With the Cubs facing the daunting task of heading back home down 0-2 in the World Series, Jake Arrieta stepped up and pitched the most important game of his life. Arrieta pitched 5.1 no-hit innings to help the Cubs even the series at 1-1. Arrieta was the first pitcher to carry a no-hitter that deep into the World Series since Jerry Koosman pitched six no-hit innings against the Baltimore Orioles in Game 2 of the 1969 World Series.
Koosman’s performance was much more dominating and important than Arrieta’s. Whereas the Cubs are favored in this year’s World Series, the 1969 were about as big of underdogs as you get. The Orioles lineup featured two Hall of Famers in Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson. They had a rotation featuring Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally, and future Hall of Famer Jim Palmer. This was about as tough a team you could face. This was a team so tough, they beat Tom Seaver 4-1 in Game 1 of the World Series.
With the Game 1 victory, the Orioles appeared as if they were going to steamroll through the Mets much in the same fashion they had done to the Los Angeles Dodgers three years before and would do the following year to the Cincinnati Reds. Koosman’s 8.2 inning. two-hit masterpiece changed all of that. It completely changed the tone of the World Series and the momentum.
While Koosman was not named the MVP of the series, that honor would go to Donn Clendenon, his performance was the most important factor in the Mets changing the script and winning the World Series in five games. In that World Series, Koosman not only established himself as a great Met, he also established himself as the first big game pitcher in the franchise’s history. Without him the Mets never win the 1969 World Series.
Coincidentally, without Koosman, the Mets also don’t win the 1986 World Series.
On December 8, 1978, the Mets traded Koosman to his hometown Minnesota Twins in exchange for Greg Field and a player to be named later that turned out to be left-handed pitcher Jesse Orosco.
Today is the 30th Anniversary of the Mets winning their second World Series. The Mets would not have been able to win that World Series without Orosco’s three wins in the NLCS. They would not have won without his standing on the mound to close out Game 7.
Neither the 1969 or the 1986 World Series would have been possible without Koosman. With it being the 30th Anniversary of the 1986 World Series victory and with Arrieta’s peformance, we were again reminded of that.