September 16, 1998: Piazza and Hundley Hit Clutch Home Runs

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Date: September 16, 1998
Mets starter: Bobby Jones
Mets: 4
Astros: 3
Winning pitcher: Greg McMichael
Key player(s): Mike Piazza, Brad Ausmus, Todd Hundley
Key play: Piazza’s homer, Ausmus’s homer, Hundley’s homer

The Mets and Astros completed a four-game series on a Wednesday night. Entering the game at the Astrodome, the Mets trailed the front-running Cubs by one-half game in the National League Wild Card standings. Mike Piazza’s ninth-inning home run and a homer by Todd Hundley in the 11th gave the Mets a 4-3 win over Houston to keep pace with Chicago in the Wild Card race.

Bobby Jones and the Astros’ Mike Hampton each pitched scoreless ball in the first two innings. The pitchers walked two batters apiece and gave up a combined three singles, but did not allow any runs. Hampton shut down the Mets again in the top of the third despite singles by Tony Phillips and John Olerud. In the bottom of the inning, Jones walked Craig Biggio and surrendered a home run to Carl Everett that gave Houston a 2-0 lead.

The Mets failed to score after loading the bases in the top of the fourth inning. They got a single in each inning from the fifth to the eighth, but still did not score against Hampton. Meanwhile, Jones pitched a perfect bottom of the fourth and shut down the Astros on two hits in the fifth and sixth. Bobby then recorded a 1-2-3 seventh and got Moises Alou to hit into a double play to end a scoreless eighth inning.

Todd Pratt got a pinch-hit single off Houston reliever Billy Wagner to begin the top of the ninth. Wagner struck out Phillips and retired Edgardo Alfonzo on a fly ball to right fielder Richard Hidalgo. With the Mets one out away from a loss, Olerud kept the team’s chances alive with a single. Piazza followed with a three-run homer to put New York in front. Wagner then struck out Brian McRae for the third out of the inning.

Mets’ reliever Dennis Cook retired Ricky Gutierrez on a fly ball to right fielder Jermaine Allensworth to start the bottom of the ninth. Brad Ausmus followed with a home run to tie the game at 3-3. Cook fanned Tim Bogar and Wagner for the final two outs of the inning. In the top of the 10th, Wagner retired three straight Mets batters after Allensworth’s leadoff single. The Astros then loaded the bases on three walks in the bottom half, but failed to plate a run against Mets’ reliever Greg McMichael.

Houston’s Sean Bergman retired Phillips on a fly ball to Hidalgo to begin the top of the 11th inning. He followed up getting Alfonzo to ground out to second baseman Biggio. Pinch-hitting for McMichael, Hundley clouted a home run to put the Mets ahead. Bergman then struck out Piazza to end the inning.

Turk Wendell fanned Ausmus to start the bottom of the 11th. He followed up by striking out Dave Clark, who was pinch-hitting for Bogar. Wendell then struck out Russ Johnson to end the game. The Mets had a crucial victory that was grabbed from the jaws of defeat.

Notes

  • Hundley’s home run was his last one as a Met.