Forty years ago today, the Eastern Division champion Mets were visiting Cincinnati, down one game to none to the Western Division champion Reds in the National League Championship Series…and they were about to post one of the 500 most Amazin’ wins of their first 50 years.
From The Happiest Recap (First Base: 1962-1973)…
Jon Matlack took on and took out the core of the Reds lineup. Batting first through fourth, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and Johnny Bench went a collective 0-for-16 against the lefty. The only hitter to do anything — anything — versus Matlack was journeyman outfielder Andy Kosco, who started in right and collected a pair of singles. Jon’s ledger was nearly spotless, resulting in a line of two hits, three walks and nine strikeouts. Only in the fifth did the Reds mount a semblance of a threat, when shortstop Darrel Chaney drew a base on balls to push Kosco, who had also walked, to second. Sparky Anderson, true to his Captain Hook reputation, pinch-hit for his starting pitcher, Don Gullett, but Phil Gagliano struck out.
Gullett had given up only a fourth-inning homer to one of the redder Mets, Le Grand Orange Rusty Staub. He and Clay Carroll, who took over in the sixth, combined to keep the game at 1-0 until the top of the ninth when Cleon Jones, Jerry Grote and Bud Harrelson all delivered run-scoring singles, giving Matlack ample breathing room to complete his gem. When he flied out Morgan and Perez and struck out Bench, the Mets put a deceptively easy 5-0 win in the books and tied the series at one.
The Ohio portion of the NLCS was over. The teams headed east, to Shea. There the alleged machine that won 99 games and the hot hands whose 82 victories landed them a flukish division flag would start all over, best-of-three, to determine the identity of the 1973 league champion.
What happened next?
You’ll find out when you read The Happiest Recap (First Base: 1962-1973).
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