This article was written by Tom Heinlein
The Montreal Expos completed a four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, August 16, 1987, by rallying from a three-run deficit to defeat the Bucs 10-7 in front of 26,134 fans at Olympic Stadium. Tim Raines hit for the cycle while Tom Foley delivered the big blow with a three-run home run to lead the home team to victory. The win improved the Expos’ record to 66-51 and kept them within four games of the first-place St. Louis Cardinals.
“The tide has turned for us,” Raines said after the game. “They have to count us in the race. We are proving we can come back and win.”1
With the Expos trailing 7-4 in the seventh inning, Raines led off with a double down the right-field line and then scored on a single up the middle by Mitch Webster to cut the Pirates’ lead to two runs. After a walk to Herm Winningham put runners on first and second, Pittsburgh brought in Brett Gideon to face Tim Wallach. Gideon struck out Wallach, and looked to have escaped the jam when Andres Galarraga hit a groundball to second that might have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, the ball was misplayed by second baseman Johnny Ray, and Webster scored. That set the stage for Foley, whose blast gave the Expos a 9-7 lead.
“It’s a great feeling to know that you can trail in a game like this and still come back and win,” Raines remarked. “And every day, somebody else is doing the job. Today was Tom Foley’s turn.”2
Early on, it did not appear that the Expos would need a comeback, as they jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Raines led off with a triple off Pirates starter Rick Reuschel. After Reuschel retired Webster on a popup to shortstop, Winningham drilled a double down the right-field line to score Raines. Reuschel retired Wallach on a fly to center, but Galarraga delivered a two-out single to left field to drive in Winningham.
The Pirates, whose roster featured a young nucleus that would go on to win three consecutive division titles from 1990 through 1992, quickly sprang to life. Their lineup included the outfield of Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke, and Bobby Bonilla, and catcher Mike LaValliere – the core of the team’s future success – as well as Sid Bream, R.J. Reynolds, and Rafael Belliard, all members of the first of the Pirates division-winners in 1990. Pittsburgh tied the game in the second with two runs off Expos starter Floyd Youmans, who lasted only 3⅓ innings. Belliard got the Pirates on the board, tripling to left-center field to score Bream, who had singled, then scored himself on a single to center by Reuschel.
The Pirates took the lead in the third on three consecutive hits. Ray and Bonilla both singled, and scored on Reynolds’s double to right-center field. Pittsburgh extended the lead in the fourth, again led by Belliard. The Pirates shortstop singled to center, stole second, advanced to third on an error by catcher Mike Fitzgerald, then scored easily when Bonds deposited an opposite-field double down the left-field line.
Montreal trimmed the Pirates lead with runs in the fourth and fifth innings. A single to right field by Fitzgerald in the fourth plated Tom Foley, who had doubled to left-center field with one out, cutting the deficit to two runs. In the fifth the Expos registered four hits but came away with only one run. Raines and Webster started the inning with singles to right to put runners on first and third, but the Pirates turned a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Winningham and, having held Raines at third on the play, looked as though they would escape the inning unscathed. With two outs, though, Wallach dropped a bunt single down to third to score Raines. An infield single by Galarraga again put two Expos on, but Reuschel induced Foley into a groundout to end the threat.
Having minimized the damage in the fifth, Pittsburgh wasted no time in again answering back, scoring two unearned runs on just one hit in the sixth. Joe Hesketh, who had relieved Youmans in the fourth, loaded the bases by walking two and making an error on a groundball by Bonds. Bonilla made him pay, stroking a a two-run single between short and third to push the lead back to three tuns. That, however, would be the last of the scoring for the Pirates. Reliever Jeff Parrett entered the game in the seventh and shut down the visitors the rest of the way for the win, while his team mounted its comeback in the bottom of the inning.
With Parrett keeping the Pirates at bay in what had been a see-saw game, the drama continued in the bottom of the eighth when Raines came to the plate with a second chance to hit for the cycle. He had tripled to right-center in the first, doubled in the third, singled in the fifth, and doubled again in the seventh. The perennial all-star did not disappoint, sending a pitch into the seats off Mark Ross to cap his incredible performance, which included scoring four times.
“I wasn’t even thinking about the cycle when I came up in the eighth,” Raines recounted. “I just wanted to hit the ball hard.”3
Hitting for the cycle would normally be the highlight of any hitter’s season, but for Raines his stellar 1987 campaign featured an equally spectacular performance. He was forced to sit out the first month of the season, having not received a single offer from any other team as a free agent, despite winning the 1986 batting title with a .334 average. (This lack of offers was widely believed to be due to collusion by owners to restrict the size of contracts.) Raines eventually signed a three-year deal with the Expos, his original team, for $4.8 million on May 1. In his first game, the next day, a nationally televised contest against the defending World Series champion New York Mets, he went 4-for-5, scored three runs, and, as reported in the Washington Post, “he capped a storybook, four-hit day with a 10th-inning grand slam that gave the Expos an 11-7 comeback victory … at Shea Stadium.”4 Later in the season, Raines was named MVP of the All-Star Game after his game-winning two-run triple in the top of the 13th inning lifted the National League to a 2-0 win.
Before Raines returned, the Expos were 8-13 and languishing in fifth place in the National League East. With “Rock” back in the lineup, the Expos played at an impressive .586 clip the rest of the way, and were in the division race until the last week of the season. Raines batted .330 with a .429 on-base percentage and .955 OPS, and led the league with 123 runs scored. “The way our team keeps fighting back to win you feel you have do your share,” Raines said after the August 16 game, “so hitting for the cycle was the way I did it best.”5
This article appeared in “Au jeu/Play Ball: The 50 Greatest Games in the History of the Montreal Expos” (SABR, 2016), edited by Norm King. To read more articles from this book, click here.
In addition to the sources mentioned in the Notes, box scores for this game can be found on baseball-reference.com, and retrosheet.org at:
1 Dan Hafner, “National League Roundup: Raines Hits for Cycle in Expos’ 10-7 Win,” Los Angeles Times, August 17, 1987.
2 United Press International, “Tim Raines says hitting for the cycle is just…,” http://upi.com/Archives/1987/08/17/Tim-Raines-says-hitting-for-the-cycle-is-just/4829556171200/, August 17, 1987.
5 “Tim Raines says hitting for the cycle is just…”