Just before this game, Tom Seaver accepted the Cy Young Award as the outstanding pitcher of the National League for 1969, when he went 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA. The 25-year-old right-hander was at the top of his game, having won his last ten decisions in 1969 and having added two more thus far in 1970. On this day Seaver continued his domination of National League batters as he struck out 19 Padres, including the last ten consecutively while garnering his 13th straight victory. The 19 whiffs tied the major-league mark set a season earlier by Steve Carlton; but the ten straight strikeouts put Seaver in a class by himself. Previously, the most any hurler had fanned in succession was eight (shared by four pitchers). Unlike Carlton's effort, however, Seaver won his game and also pitched in the daylight.
Seaver's masterpiece consisted of 136 pitches-81 fastballs, 34 sliders, 19 curves, and two changeups. All the San Diego baserunners came in the first four frames. Al Ferrara touched him for a solo home run in the second, Bob Barton walked in the third, Ferrara walked and Dave Campbell singled in the fourth. "Actually he wasn't that strong in the early innings," said catcher Jerry Grote. "He just kept building up as the game went on. The cool weather helped and by the end of the game he was stronger than ever."*(Joseph Durso, "Seaver Strikes Out 19,...," New York Times, 23 April 1970, p. 48, col. 1.)
The Cy Young Award winner struck out each Padre batter at least once except Jose Arcia, who ironically was lifted for a pinch hitter in the eighth. Both San Diego pinch hitters were among the eight who went down swinging; 11 others were caught looking.
Despite Seaver's dominance, his teammates' paltry offensive support kept the contest suspenseful. Mindful of Carlton's 19-strikeout losing performance, and holding just a one-run lead, Seaver never felt at ease. "I was still worried I'd make a mistake and Ferrara [Padres' last batter] might hit it out," Seaver said. "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."* (Joseph Durso, "Seaver Strikes Out 19,...," New York Times, 23 April 1970, p. 48, col. 1.) Seaver went for it and got it.
At times it seemed that Seaver was merely playing catch with Grote, who also set a record for backstops. Grote caught one foul pop fly in addition to the strikeouts for a total of 20 putouts and a new standard for a nine-inning game (tied twice; see April 29, 1986 and September 18, 1996).
Coming off his Cy Young Award season, Seaver's 1970 record (18-12) is seemingly inferior. His individual performance, however, was arguably equal to his previous campaign. This season he led the league in strikeouts (283) and ERA (2.82).
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From Baseball Records Registry by Joseph J. Dittmar.
Copyright © 1997 by Joseph J. Dittmar. Reprinted with permission.