Dec 21, 2015

Remembering Mets History (1973): Jerry Koosman's Scoreless Innings Streak

On August 24th 1973 the Mets were in last place but just 6.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL East.

The Philadelphia Phillies were just ahead of the Mets were six out & the Montreal Expos were in fourth place 5.5 games back. Ahead of them the Chicago Cubs & Pittsburgh Pirates, making it a very tight race.

On August 24th, 1973; Jerry Koosman took the mound with a 9-14 record against future Hall of Famer, Juan Marichal who was in his last season in San Francisco & winding down his career.

Koosman had begun the year with a great start, going at 5-0. He then suffered two separate five game losing streaks along the way, although at this point his ERA was just at 3.15. In his 14 losses, he had allowed two runs or less five different times. The Mets struggled through injuries of an already weak offense, & were not helping him.

In his last start on August 19th, against the Cincinnati Reds, Koos had allowed just one run in the fifth inning. He then shut out the Reds in the last four frames to beat Ross Grimsley 2-1, in a six hit complete game victory.

Now in this August 24th game, Koosman would scatter seven hits, but allow just one run. He struck out five Giants and beat Marichal 1-0 in a classic ten inning pitcher's duel at Shea Stadium. In the 4th inning, Koosman escaped the most trouble he had all night.

He allowed a leadoff single to Bobby Bonds but then picked him off first base. He then walked Willie McCovey, allowed a double to Gary Maddox & then intentionally walked Chris Speir to load the bases. Koosman then got (future Met) Mike Phillips to pop up for the first out & Doug Rader to line out to left field ending the threat.

The only run of the game came in the bottom of the 10th inning, as pinch hitter Kenny Boswell led off with a to right field. Willie Mays then sacrificed him over to second & Felix Millan singled to right field scoring Boswell with the game winner.

Koosman's next start came on August 29th, 1973 against Don Zimmer's last place San Diego Padres at Shea Stadium. Koos scattered seven hits, walked two & struck out seven Padres, pitching into the seventh inning, when he was relieved by Buzz Capra.

Koosman left the game after surrendering two consecutive two out singles while holding a three run lead. In the bottom of the 5th, the Mets had put three runs on the board against Padre pitcher Rich Troedson. A sac fly by Felix Millan, and RBI hits by Willie Mays & Cleon Jones  followed. Koosman went on to earn his 11th win of the year, continuing his scoreless streak at twenty innings.

His next start came on September 3rd, 1973 against future Hall of Famer; Steve Carlton. The Mets hosted his Philadelphia Phillies in the first game of a double header at Shea Stadium. Koos was outstanding, as he blanked the Phillies 5-0 allowing seven hits & three walks while striking out four in a complete game victory.

The Met offense was highlighted by utility player Ted Martinez that night. Martinez had a career night with four hits & four RBIs, including smashing his only HR of the year. The Mets were now in fifth place 5.5 games back, as the Phillies fell to last, seven back.

Koosman finished his Mets scoreless innings streak, in Montreal on September 7th, 1973. He blanked the Montreal Expos in the first two innings, but they scored a run in the 3rd inning on a Bob Bailey RBI base hit.

Koos would be relieved after six innings, allowing just the one run on four hits. He would get no decision, as this game would go 15 innings.

New York's Don Hahn broke the 1-1 tie, with a sac fly, scoring John Milner, against relief ace; Mike Marshall. Three batters later, pitcher Tug McGraw helped his own cause, with a two run single leading to the 3-1 win.

Koosman's 32.2 scoreless innings streak would last 39 years until R.A Dickey broke the record in June 2012.

Back in 1973 Koosman finished the year winning six of his last seven decisions going 14-15, helping the Mets capture the N.L. Eastern title.


Manager Yogi Berra & Koos
Koosman was maybe the best Mets post season pitcher ever. After a rough outing in the 1969 NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, he went 2-0 in the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.
In this 1973 NLCS; he was the winning pitcher in Game #3 beating the Cincinnati Reds 9-2. In the World Series he was the winning pitcher in Game #5 shutting out the Oakland A's 2-0 at Shea Stadium.

Overall in his Mets post season career he in 4-0 with 28 strike outs 15 walks & 15 earned runs allowed in 40 innings- good for a 2.55 ERA.

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