Remembering Mets History (1973) Jon Matlack Shuts Out L.A. On a Two Hitter

Wednesday August 8th, 1973:
The Mets had just come off a long 14 game home stand where they went 7-7. They had no day off as on Tuesday night they played a makeup game at Shea beating the Cardinals 6-5. They then boarded a plane & traveled to California for their second west coast trip of the year starting out in Los Angeles. Earlier in June they had gone 3-7 in California against the Dodgers, Giants & Padres. 

Yogi Berra's Mets were ten games under .500 at 50-60. They were facing a Dodger team in first place, thirty games over .500. The Dodgers were still three games ahead of the Cincinatti Reds, but the Big Red Machine were coming on strong.

Tonight's matchup attracted 24,219 to Dodger Stadium & included two top pitchers as the Mets Jon Matlack (8-14) went up against Andy Messersmith (11-6). 

Messersmith had come over from the California Angels in a huge trade with Ken McMullen in exchange for Frank Robinson, Bill Singer, Billy Grabarkewitz & Bobby Valentine. 

Messersmith had won twenty games in 1971 (20-13) & 16 games in 1969. He had an off year in 1972 going 8-11.

Messersmith would go 14-10 for the Dodgers in 1973, becoming one of the league's best pitchers in the next few years. In 1974 he led L.A. to the NL Pennant leading the NL in wins (20) & winning 19 more games in 1975 with seven shut outs, before becoming one of the games first top free agents.

The reigning NL Rookie of the Year, Matlack had a rough start in 1973 going 7-14 through July. He had just come off a win over the Cardinals in his last start & would go 7-2 through the rest of the season allowing a run or less five times. Tonight's game was one of those times.

In the bottom of the 1st inning, Matlack gave up a single to Willie Davis. He then retired seven in a row until a 4th inning lead off single by Manny Mota. He then retired eleven in a row before issuing his only walk of the night, a two out free pass to Joe Ferguson in the 7th. 

He went the distance tossing a two hitter, his second of three shut outs on the season. On July 10th, he had thrown his first career one hitter in a 1-0 shut out against the Astros. On this night Matlack went nine innings, allowing no runs on two hits, one walk & nine strike outs matching his season high up to that point. He was now 9-14 with a 3.30 ERA.

Andy Messersmith also had a fine evening, pitching eight innings allowing just a run on six hits. He struck out seven & walked three.

The only scoring of the game came in the 2nd inning when he walked John Milner then threw a wild pitch advancing him to second. After getting the next two outs, Mets catcher Jerry Grote singled to left field scoring Milner with the games lone run.


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