July 18, 1968: Three-Run 6th Downs Bucs

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Date: July 18, 1968
Mets starter: Tom Seaver
Mets: 3
Pirates: 0
Winning pitcher: Tom Seaver
Key player(s): Tom Seaver, Ed Kranepool, Jerry Grote, Phil Linz
Key play: Kranepool’s RBI force play grounder, Grote’s and Linz’s RBI singles

The Mets faced the Pirates on a Thursday night in Pittsburgh. The teams played the finale of a four-game series at Forbes Field. The Mets scored three runs in the sixth inning for a 3-0 win over the Bucs.

Tom Seaver and Pirates’ starter Al McBean each pitched four-hit scoreless ball from the first inning to the fifth. Bud Harrelson hit a single against McBean to lead off the top of the sixth. Harrelson advanced to second base on a wild pitch and Cleon Jones drew a walk. Art Shamsky got a bunt single to load the bases and Ed Charles went down on strikes. Ed Kranepool followed with a force play ground ball to second baseman Gene Alley that drove home Harrelson for a 1-0 Mets lead. Jerry Grote singled to score Jones and send Kranepool to third. Phil Linz hit a single to bring home Kranepool with the third New York run. Pittsburgh reliever Bill Henry retired Don Bosch on an inning-ending fly ball to right fielder Roberto Clemente. Seaver then set down the side in order in the bottom half.

Henry hurled a perfect top of the seventh. Seaver retired all three Pirates batters in the bottom half and Charles drew a one-out walk against Bucs’ reliever Luke Walker in the top of the eighth. Charles stole second base and went to third after Kranepool’s fly out to center fielder Matty Alou. Grote grounded out to shortstop Maury Wills to end the inning and Willie Stargell got a two-out single in the bottom half. Seaver fanned Clemente for the inning’s third out and Linz reached on third baseman Jose Pagan’s error to begin the top of the ninth. Bosch was called out on strikes and Seaver singled to advance Linz to third base. Harrelson drew a walk that loaded the bases. Walker then got Jones to hit a grounder to Alley for a double play that closed out the inning.

Alou singled to open the bottom of the ninth. Donn Clendenon was struck out and Pagan flied out to right fielder Tommie Agee. Seaver then retired Jerry May on a ground ball to shortstop Harrelson for the final out of the game. Tom and the Mets had a shutout victory to conclude the series.