Sunday, April 13, 2014

Game of the Day (4/12/84)

Angels 3, A's 2. California sent 38-year-old Geoff Zahn to the mound; he was approaching the end of his career, but would still go on to lead the majors in shutouts this season. Oakland countered with Mike Warren, who was 15 years younger than Zahn but still had fewer major league starts remaining to him than his veteran opponent, which should pretty much tell you what you need to know about him. (In case it doesn't: He was not very good.)

Gary Pettis started the game with a double against Warren, and came around to score the first run of the day on a pair of fly balls. Rickey Henderson led off the bottom of the inning with a single, but two forceouts and a flyout kept his team from matching the initial tally. Both starters worked around lone singles in the second as well.

The Angels tripled their lead in the third, starting with a single by Dick Schofield the younger and walks by Pettis and Rod Carew. Fred Lynn then hit into a double play, bringing Schofield home, and Doug DeCinces struck an RBI single to bring in the team's third run before Reggie Jackson struck out to end the inning. Oakland mounted a brief rally in the bottom of the third, with one-out singles by Henderson and Joe Morgan, but Davey Lopes flied to second and Morgan was doubled off of first to end the threat. (I assume this was an impressive play by California second baseman Rob Wilfong, otherwise Morgan getting doubled up on an infield flyout is inexcusable.) Both teams hit singles in the fourth, but Bob Boone was caught stealing (as he was in almost 60% of his career attempts), and Carney Lansford was erased on a double play. The starters both worked perfect fifths.

The top of the sixth brought a brief Angel threat, with a two-out single by Jackson and a walk to Brian Downing, but Wilfong flied out to strand them. Zahn was spotless again in the sixth, and Oakland relieved Warren with Chris Codiroli, who opened his appearance with a 1-2-3 seventh.

The A's finally got to Zahn in the bottom of the seventh, as Bruce Bochte hit a one-out single and Dave Kingman followed with a two-run homer. Mike Heath singled with two away, chasing Zahn in favor of Jim Slaton, who ended the inning without further incident. Both teams squandered one-out baserunners in the eighth, and Tom Burgmeier set the Angels down in order in the ninth.

Slaton walked Bochte to start the bottom of the ninth, and allowed a one-out single to Dwayne Murphy that put the tying run in scoring position. Luis Sanchez took over pitching duties with Heath coming up, and ended the game by inducing a 1-6-3 double play from the Oakland catcher.

This is not a classic by any means; in fact, according to win expectancy, the A's were never favored to win at any point, which is not a favorable indicator of game quality. And yet, they kept the outcome in some semblance of doubt until the end, getting the tying run on base in the seventh and eighth, and into scoring position in the ninth. That wouldn't normally be enough to come out on top of a full day of baseball, but there were only four games played on April 12, which will sometimes result in a "take what you can get" situation. And in this case, what you could get was not half bad.

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