October 6, 1973: Game One of the NLCS

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Date: October 6, 1973
Mets starter: Tom Seaver
Mets: 1
Reds: 2
Winning pitcher: Pedro Borbon
Key player(s): Tom Seaver, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench
Key play: Seaver's double, Rose's and Bench's home runs

The Mets and Reds began the National League Championship Series on a Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati. The teams faced each other in front of 53,431 fans at Riverfront Stadium. A pair of Reds homers late in the game neutralized Tom Seaver’s thirteen strikeouts as the Mets fell to a 2-1 defeat.

The Mets failed to score after loading the bases against Cincinnati starter Jack Billingham in the top of the first inning. Seaver pitched a perfect bottom half and Bud Harrelson drew a walk with two outs in the top of the second. An ensuing double by Seaver scored Harrelson for a 1-0 Mets lead. Billingham retired Wayne Garrett on a ground ball to first baseman Tony Perez for the third out. With one out in the bottom of the inning, Johnny Bench doubled and Ken Griffey was hit by a pitch. Seaver followed up with a strikeout of Cesar Geronimo. Tom then fanned Darrel Chaney to end the inning.

Seaver and Billingham each pitched scoreless ball from the third inning to the seventh. Tom recorded nine more strikeouts while yielding three hits. Meanwhile, Billingham held the Mets to a walk to John Milner in the top of the third and set down all other New York hitters. The Reds’ hurler then chalked up a perfect top of the eighth inning for sixteen consecutive batters retired.

Seaver struck out pinch-hitter Hal King to open the bottom of the eighth. Pete Rose followed with a home run to tie the game. Tom got Joe Morgan for his thirteenth strikeout and set down Dan Driessen on an inning-ending fly ball to left fielder Cleon Jones. Cincinnati reliever Tom Hall issued a walk to Rusty Staub to begin the top of the ninth. Pedro Borbon then came in to pitch and retired the next three Mets batters.

Perez grounded out to shortstop Harrelson to start the bottom of the ninth. Bench came up to bat and hit a home run that ended the game. The Reds had a 1-0 lead in the Series despite thirteen strikeouts by Seaver.