Mets 2, Phillies 1 (10). New York started Frank Viola; Philadelphia sent Jason Grimsley to the mound. The two were nearly diametric opposites. Viola was a 31-year-old lefty with good control who'd spent nearly a decade in the league, with his highlights including a shutout win in Game 7 of the 1987 World Series and an AL Cy Young award the next year. He was also one of baseball's most durable pitchers, having made at least 34 starts every season since 1983 (a streak that would continue through '92). Grimsley, meanwhile, was a 22-year-old right-hander with virtually no control who'd thrown fairly well in a fractional season of starting duty in 1990, but would go on to regress sharply in '91 before getting sent back to the minors in early June. That was not the last time Grimsley would be shipped back to AAA; he spent all of '92, '97, and '98 in the minors, and eventually made a permanent move to the bullpen. His tumultuous career eventually took him to seven teams, and came to an end after he was investigated for HGH use in 2006.
Viola nearly got into trouble in the top of the first, issuing a walk to Lenny Dykstra and allowing a Von Hayes single, but Dykstra was thrown out stealing before Hayes reached. Grimsley retired the Mets in order with a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the inning. Charlie Hayes and Randy Ready both singled in the second, but Viola stranded the runners at the corners. Hubie Brooks led off the home second with a double and moved to third on a flyout. With two away, Tom Herr was intentionally walked and stole second, Charlie O'Brien walked as well, and Viola struck out to leave the bases loaded.
Von Hayes doubled and was stranded in the top of the third; Dave Magadan walked and was left on in the bottom of the inning. In the fourth, Charlie Hayes singled and took second on a passed ball, but advanced no further. Mark Carreon singled and stole second in the bottom of the inning, and was left there as well. Dykstra led off the fifth with a single and advanced a base on a groundout, but ended the inning as the only man from either team to reach safely.
The Phillies broke through in the top of the sixth. John Kruk led off with a single and moved to second on a groundout; with two away, Ready singled him home for a 1-0 lead, and that lead remained in place when Grimsley worked around a Magadan leadoff walk in the bottom of the frame. Pete Schourek relieved Viola in the seventh and worked around a walk to Von of the Hayeses. Grimsley got himself into a rather more substantial jam in the home seventh, as an O'Brien single and a pair of wild pitches put pinch runner Keith Miller at third with one out. A walk to Daryl Boston ended Grimsley's tenure on the mound, and he was relieved by one of the few pitchers wilder than himself: Mitch Williams. Wild Thing induced a Vince Coleman fly ball to center, and Miller was thrown out trying to score the tying run after the catch.
Kruk led off the eighth with a single and was bunted to second; Jeff Innis then relieved Schourek and left Kruk in scoring position. Williams walked Magadan and Brooks in the bottom of the eighth to put the tying run in scoring position, but Roger McDowell took over and induced an inning-ending forceout from pinch hitter Tim Teufel.
Doug Simons worked around a two-out hit from Darren Daulton in the top of the ninth, giving the Mets one last shot at the one-run deficit in the bottom of the inning. McDowell started the home ninth by retiring Herr, bringing 37-year-old backup catcher Rick Cerone to the plate. Cerone entered the game with a career slugging average of .341, having homered in about one of every 68 at bats - and this proved to be the one, as he hammered a 1-1 pitch over the left-center field fence to tie the game. McDowell recovered to force extras, but Simons set the Phils down in order in the top of the tenth, and with two outs in the bottom of the inning, Brooks took a 2-1 pitch from Joe Boever out of the park to end the game.
It's the first extra-inning game of 1991, and already we're seeing results that seem to defy logical sense. The Phillies' pitchers walked 7 batters in the first 8 innings, but still maintained a shutout until they started using the relievers who didn't walk everyone - and that's when they blew the game, largely thanks to a home run by a catcher who hadn't gone deep since May 19 of the previous year.
Yeah, it's good to have baseball back again.