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Queens Chronicle

Our hometown heroes for 50 years — Part IX: 1987-1990

A New York Mets anniversary special

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Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 1:23 pm, Thu Jul 19, 2012.

After the great comeback World Series win of 1986, the Mets stayed a strong team for years and broke new attendance records, but a dynasty was not to be. Injuries were to blame in 1987 — sound familiar? As the eighties turned into the nineties, some of the team’s biggest stars were traded, and Manager Davey Johnson, who couldn’t get them into the Big Show again, was fired.

1987

Record: 92-70, second in National League East.

A series of injuries to the pitching staff dooms the Mets’ chance of repeating as champions. They fall out of first for good on April 25; in July the club is 10.5 games out before rallying, only to fall short of St. Louis. On Sept. 11, the Mets are on the verge of climbing to within a half game of the Cardinals when they lose one of the most devastating games in club history: With the Mets leading St. Louis 4-2 in the ninth, the Cards’ Terry Pendleton hits a game-tying two-run homer off Roger McDowell and St. Louis goes on to win 6-4.

Darryl Strawberry hits 39 home runs and drives in 104; Howard Johnson hits 36 and drives in 99; they also steal 36 and 32 bases, respectively, to become the first teammates in the 30-30 club. Newcomer Kevin McReynolds hits 29 home runs and drives in 95 runs; Keith Hernandez hits a career high 18 home runs and drives in 89, while Gary Carter hits 20 homers and drives in 83.

Dwight Gooden, despite missing the first two months, goes 15-7; Terry Leach and Rick Aguilera are pleasant surprises at 11-1 and 11-3, respectively. The Mets go over three million (3,034,129) in attendance for the first time in club history

1988

Record: 100-60, first in National League East.

With attendance peaking at 3,055,455, the Mets regain the division crown after a one-year absence. The pitching staff posts a league-leading 2.91 ERA, led by sophomore sensation David Cone (20-3, 2.22 ERA, four shutouts, 213 strikeouts); Gooden (18-9); and Ron Darling (17-9). Bob Ojeda leads the staff with five shutouts. Randy Myers (7-3, 26 saves) is the new bullpen ace.

Strawberry (39 home runs, 101 RBIs) and McReynolds (27 home runs, 99 RBIs) are once again the offensive leaders. Strawberry becomes the second Met to win the home run crown. Rookie Gregg Jefferies comes up in August and hits .321 in 29 games.

The season is a roller coaster. The Mets get off to a 30-11 start, and then go 41-41, before winning 29 of their last 37 to win the division. In the League Championship Series, the Mets are victims of a stunning upset when they lose to the Dodgers in seven games after having beaten Los Angeles in 10 of 11 regular-season meetings. The club will not make the post season again until 1999.

1989

Record: 87-75, second in National League East.

It is a changing of the guard, as such stalwarts as Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra, and Wally Backman are traded; Hernandez and Carter both spend their last year with the Mets.

With Strawberry and McReynolds both enduring sub-par years, Johnson (36 home runs, 101 RBIs, 104 runs, 41 stolen bases) emerges as the club’s offensive leader. Sid Fernandez (14-5) and David Cone (14-8) lead the pitching staff. El Sid’s record is the best in the National League.

1990

Record: 91-71, second in National League East.

After a sluggish 20-22 start, Johnson is fired as manager and replaced by Bud Harrelson. Under Harrelson, the Mets catch fire and go 71-49, including an 11-game winning streak to tie the club record, but it is not enough to win the division.

Strawberry drives in a career-high 108 runs, while hitting 37 home runs; he then signs as a free agent with LA after the season. Johnson hits 23 homers and drives in 90 runs, while McReynolds hits 24 and drives in 82.

Frank Viola goes 20-12, and Gooden is 19-7 to lead the pitching staff. Cone is 14-10. Cone strikes out 233, and Gooden 223 as Mets pitchers fan 1,217 altogether. New York native John Franco, acquired from Cincinnati, saves 33 games.   

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