June 20, 1978: Espinosa Hurls Four-Hit Shutout

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Date: June 20, 1978
Mets starter: Nino Espinosa
Mets: 3
Expos: 0
Winning pitcher: Nino Espinosa
Key player(s): Nino Espinosa, Steve Henderson, John Stearns
Key play: Henderson’s home run, Stearns’ sacrifice fly

The Mets faced the Expos on a Tuesday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the opener of a three-game series. Nino Espinosa pitched a four-hit shutout in a 3-0 Mets win over Montreal.

Warren Cromartie drew a walk with two outs in the top of the first inning. Tony Perez singled to advance Cromartie to third base and Espinosa got Ellis Valentine to hit a force play ground ball to second baseman Bobby Valentine for the third out. Leading off the bottom half, Steve Henderson hit a home run against Expos’ starter Ross Grimsley. Bobby Valentine drew a walk and Elliott Maddox followed with a single. On Maddox’s hit, Bobby Valentine was out via a throw by right fielder Ellis Valentine to third baseman Larry Parrish. Willie Montanez went down on strikes and Lee Mazzilli got an infield single. Trying to advance on the play, Maddox was out via first baseman Perez’s throw to Parrish to end the inning.

Espinosa hurled a perfect top of the second. John Stearns singled to begin the bottom half. Lenny Randle hit a double and Doug Flynn reached on second baseman Dave Cash’s error to load the bases. Espinosa was struck out and Henderson grounded out to Perez to drive home Stearns for a 2-0 Mets lead. Grimsley then retired Bobby Valentine on a line drive to left fielder Cromartie for the inning’s final out.

Espinosa set down all three batters in the top of the third. Grimsley retired the side in order in the bottom half and Cromartie hit a leadoff double in the top of the fourth. Perez grounded out to third baseman Randle and a walk to Ellis Valentine ensued. Andre Dawson was retired on a foul pop-up to first baseman Montanez. Espinosa got Gary Carter to hit a force play ground ball to shortstop Flynn and close out the inning. Grimsley then hurled a perfect bottom half.

Espinosa retired the Expos in order in the top of the fifth. Grimsley set down the side 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning and Nino pitched a perfect top of the sixth. Maddox and Montanez got back-to-back singles to open the bottom half. A sacrifice bunt by Mazzilli advanced the runners to second and third base. Stearns hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Maddox with the Mets’ third run of the game. Randle was given an intentional walk and Flynn singled to load the bases. Grimsley then struck out Espinosa to finish off the inning.

Espinosa set down the Expos in order once again in the top of the seventh. Grimsley shut down the Mets in the bottom half and Nino gave up only a single to Cash in the top of the eighth. Montreal reliever Darold Knowles hurled a scoreless bottom of the inning and Cromartie grounded out to Montanez to begin the top of the ninth. Perez singled for the Expos’ fourth hit and Ellis Valentine hit a force play grounder to Montanez. Espinosa then got Dawson on a force play ground ball to Flynn to end the game. The Mets had a victory on Nino’s shutout.