April 30, 1976: Matlack Leads Mets to 7th Straight Win
|Date: April 30, 1976|
|Mets starter: Jon Matlack|
|Winning pitcher: Jon Matlack|
|Key player(s): Jon Matlack, Del Unser|
|Key play: Milbourne’s error, Niekro’s wild pitch, Unser’s single|
The Mets faced the Astros on a Friday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the opener of a three-game series. Jon Matlack pitched a complete game to give the Mets a 3-1 triumph over Houston for the team’s seventh consecutive win.
Larry Milbourne hit a single to lead off the top of the first inning. Enos Cabell doubled and Cesar Cedeno fouled out to catcher Jerry Grote. Matlack struck out both Bob Watson and Cliff Johnson to end the inning and Bruce Boisclair singled against Astros’ starter Joe Niekro to begin the bottom half. Felix Millan hit a single to advance Boisclair to third base and moved to second on a throw. Del Unser reached on second baseman Milbourne’s error to drive home Boisclair and send Millan to third. Unser stole second and Ed Kranepool went down on strikes. With Dave Kingman at bat, Niekro threw a wild pitch that brought home Millan for a 2-0 Mets lead. Kingman was retired on a foul pop-up to catcher Johnson. Niekro then got Wayne Garrett to fly out to left fielder Leon Roberts and finish off the inning.
After scoreless second and third innings, Cedeno got a single to open the top of the fourth. Watson singled and Johnson followed with a double play ground ball to third baseman Garrett. A wild pitch plated Cedeno with the Astros’ first run and Roberts drew a walk. Greg Gross grounded back to Matlack for the inning’s third out and Grote hit a single to lead off the bottom half. Bud Harrelson popped out to shortstop Roger Metzger and a sacrifice bunt by Matlack advanced Grote to second base. Niekro then retired Boisclair on a grounder to first baseman Watson to close out the inning.
Matlack yielded only a single to Milbourne in the top of the fifth. Niekro hurled a scoreless bottom half and Jon set down the side in order in the top of the sixth. Niekro retired all three Mets batters in the bottom of the inning and Metzger singled with two outs in the top of the seventh. With pinch-hitter Wilbur Howard at bat, Metzger moved to second base on Matlack’s errant pickoff throw. Jon then retired Howard on a fly ball to center fielder Unser to finish off the inning.
Matlack drew a walk against Houston reliever Mike Barlow to open the bottom of the seventh. Jon advanced to second base on Boisclair’s sacrifice bunt and to third on Millan’s ground out to Milbourne. Unser singled to drive home Matlack with the Mets’ third run of the game. Del stole second and Kranepool grounded out to Milbourne to end the inning. Matlack pitched a scoreless top of the eighth and Garrett walked with one out in the bottom half. Grote singled to send Garrett to third and Harrelson flied out to Roberts. Barlow then threw a called third strike past Matlack to close out the inning.
Watson grounded out to shortstop Harrelson to lead off the top of the ninth. Johnson was retired on a fly ball to Unser. Matlack then got Roberts on a called third strike to end the game. The Mets had their seventh victory in a row to start the weekend series.