winning run. The fans at Shea Stadium erupted in delight as the Mets had clinched a share of the Wild Card.

Notes

  • The game in Milwaukee was finally played after a long delay. The Reds defeated the Brewers, 7-1, to finish tied with the Mets for the Wild Card and forcing a one-game playoff in Cincinnati.