September 29, 1989: Viola Stifles Pirates in DH Opener

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Date: September 29, 1989
Mets starter: Frank Viola
Mets: 6
Pirates: 2
Winning pitcher: Frank Viola
Key player(s): Frank Viola, Kevin McReynolds, Gregg Jefferies, Keith Miller
Key play: McReynolds’ and Jefferies’ homers

The Mets faced the Pirates in a doubleheader on a Friday evening. Frank Viola took the mound for the Mets in the opener of the twinbill at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium. Viola pitched a complete game in a 6-2 Mets win over the Bucs.

Following a scoreless first inning, Pirates’ starter Randy Kramer retired the side in order in the top of the second. To begin the bottom half, Bobby Bonilla singled and advanced to second base on left fielder Kevin McReynolds’ error. R. J. Reynolds was struck out and Jeff King followed with an infield single. Jose Lind reached on McReynolds’ second error to score Bonilla with the first run of the game. Dann Bilardello popped out to first baseman Dave Magadan and a single by Kramer brought home King for a 2-0 Pittsburgh lead. Viola then got John Cangelosi to hit a force play ground ball to third baseman Howard Johnson for the inning’s final out.

Kramer held the Mets to a single by Keith Miller in the top of the third. Viola hurled a scoreless bottom half and McReynolds hit a solo home run with one out in the top of the fourth inning. Juan Samuel went down on strikes and Barry Lyons was hit by a pitch. Kevin Elster singled to move pinch-runner Phil Lombardi to second base. Viola hit an inning-ending force play grounder to second baseman Lind, who got a two-out single in the bottom half. Lind went to second on an ensuing single by Bilardello. Viola then struck out Kramer to end the inning.

Leading off the top of the fifth, Gregg Jefferies homered to tie the game. Miller hit a single and moved to third base on a single by Magadan. Johnson followed with a force play ground ball to Lind that scored Miller for a 3-2 Mets lead. McReynolds was retired on a pop-up to first baseman Bonilla. With Samuel at bat, Johnson was caught stealing on catcher Bilardello’s throw to Lind to close out the inning. Viola then set down the Bucs 1-2-3 in the bottom half.

Samuel drew a leadoff walk against Kramer in the top of the sixth. Lombardi singled to send Samuel to third base. Elster hit a force play grounder to Lind to drive home Samuel with the Mets’ fourth run of the game. Viola’s sacrifice bunt moved Elster to second and Pittsburgh reliever Doug Bair issued an intentional walk to Jefferies. Bair retired Miller on a ground ball to Bonilla that ended the inning. Viola then gave up just a single to King in the bottom half.

Bair shut down the Mets in the top of the seventh. Viola hurled a perfect bottom of the inning and Pirates’ reliever Stan Belinda retired all three batters in the top of the eighth. Viola set down the Bucs in order in the bottom half and Jefferies singled to open the top of the ninth. Miller got a bunt single and Magadan singled to drive home Jefferies for a 5-2 New York lead. Johnson was struck out and McReynolds flied out to right fielder Reynolds. Samuel hit a single to bring home Miller with the Mets’ sixth run. Belinda then retired Lombardi on a pop-up to Lind for the third out of the inning.

Reynolds popped out to second baseman Jefferies to begin the bottom of the ninth. King went down on strikes. Viola then got Lind to ground out to Jefferies and end the game. The Mets had a victory to start the doubleheader.