May 31, 1977: Torre Wins First Game as Manager

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Date: May 31, 1977
Mets starter: Craig Swan
Mets: 6
Expos: 2
Winning pitcher: Craig Swan
Key player(s): Jerry Grote, Bud Harrelson, John Milner
Key play: Milner’s single in 3rd, Grote’s single in 4th, Harrelson’s triple in 8th

The Mets played the Expos on a Tuesday night at Shea Stadium. The game was the managerial debut for Joe Torre. The Mets made a winner of their new skipper with a 6-2 victory over Montreal.

In the top of the first inning, Chris Speier got a one-out single off Mets’ starter Craig Swan. An ensuing triple by Gary Carter scored Speier for a 1-0 Expos lead. Tony Perez singled to bring home Carter for another Montreal run. Warren Cromartie followed with a ground ball to first baseman John Milner for an inning-ending double play. Expos’ starter Santo Alcala then shut down the Mets in the bottom half.

Swan and Alcala each yielded a double in pitching a scoreless second inning. In the top of the third, Dave Cash led off with a single and was caught stealing on a throw from catcher Jerry Grote to shortstop Bud Harrelson. Swan walked Speier before retiring Carter on a pop-up to Harrelson and striking out Perez. The Mets had runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Milner hit a single to right field to score Harrelson and Lenny Randle with the tying runs. Alcala then retired Dave Kingman on a pop-up to first baseman Perez.

In the top of the fourth inning, Swan held the Expos without a run despite a two-out walk to Del Unser. A double by Ed Kranepool opened the bottom half. Grote hit a single that plated Kranepool to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. Lee Mazzilli hit into a force play and Harrelson flied out to center fielder Unser. Alcala then got Swan to foul out to Perez and end the inning.

After scoreless fifth and sixth innings, Swan walked Andre Dawson to start the top of the seventh. Alcala hit a ground ball to Milner on which Dawson was forced out at second. Cash followed with a grounder to Harrelson for a double play that ended the inning. Randle hit a one-out double and went to third on Felix Millan’s ground out in the bottom half. Milner singled to score Randle with the Mets’ fourth run of the game. Alcala then retired Kingman on an inning-ending fly ball to left fielder Cromartie.

Carter hit a double off Swan with one out in the top of the eighth. Mets’ reliever Bob Apodaca retired Perez on a ground ball to Harrelson and got Cromartie to fly out to center fielder Mazzilli. With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Harrelson hit a triple to score Grote from first base. Apodaca followed with a single that brought home Harrelson. Expos’ reliever Will McEnaney then retired Randle on a fly ball to right fielder Dawson for the third out.

Apodaca struck out Larry Parrish to start the top of the ninth inning. Unser grounded out to second baseman Millan. Apodaca then fanned Dawson for the final out of the game. The Mets had a win in their first game under new manager Torre.