Remembering Mets History (1973) Mets Come Back from Six Runs Down to Beat Braves in Largest Come from Behind Win of Season with a Little Help from Willie Mays
Tuesday July 17th, 1973: Yogi Berra's last place New York Mets (39-50) rolled into Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium with the second least wine in the National League. They had split a four-game series in Cincinnati with the Reds but had lost the opener in Atlanta 8-6 the previous night.
Tonight, they sent Tug McGraw to the mound in a start to face Carl Morton & the fifth place Braves (45-52).
McGraw was making his first start of the year; he was struggling in the bullpen at 0-4 with five blown saves & a 5.85 ERA.
In his own words he said he it was like he had forgotten how to throw a baseball. It was his friends' words of motivation that would eventually get him out of this rut as the rally cry of 1973 "You Gotta Believe' was born.
Two of the games top three All Time HR leaders went head-to-head as Willie Mays & Henry Aaron certainly gave the fans a thrill going up against each other.
In the bottom of the 1st inning, the Braves leadoff batter 'the Roadrunner" Ralph Garr, started things off with a HR. In the 2nd, McGraw was shaky giving up two lead off singles then threw a wild pitch allowing Paul Casanova to score the second run. In the 3rd his troubles continued, he issued two lead off walks, then struck out Hank Aaron. But Dusty Baker singled & Davey Johnson hit a sac fly making it a 4-0 game.
In the top of the 5th, the Mets got back-to-back singles form John Milner & Ron Hodges. Don Hahn's sac fly made it 4-1.
In the home 6th, Ralph Garr singled with one out. Next the weak hitting shortstop Marty Perez hit his fourth HR of the year giving Atlanta a 6-1 lead. Next Hank Aaron hit his 25th HR of the season making it a 7-1 game.Tug McGraw whose troubles continued went six innings allowing seven runs (six earned) three HRs on ten hits while walking & fanning four. His ERA ballooned to a season high 6.17. McGraw had hit rock bottom as he soon learned to Believe in himself as a rally cry was to be born.
The Mets came into the top of the 9th down 7-1. The Brave's Carl Morton was still on the mound, the Mets Wayne Garrett led off with a base hit to right field. Felix Millan lined out to centerfield for the first out.
Rusty Staub then came up & delivered a two run HR, his 8th HR of the year. Cleon Jones then delivered a base hit up the middle. The Mets leading slugger John Milner then followed with his 13th HR of the year. The two-run shot made it a 7-5 ball game & knocked Morton out of the game. Adrian Devine came on in relief.
Devine got Ron Hodges to ground out to Davey Jonson at second base for the second out. Next, the Mets centerfielder Don Hahn singled up the middle. Ed Kranepool was called on to pinch hit for Bud Harrelson & drew a walk. Yogi Berra sent Teddy Martinez in to run for Kranepool.
Veteran Jim Beauchamp who would later have a long career with the Braves coaching for his pal Bobby Cox, was called on to pinch hit & singled to right field scoring the speedy Martinez & Don Hahn to tie the game at seven.
The wild inning continued as Braves manager Eddie Mathews brought in Tom House to pitch & Mets manager brought on Willie Mays to pinch hit. The elder statesman May came through again, with a base hit to right field driving in Beauchamp with what was to be the games winning run.
Trivia: The stats may not show it, but Willie Mays presence & hits such as this help inspire a young Mets club to go from last place to the World Series in the 1973 season.
Felix Millan singled but the Tom House struck out Rusty Staub to end the inning.
The Mets sent twelve men to the plate in the inning, scoring six runs on eight hits. Manager Yogi Berra pulled all the right strings with three pinch hitters & a pinch runner that all came through for him.
Trivia: The six-run deficit was the largest comeback for the 1973 Mets.
Harry Parker came on in the bottom of the 9th for the Mets, he struck out Darrell Evans & Sonny Jackson then got Dusty Baker to pop up to John Milner at first to end the game. It as an exciting win for the 1973 NL Champs.