1986 National League Championship Series

1986 National League Championship Series

Infobox LCS

year = 1986
champion = New York Mets (4)
champion_manager = Davey Johnson
champion_games = 108-54, .667, GA: 21½
runnerup = Houston Astros (2)
runnerup_manager = Hal Lanier
runnerup_games = 96-66, .593, GA: 10
date = October 8October 15
MVP = Mike Scott (Houston)
television = ABC
announcers = Keith Jackson and Tim McCarver
radio_network = CBS Radio
radio_announcers = Brent Musburger and Johnny Bench
umpires = Doug Harvey, Lee Weyer, Frank Pulli, Dutch Rennert, Joe West, Fred Brocklander
The by|1986 National League Championship Series pitted the New York Mets against the Houston Astros. 1986 is regarded as one of the great years of Major League Baseball, and this series contributes to the year's stature.Fact|date=August 2008 This series is considered the best National League Championship Series that never reached a decisive Game 7.Fact|date=August 2008Who|date=August 2008 This was the only playoff series in which the opponents were two "expansion" teams that began play in the major leagues in the same season (by|1962).


Coming off an 108-54 regular season record, the Mets were favored over the 96-66 Astros, and after some trouble, the Mets would win the best-of-seven series 4-2. The Astros were not expected to do much in 1986 at all, let alone battle the Mets for a chance to go to the World Series. But they did, and they would fall short in this great series, capped off by a 16-inning game, the longest game by innings in playoff history until the 2005 National League Division Series when the Astros beat the Atlanta Braves in 18 innings, also to clinch the series.

As a prelude to what was to follow, Mike Scott threw a no-hitter against San Francisco to secure the Western Division championship for the Astros, the first time any team had nailed down a division championship with a no-hitter. Houston Astros manager Hal Lanier would earn National League Manager of the Year honors for leading the Astros to the 1986 West Division title, their first since 1980 and second in franchise history. Meanwhile, Yogi Berra was the Houston Astros' bench coach in 1986.

The series was notable for containing one of the most outstanding pitching performances in any postseason, that of Houston right-hander Mike Scott. Scott would win both of his starts against the Mets in dominating fashion, but the Astros were unable to win any of the games he didn't start, and the Mets managed to wrap up the series in six games, leaving Mike Scott waiting on the sidelines for a Game 7 start that never took place.

The Mets would also go on to beat the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, 4 games to 3.


New York Mets vs. Houston Astros

New York wins the series, 4-2

Game summaries

Game 1

Wednesday, October 8, 1986 at Astrodome in Houston, TexasLinescore
Road=New York|RoadAbr=NYM
WP=Mike Scott (1-0)|LP=Dwight Gooden (0-1)|SV=
RoadHR=|HomeHR=Glenn Davis (1)|

Game 1 was a nailbiter as Game 1's often are, which featured an excellent pitching duel between Mike Scott and Dwight Gooden.

Mike Scott was the best pitcher in the National League in 1986. Gooden was the Mets' ace, so this game was predicted to be great. In the end, Scott and the Astros would prevail 1-0. The Mets only got 5 hits throughout the game. Scott struck out 14. The game was complete in 2 hours, 56 minutes.

Astro first baseman Glenn Davis hit a long home run leading off the second inning, producing the only run the Astros would get and all they would need, as the Astros took the series lead 1 game to none.

Game 2

Thursday, October 9, 1986 at Astrodome in Houston, TexasLinescore
Road=New York|RoadAbr=NYM
WP=Bob Ojeda (1-0)|LP=Nolan Ryan (0-1)|SV=|

An amazing game like Game 1 wouldn't be seen again in Game 2. The Mets blew by the Astros and won 5-1. Keith Hernandez hit a two-run triple in the 5th inning to break the game wide open. The Astros would eke out one run in the 7th and lose by 4.

After the game, Hernandez commented. "It was a big win for us – obviously" said Hernandez. "But to say that we have the edge now, I disagree. Houston is a fine team, and this is the best matchup in the playoffs since Philadelphia and Houston in by|1980." Fact|date=August 2008

Bob Ojeda got the win for the Mets, pitching a gem. The Mets won in a smooth 2 hours, 40 minutes.

Game 3

Saturday, October 11, 1986 at Shea Stadium in New York, New YorkLinescore
Home=New York|HomeAbr=NYM
WP=Jesse Orosco (1-0)|LP=Dave Smith (0-1)|SV=
RoadHR=Bill Doran (1)|HomeHR=Darryl Strawberry (1), Lenny Dykstra (1)|

Game 3 would be another historically great game, with an amazing comeback that was hugely important in deciding the series.

In a game that lasted 5 minutes under 3 hours, Houston broke through first with 4 runs in the first two innings. Ron Darling was pitching for the Mets and settled down after that, which gave them time to get back into the game. They scored a run in the bottom of the 6th and had two men on base, then tied the game on a three-run home run by Darryl Strawberry. The Astros would strike again right away, however, as an error by Ray Knight in the top of the 7th led to an unearned run, putting the Astros up 5-4. It would be the only error committed by the Mets defense in the series.

In the bottom of the 9th with the Astros holding the lead, Astros closer, Dave Smith came in to close the Mets out. Wally Backman bunted his way on against Smith in the first real controversial play of the series.

Backman ran and slid out of the first-base line to avoid the tag of first baseman Glenn Davis, who had to come up the line and field the bunt. Astros manager Hal Lanier argued that Backman should have been called out. But first base umpire Dutch Rennert ruled that Backman was allowed in that case to leave the baseline because he already had passed Davis, and was still close enough to the base to reach out and tag it with his hand.

Then, up came Dykstra. Dykstra had struck out in his previous at bat as a pinch hitter in the 7th inning. He didn't start the game because Houston's starter that day was left-hander Bob Knepper, and Dykstra never started games against lefties. Though Dykstra was not known as a power hitter, he would get hold of one off Smith, and the Mets would take the series lead 2-1 in New York. Dykstra was as shocked as anyone. "I wasn't thinking about going up there to hit a home run to win the ballgame", he said. "I was just thinking base hit. I saw the pitch real well and hit it real well. Don't get used to this. You're not going to see too many more game-winning home runs from me."Fact|date=August 2008

Lanier explained his decision to bring Smith in after a scoreless 8th inning by reliever, Charlie Kerfeld. "When I've got a man pitching who saved me 33 games, I'll bring him in" said Lanier.Fact|date=August 2008 In Game 6, Lanier would be criticized for making the exact opposite decision.Fact|date=August 2008

Game 4

Sunday, October 12, 1986 at Shea Stadium in New York, New YorkLinescore
Home=New York|HomeAbr=NYM
WP=Mike Scott (2-0)|LP=Sid Fernandez (0-1)|SV=
RoadHR=Alan Ashby (1), Dickie Thon (1)|HomeHR=|

Houston would strike back in Game 4 and tie the series at 2, with a 3-1 win behind ace, Mike Scott, who was going on 3 days rest. It was another complete game for him, and 2 home runs from the Astros was all the offense they would need. Scott would not pitch again in the series.

"God couldn't have pitched better than Scott did tonight", said second baseman Wally Backman, who (along with first basemen Keith Hernandez) maintained that Scott threw an illegally defaced ball.

"We knew what had to be done", said Astros manager Hal Lanier. "We had to win tonight. We knew if we didn't win, we'd be down 3-1 and we'd be seeing Dwight tomorrow." Fact|date=August 2008

Game 5

Tuesday, October 14, 1986 at Shea Stadium in New York, New YorkLinescore
Home=New York|HomeAbr=NYM
WP=Jesse Orosco (2-0)|LP=Charlie Kerfeld (0-1)|SV=
RoadHR=|HomeHR=Darryl Strawberry (2)|

Houston pitchers Dave Smith and Charlie Kerfeld received death threats prior to Game 5.Fact|date=August 2008 Game 5 was scheduled to be played on Monday, October 13, but was postponed a day due to rain. This meant that the teams would have to play on Tuesday, a scheduled off day, and then immediately board a flight to Houston for Game 6 the very next day. The last thing either club wanted was a long extra-inning affair, but that was exactly what took place. Though it would be overshadowed a day later by Game 6, Game 5 was still one of the best games in the history of the playoffs, a tense 12-inning pitcher's duel that ended with a game-winning RBI single by slumping Gary Carter in the bottom of the 12th. The Mets won the game 2-1 and took the series lead 3-2.

It's not a comfortable feeling," said Mets manager Davey Johnson, talking about a return to Houston. "The Astros don't give up. They fight tooth and nail. They'll have two fine pitchers going against us, who are each able to beat us. We'll have to play real well to beat them."Fact|date=August 2008

Dwight Gooden continued his outstanding pitching in the LCS for the Mets, allowing only one run in 10 innings, the longest outing of his career. Once again, however, his efforts would not earn him a victory, as Astros starter Nolan Ryan matched him pitch for pitch, allowing only a single run himself. Both teams scored a lone run in the fifth inning. Bill Doran drove in Alan Ashby with an RBI fielder's choice to put the Astros up 1-0, but the Mets evened the score in the bottom of the inning on Darryl Strawberry's second home run of the series. Neither team would score again for seven more innings.

In the 11th inning, Gooden was relieved by Jesse Orosco, who came in and shut down the Astros for two innings. Then in the bottom of the 12th, the Mets finally broke through. Wally Backman opened things with an infield single to third, then went to second on an errant pickoff throw by Charlie Kerfeld. The Astros elected to walk Keith Hernandez intentionally to face Gary Carter, who was batting .048 (1-21) in the series so far. Carter ended the game with a single to center, sending the series back to Houston with the Mets one win away from earning a trip to the World Series.

Dwight Gooden's 10-inning start in Game 5 was the only time in his career he pitched more than nine innings in a game. Davey Johnson was criticized for removing Gooden after nine innings during a 0-0 game against the St. Louis Cardinals in by|1985 at a pivotal moment in a close pennant race.Fact|date=August 2008 Cardinals ace John Tudor remained in the game and ended up pitching a complete game 10-inning shutout, and the Cardinals went on to defeat the Mets in the division race that season.

Game 6

Wednesday, October 15, 1986 at Astrodome in Houston, TexasLinescore
Road=New York|RoadAbr=NYM
WP=Jesse Orosco (3-0)|LP=Aurelio Lopez (0-1)|SV=
RoadHR=|HomeHR=Billy Hatcher (1)|

On July 20, by|1986, the Mets and Astros played a preview of their NLCS 16-inning marathon, but this game went 15 innings that lasted 5 hours and 29 minutes as the Astros beat the Mets 9-8.

Game 6 was one for the ages, in more ways than one. The game went 16 innings with the Mets coming out on top 7-6. It was the highest scoring game of the series; in fact, the 16th inning alone featured more runs than three of the previous five games had in their entirety.

The Astros broke through first, and for a low scoring series like this, they broke through big, scoring three runs off a possibly tired Bob Ojeda in the bottom of the first. He settled down after that, however, and the Astros wouldn't score again for the next 12 innings. Meanwhile, Astros starter Bob Knepper was brilliant from the very first pitch, and the game headed to the 9th still 3-0.

Just when it looked like the Mets would have to face Scott, their bats suddenly came to life. After pitching almost perfectly for the first eight innings, Knepper clearly tired in the 9th. He allowed three hits and recorded only one out, and left with the Astros clinging to a 3-2 lead. The decision by Lanier not to bring in Smith to start the inning was talked about for years to come.Fact|date=August 2008 Smith was their closer, but had blown a save earlier in the series. When Smith finally did appear, he was ineffective, walking two batters to load the bases and then allowing the tying run to score on a sacrifice fly by Ray Knight. In a matter of minutes, the previously raucous crowd of 45,718 had been almost completely silenced and extra innings had soon begun.

In the 14th, the Mets made their first bid to win. After Gary Carter opened with a single, a walk to Darryl Strawberry put two runners on with nobody out. After Knight forced Carter at third, Wally Backman drove a single to right. When Kevin Bass' throw to the plate sailed high over Alan Ashby's head to the screen, Strawberry scored.

With one out in the bottom of the 14th and the Houston fans with their heads in their hands, Billy Hatcher shocked everyone with a line drive home run off the left field foul pole. It was the first earned run allowed by the Mets bullpen in the entire series. Hatcher went 3 for 7 in the game, and his homer meant the Astros would be kept alive for at least one more inning. Both teams failed to score in the 15th, and the game went to the 16th inning, the most innings in playoff history at that time.

The 16th inning would be the deciding factor, and it was not an easy 16th for either pitching staff. The Mets appeared to take control of the game once again, this time coming up with 3 runs in the top half of the inning. The rally began with Strawberry receiving a gift double when Billy Hatcher and Bill Doran misplayed his towering fly ball with one out. When Knight followed with a single to right, a poor throw to the plate by Kevin Bass allowed the tiebreaking run to score, just as it had in the 14th. A walk, two wild pitches, and a single by Lenny Dykstra brought in two more runs, putting the Mets up 7-4.

Orosco struck out Craig Reynolds to open the inning, but a walk and two singles later, Houston had a run in and the tying run on base. Orosco induced Denny Walling to hit into a force play at second for the second out, but Glenn Davis singled home another run, bringing the Astros within a run. Orosco then struck out right fielder Kevin Bass with two outs and the tying run on second, and the winning run on first. Orosco was awarded the victory, marking the first time in postseason history a reliever won three games in a series.

The Mets had won the series with a .189 batting average, the lowest average ever recorded by a winning team in a postseason series.

"What we got was the big hit and that's what Houston could never get off our relievers", said Dykstra. Fact|date=August 2008

"What can you say?" said Keith Hernandez of the Mets. Fact|date=August 2008

And then, raising a bottle of champagne, he said it all: "I just don't ever want to go through another playoff series like this."Fact|date=August 2008 The series finale had been the longest postseason game, in terms of innings, of all time, a record it would hold until by|2005. It still holds the record for longest League Championship Series game. Baseball historians and fans often regard the series as the greatest series to not reach a deciding game. Fact|date=August 2008

Mike Scott earned the NLCS Most Valuable Player honors. It was the first time in the history of the National League Championship Series that a player from the losing team was honored with the Most Valuable Player Award. He also earned the 1986 National League Cy Young Award with a record 18-10 and 2.22 ERA.

Composite Box

1986 NLCS (4-2): New York Mets over Houston AstrosLinescore
Road=New York Mets
Home=Houston Astros
H1=5|H2=5|H3=0|H4=0|H5=2|H6=0|H7=2|H8=0|H9=0|H10=0|H11=0|H12=0|H13=0|H14=1|H15=0|H16=2|HR=17|HH=49|HE=7Total Attendance: 299,316 Average Attendance: 49,886|

Quotes of the Series


At that time (1986), Game 6 was the longest Major League Baseball playoff game by "Innings" (16), this game only lasted 4 hours and 42 minutes. In Game 5 of the 1999 National League Championship Series, the Mets played a similar game against the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium in New York, that game lasted 5 hours and 46 minutes, Mets thirdbaseman Robin Ventura would end the game in the Bottom of the 15th inning with his famous "Grand Slam Single", this game would actually be the longest Major League Play-off game by "Time" in the history until Game 5 of the 2004 American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park ending in the 14th inning at 5 hours and 49 minutes. A year later (2005), the Astros and the Atlanta Braves would break that record when game 4 of the National League Division Series at Minute Maid Park lasted 5 hours and 50 minutes as Astros' Chris Burke hit a series-clinching walk-off home run off Braves' Joey Devine in the bottom of the 18th inning.

After beating the Astros in the 16 inning marathon, the Mets players partied so hard that they damaged the plane that flew them back to New York. The airline charged the Mets organization an unknown amount for the plane damage. Manager Davey Johnson tore up the bill in front of his players and paid for the damages himself as a gift to the players for their hard work in winning the National League pennant.

Houston Astros' pitcher Aurelio Lopez was killed in a car crash in 1992 in his native country Mexico at age 44, he was killed on the day after his 44th Birthday. His son Albie Lopez would pitch in the 2001 World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks against the New York Yankees.

Astro Kevin Bass would play 46 games for the New York Mets in by|1992.

Veteran Astros player Davey Lopes would manage the Milwaukee Brewers from by|2000-by|2002.

Houston Astros third baseman Phil Garner would manage the Astros and guide the team to the by|2005 National League pennant, their first in team history.


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