July 4, 1975: Kingman's and Grote's Ninth Inning Fireworks
|Date: July 4, 1975|
|Mets starter: Tom Seaver|
|Winning pitcher: Tom Seaver|
|Key player(s): Dave Kingman, Jerry Grote|
|Key play: Kingman’s & Grote’s home runs in 9th|
The Mets and Phillies faced each other on Independence Day in Philadelphia. The teams began a four-game series with a Friday night holiday encounter. Dave Kingman and Jerry Grote hit home runs in the ninth inning to pull out a 4-3 win for the Mets.
Tom Seaver and the Phils’ Larry Christensen each allowed one hit in pitching a scoreless first inning. Christensen shut down the Mets again in the top of the second. Dick Allen walked and advanced to second base on Seaver’s wild pitch to begin the bottom half. An ensuing single by Mike Schmidt scored Allen for a 1-0 Phillies lead. Schmidt stole second base and Johnny Oates was called out on strikes. Seaver then retired Garry Maddox on a ground ball to third baseman Joe Torre and fanned Christensen for the third out.
After a scoreless third inning, Christensen walked Torre to begin the top of the fourth. John Milner singled with one out to send Torre to third base. Kingman followed with a single to center field that brought home Joe to tie the game. Philadelphia reliever Tom Hilgendorf came in to pitch and set down the next two Met hitters. Seaver then held the Phils without a run in the bottom of the inning.
Hilgendorf and Seaver both pitched scoreless ball in the fifth. In the top of the sixth, Hilgendorf shut down the Mets again and Dave Cash led off the bottom half with a double. Cash moved to third on Larry Bowa’s bunt single and scored the go-ahead run on a single by Jay Johnstone. Seaver then struck out Greg Luzinski and Schmidt in retiring the next three Phillies batters.
Hilgendorf pitched a perfect top of the seventh inning. Maddox got to second base on Torre’s error with one out in the bottom half. An ensuing pinch-hit single by Tommy Hutton plated Maddox for a 3-1 Phils lead. Cash singled to move Hutton to third and Bowa fouled out to Torre. Seaver then retired Johnstone on a fly ball to right fielder Rusty Staub to end the inning.
The Mets failed to score against Phillies’ reliever Tug McGraw in the top of the eighth. Seaver retired the side in order in the bottom half. In the top of the ninth, Kingman led off with a home run and Cleon Jones followed with a pinch-hit single to center field. A sacrifice bunt by John Stearns moved pinch-runner Gene Clines to second base. McGraw fanned pinch-hitter Jesus Alou for the second out of the inning. With the Mets on the brink of defeat, Grote came up to pinch-hit for Mike Phillips.
Grote hammered a pitch from McGraw for a home run that put the Mets in front. Felix Millan followed with a bunt single. Millan advanced to second on catcher Oates’ errant throw after the bunt. Phillies’ reliever Gene Garber then got Torre to fly out to right fielder Mike Anderson for the third out of the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, Mets’ reliever Rick Baldwin retired Oates on a fly ball to Staub in right field. He followed up with a strikeout of pinch-hitter Ollie Brown. Baldwin then got Anderson to fly out to Staub and end the game. The Mets had a comeback victory with some ninth inning Fourth of July fireworks from Kingman and Grote.
- Jones' single in the 9th inning was his last hit as a Met.