Remembering Mets History (1973) The Hammer- John Milner's Second Walk Off Hit Game In Two Nights & Tug McGraw's Turn Around
Wednesday August 22nd, 1973: After a nice walk off victory the previous night, the Mets (56-67) returned in a match up hosting the L.A. Dodgers (77-48). The Mets still struggling in last place but slowly stating to turn things around heading for a spectacular September where they would win the NL Eastern Division.
On this night 25,442 came to Shea to see the Mets George Stone (7-3) go up against the Dodgers Andy Messersmith (11-8). George Stone was a pleasant surprise for the 1973 Mets he had won his last three decisions & six of his last seven since getting into the starting rotation on July 2nd. He entered the game with a 2.83 ERA.
As mentioned in a previous post, Messersmith was one of the games top pitchers in the early to mid 1970's, going 92-64 with a 2.70 ERA from 1970 to 1975 including two twenty-win seasons & another where he won 19 games.
In the top of the 1st, George Stone walked the leadoff man Davey Lopes. Lopes advanced to third on Willie Davis's base hit & error by Don Hahn in center field. Joe Ferguson then hit a sac fly scoring Lopes with the first run of the game.
Messersmith held the Mets scoreless thru the first three innings. In the bottom of the 4th John Milner drew a one out walk. Ed Kranepool & Jerry Grote followed with base hits to load the bases. Mets utility infielder Teddy Martinez then hit a little come backer to Messersmith who booted the ball allowing both Milner & Kranepool to score putting the Mets ahead 2-1.
In the top of the 6th inning Joe Fergeson doubled & was brought in by Steve Garvey who singled to centerfield tying up the game at two.
The Mets got two base runners in the 6th, with two more singles from Kranepool & Grote but they were stranded as Don Hahn struck out looking & Teddy Martinez popped out.
In the top of the 7th, the Dodgers loaded the bases on singles from Steve Yeager, Davey Lopes & Manny Mota. Willie Davis' sac fly gave the Dodgers the 3-2 lead. George Stone's night was over, he had gone 6.2 innings allowing three runs on nine hits. He walked one & didn't strike out anyone. Harry Parker came on to get the last out of the inning retiring Ferguson with a pop out.
Tug's Turn Around: Tug McGraw came on for the Mets, McGaw had been having a nightmare of a season up till that point, coming in at 0-6 with a 5.45 ERA. He had 13 saves & had blown five saves. But this game was the turning point, as from here on in McGraw would go 5-0 with 12 saves allowing just four earned runs in 41 innings of work in 19 appearances. He would only give up one HR in that time as well as he struck out 38 & walked 12. It was now that You Gotta Believe really started to take effect on the pitcher & soon his team.
Tonight, McGraw pitched two scoreless hitless innings, striking out three Dodgers.
Jim Brewer came on to relieve Messersmith in the 8th inning. He was clinging to the 3-2 lead. Cleon Jones came in to pinch hit for Martinez & collected a leadoff single.
Tug McGraw sacrificed him over to second. After Wayne Garrett flew out, Felix Millan singled to left field scoring Jones with the tying run.
Rusty Staub followed with a base hit putting runners on the corner & the winning run just ninety feet away. Dodger manager Walt Alston brought in Pete Richert to pitch to John Milner. Milner came through again for the second night in a row he singled bringing in the Mets walk off game winning run.
For Milner considered the Mets slugger, known as the Hammer after his hero Henry Aaron, it was his 65th RBI second only to Rusty Staub on the team.
For Tug McGraw it was his first win of the season after 42 appearances. Good things were ahead.