August 9, 1977: Espinosa Stifles the Redbirds

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Date: August 9, 1977
Mets starter: Nino Espinosa
Mets: 4
Cardinals: 1
Winning pitcher: Nino Espinosa
Key player(s): Nino Espinosa, John Milner, Steve Henderson
Key play: Henderson’s single, Milner’s single and double

The Mets faced the Cardinals on a Tuesday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the second of three games in a series. Nino Espinosa pitched a complete game in a 4-1 Mets win over St. Louis.

The Cards had the bases loaded with one out in the top of the first inning. Keith Hernandez grounded back to Espinosa for an inning-ending double play and Lenny Randle reached on shortstop Garry Templeton’s error to lead off the bottom half. Felix Millan singled and Steve Henderson hit a single to score Randle. John Milner singled to bring home Millan with the Mets’ second run. John Stearns was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Mike Vail grounded to Templeton for a double play on which Henderson came home for a 3-0 Mets lead. St. Louis starter John Denny then retired Lee Mazzilli on a ground ball to second baseman Mike Tyson for the inning’s third out.

Espinosa and Denny each pitched scoreless ball from the second inning to the fourth. To begin the top of the fifth, Tyson singled and advanced to second base on Denny’s sacrifice bunt. Lou Brock followed with a single that brought home Tyson and cut the Mets’ lead to 3-1. Templeton was called out on strikes and Hector Cruz drew a walk. Ted Simmons grounded back to Espinosa to close out the inning and Millan got a one-out single in the bottom half. Henderson hit a force play grounder to Tyson and came around to score the fourth New York run on a double by Milner. Denny then got Stearns to pop out to first baseman Hernandez and end the inning.

Espinosa set down the side in order in the top of the sixth. Redbirds’ reliever Buddy Schultz gave up only a single to Doug Flynn in the bottom half and Brock singled with two outs in the top of the seventh. Templeton fouled out to third baseman Randle to finish off the inning and the Cardinals’ Rawly Eastwick hurled a scoreless bottom half. Espinosa retired the side 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth. Eastwick then shut down the Mets in the bottom of the inning.

Jerry Mumphrey grounded out to second baseman Millan to lead off the top of the ninth. Ken Reitz hit a single and Tyson fouled out to catcher Stearns. Espinosa then struck out pinch-hitter Dave Rader to bring the game to an end. The Mets had a victory on Nino’s solid pitching.