April 20, 1976: Matlack and Three Homers Pluck Redbirds

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Date: April 20, 1976
Mets starter: Jon Matlack
Mets: 8
Cardinals: 0
Winning pitcher: Jon Matlack
Key player(s): Jon Matlack, Felix Millan, Del Unser, John Milner
Key play: Mets’ home runs

The Mets faced the Cardinals on a Tuesday night in St. Louis. The teams played the second of three games in a series. A trio of two-run homers and Jon Matlack’s shutout pitching led to an 8-0 Mets win over the Redbirds.

Wayne Garrett singled against Cards’ starter Lynn McGlothen to lead off the top of the first inning. Felix Millan slugged a home run and John Milner grounded out to first baseman Keith Hernandez. Ed Kranepool doubled and Dave Kingman went down on strikes. Del Unser followed with a homer to extend the Mets’ lead to four runs. Jerry Grote hit a single and Mike Phillips flied out to center fielder Bake McBride to end the inning. Matlack then hurled a scoreless bottom half.

Matlack reached on second baseman Vic Harris’s error to begin the top of the second. Garrett drew a walk and Millan hit a double play ground ball to Harris. Milner followed with a two-run homer to lengthen the Mets’ lead to 6-0. Kranepool fouled out to third baseman Hector Cruz to finish off the inning and Reggie Smith hit a leadoff double in the bottom half. Cruz fouled out to first baseman Kranepool and a fly ball by Hernandez was caught by center fielder Unser. Matlack then threw a called third strike past Harris for the inning’s final out.

After a scoreless third, Matlack was hit by a pitch to begin the top of the fourth. A bench-clearing brawl erupted and McGlothen was ejected by umpire Bruce Froemming. St. Louis reliever Danny Frisella retired Garrett on a pop-up to Cruz. Millan popped out to Harris and a walk to Milner ensued. Kranepool flied out to McBride to end the inning and Matlack surrendered just a walk to Mike Anderson in the bottom half. Frisella held the Mets to a single by Grote in the top of the fifth and Harris singled with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Matlack then fanned pinch-hitter Luis Melendez to close out the inning.

Cardinals’ reliever Mike Wallace hurled a scoreless top of the sixth. Matlack shut down the Redbirds in the bottom half and Grote drew a two-out walk against St. Louis’s Mike Proly in the top of the seventh. Phillips hit a single and Matlack followed with a force play grounder to Hernandez that ended the inning. Jon pitched a scoreless bottom half and Millan singled with one out in the top of the eighth. Benny Ayala was retired on a fly ball to center fielder Melendez. Joe Torre hit a triple to drive home Millan and increase the Mets’ lead to 7-0. Proly retired Bruce Boisclair on an inning-ending fly ball to Melendez. Matlack then set down the side in order in the bottom half.

Grote and Phillips got back-to-back singles against Cards’ reliever John Curtis with one out in the top of the ninth. Matlack took a called third strike and Garrett singled to bring home Grote with the Mets’ eighth run. Curtis got Millan to hit a force play grounder to shortstop Don Kessinger for the inning’s third out and Ken Rudolph grounded out to shortstop Phillips to open the bottom half. Smith drew a walk and Cruz grounded out to Matlack. Jon then retired Hernandez on a ground ball to first baseman Torre to bring the game to an end. The Mets had a shutout victory.