Remembering Mets History (1973) Mets Split Big Two Game Series with First Place Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates were one of the 1970's best teams. From 1970 to 1979 they won Two Worlds Championships & six divisional titles. In 1970, 1972 & 1975 they won the NL East but lost the NLCS each time to the Big Red Machine. 

The Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles in both the 1971 & 1979 World Series'. The Pirates would win the NL East again in 1974 (losing to the Dodgers in the NLCS). 

In the wacky NL Eastern division of 1973, the Pirates had fallen eleven games back in early July, they improved to six games back by August 1st & were tied for first place with the St. Louis Cardinals by September 1st, just one game above .500 at 66-65. 

They lost three of four to the Cardinals in early September, falling three games out but then won seven of nine to regain first place but never going up more than 1.5 games thanks to the surging Mets.

The Mets & Pirates were scheduled for five games head-to-head, during the week of Monday September 16th thru Friday September 21st. Two games were to be played in Pittsburgh & three in New York. By far these were the biggest games of the year for both teams. The Pirates were leading the Mets by 2.5 games at the start of the week.

Monday September 17th, 1973: The Pirates took the series opener 10-3 as they roughed up Tom Seaver in one of his worst outings of the year. He allowed five runs, for the second time on the season giving up seven hits including HRs to league leader Willie Stargell (40) & Richie Hebner (23). The Mets fell to 3.5 back.

Tuesday September 18th, 1973: Tonight just 12,336 came out to Three Rivers Stadium as the Pirates Bob Moose (11-11) took on the Mets Jon Matlack (13-15) both pitchers came into the game on personal four game win streaks.

In the top of the 3rd, after two scoreless innings Wayne Garrett led off with a leadoff walk. Bob Moose had already walked three in the first two innings. Garrett advanced on a fielder's choice & then Rusty Staub singled to bring in Garrett with New York's first run. 
Staub's hitting streak was now at five games. 

Tonight, the top of the Mets order would have six hits, two each for Staub, Garrett & Felix Millan. Rookie Dave Schneck a highly touted Mets prospect got the start in center field tonight, going 0-3. Regular centerfielder Don Hahn would drive in two runs with a pinch hit & a also walk. Hahn had two of his four multi-RBI games in September.

In the bottom of the inning, the Pirates sent nine men to the plate scoring four runs with three hits & three walks. With the bases loaded Richie Zisk singled to bring in two runs, then catcher Manny Sanguillen doubled to bring in two more.

Ray Sadecki came on in the 4th inning & gave the Mets three scoreless innings, allowing just a hit with one walk. Tug McGraw came on to give them two more scoreless innings, earning the victory his second in three days. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the 9th inning.

Bob Moose held the Mets to a run into the 7th inning, allowing just four hits but walking six while striking out two. In the 7th the Mets loaded the bases with singles from Wayne Garrett, Felix Millan & Rusty Staub. But reliever Ramon Hernandez got John Milner to ground out into a double play to end the inning.

In the top of the 9th after Bud Harrelson popped out, the Mets struck. Pinch hitter Jim Beauchamp singled to left, then Wayne Garrett doubled putting two on for Felix Millan who drove a shot past centerfielder Al Oliver for a two-run triple. Rusty Staub then drew a walk.

Now the managers wheels were rolling inside their heads, Mets manager Yogi Berra put Duffy Dyer in to pinch hit. As Dyer was announced, Pirate skipper Danny Murtaugh brought in Dave Giusti to pitch.  Berra then brought Ron Hodges in to pinch hit. 

The Rookie Hodges delivered with a base hit to right scoring Millian with the tying run. It was 4-4. New York sent ten men to the plate scoring five runs on five hits with the help of two walks as well.

Next pinch hitter Don Hahn delivered a base hit up the middle bringing in Martinez & Staub with was to be the games winning runs.

In the bottom of the 9th rookie, Bob Apodaca walked the first two batters. Yogi Berra quickly went to Buzz Capra. The Pirates Dave Cash sacrificed the runners over. Al Olivers grounder allowed Dave Augustine to score, making it a one run game.

Berra told Buzz Capra to intentionally walk slugger Willie Stargell. Capra then walked Richie Zisk to load the bases. But Capra got Manny Sanguillen to end the game, flying out to Cleon Jones in left field. Buzz earned his fourth save of the year.

It didn't come easy, but the Mets grinded out a very important win with the help of some rookies & secondary players. They were now 74-77 back to 2.5 games behind the Pirates.


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