Friday, July 21, 1978 at Arlington Stadium
Game 1252 – 9/24/12

Rangers ace Jon Matlack collected his 15th win, thanks in part to a 7-run Texas outburst in the second inning, and Richie Zisk and Johnny Grubb connected for home runs to lead the Rangers to a 9-6 win over the Brewers at Arlington Stadium.

After the Brewers had taken a 1-0 advantage in the first, the Rangers stormed back with seven runs in the second off Milwaukee’s Andy Replogle (4-1), highlighted by Bump Wills’ bases-loaded single, which scored two, Bobby Bonds’ bases-clearing triple, and a 2-run home run from Zisk which proved to be the game’s deciding hit.

Matlack’s performance was not a smooth one, however, even with an 8-1 lead after five; possibly due to the long second inning for the Rangers, Matlack began to lose his effectiveness in the sixth, and allowed a quartet of singles and a 3-run homer from Ben Oglivie to start the frame. With the Brewers now making things interesting at 8-4 and plenty of time left in the game, Texas manager Billy Hunter opted to play it safe, pulling a tired Matlack in favor of Reggie Cleveland, who worked the team out of the two-on, no-out jam and pitched a total of two strong innings before departing after seven with a 9-4 Texas lead.

With Len Barker now on the mound for the home squad, the Brewers battled their way back into the game once again, scoring one run on a passed ball by Jim Sundberg and another on a base hit by Milwaukee catcher Buck Martinez. But with two baserunners on and two out, Barker fooled pinch-hitter Cecil Cooper on a change-up, which caught him looking for the inning’s third out and ended the Brewer threat in the eighth. Steve Comer came on to pitch the ninth and coaxed Oglivie into a 4-6-3 double play to end the contest and earn his fifth save, preserving the 9-6 Texas win.

Said Matlack to reporters after the game, “I don’t deserve this one…I stunk it up out there.” With his elbow sunk in a bucket of ice water, he added, “And not only that, my arm hurts.”

For the Rangers, it was their 4th victory in a row, and the first in this three-game weekend series against the Brewers, which continues tomorrow and Sunday with games starting at 7:35 pm each night.

Game Notes

• The game was played at night at site AZ8 in Peoria, Arizona, on the living room table while I listened to my homemade Oshman’s Intercom Tape 1987 CD.

• The Rangers are beginning to dominate their division: their four consecutive wins have put them 3½ games ahead of the Twins and 5½ ahead of the Royals in the race for first place in the AL West.

• Jon Matlack’s 15 wins is tops in the majors.

• Before tonight, Brewers reliever Randy Stein had not pitched since July 9th.

• The game was played on September 24th, filling in the last remaining date in September where I’d never played an SP78 game.

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