Saturday, April 12, 2014

Game of the Day (4/11/84)

Giants 2, Pirates 1 (10). John Tudor started for the Pirates; it was the year before he threw the most shutouts of any pitcher since the mounds were lowered. The Giants countered with Bill Laskey, the year before he continued being mediocre pitcher Bill Laskey.

Marvell Wynne led off the top of the first with a double, and made it to third on a one-out grounder before Laskey recovered to strand him. Tudor's first inning was even more eventful, as Manny Trillo singled and Jack Clark walked with one out. Next, Jeffrey Leonard hit into a force and then stole second to put a pair of runners in scoring position. Chili Davis whiffed to leave both of them where they were.

The next three half-innings passed without a baserunner, a string that ended when Tudor walked Laskey to open the bottom of the third. A bunt moved him to second, but a flyout, an intentional walk to Clark, and a strikeout left him there. Pittsburgh would open the scoring in the next inning, as Johnny Ray led off with a hit, Jason Thompson singled him to third with one out, and a two-out wild pitch brought him the rest of the way in.

Bob Brenly walked and was caught stealing in the bottom of the fourth, and Dale Berra's single made him the only runner to reach in either half of the fifth. The same combination of Pittsburgh hitters that had produced the game's only run tried again in the sixth, as Ray led off with a hit and was bunted to second, which was followed by an intentional pass to Thompson. But the next two hitters went out in order to keep the Giants close.

They got closer when Trillo led off the bottom of the sixth with a game-tying homer. Tudor retired the next three hitters, and was lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the seventh after a one-out Berra single; Brian Harper made the least of the opportunity, grounding into an inning-ending double play. Facing reliever Lee Tunnell, Joel Youngblood led off with a single and Brenly struck out. A pair of pinch hitters followed; Gene Richards walked, moving the go-ahead run to second, but Al Oliver hit into an inning-ending double play.

Gary Lavelle relieved in the top of the eighth and allowed a leadoff hit to Wynne, who moved to second on a bunt but progressed no further. Tunnell retired the side in order in the bottom of the eighth, despite Trillo getting a second chance on a foul ball error. Lavelle was spotless in the ninth, while Tunnell circumvented a two-out Youngblood hit. Berra led off the tenth with a single, but the next three Pirate hitters were dismissed, including pinch hitter Lee Lacy.

Lacy's pinch hitting appearance meant that Tunnell's day was done. Cecilio Guante took his place and promptly walked pinch hitter Dusty Baker, then allowed a single to Oliver. Kent Tekulve was immediately summoned from the pen and coaxed a forceout of the lead runner off the bat of Johnnie LeMaster, but Trillo worked a walk to load the bases, and Clark singled to score pinch runner Joe Pittman with the winning run.

After two straight days with best games that had 3.74 WPLs, this one scores all of... 3.75. It's also the second consecutive headliner featuring the same two teams, both of which, incidentally, would end the season in last place. In timeline-related news, the first reliever out of each bullpen pitched 3 full innings, which would be absolutely unheard of in 2014 (especially when both starters lasted pretty deep into the game). Naturally, both of them pitched marvelously; it was the second and third relievers that got Pittsburgh into trouble.

The real story in this game, however, was the hitting with runners in scoring position. There were two runs scored in the first 9 innings of the game; one came in on a wild pitch, the other on a solo homer. Neither team had a single hit with a runner at second or third in that timeframe. Which means that the game's first hit with a runner in scoring position came in its last plate appearance, breaking a joint 0 for 15 stretch.

Now, I seriously doubt that's a record - but it wouldn't surprise me unduly if it were at least the longest game-starting combined o-fer with RISP of the 1984 season. Sadly, I lack the time and inclination to do a manual count to find out for sure, but if anyone feels the need to find the answer, I would be delighted to hear it.

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