April 23, 1972: Matlack's First Major League Win

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Date: April 23, 1972
Mets starter: Gary Gentry
Mets: 8
Cubs: 2
Winning pitcher: Jon Matlack
Key player(s): Jon Matlack, Cleon Jones, Jim Fregosi, Ed Kranepool
Key play: Jones’ and Fregosi’s home runs, Kranepool’s single

The Mets faced the Cubs in a doubleheader on a Sunday afternoon. The teams played the opener in front of a crowd of 30,789 at Shea Stadium. The Mets recorded an 8-2 victory over Chicago as Jon Matlack pitched four innings of shutout relief for his first major league win.

Mets’ starter Gary Gentry hurled a scoreless top of the first inning. Ken Boswell hit a triple against the Cubs’ Milt Pappas with one out in the bottom half. A sacrifice fly by Tommie Agee brought home Boswell with the first run of the game. Rusty Staub singled and Cleon Jones grounded back to Pappas for the third out. Ron Santo drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third base on Jose Cardenal’s ensuing double in the top of the second. Sacrifice flies by Ken Rudolph and Glenn Beckert drove home Santo and Cardenal, respectively, for a 2-1 Chicago lead. Pappas hit a single and Gentry retired Don Kessinger on an inning-ending fly ball to center fielder Agee. Pappas then shut down the Mets in the bottom of the inning.

Gentry and Pappas each pitched two-hit scoreless ball from the third inning to the fifth. In the top of the sixth, Matlack came in to pitch and retired all three Cubs batters. Staub got a one-out single in the bottom half. Jones hit a two-run homer to put the Mets ahead. Jim Fregosi followed with a homer (his first as a Met) to extend the New York lead to 4-2. Chicago reliever Tom Phoebus issued a walk to Ed Kranepool and got Jerry Grote to ground out to third baseman Santo. Phoebus then retired Matlack on a grounder to shortstop Kessinger to end the inning.

Matlack struck out the side in order in the top of the seventh. Bud Harrelson drew a walk to open the bottom half. Harrelson was caught stealing on a throw by catcher Rudolph to Kessinger. Boswell singled and moved to second base on Agee’s ground out back to Phoebus. Staub was walked intentionally and Jones drew a walk to load the bases. A walk to Fregosi forced home Boswell with another run for the Mets. Kranepool hit a single against Cubs’ reliever Larry Gura to score Staub and Jones, increasing the Mets’ lead to 7-2. On the hit, Kranepool was caught on second baseman Beckert’s relay throw to Kessinger for the inning’s third out.

Matlack retired the side 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth. Leading off the bottom of the inning, Grote doubled and advanced to third base on an error by Rudolph. Matlack singled to drive home Jerry for the Mets’ eighth run of the game. Harrelson went down on strikes and Boswell lined out to right fielder Rick Monday. Gura then walked Agee and fanned Staub to close out the inning.

Beckert singled to start the top of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Carmen Fanzone flied out to Agee. Kessinger hit a grounder on which shortstop Harrelson threw to second baseman Boswell for an out on Beckert. Matlack then retired Bill North on a game-ending fly ball to left fielder Jones. The Mets had begun the twinbill with a victory as Jon chalked up his first win as a major leaguer.