Remembering Mets History: (1976) John Milner Hits His Third Grand Slam of Season In Jon Matlack's 17th Victory

Monday September 27th, 1976:
Joe Frazier's third place Mets had put in a good season (85-71) but were 11.5 games out of first place & finishing in third place. It was another disappointing ending without making a post season appearance, the third straight since the Pennant of '73.

The Mets were on a four-game win streak, having just swept a weekend series with the Cubs at Shea Stadium. With just six games left to play, just only 2,929 fans came out to a rainy Monday night Shea Stadium as the Mets hosted Charlie Fox's last place Montreal Expos (53- 103).  

The Mets sent Jon Matlack (16-9) to the mound, to face Larry Landreth (1-1). 

Tonight Jon Matlack went the distance, pitching seven innings, in the rain shortened 10-2 Mets win.

Matlack allowed three runs on seven hits, walking three while striking out one.

Matlack had one of his finest years, winning a career high 17 games (17-10) (7th most wins in the NL) with a league leading six shut outs & 16 complete games (3rd most in the NL). He posted a 2.91 ERA (10th in the league) & 153 strike outs (8th most in the NL) in 262 innings pitched (6th in the NL) in 35 starts. His 630 won lost % was tenth best in the league as well.

The hitting star of the night was "the Hammer' John Milner. Milner came up with four hits, two HRs, six RBIs, highlighted by a grand slam. 

In the home 3rd, the pitcher Jon Matlack singled to center field. It was the first of three Matlack hits on the night. Rookie Lee Mazzilli reached on an error advancing Matlack to third. Felix Millan then followed with an RBI sac fly. John Milner then stepped in & blasted a two run HR, making it 3-0 Mets. It was Milner's 14th HR of the year.

In the 4th, Jerry Grote & Bud Harrelson singled with one out. After a fielder's choice, Jon Matlack collected another hit driving in Grote with his 9th RBI of the year. The Expos brought in Bill Atkinson to pitch & immediately threw a wild pitch allowing Mazzilli to score the Mets fifth run.

In the 6th inning, with two outs Matlack got his third hit of the night. Lee Mazzilli then was hit by a pitch & Felix Millan reached on an infield single to load the bases. Next up was John Milner, the slugger blasted his second HR of the night, a grand slam, the third grand slam of his season.

Trivia: John Milner would hit ten career grand slam HRs.

It was his 15th HR for the season putting the Mets up 9-2. For the 1976 season, Milner would be second on the club to Dave Kingman, who hit 37 HRs. Kingman, Milner & Ed Kranepool were the only Mets to hit double figures in HRs that season. 

After the Milner HR, Ed Kranepool reached on another Expo error by Pete Mackanin at second base. Dave Kingman then doubled bringing in Kranepool with his 86th RBI. 

The Mets won it 10-2 as the rains came down & the game was called after seven innings.


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