May 1, 2021

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

Jerry Koosman made his 1973 debut pitching in the third game of the season. On April 11th, 1973 Koosman took the mound in St. Louis against the Cardinals, Reggie Cleveland.

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

Cleveland then threw a wild pitch to Rusty Staub, scoring Harrelson from third. Rusty then knocked a base hit into the outfield, putting the Mets up 2-0. In the 3rd, John Milner hit his first HR of the season to make it 3-0.

In the 3rd St. Louis scored, when Jose Cruz tripled & scored when Jim Fregosi booted a ground ball.

In the 5th Felix Millan tripled  bringing in Duffy Dyer. Millan would score on a passed ball charged to catcher Ted Simmons.

Koosman pitched seven innings, allowing three runs (two earned) striking out four Cardinals. He was relieved by Tug McGraw who had a shaky 9th inning. Jose Cruz led off with a single & pinch hitter Tim McCarver drew a one out walk.

Lou Brock then grounded out but Ted Sizemore singled scoring a run, putting the Cardinals just one run behind. This was only the start of Tug McGraws troubles, something he would not work out until August when he became un hittable.

Manager Yogi Berra decided to remove McGraw with a new comer to the Mets bullpen; Phil Hennigan. Hennigan got pinch hitter Bernie Carbo to fly out to Met centerfielder Rich Chiles, earning his first save.

April 19th 1973: Koosman made his first start at Shea Stadium in the 1973 season, Today he faced off against the Chicago Cubs & their number three pitcher, Rick Reuschel. 

The Cubs got on the board first,  when former Met, Jim Hickman reached on a Rusty Staub error. Jose Cardenal drove him in with a single, an unearned run. This was the only run Koos would allow on the day, as he sailed along on to a complete game five hit 3-1 victory.

The Mets offense came in the 4th inning; first baseman John Milner singled & then Wayne Garrett doubled driving him in. 

Next Jerry Grote singled to score Garrett with run number two. In the 8th inning, John Milner hit his fourth HR of the young season, giving the Mets an insurance run in the 3-1 win.

April 25th 1973:  Koosman & the 9-7
Mets went against Leo Durocher's Houston Astros at the Astrodome, which was labeled the 8th wonder of the world. Koosman's opponent that day was All Star, Don Wilson.

Don Wilson was a fine pitcher, who put up double figures in wins in each of his eight seasons. In 1968 he tied what was then a record, striking out 18 batters in a game. He had won 15 or more games three times in his career & posted ERA's under three, three times in his career for poor Astros tams.

In 1971 he had his best year going 16-10 with a 2.45 ERA (third behind Tom Seaver & San Diego's Dave Roberts) & 180 strike outs (7th in the NL).

Passing: Unfortunately in January 1975, Wilson was found dead at his home, in the passenger seat of his Ford Thunderbird from carbon monoxide poisoning. The garage was connected to the house, his son was also killed, as his wife & daughter were hospitalized but survived. Don Wilson was just 29 years old.

In the April 25th 1973 game, Koosman rolled along to another complete game victory, beating the Astros 5-2. He struck out three, walked two & allowing six hits. The two Houston runs came when Koos served up a HR to Doug Rader (nick named the Red Rooster) & a sac fly to Cesar Cedeno.

The Mets offense was led by Le Grande Orange; Rusty Staub who hit a pair of solo HRs against his old Astro team mates. Staub had come up with Astros in the early sixties & was one of Houstons first star players.

These HRs were Staub's first two of the season, up to that point he was batting just .151.

In the top of the 3rd inning, Bud Harrelson & Felix
Millan both singled. John Milner delivered with a two run double & then scored when left fielder, George the Stork Theodore singled him home. 

April 29th 1973: Koosman closed out his big month with his best outing on the 1973 regular season. He pitched a four hit shut out in Atlanta beating the Braves Carl Morton in a 1-0 pitchers duel.

Morton was the 1970 Rookie of the Year while pitching in Montreal, going 18-11 posting a 3.60 ERA, but had lead the league with 125 walks. He would win 15 or more games three times in Atlanta, with a best 17 wins in 1975.

Koosman struck out four & walked just one batter, lowering his ERA to 1.06.

The Mets manufactured their only run in the 2nd inning. Ed Kranepool had a one out base hit, followed by a Wayne Garrett base hit advancing Kranepool to third base. Jerry Grote then delivered a sac fly for the games only run as Kranepool scored.

On the month Koosman went 4-0 with three complete games in four starts.

He allowed just four earned runs in 34 innings, striking out 14 batters while walking 7 & posting a 1.06 ERA. He was the leagues top pitcher up to that point.

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