A team that wins 108 games usually doesn't consider a Game 6 in a League Championship Series as “must-win,” especially when it has the advantage at 3-2. However, that is exactly the situation the New York Mets considered themselves in when they faced the Houston Astros 30 years ago on Oct. 15, 1986, at the Astrodome.
That is because the “2” in the Astros' win column in the NLCS belonged to Mike Scott, a righthander who had allowed one run and eight hits in 18 innings against New York.
The vaunted Mets wanted no part of facing Scott in a Game 7. They believed he was unhittable because he had been scuffing the ball. There was no proof of this but Scott was in the Mets' heads.
Game 6 turned into one of the most dramatic in NLCS history. With the spectre of Scott lurking, the Mets fell behind 3-0 in the first and the score remained that way until the ninth inning.
Len Dykstra delivered a triple and came home when Mookie Wilson blooped a hit into right. Wilson, who seemed to find dramatic spots in the 1986 postseason, moved to second on Kevin Mitchell's chopper to third.
Keith Hernandez then doubled home Wilson to make it 3-2.
Dave Smith came on in relief of Bob Knepper, and walked Gary Carter and Darryl Strawberry to load the bases.
Ray Knight, who would also play a role in another thrilling game that postseason, delivered a sac fly and the game was on to extra innings.
The game remained tied at 3 until the 14th inning when the Mets scored to take a 4-3 lead, which didn't last as Billy Hatcher of the Astros hit a drive off the screen on the left-field foul pole to knot the game in the bottom half of the inning.
The Mets scored three runs in the 16th and finally seemed to have a ticket to the World Series. The Astros, however, did not go quietly.
They scored two runs and had men on first and second with two out and Kevin Bass at the plate. With the count at 3-2, Hernandez famously walked to the mound and told reliever Jesse Orosco, “If you throw him another fastball, we're going to fight.”
Orosco threw a slider that Bass swung and missed.
Four hours and 42 minutes after the game started, the Mets were on their way to the World Series.
“Mike Scott was our incentive to win.” Carter said after the game.
“Amen,” Mets manager Davey Johnson added. “I feel like I’m on parole, like I’ve just been given a pardon.”
The Mets' three-run comeback in the ninth was the largest deficit overcome in the final inning in postseason history — matched this past Tuesday by the Cubs as they rallied from a 5-2 deficit to stun the Giants and clinch their National League Division Series.