1988 National League Championship Series

1988 National League Championship Series

Infobox LCS

year = 1988
champion = Los Angeles Dodgers (4)
champion_manager = Tommy Lasorda
champion_games = 94-67, .584, GA: 7
runnerup = New York Mets (3)
runnerup_manager = Davey Johnson
runnerup_games = 100-60, .625, GA: 15
date = October 4October 12
MVP = Orel Hershiser (Los Angeles)
television = ABC
announcers = Al Michaels, Jim Palmer and Tim McCarver
radio_network = CBS Radio
radio_announcers = Brent Musburger and Johnny Bench
umpires = Harry Wendelstedt, John McSherry, Joe West, Dutch Rennert, Bob Davidson, Paul Runge
The by|1988 National League Championship Series was played between the National League West champion Los Angeles Dodgers and the National League East champion New York Mets. The Dodgers won the Series 4 games to 3, en route to defeating the Oakland Athletics in five games in the 1988 World Series.

Never before had a team so dominated by another managed to turn the tables in the playoffs. The Mets beat the Dodgers ten of eleven times in the regular season, and most of those victories were not even close. The Mets were heavy favorites when the series began in Los Angeles on October 4.


The Dodgers had won their third NL West title of the 1980s, posting a 94-67 record (.580) during the 1988 regular season and beating out the Cincinnati Reds by seven games. The Mets cruised to the best record in the National League in 1988, with a 100-60 record (.625), easily winning the NL East crown by a full 15 games over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The NLCS itself was a see-saw affair, with the two teams splitting the first two games at Dodger Stadium. The Series then shifted to Shea Stadium in New York for Games 3, 4, and 5; the Mets took Game 3 before the Dodgers pulled out close wins in both Game 4 (5-4 in 12 innings) and Game 5 (7-4). Dodgers outfielder Kirk Gibson hit home runs in both games, including the game-winning dinger in the 12th inning of Game 4. The NLCS then went back to Los Angeles, where the Mets took the sixth game 5-1; however, they went on to be blanked by the Dodgers 6-0 in the deciding seventh game, sending L.A. to the World Series for the first time since 1981.

Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser was named the NLCS MVP. He made four outstanding appearances in the Series, garnering the save in Game 4 and hurling a complete game shutout against the Mets in Game 7.


New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles wins the series, 4-3

Game summaries

Game 1

Tuesday, October 4, 1988 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CaliforniaLinescore
Road=New York|RoadAbr=NYM
Home=Los Angeles|HomeAbr=LAD
WP=Randy Myers (1-0)|LP=Jay Howell (0-1)|SV=|

The series opened with a classic pitching matchup, pitting the Dodgers' Orel Hershiser, who had won 23 games during the regular season and carried a Major League record 59 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings into the game, against Mets ace Dwight Gooden, who himself had won 18 games during the regular season. A pitchers' duel was expected, and neither pitcher disappointed.

The Dodgers pushed across an early run on a two-out RBI single from Mike Marshall in the first inning, but following that, both teams' offenses were held in check. The Dodgers were held hitless until the 7th inning, where they scored their second run off Gooden on an RBI single from Alfredo Griffin.

With Hershiser rolling, it appeared the Dodgers would knock off the Mets and take the lead in the series. But in the ninth, Mets rookie Gregg Jefferies led off with a single. He advanced to second on a ground out, and the Mets broke through against Hershiser when Darryl Strawberry lined a double into the gap in right-center field to score Jefferies. Hershiser was then lifted in favor of ace closer Jay Howell. Kevin McReynolds drew a walk, and following a Howard Johnson strikeout, Gary Carter hit a two-strike pitch in front of a diving John Shelby. Strawberry scored as the ball bounced in front of Shelby, and McReynolds followed close behind. Shelby's throw to the plate was on target, but McReynolds bowled over catcher Mike Scioscia to knock the ball loose and score the winning run for the Mets.

The Dodgers went down in order in the last of the ninth, and the Mets came away with a comeback win to draw first blood in the series.

Game 2

Wednesday, October 5, 1988 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CaliforniaLinescore
Road=New York|RoadAbr=NYM
Home=Los Angeles|HomeAbr=LAD
WP=Tim Belcher (1-0)|LP=David Cone (0-1)|SV=Alejandro Pena (1)
RoadHR=Keith Hernandez (1)|HomeHR=|

cquote|Justice. Yes, there has to be justice in this universe. Ever heard the saying: Better to be lucky than good? Trash it, because Hershiser was lucky, Doc was good. Look what happened to luck in the ninth inning last night.

It's called justice--catching up to luck and pummeling it into the ground. We knew about Orel's 59 zeroes, but none of us thought he was invincible. Shoot, Doc pitched a much better game. Trouble is, Orel was lucky for eight innings.

David Cone, the Mets' starting pitcher for Game 2, wrote the above in an article for the "New York Daily News". The article appeared in the paper the morning of Game 2, and the Dodgers were not pleased upon reading it. They took out their anger on the field that night - against Cone.

The game began late, at 10 p.m. Eastern Time, due to a television conflict with the Vice-Presidential debate between Dan Quayle and Lloyd Bentsen. Mets fans would have to stay up late to enjoy the proceedings.

Mike Marshall drove in a first inning run for the second night in a row. But in the second, the Dodgers exploded for four more runs to take a 5-0 lead and knock Cone from the game. Mickey Hatcher struck the key blow with a 2-run double.

Although the Mets would draw within three runs on a 4th inning two-run home run from Keith Hernandez, they could not overcome the Dodgers' pitching. Dodgers starting pitcher Tim Belcher struck out 10 over 8 1/3 innings, and the Dodgers tied the series with a 6-3 victory.

Game 3

Saturday, October 8, 1988 at Shea Stadium in New York, New YorkLinescore
Road=Los Angeles|RoadAbr=LAD
Home=New York|HomeAbr=NYM
WP=Randy Myers (2-0)|LP=Alejandro Pena (0-1)|SV=|

Fantastic plays and controversy would mark the afternoon, as the Mets rebounded from deficits twice to earn an 8-4 victory in Game 3.

Following a rainout, Game 3 was played in horrible football weather. The rain that had delayed the game a day turned the field into a muddy mess.

The rainout of the previous night allowed the Dodgers to bring back Orel Hershiser to start on 3 days' rest, while the Mets countered with Ron Darling, who got off to a rocky start. The Dodgers scored their first run in the second inning on a throwing error by Keith Hernandez on a bunt attempt by Mike Scioscia. The Dodgers got another run on an RBI ground out by Jeff Hamilton, and a third run in the 3rd inning on an RBI ground out by Kirk Gibson.

But the Mets would not lie down against Hershiser. Darryl Strawberry drove home Mookie Wilson with a double in the bottom of the 3rd inning, and in the 6th inning, the Mets tied the game thanks to some clutch hitting and sloppy Dodgers fielding.

With Hernandez on first and none out, Strawberry singled to left. When Gibson bobbled the ball in the outfield, Hernandez tried to go to third. However, Hernandez slipped twice on the muddy infield, and Gibson was able to recover and throw Hernandez out as he attempted to crawl into 3rd base. Kevin McReynolds reached on an error by 3rd baseman Jeff Hamilton. One out later, back to back singles by Gary Carter and Wally Backman scored the two tying runs, and the Mets had come back once again against Hershiser. But the game was far from over.

With two outs and the bases empty in the top of the 8th inning, Scioscia hit a one-hop comebacker back to Mets pitcher Roger McDowell. McDowell lined up to make a throw, and slipped to the ground on the wet mound. His throw to first was wild, and Scioscia advanced to second base on the error. Following a single, a walk and a pitching change, Randy Myers walked Mike Sharperson to force home a run and give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead.

The Dodgers turned to closer Jay Howell in the bottom of the 8th. Howell ran a 3 ball, 2 strike count to McReynolds leading off the inning. Suddenly, Mets Manager Davey Johnson came out of the dugout, and asked Umpire Harry Wendelstedt to inspect Howell's glove for an illegal substance. Sure enough, Howell was found to have pine tar on his glove, and he was immediately ejected from the game, and would later be suspended for the remainder of the series. The ejection seemed to undo the Dodgers. Three subsequent relievers failed to hold down the Mets, as they rallied for 5 runs in the inning after two men were out. Backman doubled home the tying run, Wilson singled home Backman with the lead run and Darryl Strawberry iced the inning with a 2-run single.

David Cone would shake off his rocky outing from Game 2, and pitched a scoreless 9th inning to close out the Mets win and give them a two to one Series lead.

Game 4

Sunday, October 9, 1988 at Shea Stadium in New York, New YorkLinescore
Road=Los Angeles|RoadAbr=LAD
Home=New York|HomeAbr=NYM
WP=Alejandro Pena (1-1)|LP=Roger McDowell (0-1)|SV=Orel Hershiser (1)
RoadHR=Kirk Gibson (1), Mike Scioscia (1)|HomeHR=Darryl Strawberry (1), Kevin McReynolds (1)|

It was the Dodgers who did the coming back in Game 4, and they did so in stunning fashion against the Mets ace.

Dwight Gooden started for the Mets, and the Dodgers scored early, just as they had in Game 1. A 2-run single from John Shelby with 2 outs would give the Dodgers the lead. But once again, the Mets rebounded from the early deficit, this time against Dodgers starter John Tudor.

With no outs and Keith Hernandez on 1st base in the 4th inning, Darryl Strawberry launched a long Home Run to right off Tudor to tie the score. One batter later, Kevin McReynolds hit a Home Run of his own, over the bleachers in Left Field to put the Mets ahead. The Mets expanded their lead on an RBI triple from Gary Carter in the 6th inning.

With a 4-2 lead going into the 9th inning, and Gooden cruising, the Mets looked to be a lock to take a commanding 3 games to 1 lead in the series. Since the 1st inning, Gooden had allowed 1 hit, and only 4 baserunners. But uncharacteristically, Gooden walked John Shelby to lead off the 9th, after having a 2-strike count. Dodgers Catcher Mike Scioscia then drilled a shocking 2-run home run into the Mets bullpen in right field to tie the game.

The game lasted into the 12th inning, where Kirk Gibson hit a 2-out solo Home Run off of Roger McDowell.

Although the Mets loaded the bases in their half of the 12th inning, Orel Hershiser came in from the bullpen, the day after starting, and got McReynolds to fly out for the final out of the game. Hershiser got the save, and the Dodger win tied the series at two games apiece.

Game 5

Monday, October 10, 1988 at Shea Stadium in New York, New YorkLinescore
Road=Los Angeles|RoadAbr=LAD
Home=New York|HomeAbr=NYM
WP=Tim Belcher (2-0)|LP=Sid Fernandez (0-1)|SV=Brian Holton (1)
RoadHR=Kirk Gibson (2)|HomeHR=Lenny Dykstra (1)|

Less than twelve hours after tying the series at two wins apiece, the Dodgers took a three games to two lead with a 7-4 win over Sid Fernandez and the Mets.

The Dodgers jumped on Mets starting pitcher Sid Fernandez in the 4th and 5th innings, to run out to a 6-0 lead. Catcher Rick Dempsey hit a 2-run double in the 4th, and Kirk Gibson delivered the crushing blow with a 3-run Home Run in the 5th.

Tim Belcher was the winning pitcher.

Game 6

Tuesday, October 11, 1988 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CaliforniaLinescore
Road=New York|RoadAbr=NYM
Home=Los Angeles|HomeAbr=LAD
WP=David Cone (1-1)|LP=Tim Leary (0-1)|SV=
RoadHR=Kevin McReynolds (2)|HomeHR=|

Pitching in the face of adversity, and pitching to keep his team's season alive, David Cone rebounded from his poor outing in Game 2 to post a sterling complete game victory in Game 6.

For the first time in the entire series, the Mets scored first as a sacrifice fly by Kevin McReynolds scored Lenny Dykstra in the 1st inning to put the Mets ahead. McReynolds later hit a 2-run Home Run in the 5th inning to put the game out of reach.

Cone scattered 5 hits and allow 1 run in his effort, which knotted the series once again, forcing a decisive Game 7.

Game 7

Wednesday, October 12, 1988 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CaliforniaLinescore
Road=New York|RoadAbr=NYM
Home=Los Angeles|HomeAbr=LAD
WP=Orel Hershiser (1-0)|LP=Ron Darling (0-1)|SV=|

Before the game, Mets manager Davey Johnson remarked that the excessive use of Orel Hershiser might undo the Dodgers. Hershiser had pitched eight-plus innings in Game 1, six in Game 3, and earned a save in Game 4. Missing from his log was a victory, but Hershiser got it with a complete game shutout to pitch the Dodgers into the World Series for the first time since 1981. Hershiser's performance earned him Most Valuable Player honors.

The Dodgers capitalized on two Mets errors in the 2nd inning to put the game out of reach early. Steve Sax hit a 2-run single to knock out Mets starter Ron Darling, and a Wally Backman error led to 2 more runs in a 5-run Dodgers rally.

With Hershiser on the mound, and a big lead, the game was all but over. Hershiser allowed only 5 hits over his complete game effort, and his strikeout of Howard Johnson ended the game and capped off a memorable series.

Composite Box

1988 NLCS (4-3): Los Angeles Dodgers over New York MetsLinescore
Road=Los Angeles Dodgers
Home=New York Mets
H1=1|H2=0|H3=2|H4=5|H5=5|H6=4|H7=0|H8=6|H9=4|H10=0|H11=0|H12=0|HR=27|HH=58|HE=8Total Attendance: 373,695 Average Attendance: 53,385|


External links

* [http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/1988_NLCS.shtml Baseball-Reference.com] - 1988 NLCS

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