July 4, 1969: Mets Outlast Pirates in DH Opener

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Date: July 4, 1969
Mets starter: Tom Seaver
Mets: 11
Pirates: 6
Winning pitcher: Tom Seaver
Key player(s): Donn Clendenon, Al Weis, Tommie Agee
Key play: Clendenon’s and Weis’s doubles, Agee’s home run

The Mets and Pirates faced each other in a doubleheader on a Friday afternoon in Pittsburgh. The teams exploded for a combined total of twenty-six hits in the first game of the Fourth-of-July twinbill. In the end, the Mets came away with an 11-6 win over the Bucs.

Pirates’ starter Bob Veale pitched a scoreless top of the first inning. Matty Alou reached on an error by third baseman Ed Charles to lead off the bottom half. With Jose Pagan at bat, Alou was caught stealing on a throw by catcher Jerry Grote to shortstop Al Weis. Pagan went down on strikes and Willie Stargell drew a walk. Roberto Clemente followed with a single to right field. Mets’ starter Tom Seaver then retired Al Oliver on a ground ball to first baseman Donn Clendenon to end the inning.

Rod Gaspar reached second base on shortstop Gene Alley’s error with two outs in the top of the second. Grote singled to drive home Gaspar for a 1-0 Mets lead. Weis reached on an error by right fielder Clemente that sent Grote to third. On the play, Weis was out at second via a throw by Clemente to Alley to finish off the inning. Seaver hurled a perfect bottom half and Bobby Pfeil hit a two-out double in the top of the third. Cleon Jones singled to bring home Pfeil and advanced to second on a throw. Clendenon drew a walk and Veale got Charles on an inning-ending grounder to third baseman Pagan. Seaver then set down all three Pittsburgh batters in the bottom half.

Grote and Weis got back-to-back singles with one out in the top of the fourth. Veale struck out Seaver and Tommie Agee to end the inning and Stargell homered to lead off the bottom half. Clemente reached on an error by second baseman Pfeil and a single by Oliver ensued. Bill Mazeroski walked to load the bases and Alley was struck out. Jerry May hit a sacrifice fly to score Clemente and tie the game at 2-2. Seaver then fanned Veale for the inning’s final out.

Pfeil drew a leadoff walk in the top of the fifth. Jones followed with a double and Veale was replaced on the mound by Bucs’ reliever Bruce Dal Canton. Clendenon greeted Dal Canton with a double that brought home Pfeil and Jones. Pinch-hitter Wayne Garrett drew a walk and Gaspar lined out to Clemente. Grote flied out to left fielder Stargell and a double by Weis plated Clendenon and Garrett for a 6-2 Mets lead. Pittsburgh’s Chuck Hartenstein then retired Seaver on a ground ball to first baseman Oliver to close out the inning.

To begin the bottom of the fifth, Alou singled and moved to second base on a wild pitch. Pagan grounded back to Seaver and a walk to Stargell followed. Clemente grounded out to second baseman Garrett and a fly ball by Oliver was caught by left fielder Jones for the third out of the inning. Hartenstein held the Mets to a single by Agee in the top of the sixth and Seaver retired the side in order in the bottom half. Garrett singled with one out in the top of the seventh. Wayne stole second and advanced to third on an error by Alley. Gaspar went down on strikes and Grote drew a walk. Hartenstein retired Weis on an inning-ending pop-up to Alley. Seaver then shut down the Pirates in the bottom half.

Seaver drew a walk against Pittsburgh reliever Lou Marone to open the top of the eighth inning. Agee hit a home run to increase the Mets’ lead to 8-2. Marone set down the next three batters and Clemente hit a leadoff double in the bottom half. Oliver popped out to Garrett and a single by Mazeroski scored Clemente. May doubled to drive home Mazeroski with the Pirates’ fourth run of the game. Seaver was then replaced on the mound by Mets’ reliever Cal Koonce, who retired pinch-hitter Carl Taylor on a grounder to third baseman Pfeil (who had shifted from second) to close out the inning.

Grote drew a two-out walk against Pirates’ reliever Bob Moose in the top of the ninth. Weis singled and Koonce followed with a single to bring home Grote. Agee singled to score Weis as Koonce advanced to third base on an error by Stargell. Pfeil hit a single to plate Koonce and extend the Mets’ lead to 11-4. Jones singled to load the bases. Moose then struck out Clendenon to finish off the inning.

Alou singled to begin the bottom of the ninth. Pagan was called out on strikes and Stargell doubled to right field. Clemente hit a double for the game’s twenty-sixth hit, scoring Alou and Stargell with the Bucs’ fifth and sixth runs. Koonce then fanned Oliver and retired Mazeroski on a ground ball to Pfeil that ended the game. The Mets had a victory to start the holiday doubleheader.

Notes

  • Pfeil's RBI was the first of his major league career. It was also Koonce's only run scored as a Met.
  • Koonce's run-scoring single was his only RBI as a Met.