Sep 10

Today in Mets’ History: “Look who’s in first place.”

The scoreboard said it all: “Look who’s in first place.’’ From trailing Chicago by ten games on Aug. 13, the Mets made it all the way back, plus one, after a doubleheader sweep of the Montreal Expos, 3-2 in 12 innings in the opener and 7-1 in the second game, coupled with the Cubs losing to Philadelphia.

Jim McAndrew gave up two runs on four hits in 11 innings in the first game and Ken Boswell drove in the game-winner with a single in the 12th innings off Bill Stoneman.

It was all Nolan Ryan in the second game as he gave up a run on three hits.

Imagine that, three pitchers worked 21 innings that day for the Mets.

FIRST GAME

SECOND GAME

 

Sep 09

Today in Mets’ History: The Black Cat Game

Throughout the Summer of `69, Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo celebrated each victory by clicking his heels in the air.

He clicked them often as the Cubs built a seemingly insurmountable 10-game lead by Aug. 13. However, he wouldn’t be clicking them on this day, although superstition would be the headliner.

That lead was cut to a half-game on this date as Tom Seaver, backed by homers from Donn Clendenon and Art Shamsky, beat Ferguson Jenkins and the Cubs, 7-1, in what will forever be known as “The Black Cat Game.’’

The black cat symbolized the Cubs' fall.

While the Cubs were batting, a black cat walked behind the on-deck circle where Santo was standing.

“(The cat) kept walking around their on-deck circle,’’ said Ed Kranepool in a phone interview. “The crowd kept yelling and cheering, and the cat just stayed there.’’

No, the cat wasn’t planned.

“We had a lot of cats (at Shea) because we had a lot of rats there,’’ Kranepool said.

From Aug. 14, the Mets sizzled at 39-11 while the Cubs went 21-29 during that stretch, including  8-17 in September. The Mets were 23-7 in September.

The cat is a nice story and a great piece of Mets’ lore. From the Chicago perspective, perhaps Leo Durocher burned out his team – which only played day games at home – by running out the same lineup every day. Five Cubs played in at least 150 games and two more played over 130.

Still, 92 wins for the year isn’t bad.

However, the Mets’ pitching was brilliant with 13 shutouts in August and September.

“We were playing great baseball,’’ Kranepool said. “When we came home from the West Coast (where they went 6-4) we were playing our best baseball of the season.

“The lead went from ten to six, then it kept going down.’’

BOX SCORE

The victory was the Mets’ 82nd, which assured them of their first winning season.  It was also their fourth in the midst of a stretch where they won 10 straight and 13 of 14 games to go up by 3 ½ games.

 

Sep 07

Today in Mets’ History: Ryan wins in relief; Mets pull closer to Cubs.

Things are getting dicier in the NL East on this date in 1969. After Gary Gentry and Nolan Ryan combined to stuff the Phillies, 9-3, at Shea Stadium, the Mets closed within 2 ½ games behind Chicago.

Ryan, Seaver and Koosman

The victory was the Mets’ 18th in 24 games, while the Cubs were in the process of losing 10 of 18, including that day to Pittsburgh.

Gentry worked six innings and Ryan the final three for the win.

The Mets broke the game open with two in the seventh and four in the eighth.

Tommie Agee drove in three runs and scored three others, and Art Shamsky and Rod Gaspar drove in two runs apiece.

BOX SCORE

 

Sep 05

Today in Mets’ History: Seaver wins 20th.

The Mets made several runs at the Chicago Cubs in 1969 before they finally overtook, then lapped them en route to their Amazin’ championship season.

SEAVER: First Met to win 20 on this date.

Gil Hodges said in spring training he had a feeling for his team. Not that they would win it all, but he believed their pitching would be good enough to be a factor.

That pitching was highlighted by Tom Seaver, who on this date in 1969, became the first pitcher in franchise history to win 20 games with a 5-1 victory over Philadelphia in the first game of a doubleheader.

It was a typical, efficient, workmanlike effort from Seaver, who went nine innings, and gave up one run on five hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.

With the victory, the Mets pulled within 4 ½ games of the Cubs. The Mets lost the second game, 4-2.

BOX SCORE

SEAVER CAREER

Seaver was incredible that season, winning the Cy Young Award and finishing second in the MVP voting.

Going 25-7 was one thing, but he had a 2.21 ERA with 18 complete games, including five shutouts.  Seaver also worked 273.1 innings (which didn’t lead the NL) – unheard of today – with 208 strikeouts, averaging just under seven per nine innings.

 

Sep 04

The need to ride this out with Parnell

Tbe Mets were hot on this date in 1974 as Ray Sadecki beat the Cubs for their seventh straight victory and tenth in their last 11 games.

Then Bobby Parnell coughed it up the next day in the ninth inning at Washington. Ooops, that was last night.  Another in a long line of excruciating defeats this season. And another kick in the gut after a hot stretch.

With the season lost, we’re just trying to find things to hold onto over the winner and Parnell, as the closer, isn’t providing us with the warm and fuzzies.

Parnell has the best stuff, but stuff is useless if you don’t know how to use it. They are searching for answers younger than Jason Isringhausen, and the Mets are hoping Parnell will win the job.

Let’s face it, there’s really nobody else on the current staff that is inspiring.

Confidence is a fragile thing for a closer, and Parnell’s over the past few years has been like china. Jerry Manuel gave up on Parnell as a starter in a lost September after a handful of starts, but at the time Manuel – and rightfully so – was worried about his job and needed every win he could get. Terry Collins isn’t in the same position, so I’m hoping he’ll ride with Parnell to see how he rebounds.

A pat on the back is essential for his development at this stage.