Apr 25, 2016

Former Mets Pitcher Turned 1986 NLCS Public Enemy Number One: Mike Scott (1979-1983)

Michael Warren Scott was born on April 26th, 1955 in Santa Monica, California.

The six foot two right hander attended Pepperdine University getting drafted in the second round of the 1976 amateur draft by the New York Mets. Scott pitched two seasons at AA Jackson going 14-10 with a 2.94 ERA in 1977 getting promoted to AAA Tidewater. He finished the year then pitched three more seasons at AAA Tidewater, going 10-10 in 1978. 

Scott pitched well enough in Spring Training to make the 1979 Mets staff. He made his MLB debut on April 18th 1979 pitching two innings relieving Pat Zachary in a game against the Montreal Expos. He got his first start on April 24th & pitched five innings getting the win over the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium. He pitched in 14 games until mid June getting just one more decision, a loss before getting sent down to Tidewater until September. He made four appearances with the Mets that month going 0-2 with a hold in relief. He finished up at 1-3 with a 5.33 ERA in 18 games.

In 1980 he was 13-7 at AAA Tidewater leading the staff in ERA, and was tied with Ed Lynch for the team lead in victories. He got the September call up going 1-1 in six appearances. In the strike shortened 1981 season, he started out at 1-4 going into late May. On May 29th he pitched a one run complete game beating the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium.

A week later he allowed just one run against the Astros in Houston & won his second straight decision. He followed that by losing six of his next seven decisions, into late September. He then beat the Montreal Expos on September 27th, shutting them out for 6.1 innings. On the year he was 5-10 with a 3.90 ERA, striking out 54 batters in 136 innings.

In 1982 he pitched the second game of the season, but was beaten the Cubs in Chicago. Scott then beat the Phillies & the Cubs allowing just two earned runs over 17 innings of work. He was 4-5 in early June when he was switched to the bull pen. He earned three saves that month & was back in the rotation by July. Scott went 2-4 before going back to the bullpen. From that point through the end of the season, he was 0-5 and his ERA went to 5.14. He finished the year at 7-13. In December he was traded to the Houston Astros for Danny Heep.

In his first season in Houston he was 10-6 with a 3.72 ERA but in 1984 he fell to a 5-11 record with a 4.68 ERA. Things then turned around after Scott began to throw a split fingered fastball that he learned from former Mets pitcher Roger Craig. Craig began teaching this pitch in the eighties & has now become a staple in the game. In 1985 it all came together for Scott he went 18-8 with a 3.29 ERA.

But in 1986 Scott was even better, winning the NL Cy Young Award. He was 18-10 (3rd in the NL in wins) leading the league in strikeouts (306) strike outs per nine innings (10.0) ERA (2.22) innings (275) & shut outs (5). After the All Star break he was 9-4 throwing three complete games, going into the eighth inning or beyond seven times. In that stretch he also had eight games where he struck out at least ten batters, enjoying a season high 14 on September 14th at San Diego. 

On September 25th, Scott threw a no hitter at the Astrodome against the San Diego Padres. In the game he struck out 13 batters & the win clinched the NL Western Division title for the Astros. It was considered one of the top five games ever played at the old Astrodome. That year he finished tenth in the MVP voting & made his first All Star appearance.

Post Season: Scott opened up the NLCS against Dwight Gooden in Game #1 at the Astrodome. He was spectacular beating the mighty Mets 1-0 in the pitchers duel allowing just five hits, striking out 14 Mets.

As not only were the Mets were shocked, but they also began to see strange things happen to the baseball & had some evidence to prove it. They accused Scott of scuffing up the baseballs & actually kept some balls for proof. Scott was never caught in the act or ever found guilty of the charges. No matter what he got into the Mets hitters heads.

He became known as "Mike Scuff" and the target of boo birds & Mets fans public enemy number one.

He returned in Game #4 to beat Sid Fernandez 3-1 in another complete game effort. Sid allowed just four hits to Scotts three hits, another pitcher's duel. As Game Six became a Mets classic as well as one of the best NLCS games in history, it was all the more important since Scott was looming as to be the starter in Game #7 if it was necessary. It wasn't as the Mets won, advanced to the World Series & Mike Scott never pitched in the post season again. He did win the series MVP award, the first time it had ever gone to player from the losing team.

In 1987 he had a good start going 10-4 into July & getting the start for the NL in the All Star game. He pitched two scoreless innings in the game. He finished the year at 16-13 with 233 strike outs (second in the NL) a 3.23 ERA (7th in the NL) leading the league with 36 starts. In 1988 he was 14-8 with a 2.92 ERA.

On June 12th he just missed throwing a second no hitter, as it was broken up by Atlanta's Ken Oberkfell with two outs in the 9th inning. In 1989 he was second for the Cy Young Award, going 20-10 as the only NL pitcher to win twenty games. He posted a 3.10 ERA & struck out 172 batters in 180 innings with a career high nine complete games. The next year Scott dropped to a 9-13 record & was 0-2 with injuries in 1991 his final season.

In his career he was 124-108 with a 3.54 ERA, striking out 1469 batters with 627 walks in 2068 innings in 347 games. He tossed 22 shut outs & 45 complete games. His is a member of the Astros Hall of Fame & has had his uniform #33 retired by the team

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