April 14, 1968: Nolan Ryan's First Win

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Date: April 14, 1968
Mets starter: Nolan Ryan
Mets: 4
Astros: 0
Winning pitcher: Nolan Ryan
Key player(s): Nolan Ryan, Art Shamsky, Danny Frisella
Key play: Shamsky’s double in 2nd

The Mets faced the Astros on a Sunday afternoon in Houston. The teams played a two-hour and fifty-four-minute game at the Astrodome. Nolan Ryan recorded his first major league win in a 4-0 Mets victory.

Ryan and the Astros’ Larry Dierker each pitched a perfect first inning. In the top of the second, Ron Swoboda drew a leadoff walk and came around to score on a double by Art Shamsky. Ed Kranepool flied out to center fielder Ron Davis and an ensuing fly ball by Jerry Buchek was caught by left fielder Jim Wynn. Trying to advance after the catch, Shamsky was out on Wynn’s throw to third baseman Bob Aspromonte to complete an inning-ending double play. Ryan then set down all three Houston batters in the bottom half.

Following a scoreless third inning, Tommie Agee singled with one out in the top of the fourth. Swoboda hit a single on which Agee moved to third base. Shamsky grounded out to Aspromonte to drive home Agee with the Mets’ second run of the game. Dierker got Kranepool on a ground ball to second baseman Joe Morgan to end the inning. Morgan drew a walk and stole second to open the bottom half. Ryan then retired the Astros’ next three hitters to close out the inning.

Dierker shut down the Mets in the top of the fifth. Ryan retired the side in order in the bottom half and Agee was hit by a pitch to begin the top of the sixth. With Swoboda at bat, Agee was caught stealing on a throw by catcher Hal King to Morgan. Swoboda reached on Morgan’s error and moved to second base on Shamsky’s single to center field. Kranepool was retired on a pop-up to Morgan. Buchek then hit a grounder that struck Swoboda for an out that ended the inning.

Pinch-hitter Lee Thomas singled for the first hit off Ryan to begin the bottom of the sixth. Davis flied out to center fielder Agee and a single by Morgan followed. King hit a grounder on which catcher Jerry Grote threw to first baseman Kranepool for an out as the runners advanced to second and third base. Ryan got Rusty Staub on a called third strike for the third out of the inning. Houston reliever Mike Cuellar retired the side in order in the top of the seventh and Wynn singled to lead off the bottom half. Ryan got Norm Miller and Aspromonte on consecutive fly balls to Agee. Mets’ reliever Danny Frisella then struck out Hector Torres to end the inning.

Back-to-back singles by Ken Boswell and Agee started the top of the eighth. Swoboda followed with a ground ball on which Morgan mishandled a throw by shortstop Torres. On the play, Boswell scored for a 3-0 Mets lead as Morgan was injured and replaced by Julio Gotay. An ensuing single by Cleon Jones plated Agee with the Mets’ fourth run. Jim Ray came in to pitch for the Astros and retired Kranepool on a pop-up to Torres. Ray threw a called third strike past Buchek and got Grote to hit a force play grounder to Torres that closed out the inning. Frisella then hurled a scoreless bottom half.

Houston reliever Danny Coombs set down the Mets 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth. Staub singled to lead off the bottom of the inning. Wynn went down on strikes and Miller drew a walk. Aspromonte was retired on a fly ball to Agee for the second out of the inning. Frisella then got pinch-hitter Doug Rader on a grounder to third baseman Buchek for a force play to end the game. The Mets had a victory as Ryan chalked up the first win of his career.

Notes

  • The save for Frisella was the first of his major league career.