Sunday, November 20, 2016

World Series: Did You Know?

Jerry Koosman never lost a game in the all-important October finale! In fact, he never lost a postseason game, period.

As a member of the 1969 New York Mets, he was given the ball in the very first NLCS. His team had beaten the Atlanta Braves 9-5 in the first contest.

The game started well for New York. After three innings, it was 6-0. After 3 1/2 in Atlanta, it was 8-0 for the visitors. The Braves got a run in the bottom of the frame, and then the Mets countered that with another tally of their own in the fifth, making it five straight innings of at least one run. However, Hank Aaron hit a 3-run home run in the bottom of that inning to cut it to 9-4. Ex-Yankee Clete Boyer drove home two more before the inning was over, and suddenly, it was 9-6. There were two outs, but that was all for Koosman as manager Gil Hodges replaced him with Canadian Ron Taylor. New York held on to win, getting some breathing room via a 2-run home run by Cleon Jones.

So, after finishing off Atlanta, is was off to the World Series to face the Baltimore Orioles. This would be no easy task. The O's beat Tom Seaver 4-1 in game one. Could Koosman win game two on the road this time? Send it back home for games 3, 4 and 5 even steven?

You bet! It wasn't easy, but a fine 2-hitter and some more help from Taylor, and this thing was heading home tied 1-1.

The Mets, as you can see, had to pull it out in the top of the ninth. The Orioles got two on after Koosman retired the first two batters as the O's were down to their last gasp! You take the 2-1 win if you're the Mets.

Game three went to New York 5-0, but it was closer than that. Seaver then won game four by the same score of Koosman's game two win. But this one required extras! Up 3-1, but with games six and seven in Baltimore, could Jerry end it all in game five?

Well, Baltimore didn't even ponder that thought. Their pitcher, Dave McNally, who'd battled Koosman to a gem of a duel in game two, actually hit a home run off him in the top of the third. It was a two-run shot. Frank Robinson hit a solo drive later that inning! 3-0, Baltimore.

New York scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth via a two-run home run by Don Clendenon. But McNally got the next three batters out, and seemed to have it back together. However, Al Weiss tied the game 3-3 with a home run in the bottom of the seventh. McNally was then removed for a pinch hitter in the top of the eighth, but Jerry Koosman got 'em 1-2-3.

The bottom of the frame saw the Mets go ahead via two doubles. The Orioles then committed two errors on one play to allow another run to score. 5-3, New York.

Frank Robinson drew a walk as the Orioles batted in the top of the ninth. A fielder's choice got the Mets to within two outs of wrapping it up. Brooks Robinson flew out to right. Davey Johnson then sent a ball to left. But when Jones made the catch, the home team had the 1969 World Series won!

Four years later, it was another NLCS for the Mets. Koosman was clutch. He beat the Cincinnati Reds 9-2 in the third game, and New York went on to win it in five games. The World Series was against Oakland.

Koosman started game two, following a win by Oakland in the opener. He just didn't have it. The A's got six hits off him in only two and a third innings. The Mets, however, fought back and eventually won in extras, tying the 1973 World Series, 1-1. Just like in 1969, it was on to home sweet Shea Stadium for games three, four and five.

The teams traded wins and game five would decided who went up 3-2. Jerry Koosman, given the ball, made sure that was the Mets. Jerry pitched well. The Mets scored twice off A's starter Vida Blue, and it was up to Koosman to make that stand up.

Jerry allowed three hits in the game. But in the top of the seventh, Gene Tenace drew a leadoff walk. One out later, Ray Fosse hit a double, and the tying run was at second. Tug McGraw came in.

Deron Johnson walked to load the bases. Koosman had allowed 4 walks in 6 1/3 innings. McGraw walked three more himself. But would you believe it? The A's didn't score!

The next two batters, you see, didn't even get the ball out of the infield. There were more chances for the Athletics, however. In the very next inning McGraw retired the first two men, but then Reggie Jackson drew a walk. So too, did Tenace. Jesus Alou lined to third to end that.

New York got a pair of baserunners on in their half of the inning, but neither scored. McGraw, however, had it in the ninth, getting the side in order. Tug fanned the last two batters for an exclamation mark on the save. Jerry Koosman had another win. The Mets, however, lost games six and seven.

Koosman, now 4-0 in the postseason, had one last appearance in him, but I'm sure he'd rather forget it. He was on the Chicago White Sox and facing the Baltimore Orioles in the third contest of the ALCS in 1983. The series was tied. But the third contest was a rout.

It was already 7-1 in the top of the of the ninth at Comisky Park by the time Koosman came in. John Shelby pinch hit and walked. Tito Landrum came in to bat for Jim Dwyer and flied out. Cal Ripken doubled. Eddie Murray was walked intentionally, loading the bases. That was the last batter Jerry Koosman faced in the postseason.

The Orioles scored four times that inning, as future Toronto Blue Jay Dennis Lamp couldn't hold the fort. The game ended 11-1 for Baltimore, who also won game four, 3-0. The Orioles went on to win the World Series over Philadelphia in just five games.

Koosman pitched two more seasons, both with Philadelphia, coincidentally. He went 20-19 from 1984 to 1985 before he retired. And while one might think of names like Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan and maybe some other starting pitcher in the Mets postseason history, it's Jerry Koosman who was Mr. Clutch when the chips were down. He got the Mets back into that Fall Classic in 1969, pushed his team to within a game of another World Championship in 1973, and won two crucial NLCS games. It's save to say the New York Mets of 1969 and 1973 wouldn't have done so well in the World Series without their lefty, Jerry Koosman!


Sports Reference LLC. - Major League Statistics and Information. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.

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