Oct 31, 2019

Remembering Mets History: (1973) 1973 NLCS Game #1 -Bench's HR Spoils Seaver's Good Outing

New York Mets vs. Cincinnati Reds

October 6th, 1973: NLCS Game #1

 Starting Lineups:

The 1973 National League Championship Series opened up on Saturday afternoon; October 6th, 1973 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. 

Sparky Anderson's Reds were the reigning NL Champions, having lost the 1972 World Series to the Oakland A's. In 1973 the Reds had finished the year with the best record in the NL (99-63). The Big Red Machine were the heavy favorite going in this series.

Yogi Berra's New York Mets. didn't make a run of it until late August & went on a stretch winning 25 of their last 34 games to capture the NL East on the last of the season with a 82-79 record.

A crowd of 53,431 fans attended the game, that took two hours to play . The day began a bit rainy & cloudy, but the sun broke through at times as playoff baseball was played.

The series opened up with both clubs top aces going at it, Tom Seaver the 1973 NL Cy Young Award winner, had led the league in ERA 2.08 & complete games (18). Seaver went 19-10 with 251 strike outs.

For the Reds, it was Jack Billingham who went 19-10 with 155 Ks & a 3.04 ERA. Billingham led the league in shut outs (7) starts (40) & innings (293).

Tom Seaver drives in the Mets only run
The Mets threatened early in the 1st inning, as Wayne Garrett led off with a base hit & was sacrificed over to second by Felix Millan. Rusty Staub drew a walk & John Milner ripped a single to centerfield.

As the ball flew off the turf quickly & with the arm of Cesar Geronimo, Garrett was held at third base. But with the bases loaded & one out, Cleon Jones grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, ending the threat.

In the top of the 2nd, Bud Harrelson drew a two out walk. Then Mets pitcher, Tom Seaver, drilled a line drive double into left center field, scoring Harrelson with the first run.

It was the only run Jack Billingham would allow on the afternoon. In the 3rd he walked John Milner, but then retired the next 14 batters in a row, getting his team to the 8th inning. 

He pitched eight shutout innings, allowing three hits while striking out six & walking three.

Seaver had held down the Reds until the 8th inning, when Pete Rose tied the game with a HR. 

Through 8.1 innings, Seaver had only allowed more than one base runner in an inning just once, that was back in the second inning. 

Seaver struck out 13 Reds, a post season franchise record that still stands today. He gave up six hits on the day, while walking no one. It was a fine performance but the lack of offensive support created the end result.

In the 9th Tom Hall (8-5 / 8 saves / 3.47 ERA) started the inning but walked Rusty Staub & was relieved by the Dominican right hander; Pedro Borbon.

Borbon had a spectacular year going 11-4 with 14 saves & a 2.16 ERA. He retired the next three Mets & the game went tied into the 9th inning.

In the bottom of the 9th inning, with one out Seaver gave up the game winning walk off HR to Johnny Bench. It was a devastating blow as the Mets fell behind in the series, one game to none.

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