Wilson Reaches 100 Wins

July 30, 1974

Box Score   Play-by-Play

by Darrell Pittman

His two no-hitters for the Astros (in 1967 and 1969, respectively) were long behind him, but Don Wilson turned in a workmanlike performance on July 30, 1974, to become the second Astros pitcher to earn his 100th career victory, a mere three months after teammate Larry Dierker accomplished the same milestone. But where Dierker took 11 seasons to accomplish the feat, Wilson needed only eight.

In that game, Wilson pitched against the Cincinnati Reds, who were soon to achieve National League ascendancy, and legendary status as the "Big Red Machine." Wilson allowed only five hits and four earned runs over eight innings, while Houston bats feasted on the Reds' pitching for 13 hits and eight runs.

Tragically, Wilson's brilliant pitching career, and his life, ended all too soon. The following January, he was found dead in his car in the garage of his Houston home, having been overcome by carbon monoxide fumes. His young son was found dead in a bedroom above the garage, also overcome by fumes.

100 career victories
(c) Houston Astros

(c) Houston Astros

Wilson wins 100th game as Astros bomb Cincy
by Harry Shattuck, Houston Chronicle

July 30, 1974 - The Houston Astros began their nightly pregame batting practice.

Reserve catcher John Edwards took two swings and a pair of towering drives reached the right field seats. Pitcher Don Wilson twice cleared the left field wall. Utility infielder Dave Campbell hit what he called "my fourth homer of the season, all in batting practice."

"It's gonna be a hitter's night," somebody hollered.

And so it was. The Astros treated Cincinnati pitchers Fred Norman and Dick Baney the same as they did warmup moundsmen, opening a six-game road trip with an 8-4 win over the Reds.

Lee May plated three runs with two doubles and Cliff Johnson and Cesar Cedeno homered to guide a 13-hit offensive as Houston decisioned Norman, the Reds' 5-7 lefthander, for the first time in four meetings.

Wilson pitched a three-hitter until the ninth and received last-inning relief from Ken Forsch. The win was Wilson's 100th since coming up to the majors late in the 1966 season.

The Astros played with a rare aggressiveness. May and Johnson each barrelled into Reds' catcher Johnny Bench, knocking the ball from the all-star's mitt to score runs. Wilbur Howard in left field and Cedeno in center made stellar catches after long runs and Howard, who subbed for Bob Watson the final three innings, held Cincinnatian Tony Perez to a single on a ball which hit the wall on a fly.

"We took charge tonight," said Wilson. "That doubleheader loss to Los Angeles last Thursday in Houston inspired us. We bounced back the next night, took command early and won. Then we had a good series against San Francisco (2-1) and played aggressively tonight."

The Astros have seldom played so well against their chief National League West Division competition. They were 2-8 against second-place Cincinnati before Tuesday, the same mark they own with leading Los Angeles.

"If we had just split against those two clubs we'd be in the race," Houston Manager Preston Gomez said. "Those are the only clubs we haven't beaten. I'm not giving up because baseball is a game that can change from week to week. But if we're to have any chance, we must beat the Dodgers and Reds now."

Third-place Houston moved to within 6 1/2 games of Cincinnati and is 12 behind Los Angeles.

The Astros are 4-1 since Gomez removed Watson from the cleanup spot in the batting order, inserting May in that No. 4 position.

"Watson came to me and said he felt he wasn't helping the club, that he wasn't producing," Gomez said. "He suggested that since Lee May was hot, we might change the lineup. I think it was more of a psychological barrier than anything else for Watson. He said every time he went to bat he saw Greg Gross or Roger Metzger or Cedeno on base. And it was bothering him when he didn't drive the runner home."

May, who now owns 62 RBI (Watson has 51), says "It makes no difference to me where I hit. It's the same pitcher throwing out there, isn't it?"

"He's really swinging the bat well," Gomez praised May. "He's a hot-weather man. He likes to sweat. In the Astrodome you can get a little stiff because it gets cold in our dugout. The players need jackets. Maybe we should put in a heater for May."

The first baseman's average is up to .274 and, surprisingly, he has recently become difficult to strike out.

"Perez (Cincinnati's first baseman) and I have an agreement that the guy who gets his 100th strikeout first has to buy champagne for the other," May says. "He won it two years and I won it two or three. Bench joined us in the 100-club the last day one season when I was still with the Reds."

Perez has whiffed 72 times and May only 58 this year. "If I don't get to 100, it'll be the first year in a long time," May said with a smile.

Normally a free swinger, May changes his approach against Norman. "If you swing hard against Freddie, you look like a fool," he says. "He throws those slow pitches and you have to ease up on him."

Norman has given Houston only three runs in previous 1974 appearances. But this game he was second best to Wilson, who struck out nine in upping his record to 7-8.

The right-hander fanned 14 in an earlier game here this year and most of his top career performances have come against Cincinnati, including a no-hitter and a game with 18 strikeouts.

"They swing the bat," Wilson began to analyze his high strikeout totals against the Reds. "They take hard rips and when a team does that, I've got a chance to strike out a lot. They don't play for walks and they're not slap hitters. Pittsburgh is much the same way. If I'm right, I'll beat these teams. If not, they'll beat me badly."

"The Dodgers are completely different," Wilson continued. "Except for Jim Wynn and Joe Ferguson, they don't swing hard. They go for the opposite field."

Which does Wilson prefer to face? "A team like the Reds or Pirates," he says, "because I usually know the first inning how I'll do."

Home runs by Bench and Perez accounted for the only damage off Wilson unitl the ninth. "I did a stupid thing in our ninth inning," he said, "by running hard on a ground ball I hit. That took something out of me."

Two quick hits put Cincinnati, down 8-3, in position to rally. "A fresh man is better than a tired man," Gomez explained his move to Forsch, "and a four or five-run lead isn't much against this team."

An infield grounder scored one run but Forsch ended the game by coaxing a double play.

Box score

     Game of 7/30/1974 -- Houston at Cincinnati
     Courtesy of Retrosheet

  Houston            AB  R  H RBI    Cincinnati         AB  R  H RBI
Gross G, rf           4  1  2  0   Geronimo C, cf        4  0  0  0
Metzger R, ss         5  1  2  0   Rose P, lf            3  0  0  0
Cedeno C, cf          3  2  1  1   Morgan J, 2b          4  1  1  0
May L, 1b             5  1  2  3   Bench J, c            3  1  1  2
Watson B, lf          4  0  1  1   Perez T, 1b           4  2  2  1
Howard W, lf          1  0  0  0   Driessen D, 3b        4  0  1  0
Johnson C, c          3  2  2  1   Concepcion D, ss      4  0  0  1
Rader D, 3b           5  1  2  1   Griffey K, rf         2  0  0  0
Helms T, 2b           5  0  0  0   Norman F, p           1  0  0  0
Wilson D, p           5  0  1  1   Baney D, p            1  0  0  0
Forsch K, p           0  0  0  0   Kosco A, ph           0  0  0  0
                                   Borbon P, p           0  0  0  0
                                   Crowley T, ph         1  0  0  0
                     -- -- -- --                        -- -- -- --
                     40  8 13  8                        31  4  5  4

Houston          012 021 200 --  8
Cincinnati       200 000 101 --  4

  Houston              IP  H  R ER BB SO
Wilson D (W)*         8.0  5  4  4  4  9
Forsch K              1.0  0  0  0  1  0

  Cincinnati           IP  H  R ER BB SO
Norman F (L)+         4.0  7  5  5  3  1
Baney D               3.0  5  3  3  1  1
Borbon P              2.0  1  0  0  0  1
  * Pitched to 2 batters in 9th
  + Pitched to 2 batters in 5th

E -- Concepcion D, Geronimo C
DP -- Houston 1
LOB -- Houston 10, Cincinnati 5
2B -- Morgan J, Metzger R, May L 2, Rader D, Driessen D
HR -- Bench J, Johnson C, Cedeno C, Perez T
SB -- Cedeno C
CS -- Gross G
HBP -- by Borbon P (Johnson C)
T -- 2:30
A -- 27057

Play by Play

Game of Tuesday, 7/30/1974 -- Houston Astros at Cincinnati Reds
Courtesy of Retrosheet

Starting Lineups:

   Houston                       Cincinnati
1. rf Greg Gross                 cf Cesar Geronimo         
2. ss Roger Metzger              lf Pete Rose              
3. cf Cesar Cedeno               2b Joe Morgan            
4. 1b Lee May                     c Johnny Bench           
5. lf Bob Watson                 1b Tony Perez             
6.  c Cliff Johnson              3b Dan Driessen          
7. 3b Doug Rader                 ss Dave Concepcion       
8. 2b Tommy Helms                rf Ken Griffey           
9.  p Don Wilson                  p Fred Norman           

ASTROS 1ST: G.Gross singled to center field; G.Gross was caught
stealing second (J.Bench to J.Morgan); R.Metzger singled to
center field; C.Cedeno flied to P.Rose; L.May flied to
K.Griffey; 0 R, 2 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 0, Reds 0.

REDS 1ST: C.Geronimo struck out; P.Rose grounded out (R.Metzger
to L.May); J.Morgan doubled to left field; J.Bench homered to
leftfield [J.Morgan scored]; T.Perez struck out; 2 R, 2 H, 0 E,
0 LOB.  Astros 0, Reds 2.

ASTROS 2ND: B.Watson flied to K.Griffey; C.Johnson homered to
leftfield; D.Rader flied to K.Griffey; T.Helms flied to
C.Geronimo; 1 R, 1 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 1, Reds 2.

REDS 2ND: D.Driessen flied to B.Watson; D.Concepcion grounded
out (R.Metzger to L.May); K.Griffey grounded out (T.Helms to
L.May); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 1, Reds 2.

ASTROS 3RD: D.Wilson struck out; G.Gross walked; R.Metzger
doubled to left field [G.Gross to third]; C.Cedeno was walked
intentionally; L.May doubled to left field [G.Gross scored,
R.Metzger scored, C.Cedeno to third]; B.Watson popped to
D.Concepcion; C.Johnson popped to J.Morgan; 2 R, 2 H, 0 E, 2
LOB.  Astros 3, Reds 2.

REDS 3RD: F.Norman popped to R.Metzger in foul territory;
C.Geronimo struck out; P.Rose flied to C.Cedeno; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E,
0 LOB.  Astros 3, Reds 2.

ASTROS 4TH: D.Rader popped to J.Bench in foul territory;
T.Helms popped to J.Morgan; D.Wilson reached on an error by
D.Concepcion [D.Wilson to first]; G.Gross singled to left field
[D.Wilson to second]; R.Metzger flied to P.Rose; 0 R, 1 H, 1 E,
2 LOB.  Astros 3, Reds 2.

REDS 4TH: J.Morgan popped to D.Rader; J.Bench walked; T.Perez
struck out; D.Driessen struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros
3, Reds 2.

ASTROS 5TH: C.Cedeno walked; C.Cedeno stole second; L.May
doubled to left-center [C.Cedeno scored]; D.BANEY REPLACED
F.NORMAN (PITCHING); B.Watson singled to center field [L.May
scored, B.Watson to third (on throw)]; C.Johnson walked; D.Rader
struck out; T.Helms popped to C.Geronimo; D.Wilson forced
C.Johnson (D.Concepcion to J.Morgan) [D.Wilson to first]; 2 R, 2
H, 0 E, 2 LOB.  Astros 5, Reds 2.

REDS 5TH: D.Concepcion struck out; K.Griffey flied to C.Cedeno;
D.Baney struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 5, Reds 2.

ASTROS 6TH: G.Gross lined to D.Concepcion; R.Metzger flied to
C.Geronimo; C.Cedeno homered to leftfield; L.May flied to
K.Griffey; 1 R, 1 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 6, Reds 2.

REDS 6TH: C.Geronimo struck out; P.Rose walked; J.Morgan popped
to C.Johnson in foul territory; J.Bench forced P.Rose (R.Metzger
to T.Helms) [J.Bench to first]; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 6,
Reds 2.

ASTROS 7TH: B.Watson flied to C.Geronimo; C.Johnson singled to
shortstop; D.Rader doubled to right-center [C.Johnson scored];
T.Helms flied to C.Geronimo; D.Wilson singled to center field
[D.Rader scored, D.Wilson to second (error by C.Geronimo)];
G.Gross flied to P.Rose; 2 R, 3 H, 1 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 8, Reds 2.

homered to leftfield; D.Driessen lined to W.Howard; D.Concepcion
flied to C.Cedeno; K.Griffey walked; A.KOSCO BATTED FOR D.BANEY;
A.Kosco walked [K.Griffey to second]; C.Geronimo flied to
W.Howard; 1 R, 1 H, 0 E, 2 LOB.  Astros 8, Reds 3.

struck out; C.Cedeno flied to P.Rose; L.May flied to C.Geronimo;
0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 8, Reds 3.

REDS 8TH: P.Rose popped to T.Helms; J.Morgan popped to
C.Johnson in foul territory; J.Bench struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E,
0 LOB.  Astros 8, Reds 3.

ASTROS 9TH: W.Howard flied to P.Rose; C.Johnson was hit by a
pitch; D.Rader singled to center field [C.Johnson to second];
T.Helms lined to K.Griffey; D.Wilson grounded out (J.Morgan to
T.Perez); 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 2 LOB.  Astros 8, Reds 3.

REDS 9TH: T.Perez singled to left field; D.Driessen doubled to
center field [T.Perez to third]; K.FORSCH REPLACED D.WILSON
(PITCHING); D.Concepcion grounded out (T.Helms to L.May)
[T.Perez scored, D.Driessen to third]; K.Griffey walked;
T.CROWLEY BATTED FOR P.BORBON; T.Crowley grounded into a double
play (R.Metzger to T.Helms to L.May) [K.Griffey out at second];
1 R, 2 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 8, Reds 4.

Final Totals      R   H   E  LOB
 Astros           8  13   0  10
 Reds             4   5   2   5