September 1, 1974, was a unique day in the history of the New York Mets and career of Tug McGraw. Known for finishing games, he made a start against the Atlanta Braves to begin the final month of the season.
What was especially unique is about this outing was McGraw went from start to finish. From the Ralph Garr single and Marty Perez reaching on an error to begin the game, McGraw managed to mow down the Braves in the only shutout of his MLB career.
Tug McGraw is one of the great NY Mets closers and managed to toss one shutout in his last days with the team
Starting games wasn’t especially unique for McGraw who made 39 total in his career. Even after the Mets traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies following the 1974 season, he’d start 3 more.
Relief pitchers were built differently back then. McGraw had multiple years of topping 100 innings without a single or only a start or two in his career. The idea of a pitch count was preposterous. Innings limits only took place when a pitcher no longer had a pulse.
The game has been spoiled already for you, but let’s see how McGraw got out of the early jam. The error, by McGraw on a bunt attempt by Perez, put runners on first and second. Darrell Evans stepped up to the plate and McGraw fanned the first batter of the game. Next up was Henry Aaron who hit into a two-for-once special. Bud Harrelson to Felix Millan to John Milner ended the inning. The three would coincidentally hit in the same order to begin the bottom half of the first inning.
This low-scoring 3-0 Mets win was far from a productive game by their offense. They scored their first run in the bottom of the fourth when a fly out off the bat of Benny Ayala turned into a sacrifice double play. An inning later, Harrelson knocked in a run helped out in large part to a passed ball during his at-bat. The Mets would score with Millan at the plate on a fielder’s choice for the second out of the inning.
It didn’t turn out to be a spectacularly pitched game by McGraw who stuck out just 3 batters. The key for him was allowing only 5 hits and issuing a single walk, an intentional one to Dusty Baker to load the bases for future Mets skipper Davey Johnson.
Not even Baseball-Reference has the number of pitches thrown in this game. The 9 innings did last only 2 hours and 11 minutes, though. That’s all it took for McGraw to pitch the one and only shutout of his MLB career on this date in 1974.