5) 1986: Mets beat Astros in 16-inning thriller
Mike Scott sat in the Houston Astros dugout, eagerly waiting for his opportunity to pitch in Game 7. It was a prospect that would’ve been appealing to the Astros. After all, Scott finished the 1986 season with a 18-10 record and a league-leading 2.22 ERA. He pitched a no-hitter to clinch a playoff spot for the Astros, and would end up winning the Cy Young Award.
But he never got the ball in a Game 7. The New York Mets, winners of 108 games in 1986, finished off the Astros in 16 innings of a sixth game that’s remembered as one of the best games in baseball history.
The Mets won Game 5 with a Gary Carter walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 12th, and they went to Houston’s Astrodome for a chance to close out the series. With Scott, who had given up just one run over 18 innings in two wins already in the series, waiting to start in the seventh game, early on it looked like the Astros would get there.
Houston scored three runs off Mets starter Bob Ojeda in the bottom of the first. Their own starter, Bob Knepper, held the Mets to just two hits in eight shutout innings. The Astros took that 3-0 lead into the ninth, and Scott could already start thinking about Game 7. The Mets wouldn’t go down quietly, however. Lenny Dykstra led off the ninth with a triple to center and came around to score on a RBI single by Mookie Wilson. Keith Hernandez drove in Wilson with a double to center, forcing Knepper out of the game. The Mets would tie it with a sacrifice fly by Ray Knight that scored Hernandez, sending the game to extra innings.
Both teams failed to score until the 14th, when Wally Backman drove in Darryl Strawberry with a single to right to give the Mets the lead for the first time in the game. Closer Jesse Orosco came on for the bottom of the inning with a chance to finish the series, but Billy Hatcher tied it up once again with a one-out home run to left.
Strawberry led off the 16th with a double, then came home with a Knight single to right. Knight would score on a wild pitch, while Backman, who drew a walk in a nine-pitch at bat against Jeff Calhoun, came in to score on a single by Dykstra for the Mets third run of the inning. With the Astros down to their final outs facing a three-run deficit, Davey Lopes drew a one-out walk off Orosco, who then gave up back-to-back singles to Bill Doran and Billy Hatcher that scored Lopes. Orosco would get a forceout for the second out of the inning before Glenn Davis hit a single to score Doran and put the tying run at second and winning run at first.
Kevin Bass came to the plate for the Astros with the season on the line. Bass was an All-Star in 1986, hitting .311 with 20 home runs. Orosco, however, would get him to swing at strike three on a 3-2 pitch to win the game and the series for the Mets.
New York won the World Series against the Boston Red Sox, again winning in extra-innings in Game 6 before taking Game 7 for the championship. The Astros, meanwhile, would not make the playoffs again until 1997.