Remembering Mets History: (1986) Opening Day of the Championship Season

Tuesday April 8th, 1986: After the disappointment of not making the playoffs in 1985, the Mets & their fans went into 1986 looking to win it all. The feeling was nothing else would be acceptable.

In the off season, the Mets had traded for starting pitcher Bobby Ojeda & infielder Tim Teufel. Ojeda would win 18 games for the Mets & Teufel would platoon with Wally Backman at second base.

Early in Spring Training, Mookie Wilson was struck in the right eye by a ball thrown by Rafael Santana during a rundown drill. 

He would miss the start of the season. That would open the door of opportunity for Lenny Dykstra who would prove to be a big part of the Mets outfield.

The 1986 season opened up in Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium in front of 48,000. Davey Johnson sent his 1985 Cy Young Award winner Dwight Gooden to the mound to face Jim Leyland's Pirates and veteran Rick Reuschel.

The Mets wasted no time showing they meant business this season. In the top of the 1st inning Len Dykstra walked & after Wally Backman flew out, Keith Hernandez doubled brining in the first run of the 1986 season. 

Hernandez advanced to third on the throw & then Gary Carter hit a sac fly scoring Keith to make it 2-0 Mets.

Dwight Gooden gave up a leadoff HR to R.J. Reynolds making it a 2-1 game. Gooden was not his overpowering self on this day but still held the Pirates down scoreless until the 6th inning.

Veteran Pirate pitcher Rick Reuschel settled down after giving up the two runs, keeping the Mets down into the 6th inning as well. 

In the top of the 6th inning Darryl Strawberry doubled. He was followed by George Foster who also doubled bringing in Straw to make it 3-1 Mets.

In the home half of the inning, R.J. Reynolds doubled & advanced on a force play. Second baseman Johnny Ray grounded out for the second out, but it scored Reynolds to cut the Mets lead to a run 3-2.

In the top of the 7th, Lenny Dykstra led off with a walk & was sacrificed over by Wally Backman. Keith Hernandez singled bringing in his second run of the game, as Dykstra scored for a 4-2 Mets lead.

It was all they needed, as Gooden went the distance, pitching nine innings allowing two runs on six hits with six strike outs & one walk. Gooden also collected one of the Mets six hits.

Trivia: Dwight Gooden would go 17-6 in the Championship season with a 2.84 ERA, 200 Ks in 250 innings pitched. He threw two shut outs & had 12 complete games.


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