Seaver found himself clinging to an all-too-familiar skimpy lead, 2-1 this time. As usual, I realized if Tom were to win, it would be on his shoulders. So I settled in to see how he'd hold down the Padres and pick up the win. At that early point in the 1970 season, I was hoping for a 25 win repeat from Tom, having no way to realize that no Met would ever do that again.
Bottom 6, no Met insurance runs for Seaver. What else is new? Top of the 7th, he punches out the first guy, then the second. NOW he's gotten my attention. Because he wasn't the typical Seaver, who'd surgically cut the lower corners of the plate with alternately moving fastballs and nasty sliders.
Padres getting a sunburn from the blazers roaring by.
8th inning, more of the same. Raw, severe, rising high heat. Swings and misses. Very few foul balls as I recall.
I recalibrated, and now thought he'd have a real shot at those 19 Ks after all. Not facing a juggernaut hitting team in the Padres helped his odds, and I'd never seen him throwing like this.
But I'd seen Seaver at other times start to tire in the 9th and switch to sheer moxie to win games. I'd recalled him tiring once and Stargell hitting one onto the roof in Forbes Field off of him late (but that was on a day he was mortal). I knew another 3 Ks would be a challenge.
But this was a Favorites Zone day. He was in fact in a zone that will happen in a guy's career rarely, if ever. So, as I recall, the 9th came and it was a carbon copy of the 7th and 8th. One searing high heater after another – no finesse at all. Utterly overmatched hitters. A man against boys. 3 more notches in the belt as he remained supreme and untouchable. 17…18…19.
Seaver nearly pitched a perfect game once. In my opinion, this one was better, and I believe he never threw as hard before or after that game.
Did you see it? Hope so. So does Rod Serling.