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It Went Thataway!
Ron Fimrite
October 27, 1986
Down 0-2, the confused and confounded New York Mets tried to figure out how the World Series, and the Boston Red Sox, were getting away from them
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October 27, 1986

It Went Thataway!

Down 0-2, the confused and confounded New York Mets tried to figure out how the World Series, and the Boston Red Sox, were getting away from them

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The Mets seemed to be wielding some awfully tired bats, as well. In an effort to resuscitate his lineup, Johnson had started lefthanded hitter Danny Heep in left in place of Mookie Wilson and switch-hitter Howard Johnson at third instead of Knight. The lineup changes irked Knight, to say the least. "I don't think I'm the cause of our not hitting," said Knight, "and I don't think I'm the one who should sit." Heep and Johnson were a combined 0 for 6, although they both hit what might have been home runs had it not been for the swirling winds in right that dropped the balls in Evans's glove. Evans had a busy night in right, and he made a sensational diving catch in the fifth on Lenny Dykstra's leadoff drive in the right centerfield gap that might possibly have changed the whole character of the game.

If the pitching was a surprise, so was the play peerless first baseman Keith Hernandez made in the third inning to open the door for the Red Sox. Owen had walked to lead off the inning, bringing Clemens to the plate for the first time in his major league career. He laid down a bunt toward first and Hernandez hopped on it. But he rushed the throw to second for the force, and the ball landed far short of the bag, bouncing off shortstop Rafael Santana's leg. "I got to the ball all right, but it stuck in my glove," said Hernandez. "Then I threw a palmball to Rafael as good as the one [Bob] Stanley threw to me later in the game. There was no way he could handle it."

Boggs then hit a double inside the left-field line, and Barrett and Buckner followed with run-scoring singles. Henderson, emerging as a postseason star for his hitting and centerfielding, hit a solo homer in the fourth. Then in the fifth, after Rice led off with a single, Evans jumped on Gooden's first pitch for the two-run homer that put the game away. "You know what?" said Evans. "That ball is a single at Fenway. It hits the wall and bounces off." The Red Sox, who eased the traffic congestion at Shea Stadium by sending thousands of fans home early, got their 18 hits off five Mets pitchers.

Then there was Boggs's Brooks Robinson imitation. Boggs, who once had the reputation of being a mediocre third baseman, has worked hard over the years to improve his fielding and the payoff came in the third inning of Game 2. He made a nice play on a bunt by Dykstra for the first out, fielded a hard grounder off the leg of Clemens by Hernandez for the second out and then dived for a shot by Carter between short and third, coming up with the ball and throwing him out for out No. 3. Later, in the sixth, Boggs went to his right and backhanded the ball on a short hop to rob Santana of an extra-base hit. "I haven't been hitting the ball well," said Boggs, "so I have to contribute in other ways. The way I can do that is with the glove."

Before the Series started, Carter said that the Mets were hoping to force Boston to use its middle relief, generally regarded as less than middling. But Crawford, who got the win, and Stanley shut the Mets out after the fifth. In the eighth, Stanley fooled Hernandez badly with his palmball and struck out Carter looking—and then swearing at umpire Evans—with a slider on the outside corner. Stanley, a whipping boy all season for Boston fans, could look forward to a few cheers upon his return.

The Red Sox, buoyant to begin with, left town feeling heady but wary. Kansas City lost the first two games at home last year and still won the Series, the first team ever to overcome that formidable handicap. The Mets, spent though they appeared and hitting nothing, were oddly undiscouraged. "We play better when we're mad," said second baseman Wally Backman, "and now we're really bleeped off." Maybe the Green Monster at old Fenway would revive those tired bats. One thing, as Knight sagely observed, was certain, no matter how you looked at it: "Our backs are to the wall."

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