September 25, 1976: Three-Run 1st Buries Cubs
|Date: September 25, 1976|
|Mets starter: Craig Swan|
|Winning pitcher: Craig Swan|
|Key player(s): Craig Swan, Billy Baldwin, Jerry Grote|
|Key play: Baldwin’s and Grote’s triples|
The Mets faced the Cubs on a Saturday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The teams played the second of three games in a weekend series. Three runs in the first inning propelled the Mets to a 5-2 win over Chicago.
Mets’ starter Craig Swan pitched a perfect top of the first. Felix Millan singled against the Cubs’ Steve Renko with one out in the bottom half. Ed Kranepool went down on strikes and Dave Kingman hit a single to advance Millan to third base. On his own hit, Kingman moved to second via a throw. Billy Baldwin followed with a triple to drive home Millan and Kingman. Jerry Grote tripled to score Baldwin for a 3-0 Mets lead. Renko then got Mike Phillips on a line drive to left fielder Pete LaCock for the third out.
After a scoreless second, Renko got a two-out single in the top of the third. Rick Monday singled to send Renko to third base. LaCock reached second on left fielder Baldwin’s error that allowed Renko and Monday to come home, cutting the Mets’ lead to 3-2. Larry Biittner grounded out to second baseman Millan to end the inning and Renko set down the side in order in the bottom half. Swan gave up just a double to Jerry Morales in the top of the fourth. Renko then yielded only a double to Baldwin in the bottom of the inning.
Swan and Renko each pitched scoreless fifth and sixth innings. Craig held the Cubs to a single by Steve Swisher in the top of the seventh. To open the bottom half against Chicago reliever Bruce Sutter, Leo Foster reached on an error by shortstop Dave Rosello. Swan’s sacrifice bunt sent Foster to second base and Lee Mazzilli drew a walk. Millan singled to score Foster and extend the Mets’ lead to 4-2. On Kranepool’s ensuing bunt, Sutter made an error that brought home Mazzilli with the fifth New York run of the game. Sutter then struck out Kingman and retired Baldwin on a line drive to center fielder Morales that finished off the inning.
Swan issued a walk to Monday to begin the top of the eighth. Mets’ reliever Skip Lockwood recorded outs on each of the next three batters to end the inning and Sutter yielded only a single to Grote in the bottom half. Manny Trillo flied out to right fielder Leon Brown to lead off the top of the ninth. Rob Sperring went down on strikes. Lockwood then fanned Swisher for the game’s final out. The Mets had a solid victory.