April 7, 1970: First Opening Day Win
|Date: April 7, 1970|
|Mets starter: Tom Seaver|
|Winning pitcher: Ron Taylor|
|Key player(s): Ron Taylor, Donn Clendenon|
|Key play: Clendenon’s single in 11th|
The Mets began defense of their first World Championship at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. They started by defeating the Pirates, 5-3, in an 11-inning game. It was the Mets’ first win of a season opening game after losses in each of their first eight.
Tommie Agee got the new season started for the Mets with a leadoff single in the first inning. Pittsburgh pitcher Steve Blass retired the next two batters before Cleon Jones doubled to score Agee. Art Shamsky then hit a single to bring home Jones for the second New York run.
The Pirates scored twice against Tom Seaver in the first two innings. Matty Alou got a double to lead off the first and was singled home by Roberto Clemente. In the second, Al Oliver hit a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jerry May to tie the game. The Mets reclaimed the lead on Joe Foy’s sacrifice fly that plated Agee in the top of the third.
Alou led off the bottom of the sixth with a triple off Seaver. He later scored on a Clemente single to tie the game, 3-3. The Pirates had two runners on base in the seventh, but failed to score when Seaver caught Alou’s line drive for the third out.
Ron Taylor came in to pitch for the Mets in the bottom of the ninth inning. Taylor retired the Pirates in order, sending the game to extra innings. The Mets had a chance to score in the top of the tenth with Agee on second base and two out. Jones got a single, but Tommie was out at home on a throw by second baseman Bill Mazeroski.
In the eleventh, Chuck Hartenstein took the mound for Pittsburgh. Mike Jorgensen led off with a single and Ron Swoboda reached first base on an error by catcher May. The Mets then loaded the bases with one out and Hartenstein was replaced by lefthander Joe Gibbon. Pinch-hitter Donn Clendenon singled to score Jorgensen and Swoboda for a two-run Mets’ lead. Gibbon then got Agee to hit into a double play to end the inning.
Tug McGraw faced the Pirates in the last of the eleventh. Tug walked Clemente to start the inning, but got Willie Stargell and Oliver to foul out to third baseman Foy. McGraw then struck out Gene Alley to finish off the game. It was the first time ever that the Mets started a season with a victory.
- This game marked the beginning of a new trend for the Mets. After losing all of their Opening Day games in the 1960s, the Mets would win 9 of their 10 season openers during the 1970s. They also won 9 of their 10 openers in the 1980s. The Mets 18-2 record on Opening Day was the best among all teams in baseball for the 70s and 80s.