Sep 13, 2019

Remembering Mets History (1968): Jerry Koosman Sets NL Record With Seven Shut outs

Jerry Koosman had made five appearances in relief for the 1967 Mets, debuting in April getting sent back down in May. He returned in September getting his first starts & ended the year at 0-2. In 1968 he was ready for the majors & was an eligible Rookie.

He had a phenomenal rookie year, coming in second to Johnny Bench as the Rookie of the Year. He was 19-12 (4th most wins in the NL) with a 2.08 ERA (also 4th best). 178 strike outs 69 walks in 263 innings pitched (7th most in the NL) in 35 starts with 17 complete games. That year he set a Rookie record with seven shut outs.

In the second game of the 1969 season, Koosman shut out the Los Angeles in a 4-0 win at Dodger Stadium. He struck out only three & walked four but allowed just four hits. 

His next start was at Shea Stadium, where he beat another old NL New York team, the now San Francisco Giants. In this game he struck out ten Giants, walking only two in the seven hit shut out. Cleon Jones first HR of the year led the way for the Mets.

By June 4th, Koosman was 8-2 with one of leagues best ERA's at 1.43. He earned his 9th win at Wrigley Field with a 5-0 blanking of the Cubs. Another low strike out game (3) with just two walks. Cleon Jones HR led the way as J.C. Martin & Jerry Grote also drove in runs in the 5-0 win.

On July 12th, he shut out those Cubs again, this time at Shea Stadium for his fourth shut out of the year to get to 12-4. His ERA was still under two at 1.83. A Jerry Grote two run HR  & RBI single led the Mets to a 4-0 win.

A little over a week later, in the second game of a double header in St. Louis, Koosman got his fifth shut out. In this 1-0 pitchers duel Nelson Briles, Koosman struck out a season high 12 batters, allowing just four hits & one walk. He was now 13-5 with a 1.87 ERA. J.C. Martins base hit had driven in Cleon Jones with the only run of the game.

His next start was at Shea Stadium, Koosman made it back to back shut outs as he pitched another four hitter this time striking out eight Reds. The Mets won it 2-0 beating Tony Cloninger, as Ron Swobods drove in Ed Kranepool twice with base hits.

On September 13th, 1968, Koosman took the mound at Shea Stadium to face the Pittsburgh Pirates. In this the last season before Divisional play began, the Mets were in last place at 67-82. 

A Shea crowd of 17,245 came out to see Jerry Koosman set an NL Rookie record with his seventh shut out of the season. This another great pitchers duel, this time with Bob Moose. Moose would no hit the Mets the next year in their Championship season.

In this classic, Koosman struck out five batters, walked just three & kept his ERA under two at 1.91. Koosman would not see his ERA go above two until the last two games of the season. Koosman won his 18th game of the year as well.

The only thing that kept Koosman from winning the Rookie  of the Year Award was a guy named Johnny Bench in Cinncinatti. Another Mets rookie on the staff that year was Tom Seaver. Seaver went 16-12 with a 2.29 ERA & 205 strike outs.

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