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Houston Had a Problem

One of the reasons you should never turn a game off, even the frustrationfest that was Friday's loss to the Astros, is because of a game that took place in Houston 36 years ago.

On September 2, 1972, the Mets staged their biggest rally ever, bigger even than the Piazza-completed Braves comeback with which we're quite familiar.

The Mets were out of the postseason hunt by then, so thus starting Brent Strom in a September contest was not a big deal. Strom's day was done quickly. By the third inning, the Astros had a 4-0 lead. With staff ace Don Wilson shutting down the Mets without much issue, the Astros built on their advantage, and after scoring twice in the seventh, the lead had mushroomed to 8-0.

It seemed fairly inconsequential when the first three batters reached in the visitors eighth, and there wasn't much thought of a comeback when Tommie Agee brought home one with a sacrifice fly. But then Ken Boswell's three-run home run ended Wilson's night and sliced the lead to 8-4.

Four batters later, it was an 8-7 game, thanks to a Cleon Jones RBI double and a Wayne Garrett two-run single. The Mets rally was cut short though, when neither Bud Harrelson nor Dave Marshall could come through with the tying run on second base.

Undaunted, the Mets escaped trouble created by rare reliever Jerry Koosman in the home eighth. Tug McGraw struck out Cesar Cedeno with two on to keep the Mets within a run heading into the ninth inning.

Jim Ray, essentially the 1972 Astros version of Aaron Heilman, was asked to get the last three outs, since usual closer Fred Gladding was among those who failed in the Mets eighth. Ray was nicknamed "Sting" but on this day, he couldn't do any damage to the Mets attack. After a walk and single put two runners on base, Ray was removed for Tom Griffith.

John Milner, placed in the unlikely position of bunter, dropped down a successful sacrifice and the Mets caught a break when Astros third baseman Doug Rader threw the ball away, bringing home the tying run. The Mets then took the lead on a two-run single by Cleon Jones. By the time the ninth inning was through, the score was 11-8 Mets.

McGraw breezed through the heart of the Astros order in the home 9th and the Mets had an unlikely victory, one earned by netting 11 runs in the final two innings.

True Metstros know...The last time the Mets overcame a ninth-inning deficit to win IN THE NINTH INNING in Houston was July 10, 1992, when Eddie Murray's two-out, three-run double was the difference in a 7-6 Mets win.


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