Jul 13, 2016

Remembering Mets History: 1999 NLCS Game #5- Robin Ventura's Walk Off Grand Slam Single

Sunday October 17th 1999: NLCS Game #5- Shea Stadium, New York. After the Mets had salvaged a win in Game #4 there was some hope & reason to believe. The mighty Atlanta Braves had taken the first three games but now if the Mets could win this one, they were right back in it. That they did in dramatic & classic fashion. It is a game that goes down forever as a Mets classic.

The game began in the afternoon & would last five hours & forty six minutes into the evening. Bobby Valentine would use 23 total players in the game, fourteen position players & nine pitchers. For Atlanta; Bobby Cox would use 22 players, sixteen position players & six pitchers.

 Starting Lineups

The game began with Masato Yoshi (12-8 / 4.40 ERA / 105 Ks) on the mound against Greg Maddox (19-9 / 3.57 ERA / 136 Ks) in front of 55,723 fans at Shea.

The Mets struck first; Rickey Henderson led off the home 1st, with a single. Then, John Olerud really got the crowd going with a two run HR. But Greg Maddox settled down after that, pitching through the 7th inning. He would allow two runs on seven hits, with a pair of walks & strike outs. He exited with a 2-2 tie.

Masato Yoshi held the Braves scoreless until the 4th inning. Bret Boone led off with a double, Chipper Jones doubled as well & Brian Jordan singled to tie it up at two. Bobby Valentine yanked Yoshi & brought in the veteran; Orel Hershiser (13-12 / 4.58 ERA/ 89 Ks).

Hershiser known as "the Bull dog" gave the Mets an outstanding middle relief performance. Although he walked three batters, he held the Braves scoreless over 3.1 innings allowing just one hit. Bull dog struck out five along the way, as he got the Mets to the 7th inning.

Hershiser had entered the game with two runners on & no one out, he struck out the side to end the threat. In the 5th inning, with two men on he struck out Brian Jordan to end that inning as well. In the 6th, a Met error, an intentional walk & another walk loaded the bases. Hershiser then struck out Greg Maddox & Mike Piazza nailed Ryan Klesco trying to steal home as he was running on the pitch.

The Mets would have Turk Wendell pitch in the 7th inning. He then gave way to Pat Mahomes who pitched into the 8th inning with two outs. John Franco would come on & get to the 10th inning, where Armando Benitez took over getting it to the 11th inning, still tied at 2-2.

Kenny Rogers pitched two scoreless for New York & was relieved by Octavio Dotel. Dotel pitched two scoreless innings but not without drama. In the 13th, Keith Lockhart singled & Chipper Jones doubled to right field. Melvin Mora now in right, grabbed the ball threw to Edgardo Alfonzo who threw home to nail Lockhart at the plate & end the inning.The drama continued in this epic nail bitter.
In the 15th inning, Dotel gave up what looked like thew final fatal run. Walt Weiss singled & stole second base. With two outs, Keith Lockhart tripled to center field scoring Weiss & silencing the crowd. 

By now the rain was falling on a damp cool autumn evening in New York. This epic game was more than five hours old & all it's excitement came down to the Mets being down 3-2 in the 15th inning. The Braves pitcher was Kevin McGlinchy.

Shawon Dunston led off with a base hit & boldly, stole second base, bringing life to the crowd once again. Pinch hitter; Matt Franco then drew a walk. Edgardo Alfonzo sacrificed the runners over & the Mets were in business. John Olerud was intentionally walked to get to Todd Pratt. Pratt was now in the game having replaced Mike Piazza behind the plate. It was McGlinchy's game, as Bobby Cox had pretty much run out of options. He walked Pratt bringing in the tying run. Shea was reborn & went wild.

Robin Ventura came to the plate, Ventura on a bad knee was struggling in the series. He had gone 0-16 prior to his 11th inning single. But this time he was destined to be a hero, he took a 2-1 fast ball & drove it just over the classic 371 foot marker in right center field. It was a HR, a  grand slam walk off game winning HR, in the post season. It was awesome.

Luckily Roger Cedeno scored from third base quickly, because the runner on first base; Todd Pratt was so excited at the blast, he hugged Robin Ventura, scooping him up in the air. He was estatic but because of that action, Ventura's blast would go down in the books as a walk off single & the Mets had a 4-3 win.

Ventura joked to the media, "Maybe tonight when you guys go home, I'll run the bases" "It's no big deal, as long as I touched first base we won, so that's fine with me."  He also said  "We just play for another day. It seems like we've been saying that for a month now".


Darryl Hamilton said it best for the players on the bench describing this one: "It was getting crazy, it was getting to the point where your stomach was coming out of your guts".






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