Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Game of the Day (4/14/84)

Twins 4, Mariners 3 (11). Same teams and score as yesterday, but now with two additional innings! Minnesota pitched Albert Williams in (deservedly) the last season of his career; Seattle selected a 23-year-old lefty making the second of what would eventually be 428 career starts. Mark Langston would go on to a 17-win rookie season in which he led the AL in both strikeouts and walks.

Seattle opened the early lead when Jack Perconte led off the first with a single, stole second, and moved to third on a groundout; Williams then walked Gorman Thomas before Pat Putnam's grounder brought Perconte home. Langston walked two Twins in the bottom of the inning, but left them on, and the Mariners extended their advantage in the second as Al Cowens singled, move to third on a steal-and-error combo, and scored on Phil Bradley's groundout.

Langston hit a batter in the second, but kept Minnesota hitless until Mickey Hatcher's fourth inning single. Williams had settled in to contain the Mariner offense in the meantime, working around a walk in the fourth. He permitted singles to Bob Kearney in the fifth and Thomas in the sixth, but both of them were thrown out trying to steal.

Langston recorded the first two outs of the sixth before allowing anyone to reach in the inning. However, that was followed by a Kent Hrbek single, a Hatcher double that put the tying runs in scoring position, and a game-tying two-run triple by Dave Engle. After Gary Gaetti grounded out to end the inning, Seattle threatened in the seventh, as Alvin Davis and Bradley singled to put two on with one out. Kearney flied (or possibly lined, as my confidence in the play-by-play precision from 1984 is not ironclad) back to the mound for an inning-ending double play.

The Twins mounted an even more serious scoring chance in the bottom of the seventh, starting with a Tim Laudner walk and a Lenny Faedo single. Darrell Brown bunted the runners to second and third, Teufel was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Bob Stoddard replaced Langston (which is understandable, given the starter's questionable control and the fact that a walk would force in the go-ahead run). Stoddard induced a double play ball from Tom Brunansky to end the inning with the tie still intact.

Pete Filson and Stoddard both faced the minimum in the eighth; Filson hit Perconte with a pitch, but then picked him off, and nobody else reached in either half of the inning. Filson also worked a spotless ninth, while Stoddard permitted a leadoff hit to Gaetti and a bunt that moved him up, then intentionally walked pinch hitter Jim Eisenreich before working out of the jam.

Ron Washington took over at shortstop in the tenth, as Eisenreich had been hitting for Faedo, the starter at the position. The substitution made no difference in this particular inning, as Cowens led off with a home run to put Seattle back in front. Spike Owen doubled two outs later, but Perconte flied out to leave him at second. Stoddard notched the first two outs quickly in the bottom of the inning, but Hatcher then reached on a Larry Milbourne error, Engle singled, and Gaetti singled as well to bring Hatcher in with the tying run.

Ron Davis replaced Filson in the top of the eleventh and set Seattle's hitters down in order. Washington then stepped up to the plate to lead off the bottom of the inning against Stoddard. With a career slugging percentage of .344 entering the '84 season, he was anything but a noted power hitter - and yet he homered, giving him his only career walkoff blast and one of only 20 total career homers.

Despite the loss, Langston's strong start was a promising sign for the Mariners; between him and Alvin Davis, Seattle would end the '84 season with the 1-2 finishers in the Rookie of the Year voting. Langston also marks the third future star pitcher to make his second MLB appearance in a Game of the Day within the first two weeks of 1984, although his outing was obviously much more important than Jose Rijo and Jimmy Key's cameos.

Combine Langston with an extra-inning comeback and an unlikely Ron Washington walkoff, and you've got one of the best games in the season's early going.

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