April 29, 1977: Kingman Blasts Padres

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Date: April 29, 1977
Mets starter: Jon Matlack
Mets: 9
Padres: 2
Winning pitcher: Jon Matlack
Key player(s): Dave Kingman, John Stearns, Jon Matlack
Key play: Kingman’s two three-run homers, Stearns’ home run

The Mets faced the Padres on a Friday night in San Diego. The teams played the opener of a three-game series. Dave Kingman hit a pair of three-run homers to lead the Mets to a 9-2 win.

Padres’ starter Rick Sawyer hit Felix Millan with a pitch with one out in the top of the first inning. Bruce Boisclair followed with a single on which Millan advanced to third base. Kingman hit a home run to give the Mets a 3-0 lead. Sawyer completed the inning with no further scoring. For the Mets, Jon Matlack retired the side in order in the bottom half.

Following a scoreless second inning, Millan singled to open the top of the third. Felix stole second base and came around to score on a single by Boisclair. On the hit, Boisclair was caught between bases and tagged out by first baseman Mike Ivie. Sawyer set down the next two Mets batters to end the inning and Doug Rader drew a walk to lead off the bottom half. Rader moved to third on a double by Dave Roberts and scored on Sawyer’s ground out to second baseman Millan. Merv Rettenmund flied out to left fielder John Milner. Trying to score after the catch, Roberts was out on a relay throw by third baseman Roy Staiger to catcher John Stearns to end the inning.

Leading off the top of the fourth, Stearns homered to extend the Mets’ lead to 5-1. Sawyer retired the next three batters and Matlack pitched a perfect bottom half. Lee Mazzilli drew a walk to begin the top of the fifth inning. Mike Phillips flied out to left fielder Rettenmund and a single by Boisclair sent Mazzilli to third base. Against San Diego reliever Dave Freisleben, Kingman hit his second three-run homer for an 8-1 Mets lead. Milner doubled and Freisleben retired the next two New York hitters to close out the inning. Matlack then shut down the Padres in the bottom half.

Freisleben and reliever Brent Strom combined for a scoreless top of the sixth inning. Matlack held the Padres to a single by Rettenmund in the bottom half and Strom hurled a scoreless top of the seventh. With one out in the bottom of the inning, Gene Tenace singled to right field. A single by George Hendrick ensued and Ivie hit a grounder to Staiger for a force out at third on Tenace. Matlack then struck out pinch-hitter Gary Sutherland to end the inning.

Padres’ reliever Victor Bernal retired the Mets 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth. Matlack pitched a scoreless bottom half and Phillips singled to lead off the top of the ninth. Boisclair reached on an error by Roberts that allowed Phillips to reach third base. Kingman hit a force play grounder to third baseman Bobby Valentine and a single by Mike Vail plated Phillips with the Mets’ ninth run. Vail was caught stealing on a throw by catcher Tenace to second baseman Mike Champion. Bernal then struck out Staiger to end the inning.

Dave Winfield homered to begin the bottom of the ninth. Matlack followed up with strikeouts of Tenace and Hendrick. Ivie hit a single to left field. Matlack then got pinch-hitter Jerry Turner on a game-ending ground ball to Staiger. The Mets had a victory to start the weekend series.