Jan 18, 2019

Remembering Mets History (1977): Jon Matlack Tosses Back to Back Shut Outs

The 1977 Mets didn't give the fans much to cheer about. It was the beginning of one of the worst periods in Met history. As early as the middle of May, the team was already in last place. 
Tom Seaver was on the verge of being traded & the management had no intentions of signing any free agents in the new era of free agency. But during a week in the spring, left hander; Jon Matlack, gave the fans something to cheer about, as he pitched back to back shut outs
Friday May 13, 1977: In front of 19,448 at Shea Stadium, Joe Frazier's Mets (11-19) hosted Tommy Lasorda's first place Los Angeles Dodgers (24-7). The Dodgers would reign as NL Champions for the next two years.

Rumors & talk all over the ballpark was already circulating about the unheard of possibility, the beloved Tom Seaver might be traded. It would be another month until that sad day in Met history actually did happen.

Starting Lineups

The Mets provided all their offense in the 1st inning, as Lenny Randle the Mets second batter, hit his first HR of the year, a solo shot off Rhoden. Randle was batting .321 & would finish the year at .304.

 After a single by Ed Kranepool, Dave Kingman followed with a two run HR of his own. For Kingman, it was already his 8th HR of the season. Those three runs were all the Mets scored, but all Matlack would need on the night. 

Matlack did scatter seven hits, nut he held the mighty Dodger run production bats, down to nothing. 

In the 4th, the NL's best base stealer, Davey Lopes singled & swiped both second & third. After Ron Cey drew a walk, Matlack got Steve Garvey to ground out to end the inning.

The Dodgers threatened in the 6th, with two runners on & one out, but Matlack got Reggie Smith to pop out & Ron Cey to ground out.

In the 9th, L.A. got two more singles but with two outs, Rick Monday grounded out to end the game. Matlack struck out four while walking just one in the shut out.

Wednesday May 18th, 1977:  Just five nights later, the Mets hosted the San Francisco Giants (14-21), led by manager Joe Altobelli. A small crowd of just 7131 filed into Shea Stadium on this week night. Matlack went up against Giants pitcher, Jim Barr. Barr had won eleven or more games for five straight years with the Giants, including a 15 win season in 1976.

Starting Lineups

Jim Barr pitched well, only allowing one run on four hits, with no walks, through seven innings of work. The Mets Lenny Randle came up big for Matlack once again, collecting three hits and scoring both Mets runs. At this point Randle was hot batting .413 with a .435 on base %. 

In the 3rd inning, Randle doubled and went to third as right fielder, Jack Clark misplayed the ball. Barr then threw a wild pitch  to Jerry Grote & Randle scampered home.

Matlack was once again in top form. He didn't allow any runs, didn't walk any body & struck out seven Giants while scattering just five hits. He allowed a single in the 1st & another in the second, then didn't allow another base runner until the 6th inning.

 In the top of the 8th, Willie McCovey led off with a single & then as Marc Hill attempted a sacrifice bunt, Mets catcher Jerry Grote made an error & bot runners were safe. But Matlack struck out slugger Darrel Evans & retired the next two batters on ground outs.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Roy Staiger singled but was forced at second on Bud Harrelson's grounder. Randle then singled with his third hit of the night. Jerry Grote singled to left off new Giant pitcher Gary Lavelle, bringing in Harrelson with the Mets second run.

Trivia: It was the tenth time in Mets history that pitchers had thrown back to back shut outs. Tom Seaver & Jerry Koosman had done it four times each up to that point & Jim McAndrew had also done it once.

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