METS 4, PADRES 0
Wednesday, August 16, 1978 at Shea Stadium
Game 1567 – 7/23/17
A Senior Citizens Day crowd was on hand at Shea Stadium on Wednesday afternoon to witness Pat Zachry pitch the 13th one-hitter in Mets history, a sparkling 4-0 shutout win over the Padres at a windswept Shea Stadium in New York. The victory improved Zachry’s season record to 14-9, and it was the first one-hit gem thrown by a Mets pitcher since former staff ace Tom Seaver blanked the Cubs 6-0 on April 17th of last year.
The only hit allowed by Zachry was a solid single by Gene Richards with two out in the sixth; Richards then stole second, but was left stranded when Ozzie Smith popped out to Zachry to end the frame. Beyond that, only two other Padres batters were able to reach base: lead-off hitter Richards opened the game with a walk, and pinch-hitter Derrel Thomas coaxed another walk from Zachry to lead off the eighth. Beyond that, not one San Diego player came close to reaching base; only four outs were recorded by Met outfielders, and one of those was a line-drive snare by left fielder Steve Henderson which doubled up Thomas at first after his eighth-inning base on balls. Four of Zachry’s outs came via strikeout, giving him 20 for the month and 127 on the year, by far the Mets leader in that category.
The Mets put the game away early, scoring four runs in the opening frame on four hits and a pair of walks while batting around off San Diego starter Bob Owchinko (9-7). Two of those hits included a 2-run triple by Lenny Randle and a 2-run home run from veteran Ed Kranepool, who drove an 0-2 pitch from Owchinko well over the fence in right-center—despite a strong wind blowing in through the stadium’s horseshoe gap in center—to record only his second HR of the season. It was a rare start for Kranepool, who was playing in only his fifth game as a first baseman this year, and his first as a fill-in for an injured Willie Montanez, who was hurt during Tuesday’s game after running into the Mets dugout chasing a foul off the bat of Jerry Turner.
The Padres, meanwhile, continue to struggle at the plate in August, batting just .221 as a team and suffering not only their first one-hit game of the season, but their first since 1975, when Cubs pitchers Steve Stone and Tom Dettore shut them down on July 19th. With only two players hitting above .237 for the month (Jerry Turner at .388 and Bill Almon at .289), the Padres have somehow managed to keep pace with the division-leading Dodgers in the NL West, holding onto second place and remaining just two games back leading into Wednesday’s game.
As for the Mets, it was a shining moment in the midst of a not-so-memorable season, and for Zachry, who pitched in this year’s All-Star Game and has an outside shot at twenty wins, it was perhaps a hint of promising things to come, and made last year’s trade from the Reds for future Hall of Famer and fan favorite Seaver a not-so-lopsided one after all.
• The game was played in the late afternoon at site AZ18 in Peoria, Arizona, on the living room table while I listened to Heartbeat City by The Cars on CD.
• This was the 69th game played at site AZ18, good for 7th place on the all-time games hosted list and just three shy of 6th-place AZ3.
• This was the fourth game ever played on this date, and the first since 2016.
• My friend Reid, who has managed in four SP78 games, celebrated his 54th birthday today; click here to see how he fared in those games.
• This was the second game of a three-game mid-week series between the two teams. The Padres took the first game 2-1.
• The win pushed the Mets to two full games ahead of the heel-knipping Cardinals in the NL East.
• Mets outfielder Gil Flores made his SP78 debut in this game, after an August 14th call-up from Tidewater when Elliott Maddox was placed on the DL with an injury. It was also his Mets debut, after a trade brought him to New York from California in exchange for Pepe Mangual. He started in right field and batted eighth in today’s game, and rapped a base hit in his first at-bat.
• There really were strong winds blowing in from center field during the game: it was another hot day here in Peoria, so I had my tabletop tower fan cooling me off from the center-field edge of the game board while I played.
• When Ed Kranepool smacked his first-inning home run, I went on-line to see how many he’d hit during the actual 1978 season (3), and found a news story from March of this year about his battle with kidney failure, and how he was planning to sell his 1969 World Series ring to help cover medical costs. I could find no updates on the situation, so I have no idea how well he’s doing, or if the ring was ever sold. Hope you’re doing okay, Ed!
• And how about this: while researching photos for this game, I found this shot of Jerry Koosman, and discovered it was taken during this very same Padres-Mets game I’d played this afternoon, on August 16, 1978! It’s too bad I didn’t know about his ahead of time, because I would’ve started Koosman for the Mets instead of Zachry. In the real-life match-up, Bob Owchinko made the start (like he did in the SP78 contest) and earned the win in a 2-1 Padres victory, won by SD when Derrel Thomas drilled a 2-run home run off Skip Lockwood with two out in the ninth.