April 7, 1984: Gooden Wins Major League Debut

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Date: April 7, 1984
Mets starter: Dwight Gooden
Mets: 3
Astros: 2
Winning pitcher: Dwight Gooden
Key player(s): Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Mookie Wilson
Key play: Strawberry’s home run, Wilson’s two-run double, Foster’s throw in 6th

The Mets faced the Astros on a Saturday night in Houston. Rookie pitcher Dwight Gooden made his much-awaited major league debut. Gooden was the winning pitcher as the Mets came away with a 3-2 victory.

Astros’ starter Bob Knepper pitched a scoreless top of the first inning. In the bottom half, Gooden retired the first two Houston batters on ground balls to second baseman Ron Gardenhire. Dwight followed up with by fanning Dickie Thon for his first major league strikeout to end the inning. With one-out in the top of the second, Darryl Strawberry hit a home run for a 1-0 Mets lead. Knepper got Mookie Wilson on a ground ball back to the mound and Hubie Brooks on an inning-ending fly ball to center fielder Jerry Mumphrey. Gooden then struck out Mumphrey and Ray Knight in pitching a perfect bottom half.

Knepper shut down the Mets in the top of the third. Denny Walling walked and stole second base to start the bottom of the inning. A single by Alan Ashby moved Walling to third. Gooden struck out Knepper and Bill Doran and retired Terry Puhl on a pop-up to shortstop Jose Oquendo to close out the inning. Keith Hernandez hit a one-out single and advanced to third on George Foster’s double in the top of the fourth. Strawberry hit a grounder to second baseman Doran for the second out. Wilson doubled to score Hernandez and Foster, increasing the Mets’ lead to 3-0. Brooks then grounded out to third baseman Walling.

Gooden set down Houston in order in the bottom of the fourth inning. Knepper pitched a scoreless top of the fifth. In the bottom of the inning, the Astros had runners on first and second with two outs. Doran hit a single that brought home Walling. Puhl flied out to center fielder Wilson to end the inning. Houston reliever Mike LaCoss then pitched a perfect top of the sixth.

Thon hit a single off Mets’ reliever Dick Tidrow to open the bottom of the sixth inning. Jose Cruz drew a walk and a passed ball by catcher Mike Fitzgerald advanced the runners to second and third. Mumphrey walked to load the bases and Knight singled to score Thon. On Knight’s hit, Cruz was out at the plate on a throw by left fielder Foster. Tidrow fanned Walling for the second out and walked Ashby to reload the bases. Pinch-hitter Enos Cabell then hit a fly ball to Wilson for the third out of the inning.

Astros’ reliever Frank DiPino shut down the Mets in the top of the seventh. For New York, Doug Sisk retired the side in order in the bottom half. Oquendo reached on Walling’s error and Hernandez singled to begin the top of the eighth inning. DiPino struck out Foster and Strawberry and retired Wilson on a pop-up to first baseman Knight. Jesse Orosco pitched a scoreless bottom half. DiPino held the Mets without a run again in the top of the ninth.

Ashby grounded out to third baseman Brooks to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning. Pinch-hitter Alan Bannister flied out to Foster and a single by Doran kept the game alive. Orosco then got pinch-hitter Phil Garner on a fly ball to Foster to end the game. The Mets had their third straight victory as Gooden recorded the win in his first major league game.