Two years after yesterday's TDAH, the Astros opened the 1977 season against the Braves once again. This time, the game went 11 innings before catcher Joe Ferguson hit a walk-off solo home run to lead off the bottom of the 11th.
J.R. Richard started for Houston, pretty much matching Andy Messersmith in every pitching category. They both went nine innings and gave up two runs. They both walked two and struck out seven. Richard gave up one more hit, which dropped his Game Score down two points to 70. Otherwise, it was quite the pitching duel.
The difference turned on Ken Forsch pitching two innings of scoreless relief work, striking out one and allowing one hit. Forsch picked up the victory, his first of five that season. Bob Johnson took the loss for Atlanta and didn't have nearly the smooth outing that Forsch did, giving up two hits (including the bomb to Ferguson) while walking two and striking out one.
Willie Crawford had a double while Bob Watson hit a triple for Houston. Jose Cruz drove in one of the runs with a sac fly in the bottom of the first while Crawford's double drove in the second. That tied the game at 2-2 and led to the extra inning heroics by Ferguson, who hit 15 more that season in either his best or second-best season in his career.
Houston went on to finish 81-81 that season, finishing in third place behind the Dodgers and Cincinnati. Atlanta went on to lose 101 games. It was the first time since 1935 that the franchise had lost at least 100 games.