Oct 2, 2020

1969 Mets: NLCS Game #1: Mets Five Run 8th Inning Seals First Playoff Win

Saturday October 4, 1969 NLCS Game #1- Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. 

It was a historic day for MLB, as today was the first NLCS Game played in baseball history. The NL Eastern Division Champion New York Mets, had surprised everyone & became known as the Amazing Mets. They were led by Manger of the Year; Gil Hodges, who's Mets won 100 games (100-62).

Their opponent was Lum Harris' Western Division Champion Atlanta Braves (93-69). The Braves had wom seven more games than the Mets & were the clear favorite. Atlanta featured Hall of Famers; Hank Aaron, Phil Neikro & Orlano Cepeda. 

It was a battle of the two teams ace pitchers & two future Hall of Famers. Atlanta’s 23 game winner Phil Niekro (23-13 / 2.56 ERA /193 Ks) went up against 1969 NL Cy Young winner Tom Seaver (25-7 / 2.21 ERA / 208 Ks).

Both pitchers went past the 7th inning but they weren't at their best.

Starting Lineups

Both pitchers retired their opponents in order in the 1st inning. In the top of the 2nd, Art Shamsky led off with a base hit. Then, Ken Boswell drew a walk. Catcher, Jerry Grote singled  scoring Shamsky with the first run ever in NLCS history. 

Next, Phil Neikro’s famous knuckleball got passed Braves' catcher Bob Didier and Boswell scored making it 2-0.

In the home 2nd, Rico Carty doubled & advanced on a Ken Boswell error. Clete Boyer hit a sac fly scoring Carty with Atlanta's first run. It was a 2-1 Mets lead. 

In the 3rd, the Braves took 1 3-2 lead, after getting three consecutive doubles by Felix Millan, Tony Gonzales & Hank Aaron.

In the 4th, with two outs, Ed Kranepool singled & Jerry Grote walked. Bud Harrelson tripled to right field scoring Grote & Kranepool putting the Mets back in front 4-3.

In the 5th, Atlanta's Tony Gonzales homered off Seaver to tie the game back up. 

In the 7th inning Hank Aaron hit the first of his three NLCS HRs, putting the Braves ahead 5-4.

Seaver who certainly wasn't in his Cy Young form, exited the game after seven innings of work, allowing five runs on eight hits, two HRs, three walks.

In the top of the 8th, Wayne Garrett led off with a double to left field. Cleon Jones, who had hit .340 during the regular season, delivered with a base hit scoring Garrett to tie it back up at five. Art Shamsky, followed with a base hit, Jones went to second, then stole third base.

Ken Boswell fielder’s choice scored Cleon Jones making it 6-5. Phil Niekro, still on the mound, got the next two outs, but then walked Bud Harrelson intentionally to get to the pitcher, Seaver. 

Now with the bases loaded, manager; Gil Hodges decided to pull Seaver in favor of pinch hitter J.C. Martin. As usually was the case in the Amazing Miracle season of 1969, Hodges move once again prevailed.

Martin singled to right field, centerfielder Tony Gonzalez booted the ball causing all three runners to score, as the Mets blew it open. Martin would get thrown out at second but the Mets now had a 9-5 lead. 

Ron Taylor Earns NLCS Game #1 Save
Ron Taylor came on for the Mets & retired all three batters in the 8th inning. 

In the 9th, Felix Millan led off with a base hit. Taylor then struck out Tony Gonzalez & got Hank Aaron to fly out. 

Mike Lum doubled but Millan could not score. Taylor then got Orlando Cepeda to pop out to Ken Boswell at second base to end the game. The Mets had won the first ever NLCS Game #1.

The Mets had a 1-0 game lead in the best of five series.

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