Amazin’ Look Back – April 24, 1973: Jon Matlack Loses Third Consecutive Start; Mets Bow To Houston 4-2

By Michael Lecolant

We last left the Mets relinquishing their second place standing during a 3-4 home stand, in which they dropped three of four to the Chicago Cubs, but bounced back to win two of three against Montreal.  Prior to yesterday’s off/travel day, the Mets and Expos wrapped up their series by splitting a double-header.  Montreal won game one, while the Mets produced their largest offensive output of the young season by scoring thirteen runs in game two.  Their highest run total in thirteen previous games was five.

The Mets arrived in Houston to begin a three game series against the Astros today.  During pre-game work-outs in the Astrodome, several Mets players caught up with old friend and former team mate, Tommie Agee, who now patrols left field for the Astros since being traded by the Mets last November.

Starting Lineups

On the hill, Jon Matlack opened the series for the Mets, opposed by Houston’s Ken Forsch.  Matlack has been struggling through a somewhat rough start, appearing to battle himself more so than opposing line-ups lately.  His troubles continued this evening.  The Astros touched Matlack for a 3-0 first inning lead, then tacked on one more run in the fourth.  He lasted six innings and surrendered eight total hits, of which four went for doubles.  Jon walked four batters, two intentionally, and struck out five.  His earned run average grew to a 4.13 mark.

June 05, 2011; Flushing, NY, USA; The New York Mets logo behind home plate before a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. The Mets defeated the Braves 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Andrew B. Fielding-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets bounced back with a pair of runs in the second inning off Ken Forsch.  An RBI double by Jerry Grote scored Wayne Garrett, and an RBI single by Ted Martinez drove in Grote.  But the Mets could muster nothing more against Forsch over his seven innings pitched, nor against Houston’s bullpen which pitched two innings of scoreless relief.  This was Jon Matlack’s third consecutive loss of the season.  His only victory came in the Mets second game.

If you consider that yesterday was an off day, then the fact Cleon Jones has missed the last three games should be distressing.  Mets fans are fearful of any potential missed time incurred by their oft injured left fielder.  Last season, Cleon missed fifty-six regular season games, mostly due to a leg injury.  Cleon last played on April 19th, in both games of a double-header against the Cubs.  Ed Kranepool has been playing left field in Cleon’s place.  Last season, that would have been John Milner‘s role to fill, with Eddie playing first.  But Yogi Berra is firmly committed to keeping The Hammer at first base this season.  And don’t look now, but Buddy Harrelson has also missed the last two games.  Teddy Martinez made a pair of starts in his place.

The series continues tomorrow with Jerry Koosman scheduled to face off against Houston’s Don Wilson.

The now 8-6 Mets currently reside in third place of the N.L. East, 1.5 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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