May 18, 1996
Phillies leadoff man Lenny Dykstra suffered a rib-cage injury while going 0-for-3 in a 7-2 loss to the Dodgers. It turned out to be his final game in the majors. He was placed on the disabled list four days later, never to return.
Dykstra, who was just 33, was batting .261/.387/.418 at the time of the injury, and he still ranked as one of the NL’s best leadoff hitters when healthy. Just three years earlier, he finished second in the NL MVP balloting after scoring 143 runs. That was the highest total for an NL player since Chuck Klein scored 158 runs in 1932 and the second highest total in the majors since 1950 behind Rickey Henderson’s 146 from 1985.
Dykstra was also an All-Star in both 1994 and 1995, despite playing in 84 and 62 games the two years. The 1993 season was the only one of his last five in the bigs that he topped 100 games. A fan favorite for his ultra-aggressive play in center field, “Nails” played for only the Mets and Phillies in his 12-season career. He hit .285/.375/.419 with 81 homers and 285 steals in 1,278 games.
Unfortunately, Dykstra wasn’t only reckless while on the field. In 1991, he crashed his Mercedes into two trees while driving drunk. He missed two months with broken ribs, a broken collarbone and a broken cheekbone. Teammate Darren Daulton was with him at the time and suffered a broken eye socket.
He’s also had plenty of additional interesting run-ins since.
After recovering from back surgery, a 35-year-old Dykstra attempted a comeback with the Phillies in 1996. However, he went just 2-for-21 in spring training before calling it quits due to more troubles with the back.
In the end, the Mets’ march into the playoffs played out just how they imagined: three innings of a Bartolo Colon perfecto, four combined innings of one-run ball from five different relievers, a James Loney home run. Well, maybe it looked a little different when they drew it up.
Colon guided the Mets through five innings for his 15th win of the year, striking out six and giving up a two-run homer in the fifth. Behind him, the Mets combined for five runs off of RBI base hits from T.J. Rivera and Jose Reyes, finding an edge with Loney’s go-ahead homer in the sixth and a bonus RBI single from Asdrubal Cabrera in the ninth inning. Despite a pair of well-placed home runs by Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf, the Phillies found themselves in scoring position just twice and were unable to close the two-run gap to tie the game.
The Mets’ 5-3 win over the Phillies clinched their spot in the postseason, sans tiebreaker. They also secured home-field advantage for Wednesday’s wild card game, during which they’ll face either the Cardinals or the Giants. On Friday, the wild card winner will advance to the Division Series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
As MLB.com’s Jeff Passan and Joe Trezza simultaneously pointed out, it will be an unconventional playoff run for the Mets, who approach October without Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Neil Walker, David Wright, Zack Wheeler, or Ben Zobrist. Now, if ever, seems like an appropriate time for some champagne.
With Game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians ALDS set to commence on Thursday, there’s no better starter for the job than Corey Kluber. The only question is whether or not the right-hander will be up to the task after sustaining a mild quadriceps strain earlier this week.
Indians’ manager Terry Francona appeared optimistic about Kluber’s chances of recovering in time for the Division Series, but admitted that he doesn’t have his rotation set in stone for the first couple of postseason games. Complicating matters is Monday’s potential make-up game between the Indians and the Tigers, which they’ll be forced to play if the outcome has bearing on playoff seeding.
Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Francona doesn’t have a starter for the make-up game, either, though he clarified that rehabbing right-hander Danny Salazar would not be eligible. Salazar is still working his way back from a forearm injury in hopes of joining the Indians for their postseason run, and needs to toss another simulated game before he can be expected to return to the mound. Kluber, meanwhile, will throw off the mound on Sunday.
With Kluber or Salazar limping out of the gate, the Indians will likely have to fall back on right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Bauer is slated for Saturday’s face-off against the Royals and confirmed his willingness to pitch on short rest through the playoffs. The 25-year-old also spoke to the Indians about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen, though it’s an option they appear unlikely to exercise. While Francona’s comments on Friday stressed the club’s patient approach toward their rotation, Bauer appeared revved and ready to go:
If it was up to me, […] I’d pitch and be ready to start or be available out of the ‘pen every game. In the playoffs, there’s really no reason to save anything. So, whenever I can get in there, whenever they want me to get in there, I’ll be ready.