Nov 1, 2019

Remembering Mets History (1973): NLCS Game #2- Jon Matlack Tosses Two Hit Shut Out Againt Big Red Machine

October 7th, 1973- NLCS Game #2: 
  
                                        New York Mets vs. Cincinnati Reds

Starting Lineups
New York Mets       Cincinnati Reds
1Wayne Garrett3B1Pete RoseLF
2Felix Millan2B2Joe Morgan2B
3Rusty StaubRF3Tony Perez1B
4Cleon JonesLF4Johnny BenchC
5John Milner1B5Andy KoscoRF
6Jerry GroteC6Dan Driessen3B
7Don HahnCF7Cesar GeronimoCF
8Bud HarrelsonSS8Darrel ChaneySS
9Jon MatlackP9Don GullettP


1973 NLCS Program
Riverfront Stadium Edition
54,041 Fans attended Game #2 of the 1973 NLCS at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.

Todays starters were for New York; Jon Matlack (14-16 / 205 Ks / 3.20 ERA) going up against the Reds Don Gullett (18-8 / 153 Ks / 3.51 ERA). Gullett was second on the Reds staff in wins & strike outs. 

With the mighty Big Red Machine up one game to none, many thought the next home game for the Reds was to be in that years World Series. It was not to be, as the Mets had different plans.

The 1973 Mets got to the post season on pitching. They had one of baseballs elite starting staff's & one of the best bullpens as well. In Game #2 it was all about the Mets pitching, all about Mr. Jon Matlack. 

Matlack put in one of the best pitching performances in Mets history, as he shut down the Big Red Machine, throwing a two hit shut out.

 He struck out nine Reds batters while walking three, He only allowed two base runners to get as far as second base, the whole game. 

In the bottom of the 2nd, Andy Kosco singled to left field with one out. Dan Driessen grounded to first base & John Milner threw to second to get the force. 

Driessen then attempted to steal, but Matlack threw to first base attempting a pick off. Driessen never looked back & was nailed at second.

In the home 3rd, Matlack walked Short stop Darrel Chaney. Gullet bunted him over to second. Then NL's batting champion Pete Rose then bounced on up the middle, but Mets short stop Bud Harrelson snatched it up & threw out Rose to end the inning.

For the Reds, the Kentucky native, Don Gullet pitched well himself. He shut down the Mets in the first three frames, allowing just a walk, to the pitcher Matlack in the 3rd. 

But in the top of the 4th inning, the Mets Rusty Staub connected for a one out, solo HR putting New York up 1-0. Staub was just getting starting to warm up, he would go on to hit four HRS & drive in ten runs through the rest of the 1973 post season, all this while nursing a sore shoulder in the World Series.

In the home 5th, Matlack walked veteran Andy Kosco. Kosco had singled in the first inning & then would single again in the 7th accounting for the only two Reds hits. 

Matlack then struck out Dan Driessen & Cesar Geronimo. Geronimo would be a victim to Matlack, going down three times on strike outs. Next, Matlack walked short stop Darrel Chaney putting a runner in scoring position.

Reds manager; Sparky Anderson wasted no time, seeing how tough Matlack had been so far, he knew he needed a run. He sent up pinch hitter, Phil Gagliano, removing Gullett from the game.

Sparky Anderson was famous to pull his pitchers at the early signs of trouble. He was known for the quick hook, earning the nickname "Captain Hook". He knew he had a solid bullpen & gave them regular work.

Matlack then struck out Gagliano, his sixth strike out of the day, ending the threat & the most trouble he would be in, all afternoon.

The Reds reliever; Clay Carroll "the Hawk" (who had led the NL in saves in 1972 with 37) shut the Mets down over the next three innings, allowing just one walk, to get his team to the 8th inning.


Carroll was 8-8 on the year with 14 saves & a 3.69 ERA. 

In the top of the 9th, Anderson brought in the lefty; Tom Hall (8-5 / 8 saves / 3.37 ERA) in to pitch.

After Wayne Garrett grounded out, Felix Millan singled & Rusty Staub drew a walk. Cleon Jones who had a great September at the plate, singled to centerfield. 

Reds, Center fielder Cesar Geronimo, attempted to get Millan at home, both he scored easily making it 2-0. On the throw both base runners advanced putting runners on second & third.

Pedro Borbon who had a spectacular year going 11-4 with 14 saves & a 2.16 ERA relieved Hall. He was told to intentionally walk John Milner to load the bases. Mets catcher; Jerry Grote then singled to center, bringing in Staub & Jones, making it 4-0 New York.

Center fielder Don Hahn singled, but Milner was unable to score. The bases were now loaded once  for Bud Harrelson. Harrelson singled up the middle, giving the Mets a commanding 5-0 lead. 

In the inning they sent ten men to the plate, scored four runs, with five hits & two walks. 

In the bottom of the9th, Matlack retired the side in order. He got Joe Morgan & Tony Perez to fly out. He then ended the game, striking out catcher, Johnny Bench. 


The Mets wrapped up the 5-0 victory & were headed back to Shea Stadium in New York, tied at one game apiece in the NLCS.


Matlack's wife joined him on the field in celebration after the game. In the visiting locker room, the joyous Mets also celebrated Matlack’s great performance.

Matlack's wife congratulates him after game
The Mets light hitting short stop; Bud Harrelson joked to the press that the Reds looked like him hitting out there today.

Those words would not sit well with the Reds & be used as bulletin board material to fire up the team. 

It set the stage for one of the most famous brawls in baseball history coming up in the next game. For now the Mets happily boarded a flight back to New York for Game #3.

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