As the Mets entered September in the 1988 season, they had an 81/2 game lead in the NL East. They pretty much knew they'd be facing the Dodgers in the NLCS, as LA was holding a six game lead in the NL West.
The Mets were confident, over confident as it turned out & were heavily favored since they had their way walking all over the Dodgers in the regular season.
On September 2nd a crowd of 44,889 came out to Shea to see Ron Darling face Tim Leary. Darling blew through the game easily, pitching a complete game five hit shut out. It was one of his four shut outs on the season.
Darling also struck out eight in the game, walking just one as the Mets rolled to an 8-0 win. Kevin Elster hit two HRs that day, Mookie Wilson & Greg Jefferies also hit HRs.
Darling would roll through September as maybe the Mets best pitcher, he went 4-0 in the month & closed out the year winning five straight, if you counted his August 27th start.
On September 7th the Chicago Cubs rocked him for six runs & on the 12th he got a no decision while allowing just two runs in 8.2 innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Gary Carter's walk off HR off Jeff Robinson won it, as Randy Meyers earned the win, pitching to just one batter in relief of Darling.
Darling then beat the Montreal Expos on September 17th, pitching eight innings with only one strike out & two earned runs allowed. Another complete game victory, where he allowed just one run to the Phillies at Shea, followed that start on September 22nd. That win was #16 for Darling tying his career high set back in 1985.
He couldn't get a win in his next start but got one final chance to hit a career high victories total, on October 2nd on a start against the ST. Louis Cards. That day he allowed five runs in just six innings, but the Mets bats provided him seven runs, so he won his 17th game of the year. It would be the most wins he ever earn in a single season.
In 1988 Darling was 17-9 with161 strike outs & a 3.25 ERA in 34 starts in 240 innings, second best of his career.
In the NLCS against the Dodgers, Darling pitched Game #3 where he took a no decision. In six innings he gave up two earned runs while striking out five, the Mets did win the game 8-5. He went to the mound in the final Game #7 & was terrible, he gave up six runs in the 1st inning before getting pulled & Orel Hershiser shut the Mets out the rest of the way, ending the Mets late eighties glory days.