The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Tom Terrific's Most Striking Record

When news came last week that Tom Seaver had passed, it brought back memories of some of his most memorable games and seasons in his storied career. He was magnificent from the very start and then went to post 20 seasons that resulted in 311 wins and 3,640 strikeouts. The Hall of Famer is only one of 10 pitchers to win 300 games and record 3,000 strikeouts.

Seaver was Rookie of the Year, won three Cy Young Awards, and led the league in strikeouts five times and ERA three times. He was a 12-time all-star. Yet with all the accolades and records he attained, the one that still sticks out for me is his performance on April 22, 1970.

25-year-old Seaver was coming off a stellar 1969 season when he helped the “Miracle” Mets win their first-ever World Series. He was one of their main contributors, posting a 25-7 record and solidifying his status as a bona fide ace. He took the hill against the San Diego Padres at Shea Stadium in his fourth start of the 1970 season. He had thrown a shutout in his previous outing, so he was getting into form early in the season. He had 12 consecutive winning decisions going back to the 1969 season.

Seaver was sharp in the first inning, retiring the side in order and claiming his first two strikeout victims. After Padres outfielder Al Ferrara led off the next inning with a home run to tie the game, 1-1, Seaver began to settle into a routine. Through the fifth inning he had recorded nine punch-outs, including six batters who took third strikes. Intermixed among the strikeouts were a couple of walks and a single by Dave Campbell, but Seaver was clearly in control of the game.

With two outs in the sixth inning and the Mets ahead 2-1, Seaver began one of the most improbable pitching feats in history. He got revenge against Ferrara by striking him out for the final out of the inning and posted his tenth of the game.

From the top of the seventh through the remainder of the game, Seaver struck out all nine Padres batters he faced, giving him 10 in a row and 19 for the game. A total of eleven batters were caught looking on the third strike. Shortstop Jose Arcia was the only Padres batter to escape a strikeout.

Ferrara was a casualty again as the last out of the game. After the game Seaver told the New York Times, “I was still worried I’d make a mistake and Ferrara might hit it out. But when I got two strikes on him, I thought I might never get this close again so I might as well go for it.” He went for it and secured the record. It was somewhat ironic that Mets catcher Jerry Grote didn’t think Seaver was all that sharp during pre-game warmups.

His ten consecutive strikeouts broke a record that had stood for 86 years, when Mickey Welch struck out nine consecutive batters on August 28, 1884. Seaver’s record still stands, although seven pitchers have come close by striking out nine batters since his fabulous 1970 game. (Detroit’s Tyler Alexander was the most recent when he struck out the first nine batters in a relief appearance against Cincinnati on August 2.) Seaver broke the Mets franchise record of 15 strikeouts set by Nolan Ryan.

Seaver tied Steve Carlton of the St. Louis Cardinals for most strikeouts in a nine-inning game (set in 1969 against the Mets). That mark has since been broken by several pitchers with 20, including Roger Clemens (twice), Kerry Wood, Randy Johnson, and Max Scherzer.

Seaver went on to win his first five decisions of the 1970 season, en route to an 18-win season.

Will Seaver’s consecutive strikeout record continue to stand up in the future? In today’s game with the high propensity for strikeouts by batters, probably not. In any case, Seaver’s record-setting performance in 1970 is one of the reasons he’ll always be remembered as “Tom Terrific.”

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