July 21, 1978: Thirteen Hits Pound Braves

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Date: July 21, 1978
Mets starter: Nino Espinosa
Mets: 12
Braves: 3
Winning pitcher: Nino Espinosa
Key player(s): Nino Espinosa, Lee Mazzilli, Willie Montanez, Steve Henderson
Key play: Mazzilli’s triple, Henderson’s sacrifice fly and doubles, Espinosa’s and Montanez’s RBI singles

The Mets faced the Braves on a Friday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the opener of a three-game series. The Mets collected thirteen hits in a 12-3 win over Atlanta.

Nino Espinosa and the Braves’ Preston Hanna each started the game with three scoreless innings pitched. Rowland Office hit a single to begin the top of the fourth. Office stole second base and Gary Matthews drew a walk. Jeff Burroughs singled to load the bases and Bob Horner walked to force home Office. Dale Murphy went down on strikes and Biff Pocoroba hit a sacrifice fly to score Matthews. Glenn Hubbard singled to bring home Burroughs for a 3-0 Atlanta lead. Hanna singled to reload the bases and Jerry Royster grounded back to Espinosa for the inning’s third out.

Steve Henderson drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the fourth. Willie Montanez singled and John Stearns was struck out. Lee Mazzilli hit a triple to drive home Henderson and Montanez. Bruce Boisclair followed with a sacrifice fly to plate Mazzilli and tie the game at 3-3. Doug Flynn walked and Hanna struck out Espinosa to end the inning.

Espinosa shut down the Braves in the top of the fifth. Lenny Randle drew a walk against Hanna to open the bottom half. Randle advanced to third base on Tim Foli’s single and scored on Henderson’s sacrifice fly for a 4-3 Mets lead. Foli went from second to third on a wild pitch and Montanez was given an intentional walk. Stearns popped out to second baseman Hubbard and a walk to Mazzilli loaded the bases. Braves’ reliever Craig Skok then retired pinch-hitter Joel Youngblood on a pop-up to third baseman Horner to close out the inning.

Espinosa hurled a scoreless top of the sixth. Skok yielded just a single to Espinosa in the bottom half and Nino set down the side in order in the top of the seventh. Foli singled against Skok to begin the bottom of the inning. Tim was caught stealing on catcher Pocoroba’s throw to Hubbard and a double by Henderson ensued. Montanez hit a single to drive home Henderson and advanced to third on Stearns’ single. Mazzilli was walked intentionally to load the bases. Against Atlanta reliever Dave Campbell, pinch-hitter Ed Kranepool walked to force home Montanez. Flynn was struck out and Espinosa singled to score Stearns and Mazzilli with Kranepool going to third. A balk brought home Kranepool and lengthened the Mets’ lead to 9-3. Campbell then struck out Randle to finish off the inning.

Espinosa retired the side 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth. To open the bottom half, Foli singled and went to third base on Henderson’s double. Montanez followed with a single to score Foli and Henderson for an 11-3 Mets lead. On his own hit, Montanez was out via a throw by right fielder Matthews to first baseman Murphy. Stearns and Mazzilli drew consecutive walks and Elliott Maddox flied out to center fielder Office. Flynn singled for the Mets’ thirteenth hit, driving home Stearns with the twelfth New York run. Espinosa then grounded back to Campbell for the inning’s final out.

Pocoroba grounded out to Espinosa to lead off the top of the ninth. Hubbard flied out to center fielder Mazzilli and a walk to pinch-hitter Bob Beall ensued. Espinosa then got Royster to ground out to third baseman Randle and bring the game to an end. The Mets had a solid victory to start the weekend series.