Behind the steady arm of Jon Matlack, the New York Mets evened the NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds, scoring a flurry of runs late in a 5-0 Game 2 victory at Riverfront Stadium. Don Gullett took the loss for the not-so-Big Red Machine.
Matlack and Gullett were locked in a pitchers’ duel right from the get-go, as they retired three innings worth of batters with ease. The breakthrough for the visitors came in the top of the fourth inning, as Rusty Staub got ahold of one and sent it into the bleachers for a 1-0 Mets lead. That pitch was the only mistake Gullett would make, but Cincy skipper Sparky Anderson lifted his starter after five innings, sending up an ill-fated pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth.
If pitching with a one-run lead was having any stress effect on Matlack, the 23-year-old lefty did a great job of masking it. The Pride of West Chester, Pennsylvania turned in the finest start of his young career, a two-hit shutout with three walks and nine strikeouts. Andy Kosco was the only Red to find success of Matlack in the game, as he accounted for both the home team’s singles.
New York finally managed to get its starter some breathing room in the top of the ninth inning. Felix Millan and Staub got on with a one-out single and walk off Tom Hall, and Millan scored on Cleon Jones’s RBI single. Staub and Jones advanced to second and third on the throw home, so new pitcher Pedro Borbon intentionally walked John Milner. Jerry Grote made him pay with a two-run single, and Bud Harrelson brought home the fourth and final run of the frame on a single two batters later.
The starting lineups for the game looked like this:
New York Mets
|1||Wayne Garrett||3B||1||Pete Rose||LF|
|2||Felix Millan||2B||2||Joe Morgan||2B|
|3||Rusty Staub||RF||3||Tony Perez||1B|
|4||Cleon Jones||LF||4||Johnny Bench||C|
|5||John Milner||1B||5||Andy Kosco||RF|
|6||Jerry Grote||C||6||Dan Driessen||3B|
|7||Don Hahn||CF||7||Cesar Geronimo||CF|
|8||Bud Harrelson||SS||8||Darrel Chaney||SS|
|9||Jon Matlack||P||9||Don Gullett||P|
After the Mets completed their impressive victory, Bud Harrelson had a choice quip about Jon Matlack’s steller performance. “He made the Big Red Machine look like me hitting today!” An innocent pass it may have been, but will the Machine take it as fighting words as the series shifts to Shea Stadium? Only time will tell, but Harrelson and company are sure looking good after stealing one of two in Cincinnati. Tomorrow pits Jerry Koosman and Ross Grimsley in the fight to the World Series.