Remembering the 1973 N.L. Champion Mets: Mets Clinch At Least a Tie In the N.L. East

Remembering the 1973 N.L. Champion New York Mets: Mets Split Twin Bill At Wrigley Field, Clinging to First Place

On Wednesday September 26th, the Mets took an 8-5 loss to the Expos, in the final regular season game of the 1973 season at Shea Stadium. 31,000 fans came out that night in support. Around the League the Pirates won, pulling within a half game of New York.

Wayne Garrett
The Mets were off to Wrigley Field, in Chicago to close out the season playing for all the marbles. But they would have to wait it out for three days, as heavy rains postponed games for three straight days. The Pirates would lose three of their next four games & be two full games out by Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals had moved into second place just 1.5 games out. Montreal, who took a pair of games from Pittsburgh were 2.5 games out, still in the mix.

On Sunday September 30th, the Mets & Cubs went to play a double header, in front of a tiny crowd in Chicago.

The first game began at 1100 AM, since there were still no lights yet at Wrigley Field, as Jon Matlack (14-15) went up against young Cubs pitcher; Rick Reuschel (14-15). Matlack was in top form, pitching seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits to that point. But in the home 8th, he gave up a base hit to Dave Rosello & the Don Kessinger got aboard with a sac bunt.

Kooz Shuts Down the Cubs
Then with two outs, the heel clicking Ron Santo drove a single to left field, scoring Rosello with the only run of the game. Santo got a bit even with the Mets, after getting knocked out of first place in 1969. Bob Locker got the win for Chicago. 
The second game began at around 230 PM with 21,500 fans in attendance. Cubs manager Leo Durocher sent future Hall of Fame pitcher; Fergie Jenkins to the mound (14-15).

This was Jenkins last game as a Cub, as in 1974 he went to the Texas Rangers & led the AL in victories (tied with the A's Catfish Hunter) with 24.

The Mets sent Jerry Koosman to the mound, on four days rest. In the 1st inning, the Mets magic began to happen; Wayne Garrett walked & was sacrificed to second.

Rusty Staub then singled & John Milner was walked intentionally. Cleon Jones then hit a grounder to third base, Ron Santo tried to nail the runner at home but his throw resulted in an error, as two runs scored.

Next Jerry Grote grounded to Santo, this time he threw to first & Milner scored, making it 2-0 Mets on two unearned runs. In the top of the 6th, Cleon Jones blasted a solo HR, his 10th of the year, making it 4-1.

In the 7th, Jenkins walked Wayne Garrett & Felix Millan singled. Then Rusty Staub, the team's leading run producer; drove a single to left, scoring Garrett.

In the 9th inning, Ray Burris was now on the mound, after striking out Koosman, he gave up singles to Garrett & Millan.

The big RBI man; Rusty Staub, came through again. His his third hit of the day, brought in Garrett & Millan with his second & third RBIs of the day as well.

Staub closed out the season with a 15 game hit streak, hitting four HRs with six doubles & 16 RBIs in the month of September.

Koosman went the distance, giving up two runs both unearned. He allowed six hits, walked to & struck out seven, giving him 156 K's for the year. The win was his 14th (14-16) on the year as he posted a 2.84 ERA (9th best in the NL).

The nail biting season was still not over, as the crazy NL East was still undecided.

With two more games to go the standings looked like this:

New York Mets 81-79 -
St. Louis Cardinals  81-81 (1.0)
Pittsburgh Pirates 80-81 (1.5)
Montreal Expos 79-83 (3.0)
Chicago Cubs 77-83  (4.0)
Philadelphia Phillies 71-91 (11.0)


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