The Pirates and Mets split a doubleheader in New York. The twinbill resulted from the teams’ 3-3 tie, played over 11 innings on May 25 and stopped due to heavy fog. The Bucs took the first game, 8-1, behind a complete game from John Candelaria. The Mets took game two, 4-0, as Pete Falcone threw a five-hitter.
In game one, the Candy Man took command early. The Mets had only one baserunner in the first five innings. They managed three singles in the bottom of the sixth, producing one run. After that, a bunt single was all the New Yorkers produced. Candelaria retired the Mets’ last nine hitters. He finished with just five hits, all singles, and no walks allowed.
The Pirates gave Candelaria a lead from the start. In the first, Dave Parker singled in Tim Foli, who’d doubled. Candelaria helped himself in the second, driving in Phil Garner with a two-out double. In the fourth, Mike Easler, getting his first start of the season, led off with a double and came around on a single by Garner.
Met’s starter Craig Swan settled down after that, holding the Pirates scoreless in the fifth and sixth. In the top of the eighth, though, they scored five against the Mets’ bullpen to put the game out of reach. Four walks, a wild pitch, a bases-loaded hit batsman and three singles fueled the rally. Easler had an RBI single and Rennie Stennett drove in a pair.
Candelaria’s record improved to 6-6 with the win. Easler, Garner and Stennett each had two hits.
In game two, the Bucs found hits much tougher to come by. They had singles off Falcone in each of the first four innings, but couldn’t get anybody past second. Falcone retired the Pirates in order in the fifth through the eighth. Foli led off the ninth with a single, but Falcone retired the next three hitters.
The Mets jumped on Jim Rooker in the first. Lee Mazzilli homered with Frank Taveras on. A single and double, and then a two-run single by Steve Henderson followed.
That made it 4-0 and, it turned out, concluded the scoring for the day. Rooker lasted until one out in the seventh, when he gave way to Enrique Romo. Romo eventually got a strikeout to leave the bases loaded in that inning, then struck out the side in the eighth. Rooker’s record dropped to 2-2.
The split left the Pirates six games out of first, as the Expos won their game. A Cubs’ win and Cardinals’ loss put Chicago in a tie for second with the Bucs and St. Louis half a game in back of them.
Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.