July 18, 1966: Murphy and McMillan Come Through in 8th

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Date: July 18, 1966
Mets starter: Bill Hepler
Mets: 4
Astros: 1
Winning pitcher: Jack Hamilton
Key player(s): Billy Murphy, Roy McMillan
Key play: Murphy’s and McMillan’s singles in 8th

The Mets faced the Astros in a doubleheader on a Monday afternoon. The teams played a two-hour and twenty-three-minute first game of the twinbill at Shea Stadium. In the eighth inning, run-scoring singles by Billy Murphy and Roy McMillan produced a 4-1 Mets win over Houston.

Mets’ starter Bill Hepler threw a called third strike past Ron Brand to begin the top of the first inning. Sonny Jackson singled and moved to second base on an error by left fielder Ron Swoboda. Jackson went to third on a wild pitch and came home on a single by Jim Wynn for a 1-0 Astros lead. Dave Nicholson reached on third baseman Ed Bressoud’s error. Hepler got Felix Mantilla to hit a ground ball to Bressoud for an inning-ending double play. Houston’s Mike Cuellar then struck out the side in order in the bottom half.

Hepler and Cuellar each pitched scoreless ball from the second inning to the fourth. Wynn drew a walk with one out in the top of the fifth. With Nicholson at bat, Hepler made a pickoff throw to first baseman Ed Kranepool, who threw to shortstop McMillan for an out on Wynn. Nicholson flied out to center fielder Murphy to end the inning and Kranepool doubled to lead off the bottom half. McMillan hit a single on which Kranepool scored the tying run via an error by catcher Brand. Al Luplow went down on strikes and Hepler grounded out to third baseman Bob Aspromonte. Cuellar then retired Chuck Hiller on a fly ball to center fielder Wynn for the inning’s final out.

Helper shut down the Astros in the top of the sixth. Cuellar hurled a perfect bottom half and Chuck Harrison drew a leadoff walk in the top of the seventh inning. Helper got Cuellar to hit a force play ground ball back to the mound. Cuellar moved to second base on Brand’s ground out to Hepler, who then retired Jackson on an inning-ending grounder to McMillan. With two outs in the bottom half, Roy singled and went to second on a wild pitch. An infield single by Luplow advanced McMillan to third. Cuellar then struck out pinch-hitter Ken Boyer to finish off the inning.

Mets’ reliever Jack Hamilton set down the side in order in the top of the eighth. Hiller singled to begin the bottom half. Bressoud’s sacrifice bunt advanced Hiller to second base and Swoboda was given an intentional walk. Hawk Taylor lined out to Wynn and a single by Murphy drove home Hiller for a 2-1 Mets lead. Kranepool drew a walk to load the bases and Cuellar was replaced on the mound by Houston reliever Jim Owens. McMillan greeted Owens with a single that plated Swoboda and Murphy with the Mets’ third and fourth runs of the game. Owens then issued an intentional walk to Luplow and retired Hamilton on a line drive to Wynn that closed out the inning.

Aspromonte grounded out to McMillan to open the top of the ninth. Rusty Staub drew a walk and Harrison was struck out. Hamilton then got pinch-hitter Lee Maye on a force play ground ball to McMillan for the game’s final out. The Mets had a victory to start the doubleheader.