April 16, 1971: Seaver Blanks Bucs with 14 Strikeouts

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Date: April 16, 1971
Mets starter: Tom Seaver
Mets: 1
Pirates: 0
Winning pitcher: Tom Seaver
Key player(s): Tom Seaver, Donn Clendenon
Key play: Clendenon’s home run in 4th

The Mets and Pirates began a four-game series on a Friday afternoon at Shea Stadium. Trailing the Pittsburgh team by one-half game in the standings, the Mets looked to grab an early-season lead in the National League East Division. Tom Seaver recorded 14 strikeouts and Donn Clendenon hit a home run to give the Mets a 1-0 win over the reigning division champions.

Seaver concluded a perfect top of the first inning with a strikeout of Roberto Clemente. In the bottom half, Tommie Agee and Bud Harrelson led off with back-to-back singles. Pirates’ starter Dock Ellis recorded outs on the next three Met batters to end the inning without a run. Seaver struck out Willie Stargell and Bob Robertson around a single by Al Oliver in a scoreless top of the second. Ellis then set down the Mets in order in the bottom half.

In the top of the third, Seaver fanned Jackie Hernandez and Ellis to start off the inning. Dave Cash hit an ensuing single to right field. Tom struck out Richie Hebner to close out the inning. Ellis shut down the Mets with a 1-2-3 bottom half. Seaver then pitched a perfect top of the fourth inning, during which he struck out Stargell for the second time in the game.

Cleon Jones grounded out to shortstop Hernandez to begin the bottom of the fourth inning. Clendenon followed with a home run. Ellis struck out Ken Singleton and retired Ken Boswell on a ground ball back to the mound. Seaver got Hernandez on a called third strike to end a 1-2-3 top of the fifth. Ellis then set down the Mets in order in the bottom of the inning.

Seaver struck out Ellis to start a perfect top of the sixth. The Mets loaded the bases, but failed to add to their lead in the bottom half. In the top of the seventh, Seaver fanned Clemente and got Stargell to fly out to left fielder Jones. Oliver followed with his second single (and third Pittsburgh hit) of the game. Tom then got Robertson on a grounder back to the mound for the third out of the inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, Ellis allowed only a single to Jerry Grote in shutting down the Mets. Seaver struck out Manny Sanguillen to begin the top of the eighth. He threw out pinch-hitter Vic Davalillo on a ground ball back to the mound. Tom then got pinch-hitter Jerry May for his 12th strikeout of the game to end the inning.

Jones got a one-out single off Pirates’ reliever Nelson Briles in the bottom of the eighth. Clendenon hit a single that advanced Jones to third base. Singleton followed with a ground ball on which first baseman Robertson threw home for an out on Cleon. Bucs’ reliever Bob Veale then struck out Boswell to end the inning.

In the top of the ninth, Seaver got Cash for his 13th strikeout. Hebner grounded out to second baseman Boswell. Tom then fanned Clemente for the third time to end the game. The Mets had a victory on Seaver’s 14-strikeout performance to go into first place in the National League East.