Sunday, August 25, 2013
Tom Seaver And Eleven-Run Games
Today was Tom Seaver Bobblehead Day at Citi Field and the Mets "honored" the best pitcher in franchise history by allowing 11 runs to the Detroit Tigers. If Seaver had been around to witness the shellacking, he'd be rolling in his vineyard.
That being said, I thought it would be interesting to conduct some research on whether or not the Mets ever allowed as many as 11 runs in a game started by Seaver himself. And my research showed that even having "The Franchise" on the mound didn't stop five teams from lighting up the Mets.
On Opening Day in 1969, the Mets welcomed the Montreal Expos to Shea Stadium for their first-ever game. Seaver was not sharp in his season-opening appearance, allowing four runs (two earned) in five innings. He also gave up the first six hits and three walks in Expos history. Although the Mets scored ten runs against five Montreal pitchers, New York's bullpen couldn't prevent the new franchise from crossing the plate several times. The Expos scored seven runs against Cal Koonce, Al Jackson and Ron Taylor. A four-run ninth inning rally by the Mets got them close, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Expos' first-ever victory, an 11-10 decision over the Mets.
Three years later, on June 24, 1972, Seaver had one of the worst starts of his career, allowing seven runs and 13 base runners (10 hits, 3 walks) in only four innings. The Mets were shut out by the St. Louis Cardinals, 11-0. Fortunately, Seaver didn't allow the effort to linger in his mind, as he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning just ten days later. Seaver didn't get the no-hitter, allowing a one-out single to the Padres' Leron Lee, but he showed that the game against the Cardinals was just a fluke.
Or was it?
Less than three months after his horrible outing against St. Louis, Seaver had the worst performance of his career, allowing more runs (eight) than he recorded outs (seven). In addition to the eight runs allowed to the Chicago Cubs, Seaver gave up six hits and walked five batters in just 2⅓ innings. The Mets lost to the Cubbies, 18-5 on September 16, 1972. The eight earned runs allowed by Seaver were the most he ever allowed as a Met. The 18 runs scored against the Mets were also the most ever allowed in a game started by Tom Seaver.
On May 21, 1975, Seaver's defense let him down. Although The Franchise allowed seven runs to the Cincinnati Reds in 4⅔ innings, only three of them were earned. An error by the usually steady Felix Millan led to four unearned runs in the fifth inning, turning a 3-3 tie into a 7-3 deficit. The Reds scored four more runs against the Mets' bullpen en route to an 11-4 victory.
Finally, on August 7, 1976, Seaver allowed five runs in the fifth inning to the Pittsburgh Pirates, turning a 1-0 Mets lead into a 5-1 deficit. The Mets chipped away at the Bucs' lead, scoring single runs in the sixth and seventh innings, but relievers Ken Sanders and Bob Myrick combined to give up seven runs in the seventh and eighth innings, turning the game into a 12-3 laugher.
In 11½ seasons with the Mets, Tom Seaver made a franchise-record 395 starts. In only five of those 395 starts, the Mets allowed 11 or more runs. On Sunday, when the Mets were giving away Tom Seaver bobbleheads, Dillon Gee and five relief pitchers combined to allow 11 runs to the Tigers in an 11-3 loss to Detroit.
Tom Seaver surely wouldn't have been happy with the way the Mets (especially their bullpen) pitched today. But as great as he was, on a handful of occasions, Mets fans weren't happy with the way Seaver and his relief corps pitched. Eleven wasn't heaven for the Mets on Sunday. And in five forgetful games, it was hell for "The Franchise" and his teammates as well.