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Feeling Thrown Off By What Just Happened?

Atlanta was fine, thank you very much, but I'm glad the walk-offs waited until I returned home.

By my count, which is by no means flawless, Monday marked only the second time in team history that the Mets won a regular season (the distinction is important) game on a walk-off error by the opposing pitcher. I hope to get official confirmation of this at some point in the near future.

The other known occurrence took place on the day prior to Bicentennial, July 3, 1976, in which the Mets were riding an eight-game win streak entering their game against the Cubs. The weather was unpleasant, with rain throughout the contest and that served to the aid of both starters, Tom Seaver and Rick Reuschel.

The Cubs struck first on a third-inning RBI single by Jose Cardenal, but the Mets evened things up in the fifth inning on a home run by Wayne Garrett, than took the lead in the seventh on consecutive hits by Garrett, Ed Kranepool and Ron Hodges, with the latter knocking in Garrett with a double. The Mets missed a chance to pad a 2-1 cushion by failing to score more despite having runners on second and third with nobody out. Retrosheet notes that Rick Monday (a Bicentennial-year hero for rescuing an on-field flag-burning attempt that same season) saved the Mets from scoring in the eighth, robbing John Milner of a home run with a leaping catch in centerfield, though the newspaper story I read fails to document that.

Thirty years ago, it was still fairly common for pitchers to finish what they started, so it's no surprise that Seaver went for the complete game. His hopes of victory were dashed when Jerry Morales led off the ninth inning with a game-tying home run. Seaver plodded on, even after the next batter doubled, striking out the side to escape further damage. The Mets went harmlessly against Reuschel in the ninth, so this one headed to extra innings, tied at two.

Seaver immediately got into trouble in the 10th, allowing a leadoff hit to Reuschel (a good hitter for a pitcher) and a walk to Monday. That led to Seaver's removal and the emergence of "scholarly-looking" (as described by the NY Times) reliever Skip Lockwood, who got three straight hard-hit outs, keeping the game even.

The Mets pulled this one out in the last of the 10th, and we've already told you how unlikely a fashion it was that they emerged victorious. What would have been more unlikely nearly happened as Bud Harrelson poled a long triple to the fence in right to lead off the frame "I don't know what a home run looks like," Harrelson said to reporters after, joking about his lack of power.

Reuschel then walked pinch-hitter Joe Torre and leadoff man Mike Phillips intentionally to load the bases and set up a force at any base. The Cubs then went to their bullpen and anti-Met Darold Knowles, the man best known for pitching in all seven games of the 1973 World Series. Knowles fanned Bruce Boisclair looking on a 3-2 pitch for the first out and Mets manager Joe Frazier promptly sent rookie Mike Vail up to bat for defensive replacement Leon Brown.

Before throwing his first pitch to Vail, Knowles tried to catch everybody by surprise. He wound up outfoxing even his own teammates. Knowles tried to pick Phillips off first base, but the throw hit a diving Phillips in the arm and rolled down the right field line. Harrelson trotted home with the winning run and the Mets had a throw-off (credit friend o'blogger Gordon Mann with the name) victory.

This was not the first time in team history that they won a game on a pitcher's error. The other is more well known- Game 4 of the 1969 World Series when J.C. Martin was hit (while running in the basepath) by the throw of Orioles reliever Pete Richert. I've documented that game here.

True Meterrors know...Both Rick Reuschel and his brother, Paul, were losing pitchers in Mets walk-off wins. In fact, both took place in games in which an error determined the final outcome. We'll write about Paul Reuschel's walk-off adventures some other time.


Anonymous said…
Yay they just mentioned your site on SNY. But they said instead of Lets go beat Gary Cohen up for that mistake j/k
Binny said…
Don't know if it's a regular occurence or not, but congrats on the on-air mention! Really cool of Gary to give your trivia question and answer and assign full credit. Hope to see more in the future.
Anonymous said…
hey... why does your table of contnents go to


metswalkoffs said…

I count 10 in all. have actually written about 3 such games...will try to provide more details on others in near future...

BadMets...thanks for the note. I will fix the link. The table of contents is a little outdated, but still worth checking out...someday I'll update it.

The on-air mention was GREAT. I shall address further when I awaken...

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