Friday September 21st, 1973: With the Mets now almost tasting first place, for the first time all season, over 51,000 fans packed into Shea Stadium to see their ace, the 1973 Cy Young Award Winner; Tom Sever (17-10) go up against Steve Blass (3-8).
Blass was a hero of the 1971 World Series & a 19 games winner in 1972 but he was having a rough season and would end his career after just one game the next year.
If there was one guy the Mets would want pitching on a night like this, it was Seaver. He is in the Hall of Fame for many reasons, stepping up in big games like this is one of them.
Seaver would go the distance, strike out eight batters, allow two runs on just five hits, while walking two. He earned his 18th win of the year & lowered his ERA to 1.88.
Tonight was a night the Mets gave him a lot of run support, something he did not always have the benefit of getting. The hot hitting club belted out ten runs on thirteen hits. The Mets exploded in the 1st inning, revving up the loud, excited Shea Stadium crowd.
Wayne Garrett led off with a base hit & then Rusty Staub also singled with one out. Blass got John Milner for the second out, but then the roof caved in on him. The hot hitting Cleon Jones doubled to right field bringing in Staub & Garrett.
Rookie Dave Schneck ( a power hitting prospect) was given an intentional walk. Next catcher; Jerry Grote doubled to the left center field alley scoring both Jones & Schneck & it was 4-0 New York.
The Pirates answered with two runs in the top of the 2nd, although they only had one hit off Seaver. Seaver walked Willie Stargell & then a Richie Zisk triple brought him home. Then Milt May hit a sac fly but that would be it for Pittsburgh all night.
In the Mets 3rd, "the hammer" John Milner blasted a Chris Zachary pitch over the fence for his team leading 23rd HR of the year. Cleon Jones then singled, Jerry Grote singled & Bud Harrelson delivered with an RBI base hit making it 6-2.
In the bottom of the 6th, Wayne Garrett this his 16th HR of the year off former Met Bob Johnson, making it 7-2. In the 8th the Mets added two more run, Seaver walked & advanced on a Jack Lamb wild pitch.
|John Milner Congratulates Rusty Staub|
The fans were dancing in the aisles & jumping on top of the dugout chanting "we're number one". The Mets locker room was just as wild, with smiles on every ones faces. Jerry Koosman told the press "It brings back memories of 1969 but it's as though it's the first time all over again".
But there were still seven games left to play & four teams right behind the Mets.
The NL East Standings on September 21st, 1973:
New York Mets -
Pittsburgh Pirates 0.5
St. Louis Cardinals 1.0
Montreal Expos 1.5
Chicago Cubs 2.5
Philadelphia Phillies 9.0