Mets Playoff Heroes: Jesse Orosco wins three in the 1986 NLCS
By Tim Boyle
The New York Mets won the 1986 NLCS in large part because of the clutch pitching performance they got from Jesse Orosco out of the bullpen.
The 1986 NLCS matchup between the New York Mets and Houston Astros ended in six games with the former coming away victorious. Former Mets pitcher Mike Scott won both games for the Astros, including the first. Bob Ojeda won the second game. The other three all concluded with reliever Jesse Orosco earning the W.
Orosco took the mound four times for the Mets in this series. In Game One, Davey Johnson called upon his closer to pitch the eighth inning in a 1-0 game. Orosco tossed a perfect inning, striking out one in his World Series debut.
The next time Mets fans would see Orosco on the mound was in Game Three. Once again, Orosco entered the eighth with the Mets down by one. After two scoreless innings, the Mets went into the bottom of the ninth trailing 5-4. A bunt single by Wally Backman began the inning. Two batters later, Lenny Dykstra hit a two-run shot to end the ball game.
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Orosco took the win and Astros pitcher Dave Smith was awarded the loss. Several nights later, with the series tied 2-2, we saw Orosco take the mound again in Game Five.
The fifth game of the series went 12 innings. Following 10 innings of one-run ball by Dwight Gooden, Orosco entered the 11th. He was perfect again, like he was in the first game of the series. In another dramatic finale, Backman scored the winning run on a Gary Carter single.
The next day in Houston, the two top teams in the National League squared off for Game Six. Astros starter Bob Knepper carried a shutout into the ninth inning. Down 3-0, the Mets stormed back to tie the game in the final frame.
Now in extras, the game carried on without any runs until a Backman single scored Darryl Strawberry in the top of the 14th. Unfortunately, the second batter Orosco faced in the bottom half of the inning, Billy Hatcher, tied it up with a solo home run. This was all Orosco would allow for the time being.
Scoring resumed in the 16th when Ray Knight knocked in Strawberry. A wild pitch with Orosco at the plate scored Knight. At the plate with a mission to move the runner up, Orosco laid down a successful sacrifice bunt. This set up a third important run for New York to give them a 7-4 lead.
The bottom part of the 16th inning wasn’t so easy. Hatcher drove in another run with a single. With two outs, Glenn Davis added another.
Up 7-6 with 2 outs in the 16th, Orosco faced off against Kevin Bass with the game on the line. On a 3-2 pitch, Orosco struck out Bass to end the game and the series. In doing so, he earned his third victory of the 1986 NLCS.
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Pitching in the final innings of a baseball game is never easy. Orosco, whose mission included more than one inning in each of these wins he earned, came through for the Mets with three victories. There’s no doubt he was a postseason hero in this series.