"It's been this way for a long time," says Koosman. "Pitching is what the Mets didn't have when they started, so they've stressed it in their scouting ever since. We've never really had good, aggressive hitting—the kind the Reds have that rubs off on everybody. What did Seaver and Lolich and I say to each other after all three of us were shut out in a four-day span? I won't tell you. Our hitters would never get me another run."
"People have been talking about this season like it's a novelty," says Lolich, "but I was always the guy who got dumped on in Detroit. I may have had the worst runs-scored-for statistic in the American League last year. Remember 1968 when Denny McLain won 31 games? The Tigers averaged 5.1 runs per game for him."
"I'd take my chances with that," says Seaver, whose 11-10 record also reflects a cruel financial irony. Under the terms of his new three-year contract, Seaver was to receive a $5,000 bonus for every five-day period between his 19th victory and the end of the season. In many ways, Seaver has pitched as well as the Padres' Randy Jones, who won his 19th game on Aug. 10. In the same situation, Seaver already would have banked $25,000 in incentive money, with another $20,000 to follow before the end of the season.
Recently Matlack started against the Dodgers, and when Met Catcher Ron Hodges flied out to end the first inning, narrowly missing a grand slam home run, Matlack sensed he was in for a typical day. In one swing Hodges had nearly provided him with as many runs as he had seen in one game during his previous five starts, but like most balls hit by the Mets, it was a few feet short. The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the second on two quick doubles. Hodges, in the early stages of an 0-for-20 slump, hit into a bases-loaded double play in the third. Considering the two bases-loaded scoring opportunities that went by the board, Matlack felt fortunate that the game was tied 1-1 as Third Baseman Roy Staiger led off the last of the ninth. Staiger was in the midst of what would become an 0-for-18 streak, but he reached base on an error. At that point, Matlack left the game for a pinch hitter, Torre, another long day's work apparently wasted. However, Torre got an infield hit. A walk loaded the bases. With typical Met economy, Felix Millan then won the game with a 35-foot dribbler that could not be fielded in time to get a force at home.
The final score was 2-1. To Met pitchers, it was just another rout.