Remembering Mets History (1973) Jerry Koosman Wins April NL Pitcher of the Month

Wednesday April 11th, 1973: In his first start of the 1973 season, Jerry Koosman took the mound in the first Mets Road game of the year which was at St. Louis. They had taken the first two games at home. Koosman went up against the Cardinals Reggie Cleveland in front of 12,290 fans in a Busch Stadium night game.

The Mets helped out Koosman right away in the 1st inning. as Bud Harrelson, Felix Millan & John Milner all singled. 

Reggie Cleveland then threw a wild pitch to Rusty Staub, scoring Harrelson from third for the first run. Staub then poked a base hit thru the infield, scoring Millan putting the Mets up 2-0. In the 3rd inning, first baseman John Milner hit his first HR of the season to make it 3-0 Mets.

After getting through the first two innings, Koosman gave up a leadoff triple to Jose Cruz in the 3rd inning. Next Ray Busse hit a ground ball to Mets third baseman Jim Fregosi who booted it, allowing Cruz to score. Kooz held them down to just the run.

In the top of the 5th, Mets catcher Duffy Dyer led off with a base hit. Koosman then bunted him over to second. With two outs, Felix Millan tripled bringing in Duffy Dyer.

 Cardinal manager Red Schoendienst removed Cleveland & brought in reliever John Andrew. Facing his first batter, a passed ball was charged to Cardinal catcher, Ted Simmons allowing Millan to score giving Koosman a 5-2 lead.

In the bottom of the 6th, a walk, a single & a Ted Simmons fielder's choice led to the Cardinals third run.

On the evening, Koosman pitched seven innings, allowing three runs (just two of them earned) striking out four & walking two. 

Koosman was relieved by Tug McGraw who had a shaky 9th inning.  Jose Cruz led off with a single, then pinch hitter Tim McCarver, drew a one out walk. McGraw got Lou Brock to ground out, but then Ted Sizemore singled scoring Cruz, making it a one runs game. This was the start of Tug McGraw's troubles, that took him until August to work things out.

Mets Manager, Yogi Berra removed McGraw & brought in, a newcomer to the Mets bullpen; Phil Hennigan. Hennigan got pinch hitter Bernie Carbo to fly out to centerfielder Rich Chiles, saving the game for Koosman as he earned his first win of the year.

Thursday April 19th, 1973: In this afternoon double header, Jerry Koosman made his first start at Shea Stadium in the 1973 season. He went up against the Chicago Cubs Rick Reuschel. 

In the top of the 2nd, former Met, Jim Hickman reached on a Rusty Staub error in right field. Jose Cardenal brought him in with a single giving the Cards a 1-0 lead. The unearned run was the only run Koosman would allow on the day. Jerry sailed along to a complete game five hit 3-1 victory. He struck out three & walked two to get to 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA through his first two games.

In the home 4th inning, first baseman John Milner singled & Wayne Garrett doubled driving him in. Next, Jerry Grote singled scoring Garrett with the Mets second run of the game. In the 8th inning, Milner hit his fourth HR of the young season, giving the Mets an insurance run in the 3-1 win. 

Wednesday April 25th, 1973:  Jerry Koosman & the 9-7 Mets went up against Leo Durocher's Astros, in the "Eighth Wonder of the World" the Houston Astrodome. Koosman's opponent the evening was All Star pitcher, Don Wilson.

Don Wilson Trivia: Wilson would put up double figures in wins in each of his eight full seasons pitching. 
Wilson won 15 or more games while posting ERAs under three, three times in his career on poor Astros teams. In 1968, he had tied a then record, striking out 18 batters in a game.

Sadly, in January 1975, Wilson was found dead in the passenger seat of his Ford Thunderbird at his home in his garage. The cause of death was due to carbon monoxide poisoning. His wife & daughter were hospitalized but survived. Don Wilson was just 29 years old.

On this evening, Koosman gave up two runs. In the 2nd inning Cesar Cedeno hit an RBI sac fly & in the 7th inning Doug Rader homered for the only Astros runs. Koosman rolled along to another complete game victory, scattering six hits striking out three & walking two. 

The Mets offense was led by "Le Grande Orange" Rusty Staub who was a former Astro in the teams' early days & one if its first star players. At this point in time Staub was still living in Houston in the off-season.  Tonight, with his father in the stands for the second night in a row, Staub hit his first two HRs of the season. It was the first of three multi-HR games for him in the 1973 regular season.

The Mets also got 3rd inning base hits from Bud Harrelson & Felix Millan, then John Milner doubled bringing in both runners. Milner then scored when George "the Stork " Theodore singled for the Mets fifth run.

Koosman went to 3-0 on the season with a 1.44 ERA.

Sunday April 29th, 1973:
 Koosman closed out his big month with his best outing of the entire 1973 regular season. The Mets (11-8) traveled to Atlanta for an afternoon game with Eddie Mathews Atlanta Braves (7-12) in front of 12,152. Today Kooz, faced off against the Braves Carl Morton.

 Carl Morton Trivia: Morton was the 1970 NL Rookie of the Year while he was pitching for Montreal. That year he was 18-11 with a 3.60 ERA but led the NL with 125 walks. Morton would win 15 or more games three times in Atlanta, with a best 17 wins in 1975.

For Koosman he would have an easy 1st inning, then give up a base hit in the 2nd inning to Ralph Garr "the Road Runner" but retired the rest of the Braves easily.

In the top of the 2nd, with one out Ed Kranepool & Wayne Garrett both singled. With Kranepool on third, Jerry Grote hit a sac fly to center, Kranepool crossed the plate with the only run of the game.

In the bottom of the 3rd, Rod Gilbreath collected a two out single, but Koosman got Oscar Brown to ground out to end the inning. He retired the next eight batters before another base hit from Larvell "Sugar bear" Blanks in the 6th inning. Koosman then got Oscar Brown to hit into a double play to shortstop Bud Harrelson to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 7th, future Met manager Davey Johnson collected the Braves fourth hit of the day with a single to left. But Kooz retired Darrell Evans & then got Ralph Garr looking at a third strike to end the inning.

In the Braves 8th Koosman retired Paul Casanova then pinch hitters Dusty Baker & Dick Dietz for an easy inning.

In the 9th inning, he was still clinging to a one run lead but got Blanks & Oscar Brown on ground ball outs. The game ended with Hank Aaron popping up to Felix Millan at second base.

Koosman pitched the complete game 1-0 four hit shutout, striking out four while walking just one. He started the year out at 4-0 with a 1.06 ERA 14 Ks & seven walks in 34 innings with three complete games & shut out, earning him the NL Pitcher of the Month Award.

Trivia: The Mets ended the month of April at 12-8 in a tie for first place. Tom Seaver was 2-2 on the year & had not allowed more than a run in each of his five starts as he was posting a 1.12 ERA. Jon Matlack was 2-3 with a 3.86 ERA in the first month as well.


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