September 2, 1972: The Big Comeback in Houston
|Date: September 2, 1972|
|Mets starter: Brent Strom|
|Winning pitcher: Tug McGraw|
|Key player(s): Ken Boswell, Cleon Jones, Wayne Garrett|
|Key play: Boswell’s home run in 8th, Rader’s error in 9th, Jones’ single in 9th|
The Houston Astrodome was the site for the Mets’ game against the Astros on a Saturday night. The Astros built up an eight-run lead over the first seven innings. The Mets roared back in the eighth and ninth, sending 22 batters to the plate in pulling out an amazing 11-8 win.
The Astros scored four times off Mets’ starter Brent Strom. Lee May hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Cesar Cedeno got a double to bring home Don Wilson and Roger Metzger in the third, forcing Strom’s departure. Houston added an unearned run off reliever Ray Sadecki in the fourth for a 5-0 lead.
In the sixth, Bob Rauch came on to pitch for the Mets. Rauch gave up a run-scoring double to Tommy Helms for the Astros’ sixth run. He then walked two batters and threw two wild pitches in the seventh before allowing a single to Bob Watson that brought in two more Houston runs.
Wilson had kept the Mets scoreless on four hits through seven innings. In the eighth, Duffy Dyer and Bud Harrelson led off with singles and pinch-hitter Dave Marshall walked to load the bases. Tommie Agee then flied out to right, scoring Dyer with the Mets’ first run. Ken Boswell followed with a three-run homer, reducing the Astros’ lead to 8-4 and getting Wilson removed from the game.
Facing reliever Fred Gladding, the Mets resumed their hitting. Singles by John Milner and Ed Kranepool and a double by Cleon Jones brought in another run for New York. Wayne Garrett followed with a single off Jim Ray that scored Kranepool and Jones to make the score 8-7. Dyer then got his second single of the inning before Ray retired the next two Mets’ batters.
The Mets came to bat in the ninth still down by a run. Agee drew a leadoff walk and Boswell followed with a single. Milner then laid down a bunt against reliever Tom Griffin. Third baseman Doug Rader fielded the ball and made an errant throw, allowing Agee to score the tying run. An intentional walk loaded the bases before Jones hit a single to bring home Boswell and Milner, giving the Mets a 10-8 lead. Jones later scored on a single by Garrett for another run. The inning ended when Agee hit into a force play, leaving the bases loaded.
Tug McGraw pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth to finish the game. Batting around in each of the last two innings, the Mets turned a hopeless blowout into a well-earned victory. It was one of the greatest comeback wins in team history.