September 20, 1998: Mets Beat Marlins, Take Wild Card Lead

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Date: September 20, 1998
Mets starter: Al Leiter
Mets: 5
Marlins: 0
Winning pitcher: Al Leiter
Key player(s): Al Leiter, John Olerud
Key play: Olerud’s two-run homer

The Mets faced the Marlins on a Sunday afternoon at Shea Stadium. A crowd of 52,767 was on hand as the teams played the finale of a three-game series. The Mets took a one-game lead in the National League Wild Card race with a 5-0 win over Florida.

Al Leiter and the Marlins’ Brian Meadows each pitched two scoreless innings to start the game. Leiter shut down the Fish again in the top of the third and took a called third strike leading off the bottom of the inning. Tony Phillips drew a walk and Edgardo Alfonzo popped out to second baseman Dave Berg. John Olerud followed with a home run to give the Mets a 2-0 lead. Meadows then retired Mike Piazza on a fly ball to center fielder Todd Dunwoody for the third out.

Leiter and Meadows hurled scoreless ball through the fourth and fifth innings. In the sixth, Al retired all three Florida batters and Olerud doubled to begin the bottom half. Piazza and Brian McRae were retired on consecutive fly balls to Dunwoody. Lenny Harris hit a single to drive home Olerud with the Mets’ third run of the game. Meadows then got Carlos Baerga to fly out to Dunwoody and finish off the inning.

After Leiter pitched a perfect top of the seventh, Rey Ordonez singled to open the bottom half. A sacrifice bunt by Leiter advanced Ordonez to second base. Phillips hit a double to plate Ordonez and increase the Mets’ lead to four runs. Antonio Alfonseca came in to pitch for Florida and got Alfonzo to fly out to right fielder Mark Kotsay. Olerud drew a walk and Piazza popped out to first baseman Ryan Jackson to end the inning. Leiter then held the Fish to a double by Berg in a scoreless top of the eighth.

McRae singled against Marlins’ reliever Donn Pall to start the bottom of the eighth inning. Harris hit a single to center field and Baerga’s sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third base. Pall issued an intentional walk to Ordonez to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Matt Franco followed with a sacrifice fly that drove home McRae. Trying to score from second on the play, Harris was out at home on a relay throw by Berg to catcher Randy Knoor to end the inning.

Mets’ reliever Turk Wendell retired Preston Wilson on a ground ball to first baseman Olerud to begin the top of the ninth. Wendell followed up with a strikeout of Jackson. Turk then got Kevin Orie to pop out to second baseman Baerga and bring the game to an end. The Mets had a victory to go into the top spot in the quest for the N. L. Wild Card.

Notes

  • The Cincinnati Reds’ 7-3 win at Chicago dropped the Cubs one game behind the Mets in the Wild Card race.