By: Paul DiSclafani
As we head into the 2015 NLDS, let’s take a look back at the playoff history of these two teams.
They first met in a classic seven game National League Championship Series in 1988 that was famous for a home run hit against the Mets just when it seemed that they had taken control of the series. That home run not only changed the course of the series, but it changed the course of the fortunes of the Mets franchise. 90 wins in 1984, 98 wins in 1985 and a World Championship season in 1986 where they won 108 games in the regular season. The next year, the Mets won 92 games but just missed the playoffs before hitting the 100 win mark again in 1988.
They never seemed to recover from that home run and went 11 years without another playoff appearance.
Although the Mets don’t have a long postseason history (this is only their 8th appearance in 53 years), they have been fairly successful, winning 9 of 14 series and two World Series, in 1969 and 1986.
The Dodgers began playing professional baseball way back in 1883 and have a long and storied history in baseball’s postseason. As the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 40’s and 50’s, they lost the World Series five straight times to the Yankees over a 13 year period before winning their first Championship in 1955. The next year, of course, they lost to the Yankees again and then packed their bags and headed to Los Angeles after the 1957 season.
Since moving to Los Angeles in 1958, the Dodgers have been to the World Series nine more times (winning five), but none since 1988 – the year they beat the Mets to get there. Dodgers haven’t been to the World Series since 1988, losing in either the NLDS or NLCS in their past eight postseason appearances.
The Mets and Dodgers have met twice in the post season.
The 1988 Mets were a year removed from their second World Championship and after a disappointing 1987 season and were confident in the NLCS against the Dodgers because they had beaten them 10 out of 11 games in the regular season.
After splitting the first two games in LA, Game 3 was rained out, allowing the Dodgers to bring back Orel Hersheiser on three days rest. On a sloppy, muddy field, the Mets fell behind 4-3 in the 8th inning before erupting for five runs and an 8-4 win. During that inning, the Mets challenged that Dodger pitcher Jay Howell had something in his glove. He was ejected and suspended for the next game.
In Game 4, the Mets were poised to take a commanding 3 games to 1 lead with a possible Game 5 clincher at Shea the next day, when they took a 4-2 lead into the ninth inning. Dwight Gooden had allowed only one hit going into the ninth and walked the leadoff batter, then allowed a game-tying, two-run home run to Mike Scioscia, who hit only two home runs all year. In the 12th inning, Kirk Gibson hit a solo home run off Roger McDowell as the Dodgers tied the series. Gooden has often said that his greatest regret in his baseball career was missing the Mets 1986 championship Ticker-Tape Parade through The Canyon Of Hero’s. The Scioscia home run was Number 2.
Gibson, the 1988 NL MVP, would injure his knee in Game 5, but not before he hit a 3-run home run helping the Dodgers to take a 3-2 lead back to LA. Gibson’s injury would force him out of the remainder of this series and the World Series, except for one iconic at bat against Dennis Eckersley in Game 1, hitting the game winning home run on one leg.
Although the Mets won Game 6 behind David Cone’s 5-hit effort, the Dodgers rocked Ron Darling in the second inning of Game 7 after the Mets made two errors for five runs and they won Game 7, 6-0. The Dodgers then went on to beat the A’s in the World Series.
Before the famous (or infamous) called third strike on Carlos Beltran in the 2006 NLCS, the Mets and Dodgers met in the NLDS that started with a bang in NY.
After learning that starter Orlindo Hernandez (el Duque) would miss the series with a torn muscle, rookie starter John Maine got the start and was in immediate trouble in the first inning with runners on first and second and no outs. Dodgers catcher Russell Martin hit a long drive to the wall that went over the head of Mets outfielder Sean Green, but the lead runner on second, Jeff Kent, though Green might catch the ball, so he headed back to second to tag up, when the ball went over his head, Kent tried to score, but was tagged out at the plate. But the trailing runner JD Drew was right behind him, so LoDuca tagged him out too. The Mets went on for a 6-5 win.
Mets won Game 2 also, 4-1, and went to Los Angeles for Game 3, where they scored three times in the first inning and again in the second, winning big 9-5 and sweeping into the NLCS. The Cardinals beat the Mets in the NLCS, 4-3
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