Remembering Mets History: (1989) Frank Viola Outduels Orel Hershiser 1-0 in Historical Matchup

Monday August 28th, 1989:
For the first time in MLB history, the two reigning Cy Young Award winners faced off against each other in a regular season matchup

The New York Mets sent Frank Viola to the mound to face the reigning World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers & their ace, Orel Hershiser.

Frank Viola had been the A.L. Cy Young winner while pitching with the Twins in 1988. One year after earning the World Series MVP for 1987 World Champion Minnesota Twins. 

Viola came to New York in 1989 on the July 31st trade deadline. It was a huge addition to the Mets team, as the Long Island born Viola returned home. 

He went 8-12 that year in Minnesota & was 1-3 entering this game on a personal three game losing streak with an overall 9-15 season record. 

Orel Hershiser had a similar season the previous
year. He was the NL Cy Young Award winner & the World Series MVP as the Dodgers surprised everyone to beat the Mets in the NLCS & then the Oakland A's in the Fall Classic.

At this time Davey Johnson's Mets were in third place (70-60) three & 1/2 games back of the Chicago Cubs. Tommy Lasorda's Dodgers had fallen to fifth place at 62-69. A crowd of 38,820 came to Dodger Stadium to witness this classic pitching matchup that was all it was billed to be.


The Mets got two hits in the 1st inning, singles by Juan Samuel & Howard Johnson amounted to nothing, as Darryl Strawberry popped out & Kevin McReynolds grounded out to end the inning. 

In the top of the 3rd, Greg Jefferies singled through the third base hole. He advanced to second on Juan Samuel's ground out. Then Howard Johnson singled to center, scoring Jefferies in what turned out to be the only run of the game.

The Mets did scatter eight hits off Hershiser but no more runs in his eight innings of work. In the 7th, McReynolds led off with a base hit but was caught stealing. Keith Hernandez drew a walk in that at bat, but Hershiser got Barry Lyons & Kevin Elster to pop up. 

In the 8th, Frank Viola & Gregg Jefferies led off with base hits. Hershiser picked off Viola leaning off first base. Jefferies did steal second, but the inning ended when Hershiser struck out Howard Johnson. On the night, Orel walked one & struck out four.

Viola had his best outing of that season for the Mets. He pitched the complete game shutout, allowing just three hits while striking out five & walking no one.

In the 2nd inning he gave up a single but struck out Eddie Murray, Mike Marshall & Dave Anderson. Viola would retire the last 15 batters in a row to end the game.

Trivia: Viola would go 5-5 for the Mets that year with a 3.38 ERA. The next season he would win twenty games (20-12) leading the NL in starts (35) & innings pitched (249).

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