Remembering Mets History (1996) Alex Ochoa Hits For the Cycle

Wednesday, July 3, 1996: A large crowd of 43,000 came to Veterans Stadium to see Dallas Green's visiting New York Mets (38-45) take on Jim Fregosi's Philadelphia Phillies (34-48). Both teams were at the bottom of the NL East & would finish fourth (Mets) & fifth (Phils) at the end of the year.

The '96 Mets got a spectacular year from Todd Hundley who set a Mets record (at the time) for most HRs in a season (41). Hundley also drove in 112 runs. 

Other player highlights that season featured; Bernard Gilkey hit 30 HRs & led the club with 117 RBIs.  Lance Johnson set a Mets record with 227 hits while batting .333. 

A young Alex Ochoa had just come up to the Mets from AAA Norfolk on June 22nd. In 82 games that year, Ochoa batted .294 with 4 HRs 19 doubles & 33 RBIs. This game was a career best for Ochoa, as he hit for the cycle collecting five hits, with three RBIs & three runs scored.

Tonight's starting pitchers were Mark Clark (8-6) for New York & 
Terry Mulholland (6-6) for Philadelphia. Mark Clark was the Mets best pitcher of 1996 going 14-11 with a 3.42 ERA.

In the 2nd inning, Ochoa started out his big night with a base hit to center field. He advanced Jeff Kent who had started the inning with a single. Butch Huskey's base hit brought in Kent with the Mets first run. 

The Phils tied it up with Pete Incaviglia's triple in the bottom of the inning. In the bottom of the 3rd, Ricky Otero singled & later scored on Todd Zeile double, to put the Phils up 2-1.

The Mets had a big 4th inning, with one out Jeff Kent & Todd Hundley doubled, tying up the game. Next Alex Ochoa tripled to right field, scoring Hundley. Ochoa came home on Rey Ordonez's base hit, giving New York a 4-2 lead.

In the 6th inning, Ochoa doubled off Mulholland, for his third hit of the evening. He had now singled doubled & tripled. Butch Huskey followed with a two run HR, putting the Mets up 6-3. It was Huskey's sixth HR of the year.

In the bottom of the 6th, Clark quickly lost the lead, Benito Santiago reached on a Hubie Brooks error at third. Clark then walked pinch hitter J.R. Phillips. With two outs the Phils loaded the bases on Mickey Morandini's single. 

Former Met, Greg Jefferies then lined an infield single scoring two runs. Mark Clark was relieved by Paul Byrd, who quickly gave up a single to (future Met) Todd Zeile. It was a tie game until the 8th inning.

In the top of the 8th, Ochoa stepped in against reliever Steve Frey. Alex hit a solo HR, to give the Mets an 8-6 lead. It was his first HR of the year & the first of his career. Ochoa became the sixth Mets in franchise history to hit for the cycle. 

In the top of the 9th inning, Bernard Gilkey hit a solo HR, his 6th HR of the year. Jeff Kent then drew a walk & advanced on a passed ball. With two outs, Ochoa then came up & doubled, scoring Kent with the Mets tenth run of the game. The Mets went on to a 10-6 win. 

At the end of the night Alex Ochoa had five hits, four extra base hits & had scored & driven in three runs. He was now batting .390.

The winning pitcher was Paul Byrd & Doug Henry recorded the save. It was Henry's sixth save of the year, he was filling in for John Franco who was out with a bad back. Henry would save nine on the year, second to Franco's 28.

In late August the Mets would fire Dallas Green & hire Bobby Valentine.


Anonymous said…
Can we get some sort of concerted fan effort to get the Mets to go back to their pinstriped uniforms with the blue hats, at the very least, once every homestand?

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