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Mets Drop Heartbreaker to Dodgers in Nightcap after Koufax Domination

May 20, 1963 - Things like that will happen when you play an 18-year-old kid — things like young Ed Kranepool pulling a bit of a boner in the 13th of today’s second game of a doubleheader, and then Frank Howard puts Ken MacKenzie’s next pitch halfway up into the left bleachers at Dodger Stadium for a 4-2 Los Angeles victory. That, plus Sandy Koufax’s overpowering two-hitter in the 1-0 opener, with Roger Craig taking the sting of no run support, put the rising Dodgers within one game of the Giants. Just 10 days ago, the Dodgers were five games out, and manager Walter Alston was requiring votes of confidence. Now, L.A. has clicked off six straight, and Leo Durocher’s in trouble. With the nightcap tied at 2-2 in the top of the twelfth, the Mets had their best shot when Kranepool came up with men on first and third with one down. Ed hit the ball solidly, but on one hot hop to Dick Tracewski at short for the double play. Met reliever MacKenzie walked Ron Fairly to open the 13th, and that’s where the key play occurred. Tommy Davis hit a liner, eye high, directly at second baseman Ron Hunt. The heads-up rookie, whom Casey Stengel calls “my best player,” deliberately dropped the ball at his feet, scooped it up and raced for second. Sure enough, Fairly had been suckered and was scrambling back toward first. Hunt had the force. Now he fired to first, slightly wide to the plate side. Kranepool caught it but with his feet a short stretch from the bag. So, Tommy Davis breezed by safely and as Howard was coming up, Kranepool was arguing with first-place umpire Jocko Conlan. In a moment, the discussion was academic. Man mountain Howard leaned on MacKenzie’s first serve and blasted No. 7 high into the left seats. Perhaps MacKenzie would have pitched differently to Howard with two out and none on. Perhaps not. In the clubhouse, Kranepool was asked if he had become confused over Hunt’s trick play. “No,” said the kid. “I wasn’t confused. Fairly got in my way on his way back — that’s what I was talking to Conlan about. I thought it was interference.” There was no confusion in the first game. It was cut-and-dried: strictly Koufax.


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