Dwight Gooden (17-6), Ron Darling (15-6), Bobby Ojeda (18-5), and Sid Fernandez (16-6) created the starting staff. Lenny Dykstra (.295, 31 stolen bases), Wally Backman (.320), and Ray Knight (.298), Gary Carter (24 homers, 105 RBI), Darryl Strawberry (27 homers, 93 RBI), and Keith Hernandez (.310 average, 83 RBI) provided solid hitting.
Houston took the National League West by storm, going 96-66. Cy Young Award-winner Mike Scott (18-10) baffled hitters with his split-fingered fastball, no-hitting San Francisco on September 25 and leading the majors in innings (275), ERA (2.23), and strikeouts (306). Glenn Davis belted 31 homers -- no small feat in the Astrodome -- and Kevin Bass hit .311 with 20 homers.
In the American League, Boston had its own stars in Wade Boggs (a circuit-topping .357 average), Dwight Evans (26 homers, 97 RBI), Jim Rice (.324, 20 homers, 110 RBI), and 23-year-old Cy Young Award-winner and MVP Roger Clemens (a league-leading 24 wins).
Veterans Don Sutton, Reggie Jackson, Bob Boone, and Bobby Grich combined to give California a 92-70 season and a first-place finish in the American League West.
There were other notables around the circuits. In the National League, Philadelphia's Mike Schmidt took MVP honors on his 37 round-trippers, 119 RBI, and .547 slugging average. LA's Fernando Valenzuela had a 21-11 season and three shutouts. Montreal's Tim Raines posted a league-leading .334 average. Toronto outfielder Jesse Barfield topped the American League with 40 homers. Joe Cowley of the White Sox had a no-hitter against the Angels on September 19. Cleveland finished fifth in the East with a league-leading .284 team average.
The Mets and Astros faced off in the NLCS. Trailing by three for most of game six, the Mets tied it in the ninth. In the 16th frame, New York took a 7-4 advantage. Houston trimmed the lead to one; then, with two out and two on, Jesse Orosco fanned Bass, ending the longest postseason game.
The ALCS between the Angels and the Red Sox was almost as exciting. California had a tournament-lead of three games to one and a 5-2 advantage in the top of the ninth inning of game five when Boston DH Don Baylor hit a two-run homer; Dave Henderson's two-run dinger rung up a 6-5 BoSox lead. California went on to lose 7-6 in 11 innings. Boston took games six and seven.
New York and Boston staged a memorable 1986 World Series. The Red Sox swept the first two games in Shea Stadium; the Mets, the next two in Fenway Park. Boston took game five at home.
The Sox took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the tenth of game six, the key blow being Henderson's home run. Reliever Calvin Schiraldi retired the first two Mets. One out separated Boston from its first title in 68 years. Gary Carter and Kevin Mitchell singled. Knight brought Carter home and Mitchell went to third. Up came Mookie Wilson. Reliever Bob Stanley's wild pitch allowed Mitchell to tie the game at five-all. Wilson ended it by sending a slow roller to first, a certain out -- until Bill Buckner let it squirt through his legs. Knight raced home with the winning run.
Two days later, the celebration was official, as Orosco recorded the last out in the 8-5 New York win in game seven.
Find headlines and summaries of the major stories from the 1986 baseball season on the next page.
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