September 16, 1986: Mets Clinch Tie for Division Title
|Date: September 16, 1986|
|Mets starter: Rick Aguilera|
|Winning pitcher: Rick Aguilera|
|Key player(s): Ray Knight, Jesse Orosco|
|Key play: Knight's two-run single|
The Mets faced the Cardinals on a Tuesday night in St. Louis. The team was in search of stopping its four-game losing streak. They came away with a 4-2 victory to end the skid and clinch a tie for the National League Eastern Division title.
Cardinals' starter Tim Conroy pitched a perfect top of the first inning. With one out in the bottom half, Willie McGee doubled off Mets' starter Rick Aguilera. Andy Van Slyke struck out and McGee moved to third on Aguilera's balk. A single by Mike Laga scored McGee for the first run of the game. Terry Pendleton hit a ground ball to second baseman Tim Teufel for an inning-ending force play. Conroy shut down the Mets in the top of the second. Aguilera then retired the Redbirds in order in the bottom half.
Conroy issued consecutive walks to Mookie Wilson and Kevin Mitchell with one out in the top of the third. Keith Hernandez grounded out to first baseman Laga and an intentional walk to Gary Carter loaded the bases. Wilson scored on a wild pitch to tie the game. Darryl Strawberry walked to reload the bases and Conroy was replaced on the mound by Joe Boever. A single by Ray Knight brought home Mitchell and Carter to give the Mets a 3-1 lead. Teufel walked to load the bases again before Rafael Santana lined out to center fielder McGee. The Cards were then shut down by Aguilera in the bottom of the inning.
Aguilera and Boever each pitched scoreless ball in the fourth and fifth innings. In the top of the sixth, the Mets failed to score despite two errors by shortstop Ozzie Smith. The Cards loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Smith was hit by a pitch to force home McGee. Aguilera struck out Mike Lavalliere to end the inning. St. Louis reliever Pat Perry pitched a scoreless top of the seventh. With two runners on base and two outs in the bottom half, Jesse Orosco came in and fanned pinch-hitter Jim Lindeman for the third out.
Wally Backman hit a triple with one out in the top of the eighth inning. An ensuing single by Santana scored Backman with the Mets' fourth run. Perry completed the rest of the inning with no further damage. Orosco set down the Cardinals 1-2-3 in the bottom half. Hernandez and Carter got back-to-back singles off Redbirds' reliever Ray Soff to begin the top of the ninth. On a sacrifice attempt, Orosco fouled out to first baseman Lindeman. Soff then got Knight on a liner to third baseman Pendleton for a double play that ended the inning.
Tito Landrum flied out to center fielder Lenny Dykstra to open the top of the ninth. Jose Oquendo grounded out to third baseman Knight. Orosco then threw a called third strike past Vince Coleman to end the game. The Mets had a win and assured themselves of at least a tie for the division crown.