After falling 9.5 games behind Chicago several days earlier, the 1969 started to right their ship to make a run at, and eventually overcome, the Cubs in the National League East.
McANDREW: His 1969 card.
Pitching would be their catalyst, and on this day in 1969 Tom Seaver and Jim McAndrew combined to sweep San Diego in a doubleheader, 2-0 and 2-1, and Shea Stadium.
Seaver and Ron Taylor combined to limit the Padres to four hits in the opener, and were backed by run-scoring singles from Tommie Agee and Bobby Pfeil in the fifth and seventh innings.
In the nightcap, McAndrew and Tug McGraw combined for the victory. Cleon Jones homered in the fourth and Jerry Grote singled in the game-winner in the seventh.
With the sweep, the Mets began a stretch where they won 12 of their next 13 games to move from ten games behind the Cubs to trailing by two on Aug. 27.
FIRST GAME BOX
SECOND GAME BOX
When the Mets surged into relevance in 1969, the impetus was bookend series against the Chicago Cubs in July.
On this date at Wrigley Field, Al Weis hit a three-run homer in the fourth and Ken Boswell homered in the fifth to back Gary Gentry’s solid pitching to give the Mets a 5-4 victory.
Gentry, the third starter on the staff behind Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, gave up four runs in 7.2 innings. Ron Taylor closed the game for the save.
AL WEIS CAREER
Tom Seaver starred on this date in 1967 at the All-Star Game in Anaheim when All-Star Games actually meant something and were more than an encore for ESPN’s Home Run Derby.
SEAVER: Gets save in 67 game.
As a rookie, Seaver threw a hitless 15th inning to earn the save in the National League’s 2-1 victory. Seaver’s Hall of Fame career included 12 All-Star selections.
An oddity about this game was in that all the runs came on solo homers from third basemen: Philadelphia’s Richie Allen, Baltimore’s Brooks Robinson and Cincinnati’s Tony Perez.
This was a time when the starting pitchers worked at their three innings and there were pitchers available for extra innings. Unlike the disaster game in Milwaukee several years back when Commissioner Bud Selig called it a tie because the teams ran out of pitchers.
In this game, Seaver’s one inning was the shortest stint of the night as all the other pitchers worked at least two innings, with five pitching at least three innings, and Catfish Hunter throwing five as he took the loss. Don Drysdale was the winning pitcher.
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It is possible this game in 1969 is most remembered from that amazing season. On this date in 1969, and maybe each day since for Tom Seaver, he’ll remember Jimmy Qualls’ sinking single into the left-center gap with one out in the eighth inning to break up his perfect game bid and forced him to settle for one-hit, 4-0 shutout.
SEAVER: Almost perfect on this day.
It was one of 31 hits Qualls had during his career. It was one of five one-hitters Seaver threw for the Mets. Years later, Seaver got his no-hitter, but it was while pitching for Cincinnati.
When asked which meant more to him, the one-hitter or the no-hitter, Seaver said: “The one-hitter. I had better stuff that night and we were making a move on the Cubs.’’
Seaver’s game thrust the Mets into the national spotlight as a contender. I was living in Ohio at the time and rarely did the 11 p.m., sports feature clips from games other than the Indians, but they did on this night.
I always followed the box scores then, but after that game I started following them a little more closely.
The 69 Miracle Mets caught Chicago well after the All-Star break then sprinted past the Cubs, but there were earlier signs of this being a special summer.
A 20-5 run screamed the Mets would be a serious contender. That included a doubleheader sweep of Philadelphia at Shea Stadium on this date that moved them within 4.5 games of first place.
Tom Seaver pitched a complete game to win the opener, 2-1, backed by a RBI triple from Bud Harrelson and Cleon Jones’ single in the third inning.
Seaver struck out nine and walked only one to raise his record to 11-3.
In the nightcap, the Mets scored four runs in the fourth inning to back Jim McAndrew, who gave up two hits in eight innings in the 5-0 victory.
FIRST GAME BOX
SECOND GAME BOX
There were a lot of special moments in 1969 ranging from the black cat to Seaver’s near perfect game to the late-season pitching run. However, what signs were there that made you believe this would be a year like no other in Mets history?