Sox, Mets meet 20 years after Series

Sox face Mets 20 years after classic Series

Twenty years ago, millions of baseball fans were mesmerized by the unimaginable drama of the 1986 World Series between the Red Sox and the Mets, but rookie sensation Jon Lester was just a 2-year-old infant who couldn't even spell the names Bill Buckner or Mookie Wilson yet.

During that season, 24-year-old Roger Clemens of Boston and 21-year-old Dwight Gooden and New York were the aces -- each had won a Cy Young Award and intimidated opposing batters all the way to the World Series.

Making nine combined career starts, rookies Lester and Mets right-hander Alay Soler, will square off in the opening game of a three-game set at Fenway Park that will reignite the emotions of one of the greatest World Series.

"It's going to be very strange," former Boston second baseman Marty Barrett, 48, said about seeing the Mets at Fenway.

"It gives you the desire to win, whether it was 50 years ago, 20 years ago, or today," former pitcher Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd said about seeing the Mets.

Aside from the uniform-induced nostalgia, the return of several members of the '86 Red Sox squad for a pregame ceremony, and the sight of Pedro Martinez as a visitor in Fenway, the series has enough drama for its own reality show.

"Actually, I'm going to take him out to dinner," designated hitter David Ortiz said about Martinez, his former teammate.

Those included in the pregame ceremony for the 1986 team are former players and coaches such as Wade Boggs, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Barrett, Bruce Hurst, Calvin Schiraldi, Boyd, Joe Morgan and several others. The former team members will be honored with a video tribute and be presented with Red Sox jerseys.

The 1986 American League champion Red Sox were one strike away from their first World Series championship in 68 years in Game 6 at Shea Stadium and held a 3-0 lead in Game 7, but they would ultimately lose the series, forcing the Boston faithful to wait another 18 years before making another World Series.

"I think probably about 10 years later," Barrett said about when the loss stopped hurting. "Every year they showed the Buckner ball. It was just a constant reminder every year. But since [the Red Sox] won it in 2004 and the way they won it in 2004, going through the Yankees like that and then going through a Tony La Russa-coached team [the St. Louis Cardinals] like that, sweeping them. It was just really sweet for me to watch that."

With Boston's first-place status and current nine-game win streak, and the Mets holding the best record in the National League, this three-game series may only be a foreshadowing of a 20-year reunion in October.

"It'd be nice to get to double-digits," second baseman Mark Loretta said about the win streak.

Lester will be looking for his third career win, coming off of the best start in his young and promising career. On Wednesday, Lester allowed one run and three hits in six innings while striking out 10 against Washington. Lester is 2-0, with a 2.76 ERA in three career starts.

This will be the sixth series between the teams since Interleague play began in 1997 and their first meeting since 2001. The Red Sox are 10-12 all-time against the Mets, including postseason.

Winners of nine straight, the Red Sox are 11-1 against the National League this year while the Mets are 5-4 in Interleague play.

Pitching matchup
BOS: LHP Jon Lester (2-0, 2.76 ERA)
Lester put on a phenomenal performance against Washington last week by striking out 10 and giving up only one run and three hits for his second victory in three career starts.

NYM: RHP Alay Soler (2-1, 3.32 ERA)
Soler comes off a disappointing start against the Reds. He allowed eight hits and two walks and needed 100 pitches to get through five innings. Will Fenway Park create a culture shock for him?

Player to watch
Right fielder Trot Nixon has raised his average from .317 to .326 since June 17 and leads the Red Sox in batting average. He has five extra-base hits in his last five games.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WEEI 850 AM, WROL 950 AM (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Red Sox (RHP Josh Beckett, 9-3, 4.84) vs. Mets (RHP Pedro Martinez, 7-3, 3.01), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Red Sox (RHP Curt Schilling, 9-2, 3.61) vs. Mets (LHP Tom Glavine, 11-2, 3.33), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Red Sox (RHP Jason Johnson, 3-8, 5.96) vs. Marlins (RHP Brian Moehler, 5-6, 6.43), 7:05 p.m. ET

Howard Kussoy is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.