April 23, 1971: Mets Outlast Cubs in 12 Innings

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Date: April 23, 1971
Mets starter: Jerry Koosman
Mets: 7
Cubs: 6
Winning pitcher: Nolan Ryan
Key player(s): Jerry Grote, Ken Singleton, Nolan Ryan
Key play: Grote’s two singles, Singleton’s homer and single

The Mets faced the Cubs on a Friday afternoon in Chicago. The teams played the opener of a three-game series at Wrigley Field. In 12 innings, the Mets emerged with a 7-6 win.

Cubs’ starter Ken Holtzman pitched a scoreless top of the first. Jose Ortiz doubled against the Mets’ Jerry Koosman to lead off the bottom half. Glenn Beckert hit a single to advance Ortiz to third base. With Billy Williams at bat, a double steal moved Beckert to second base and brought home Ortiz. Billy Williams and Ron Santo both went down on strikes and Jim Hickman singled to score Beckert for a 2-0 Chicago lead. Koosman then got Hal Breeden on a ground ball to third baseman Bob Aspromonte for the third out.

Holtzman set down the Mets in order in the top of the second. Koosman hurled a perfect bottom of the inning and singled to lead off the top of the third. Holtzman retired the next three New York batters and Ortiz began the bottom half with a single to center field. On his own hit, Ortiz was out via a throw by center fielder Tommie Agee to second baseman Tim Foli. Beckert singled and Billy Williams drew a walk. Santo walked to load the bases and Koosman was replaced on the mound by Mets’ reliever Charlie Williams (making his major league debut.) Hickman hit a ground ball on which first baseman Donn Clendenon threw to catcher Jerry Grote for an out at home on Beckert. Charlie Williams then got Breeden on a force play grounder to Foli that ended the inning.

Clendenon drew a leadoff walk in the top of the fourth. Ken Singleton followed with a two-run homer to tie the game. Aspromonte grounded out to Holtzman and a double by Foli ensued. Grote singled to score Foli and put the Mets ahead, 3-2. Charlie Williams was struck out and Agee hit a single to center field. Bud Harrelson walked and Cleon Jones was retired on an inning-ending pop-up to second baseman Beckert. A walk to Don Kessinger opened the bottom half. Kessinger advanced to second base on Ken Rudolph’s sacrifice bunt and scored the tying run on a single by Holtzman. Charlie Williams then retired both Ortiz and Beckert on outfield fly balls to finish off the inning.

With two outs in the top of the fifth, Aspromonte singled and went to second base on an error by right fielder Hickman. Foli drew a walk and Grote singled to bring home Aspromonte. On the play, left fielder Billy Williams made an error that allowed Grote to go to third base and Foli to score the Mets’ fifth run of the game. Holtzman was relieved by the Cubs’ Bill Bonham, who struck out Charlie Williams to end the inning. Charlie then pitched a perfect bottom half.

Bonham shut down the Mets in the top of the sixth. Breeden homered against Charlie Williams to open the bottom of the inning. Kessinger hit a single and went to third base as Rudolph reached second on an error by Clendenon. Pinch-hitter Johnny Callison doubled to drive home Kessinger and Rudolph for a 6-5 Chicago lead. Mets’ reliever Ron Taylor got Ortiz to fly out to left fielder Jones, who threw to Foli for an out at second on Callison and a double play. Taylor then retired Beckert on a ground ball to shortstop Harrelson for the inning’s final out.

Aspromonte got a one-out single against Cubs’ reliever Jim Colborn in the top of the seventh. Pinch-hitter Dave Marshall singled to send pinch-runner Al Weis to third base. Against Chicago’s Earl Stephenson, pinch-hitter Duffy Dyer hit a force play grounder to shortstop Kessinger that drove home Weis with the tying run. Pinch-hitter Don Hahn drew a walk and Agee grounded out to first baseman Breeden to end the inning. Mets’ reliever Tug McGraw then gave up just a single to Billy Williams in the bottom half.

Stephenson and Chicago reliever Phil Regan combined for a scoreless top of the eighth. McGraw shut down the Cubs in the bottom of the inning and doubled with two outs in the top of the ninth. Regan retired Agee on an inning-ending fly ball to center fielder Ortiz, who singled to lead off the bottom half. Beckert hit a double play grounder to Harrelson and a walk to Billy Williams ensued. McGraw then got Santo on a ground ball to third baseman Weis to end the inning and send the game onward.

Regan hurled a scoreless top of the 10th. Hickman singled to begin the bottom half. Breeden’s sacrifice bunt advanced Hickman to second base and Kessinger was walked intentionally. Rudolph walked to load the bases and pinch-hitter Ernie Banks went down on strikes. McGraw then threw a called third strike past Ortiz to finish off the inning.

Cubs’ reliever Ron Tompkins hit Singleton with a pitch to open the top of the 11th. Weis hit a force play ground ball to Breeden and moved to second base on Ken Boswell’s ground out to Beckert. Dyer was given an intentional walk and pinch-hitter Ed Kranepool lined out to Billy Williams to end the inning. The Mets’ Nolan Ryan retired Beckert on a grounder to Harrelson to begin the bottom half. Billy Williams reached via catcher Dyer’s passed ball on a third strike. With Santo at the plate, Billy Williams was caught stealing on Dyer’s throw to second baseman Boswell. Santo walked and Ryan got Hickman on a ground ball to Harrelson that finished off the inning.

Agee got an infield single to lead off the top of the 12th. Harrelson’s sacrifice bunt sent Agee to second base and Jones was walked intentionally. Clendenon was retired on a foul pop-up to Breeden. Singleton followed with a single that plated Agee and put the Mets in front by a run. Tompkins then got Weis to pop out to Beckert and end the inning.

Breeden flied out to Agee to begin the bottom of the 12th. Kessinger hit a single and pinch-hitter Joe Pepitone went down on strikes. Ryan then struck out pinch-hitter Paul Popovich to bring the game to an end. The Mets had a victory in extra innings.