April 26, 1976: Lolich and Hodges Lead Mets Past Braves
|Date: April 26, 1976|
|Mets starter: Mickey Lolich|
|Winning pitcher: Mickey Lolich|
|Key player(s): Mickey Lolich, Ron Hodges|
|Key play: Hodges’ single|
The Mets faced the Braves on a Monday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The teams played the opener of a four-game series. Mickey Lolich pitched a five-hitter and Ron Hodges hit a two-run single to lead the Mets to a 3-1 win over Atlanta.
Rowland Office singled to lead off the top of the first inning. Jerry Royster grounded out to second baseman Felix Millan and a walk to Darrell Evans followed. Jim Wynn hit a grounder to shortstop Bud Harrelson for an inning-ending double play and Braves’ starter Dick Ruthven hurled a perfect bottom half. Biff Pocoroba and Darrel Chaney got back-to-back singles with two outs in the top of the second. Ruthven drew a walk to load the bases. Office then grounded back to Lolich for the inning’s final out.
Ed Kranepool singled to open the bottom of the second. Dave Kingman flied out to center fielder Office and a double by Wayne Garrett ensued. Hodges singled to drive home Kranepool and Garrett for a 2-0 Mets lead. Harrelson drew a walk and Lolich’s sacrifice bunt advanced the runners to second and third base. Bruce Boisclair flied out to left fielder Wynn to end the inning and Lolich set down the side in order in the top of the third. To begin the bottom half, Millan drew a walk and moved to third on a single by Del Unser. Kranepool grounded to second baseman Lee Lacy for a double play on which Millan came home with the third New York run. Ruthven then got Kingman to pop out to Lacy and finish off the inning.
Lolich retired the Braves in order in the top of the fourth. Ruthven gave up only a single to Garrett in the bottom half and Lolich yielded just a single to Chaney in the top of the fifth. Ruthven shut down the Mets in the bottom of the inning and Evans drew a leadoff walk in the top of the sixth. A passed ball by catcher Hodges sent Evans to second base and Wynn flied out to right fielder Kingman. Evans went to third on Tom Paciorek’s ground out to third baseman Garrett and scored on a single by Lacy. Lolich got Pocoroba to hit a force play grounder to Harrelson that ended the inning and consecutive singles by Kranepool and Kingman began the bottom half. With Atlanta reliever Pablo Torrealba on the mound, Kranepool was caught by catcher Vic Correll’s pickoff throw and tagged out by shortstop Chaney. Garrett then grounded back to Torrealba for a double play to close out the inning.
Lolich surrendered just a walk to pinch-hitter Cito Gaston in the top of the seventh. Torrealba held the Mets to a walk to Harrelson in the bottom half and Wynn drew a one-out walk in the top of the eighth. Paciorek walked and Lacy was retired on a fly ball to Kingman. Lolich got pinch-hitter Ken Henderson to hit a force play ground ball to Garrett for the inning’s third out and Kranepool singled against Braves’ reliever Roger Moret with two outs in the bottom half. Moret then got Kingman on a force play grounder to Chaney to end the inning.
Lolich struck out Chaney to start the top of the ninth. Correll also went down on strikes. Mickey then fanned Gaston for the final out of the game. The Mets had a series-opening victory.