Sep 23, 2013
Remembering the 1973 NL Champion Mets: Mets Extend Win Streak to Five Straight- Take One Game Lead In Division
Remembering the 1973 N.L. Champion New York Mets: Mets Extend Win Streak to Five Games- Take One Game Lead Over Division
Saturday 22 & Sunday September 23rd 1973:
The St. Louis Cardinals rolled into Shea for a two game series just one game behind the first place Mets. The Cards were playing mostly .500 baseball the past week, while the Mets were red hot.
After sweeping the Pirates in two different series, a three game set in Pittsburgh & a two game set at home, they were not stopping. They halted the Cards as well, by sweeping this two game set as well & continuing their win streak to seven straight games. The win streak extended to 11 wins in 13 games.
On Saturday afternoon, Cardinals' manager Red Shoendienst sent Reggie Cleveland (13-9) to the mound to go up against Yogi Berra's young star Jon Matlack (13-15). Both pitchers were outstanding, but Matlack was spectacular. He would go the entire distance, shutting out St. Louis allowing just four hits while striking out nine. The win gave him a personal streak of six straight & seven of the last eight games going back to the start of August.
Tonight's hitting star was Wayne Garrett, in the 3rd inning he blasted a two run HR (his 15th of the year) scoring Bud Harrelson for the only runs the Mets would need on the night. Garrett was hot, hitting safely in six of his last seven games. On top of that looking more closely, the redheaded third baseman had an awesome month.
Overall he would hit safely in 19 of the 25 games in September, including hitting safely in the last nine games of the season. He hit six HRs & drove in 17 runs with eight multi hit games.
The Pirates were idle tonight, so the Mets were now up on them by one full game in the standings. The Cardinals & the Expos were both two games back with the Chicago Cubs 2.5 games out.
In the words of Bob Murphy Sunday September 23rd, was a beautiful day for baseball & 52,000 came to Shea to root for the first place Mets.
George Stone (12-3) started for the Mets & Mike Thompson started the game for St. Louis, but an injury had him leave the game after two batters. Former Mets 1969 World Series hero; Tommie Agee hit a 1st inning HR for the Cardinals giving them a 1-0 lead. It would be the last HR of Agee's career, as his playing days were over in early 1974.
In the 3rd inning, former Met; Rich Folkers walked the first three Mets batters & was relieved by Orlando Pena. Then another Mets hot hitter; Cleon Jones hit a sac fly scoring Wayne Garrett.
In the 5th Wayne Garrett drove a single to centerfield & was sacrificed to second by Felix Millan. Rusty Staub, who was steady all season for the Mets; followed with a base hit scoring Garrett for his team leading 72nd RBI of the year.
In the home 6th, Jerry Grote singled with one out but was forced at second base on Buddy Harrelson's ground out. Next, the steady pinch hitter Kenny Boswell came through with his eleventh pinch hit of the year. The Cards changed pitchers bringing in "the Mad Hungarian" Al Hrabosky.
Hrabosky was still a young pitcher in his first full season, he would be one of the top reliever's of the seventies, leading the NL with 22 in 1975. In 1978 he would go the Kansas City Royals saving 20 games & 11 in 1979. But tonight he surrendered a triple to the hot; Wayne Garrett, the ball bounced around the right field corner, as both Mets runners scored putting the Mets ahead for good 4-2.
In the 7th Hrabosky, was victim to another hot Mets hitter, as Cleon Jones blasted a HR over the Shea fence capping off the 5-2 victory. In the final two weeks of the season, Jones would drive in 17 runs & hit six HRs, hitting safely in 10 of 14 games, while drawing eight walks.
The win went to Harry Parker, who had relieved Stone in the 3rd inning. Parker had come over from St. Louis before the season, in the Tommie Agee trade. He began the year as a starter filling in on an ailing staff, then moved into the bull pen & was fantastic as a reliever. He went 8-4 on the year with five saves posting a 3.35 ERA in 38 appearances.
Tug McGraw continued his great pitching, earning his 23rd save of the year (second most in the NL).
In Montreal the Pirates swept a twin bill from the Expos, so the Mets were unable to build up their lead on them atop the NL East.
But the Cards were now three games back, Montreal & Chicago 3.5 back with five games left to play. The large crowd at Shea left once again, shouting "we're number one"!!!!