September 25, 1984: Staub's Homer Clinches Second Place
|Date: September 25, 1984|
|Mets starter: Ron Darling|
|Winning pitcher: Ed Lynch|
|Key player(s): Rusty Staub, Ron Hodges|
|Key play: Hodges' single, Staub's home run|
One night after being eliminated from the National League East divisional race, the Mets began the rest of their season with a game against the Phillies. The atmosphere at Shea Stadium was a bit subdued with the Mets no longer in contention for the title. Still, they came out with a 6-4 win on Rusty Staub's ninth-inning home run to clinch second place in the East.
Ron Darling and the Phils' Kevin Gross each pitched three scoreless innings to start the game. Darling walked two batters in the top of the first before getting Von Hayes for an inning-ending double play. Ron followed up with a pair of perfect innings. Meanwhile, Gross walked Wally Backman twice and retired the other nine Met batters he faced.
Juan Samuel singled off Darling for the game's first hit in the top of the fourth inning. Samuel stole second base and Hayes drew a walk. On a double steal, Hayes was thrown out by Mets' catcher Ron Hodges at second while Samuel went to third. Al Oliver's infield grounder scored Samuel for a 1-0 Philadelphia lead. Darling then retired Tim Corcoran for the final out of the inning.
Gross recorded his fifth and sixth strikeouts of the game in shutting down the Mets in the bottom of the fourth. Neither team scored in the fifth and Darling set down the Phillies in the top of the sixth. The Mets then tied the game when Herm Winningham scored on Darryl Strawberry's force play grounder in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Oliver singled and Corcoran walked to open the top of the seventh inning for the Phils. Hodges' passed ball advanced the runners and Darling issued an intentional walk to Ozzie Virgil, loading the bases with none out. Len Matuszek's sacrifice fly scored Oliver to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead. Pinch-hitter Greg Gross followed with a force play grounder that brought home Corcoran for another Philadelphia run. Kevin Gross then retired the Mets in order in the bottom of the inning.
Hayes doubled off Mets' reliever Ed Lynch with one out in the top of the eighth. Lynch struck out Sixto Lezcano before giving up a single to Corcoran that scored Hayes. For the Mets, Rafael Santana led off the bottom of the inning with a triple and came home on a one-out single by Winningham to cut the Phils' lead to 4-2. Tug McGraw then came in to relieve Kevin Gross and retired the next two batters.
In the top of the ninth, Lynch struck out the first two hitters and shut down the Phillies. Hubie Brooks led off the bottom half with a double and came around to score on a pinch-hit triple by Mookie Wilson. Larry Andersen replaced McGraw on the mound and struck out George Foster. Hodges followed with a single that brought home Wilson with the tying run for the Mets. Staub then stepped up to the plate as a pinch-hitter for Santana.
Rusty hit a pitch from Andersen over the wall for a game-ending home run. The Mets had a thrilling victory and a clinching of second place in the National League East Division. It was the first time ever that the Mets finished a season with a second place standing.
- Staub's homer made him only the second player in major league history to hit a home run both before his 20th birthday and after his 40th. Only Ty Cobb had done this previously.