Needing to bring something back to New York to keep the Cinderella story alive, the Mets prevailed in a decidedly wild second game of the World Series, topping the Oakland Athletics 10-7 in 12 innings of baseball. Tug McGraw earned the win for the visitors, while Rollie Fingers took the loss for the A’s, and George Stone took an unlikely save.
The Athletics got to Amazin’ starter Jerry Koosman early and often, as Joe Rudi laced a one-out double in the first and came home on Sal Bando’s triple. Three batters later, Jesus Alou’s double would plate Bando to make it 2-0. The Mets got a run back in the second on Cleon Jones’s home run off Vida Blue, but Joe Rudi singled in Bert Campaneris in the bottom of the frame to make it 3-1. The lead was cut in half again in the top of the third on Wayne Garrett’s solo home run. After Koosman loaded the bases in the bottom of the third, Yogi Berra had seen enough and brought on Ray Sadecki in relief. Sadecki promptly killed two birds with one stone, catching Gene Tenace stealing home and stricking out Dick Green to end the threat.
The Mets struck it big in the top of the sixth: after RBI singles by Don Hahn and Bud Harrelson, pinch-hitter Jim Beauchamp saw two runs in on an error by pitcher Darold Knowles. All of a sudden, a 3-2 deficit was a 6-3 lead, which meant an appearance by the unhittable Tug McGraw.
…Except McGraw was hittable against the defending world champions. Reggie Jackson’s RBI double added a run in the seventh, setting up some bottom-of-the-ninth heroics for Dick Williams’s crew. Deron Johnson led off with a double, then after a couple outs and a Bando walk, Jackson singled in another run to make it 6-5. Gene Tenace followed up with another single, and suddenly the game was tied. McGraw dug deep to get Alou to ground out with the winning run on second base; Tug had blown the save, but had kept New York alive for extras.
McGraw became unhittable once more in the tenth and eleventh innings, sitting Oakland down 1-2-3 each time to complete his six innings in relief. That’s right – six innings in relief. The Mets looked to reward such a valiant effort in the top of the twelfth: Harrelson smashed a leadoff double, and McGraw beat out a bunt single and advanced the go-ahead run to third. Outs by Garrett and Felix Millan brought up Willie Mays, who is set to retire as soon as this series ends. Hungry to go out on top, the Say-Hey Man (he’s no kid anymore) delivered what may be his last World Series heroics with a single to center to score Harrelson. After Cleon Jones singled to load the bases again, Oakland second baseman Mike Andrews decided to rehearse for Christmas early, as he transformed into Santa Claus by giving away three runs on two consecutive errors – Andrews mishandled a John Milner groundball and overthrew another on Jerry Grote’s grounder, making what was a slim New York lead an unbreakable extra-inning fortress: four runs up.
Believe it or not, Tug was sent out to start the bottom of the twelfth, but after he allowed a triple and a walk, Yogi had the good sense to recognize six innings was enough for his star reliever. George Stone was brought on to close out the night, and after letting one run in on Alou’s single put the A’s and the nearly 50,000 fans at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum out of their misery, securing a remarkable 10-7 win for the orange and blue.
The starting lineups for today’s game looked like this:
New York Mets
|1||Wayne Garrett||3B||1||Bert Campaneris||SS|
|2||Felix Millan||2B||2||Joe Rudi||LF|
|3||Rusty Staub||RF||3||Sal Bando||3B|
|4||Cleon Jones||LF||4||Reggie Jackson||CF|
|5||John Milner||1B||5||Gene Tenace||1B|
|6||Jerry Grote||C||6||Jesus Alou||RF|
|7||Don Hahn||CF||7||Ray Fosse||C|
|8||Bud Harrelson||SS||8||Dick Green||2B|
|9||Jerry Koosman||P||9||Vida Blue||P|
The Mets and A’s will take tomorrow to travel from one coast to the other, and the World Series will resume the day after with Game 3 at Shea Stadium. The pitching matchup is a doozy, as Tom Seaver will take the mound against Oakland ace Catfish Hunter.