July 20, 1978: Early Slugging Leads Mets Past Astros

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Date: July 20, 1978
Mets starter: Mike Bruhert
Mets: 7
Astros: 4
Winning pitcher: Mike Bruhert
Key player(s): John Stearns, Willie Montanez, Tim Foli
Key play: Montanez's homer, Foli's double, Stearns' double

The Mets and Astros played a doubleheader at Shea Stadium on a Thursday afternoon. The teams began the twinbill with a two-hour and 32-minute opener. The Mets collected five extra-base hits in the first two innings and came away with a 7-4 win over Houston.

In the top of the first inning, the Astros had runners at second and third base with one out. A ground out by Jose Cruz to first baseman Willie Montanez scored Terry Puhl for the first run of the game. Mets' starter Mike Bruhert retired Bob Watson on a grounder to second baseman Doug Flynn for the third out. In the bottom of the inning, Steve Henderson hit a two-out triple and came home on John Stearns' ensuing single. Stearns stole second and Montanez homered to put the Mets ahead, 3-1. Houston starter Floyd Bannister then got Tom Grieve to ground out to second baseman Art Howe and end the inning.

Dave Bergman singled with one out in the top of the second. Bruhert hit Luis Pujols with a pitch and Bannister's sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third. A single by Rafael Landestoy brought home Bergman and Pujols to tie the game. With Puhl at bat, Landestoy was caught stealing on a throw by catcher Stearns to shortstop Tim Foli for the third out.

Flynn tripled with one out in the bottom of the second inning. Elliott Maddox drew a two-out walk and Foli doubled to score Flynn. Bannister walked Henderson to load the bases and bring Stearns to the plate. John hit a double that plated three runs and extended the Mets' lead to 7-3. Montanez followed with a walk and Bannister was removed from the game. Astros' reliever Oscar Zamora then struck out Grieve to end the inning.

From the third inning to the fifth, Bruhert and Zamora each pitched scoreless ball. Cruz hit a home run to lead off the top of the sixth. Bruhert held Houston to a single by Bergman over the rest of the inning. Zamora shut down the Mets in the bottom half. Skip Lockwood and the Astros' Bo McLaughlin then pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings.

In the top of the ninth, Bergman led off with a double against Lockwood. Pinch-hitter Wilbur Howard flied out to left fielder Henderson. Lockwood fanned pinch-hitter Denny Walling and Landestoy reached on an infield single. Skip then struck out Puhl to end the game. The Mets had a victory to open the doubleheader.