September 28, 1976: Kranepool Beats Expos in DH Opener

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Date: September 28, 1976
Mets starter: Nino Espinosa
Mets: 5
Expos: 4
Winning pitcher: Skip Lockwood
Key player(s): Felix Millan, Bruce Boisclair, Ed Kranepool
Key play: Millan’s single, Foote’s error, Kranepool’s homer and RBI single

The Mets faced the Expos in a doubleheader on a Tuesday evening at Shea Stadium. The teams played a two-hour and twenty-five-minute opener of the twinbill. Ed Kranepool hit a home run in the eighth inning and a run-scoring single in the ninth for a 5-4 Mets win over Montreal.

Nino Espinosa and the Expos’ Joe Keener each pitched two scoreless innings to start the game. Pepe Frias singled to lead off the top of the third. Keener’s sacrifice bunt advanced Frias to second base and Del Unser drew a walk. On a steal attempt, Frias was safe at third via an error by third baseman Roy Staiger. Frias scored on Tim Foli’s sacrifice fly for a 1-0 Montreal lead. Andre Dawson singled and a single by Ellis Valentine brought home Unser with the Expos’ second run. Valentine stole second and Espinosa struck out Earl Williams to end the inning. The Mets then failed to score after loading the bases against Keener in the bottom half.

Espinosa gave up only a double to Larry Parrish in the top of the fourth. Nino and Bruce Boisclair drew consecutive walks with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Felix Millan followed with a single to drive home Espinosa. On the play, catcher Barry Foote made an error that allowed both Boisclair and Millan to score, giving the Mets a 3-2 lead. Keener then retired John Milner on a ground ball to second baseman Frias for the inning’s third out.

Espinosa and Montreal reliever Clay Kirby each hurled scoreless fifth and sixth innings. Nino yielded just a single to Foote in the top of the seventh and the Expos’ Steve Dunning set down the side in order in the bottom half. Foli singled to lead off the top of the eighth. Dawson hit a double and Espinosa was replaced on the mound by Mets’ reliever Skip Lockwood. Valentine greeted Lockwood with a single that plated Foli and Dawson for a 4-3 Expos lead. On his own hit, Valentine moved to second base on a throw to the plate. Williams was retired on a fly ball to left fielder Milner. Parrish hit a grounder on which Staiger tagged out Valentine coming to third. Lockwood then struck out Foote to finish off the inning.

Leading off the bottom of the eighth, Kranepool homered to tie the game. Dunning retired the next three Mets batters to end the inning and Lockwood hurled a scoreless top of the ninth. With two outs in the bottom half, Boisclair singled against Montreal reliever Joe Kerrigan. Pinch-hitter Jim Dwyer hit a single and Milner drew a walk to load the bases. Kranepool came up to bat and delivered a single to bring home Boisclair with the winning run. The Mets had a comeback victory on Ed’s late heroics.