Sep 22, 2020

Remembering Mets History (1969) Amazing's Guarantee At Least A Tie For the NL East Title

Tuesday September 23rd, 1969: Gil Hodges first place Mets (95-61) hosted the previous years NL Champion St. Louis Cardinals (82-73).

Hodges Mets took the field in excitement knowing that a win on this evening would assure them of at least a tie for first place in the NL East.

32,364 fans came to Shea as The Mets' Jim McAndrew (6-7) went up against Hall of Famer Bob Gibson (18-12). The 1968 MVP & Cy Young Winner Gibson, was two wins away from his fourth twenty win season in five years.

Starting Lineups:

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Mets short stop Bud Harrelson walked, he advanced on a fielders choice & then scored on Wayne Garrett's single to right field. 

The pesky Harrelson's offensive numbers never showed how valuable he was to the team, scrapping for hits, runs or stealing bases. 

Tonight's game was another example of his value to the club besides just his All Star defense.

The Cards took the lead in the 5th, as Lou Brock scored on a Vada Pinson grounder which was booted by Mets second baseman; Kenny Boswell. Pinson would score on Joe Torre's base hit. Tim McCarver would then fly out to end the inning. It was the second inning in a row the Cards left two men on base. McAndrew would retire the sides in order in the 6th & 7th innings.

In the 8th, the Mets tied it as Tommie Agee singled to left & sacrificed over by Wayne Garrett. Art Shamsky then singled bringing in Agee.

The game remained tied, McAndrew  departed in the 8th, as Tug McGraw came on for relief. He would pitch four innings holding the Cards to three hits, shutting them out while earning his ninth win of the year to get to 9-3.

Bob Gibson pitched into the 11th inning, scattering ten hits along the way, striking out five & walking three. Gibson was already an 18 game winner at that point, just coming off his fantastic 1968 Cy Young / MVP season the year before. That year he was 22-9 with league leading 13 shut outs, 268 Ks & a 1.12 ERA.

In the home 11th, after Ed Kranepool flew out to left field, Ron Swoboda & Jerry Grote both singled for the Mets. Bud Harrelson stepped in & poked a single to left field, scoring Swoboda with the walk off winning run.

The Amazing Mets now had a six game lead & were guaranteed at least a tie in the NL East. Mets manager Gil Hodges said "they are confident but not over confident".

Quotes- Coach Yogi Berra: "No one else in baseball is as well set up for a short series as we are. How would you like to meet Seaver & Koosman every fourth day? Ryan, McAndrew & Cardwell can do the job & our bullpen is about as good as you can get" This team is really amazing, the way it stays loose." Everyone pitches in, it seems there's a new hero every day".

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