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2006 National League Division Series 1
From BR Bullpen
|2006 MLB Postseason|
|AL||NYY - DET||OAK - DET||STL - DET|
|MIN - OAK|
|NL||NYM - LAD||NYM - STL|
|STL - SD|
|<< 2005||2007 >>|
The New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers had several things in common entering the 2006 Postseason. Both teams came from large markets with fans anxiously awaiting their first World Series titles since Ronald Reagan's presidency. Both starting rotations had declining stars and untested young arms. Grady Little was in his first year at the helm of the Dodgers, while Willie Randolph was in his second year with the Mets. The teams had costly lineups; one headed by Carlos Beltran's $13+ million salary, and the other by J.D. Drew's $11+ million. Hungry fans, questionable pitching, young managers, and pricey stars all added pressure to the postseason atmosphere.
The outcome left little room for doubt. The Mets scored 19 runs in the three-game sweep and had a team batting average of .294. While the Dodgers came through with a .296 average, they produced only 11 runs. Carlos Delgado, Cliff Floyd, and former Dodger Paul Lo Duca all hit over .400 for New York in the three-game set. The series victory legitimized the Mets' 97-win season. Los Angeles fell in the first round of the postseason for the fourth time since winning the 1988 World Series.
 The Teams
 The New York Mets
The first seven batters in the Mets' Game 1 lineup were veterans of at least one All-Star team. Jose Reyes set the table with a .300 average, 19 home runs, and 64 steals. Paul Lo Duca hit .318 batting behind Reyes, and the 3-4-5 punch of Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran and David Wright combined to hit 105 homers. Veterans Cliff Floyd, Shawn Green and Jose Valentin all provided power in the bottom half of the order.
The Mets' rotation had name value with Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, and Orlando Hernandez, but Martinez and Hernandez were sidelined with injuries. Steve Trachsel, John Maine and Oliver Perez were used to fill the void. Maine led the crop with a 3.60 ERA, while Glavine and Trachsel had 15 wins each. Billy Wagner was the team's closer and saved 40 regular-season games.
 The Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers had a strong catalyst of their own in Rafael Furcal, who hit .300 with 15 home runs and 37 stolen bases. Kenny Lofton hit .301 with 32 steals in the number two hole. The Dodgers could not match New York's strong trio of power hitters. Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent, and J.D. Drew combined for just 54 home runs.
The Dodgers' ace was Derek Lowe, hero of the 2004 Postseason for the Boston Red Sox. Lowe won 16 games with a 3.63 ERA in 2006. Hong-Chih Kuo served as the second starter in LA's postseason rotation. The young left-hander was both talented and erratic. Greg Maddux was one of the Dodgers' most reliable pitchers after coming over from the Chicago Cubs in a midseason trade. He started the third and final game of the series.
 Game 1 @ Shea Stadium
Mets: 6, Dodgers: 5
|WP: Guillermo Mota (1-0), LP: Brad Penny (0-1), SV: Billy Wagner (1)|
- Attendance: 56,979
Two years prior to this October night in Queens, Derek Lowe was on the verge of leading the Boston Red Sox on a magnificent playoff run that climaxed with a World Series title. That storied October earned Lowe his big contract from the Dodgers. After winning 16 regular-season games, fans in Los Angeles hoped that their ace could deliver more postseason magic. New Yorkers put their hopes behind 25-year-old John Maine, a former Baltimore Orioles prospect who posted a 6-2 record during the second half of the season. The starters did not last long in Game 1, but a former Dodger would factor prominently in the game.
Los Angeles scored the first run of the game in the 2nd inning. Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew each singled, but both were thrown out at home plate after Russell Martin drove a ball to right field. Martin advanced to second on the play, veteran Marlon Anderson drove him home with a double, but a big inning had been averted.
The Dodgers held on to the slim lead until Carlos Delgado and Cliff Floyd hit solo home runs in the bottom of the 4th inning. Maine surrendered a single and a walk in the 5th inning before being replaced by Pedro Feliciano. The southpaw retired Kenny Lofton for the second out of the inning. The Mets turned back to the bullpen and used Chad Bradford to record the final out. They escaped the jam without any damage.
A double off the bat of David Wright plated two runs in the 6th inning, the Mets moving ahead, 4-1. Mark Hendrickson relieved Lowe on the hill. The Dodgers rallied against their former teammate, Guillermo Mota, in the 7th inning. A single and an error put runners on second and third for Julio Lugo. Lugo went down on strikes, but Rafael Furcal picked him up with a single that scored one run. Nomar Garciaparra doubled in two more runs, evening the score at 4-4.
Grady Little turned the ball over to the pitcher who had started the 2006 All-Star Game for the National League, Brad Penny. The right-hander walked two of the first three batters he faced. The fourth, Delgado, knocked in a run with a single. Wright then drove in the Mets' sixth run with a double.
Ahead 6-4 in the 9th, New York brought in their closer, Billy Wagner. Wagner allowed two doubles and a run, but held on to the victory. The Mets won a playoff game for the first time since the 2000 World Series.
 Game 2 @ Shea Stadium
Mets: 4, Dodgers: 1
|WP: Tom Glavine (1-0), LP: Hong-Chih Kuo (0-1), SV: Billy Wagner (2)|
- Attendance: 57,029
Game 2 offered a compelling pitching match-up, Tom Glavine against Hong-Chih Kuo. Glavine was 40 years old, just 10 wins shy of 300, and a veteran of 22 postseason series. Kuo was just 25, owned one career win, and had started only five games in his young career. In addition to the 290 to 1 win disparity, the pitchers were very different: Glavine relied on control and finesse, Kuo's repertoire included a 90 mph fastball and a lot of walks. Though Kuo held his own, Glavine delivered the winning performance.
Endy Chavez led off the 3rd inning with a bunt single. After a wild pitch and a sacrifice, Chavez stood at third base for Jose Reyes. Reyes grounded out, but the speedy Chavez was able to score on the play; the Mets were ahead 1-0 after three innings. They attacked again in the 5th inning. Kuo loaded the bases on two walks and a single. Brett Tomko replaced the young starter on the mound. He pitched the Dodgers out of trouble, allowing just one run.
An RBI grounder from Julio Franco and a Jose Reyes single put the Mets ahead 4-0 through six innings. Glavine did his part in the effort, holding the Dodgers scoreless for six frames. He gave up four hits, two walks, and struck out a pair of Dodgers. Five Dodger starters went hitless in the game, including Kenny Lofton and Rafael Furcal. Kuo was not as lucky, giving up four hits, two walks, and two runs in over four innings of work.
Wilson Betemit hit a homer in the 8th inning, ending the shutout. Billy Wagner pitched a perfect 9th to earn his second save of the series. The Dodgers were washed out of Shea Stadium and could only hope to turn things around in Dodger Stadium.
 Game 3 @ Dodger Stadium
Mets: 9, Dodgers: 5
|WP: Pedro Feliciano (1-0), LP: Jonathan Broxton (0-1)|
- Attendance: 56,293
Another former member of the Atlanta Braves' Big Three took the mound in the series. The Mets' Tom Glavine represented the trio in Game 2; Greg Maddux took the hill for the Dodgers in Game 3. Maddux's resume included 333 career wins and four Cy Young Awards. The Mets countered with Steve Trachsel, a 16-game winner during the regular season. Two former Dodgers, Paul Lo Duca and Shawn Green, helped power the Mets to victory, but a former Met, Jeff Kent, did all he could to keep the home team in the game.
Maddux retired Jose Reyes to start the game, but walked Lo Duca and gave up five consecutive singles. The barrage gave Trachsel and the Mets an early 3-0 lead. Green drove in Cliff Floyd with a double in the top of the 3rd inning to put New York ahead, 4-0.
The lead appeared safe until the bottom of the 4th. Kent singled to center field to start the inning. Russell Martin, Wilson Betemit and James Loney each singled to plate two runs for the Dodgers. Darren Oliver took over for Trachsel on the mound. The left-hander surrendered a two-run home run to Kent in the 5th inning, and was replaced by Chad Bradford. Bradford surrendered a single and a walk, before Willie Randolph pulled him in favor of Pedro Feliciano. Feliciano walked Loney, allowing an inherited runner to score. The Dodgers now had a 5-4 advantage.
Fireballer Jonathan Broxton took the mound for Los Angeles in the 6th inning. He gave up a lead-off double to Green and walked Michael Tucker. Reyes, Lo Duca, and Carlos Beltran delivered RBI singles; the Mets moved ahead, 7-5. New York nailed the coffin shut in the 8th inning. Lo Duca singled in the Mets' eighth run and an error allowed the ninth and final run to score. Billy Wagner pitched the 9th inning, preserving a 9-5 Mets win. Queens celebrated its first series victory since the 2000 NLCS.
 Further Reading
|Major League Baseball National League Division Series