Thursday, April 17, 2014

Game of the Day (4/16/84)

Dodgers 5, Astros 4. LA started the game with veteran Jerry Reuss, who was 35 and on the way to his worst season in a while, but also had another half dozen years left in his arm. Houston turned to Mike Scott, who at 29 and in his sixth season was still a year away from his remarkable renaissance.

Scott was perfect in the top of the first, while Reuss allowed only a two out walk to Jose Cruz. In the top of the second, Scott allowed a single and steal to Mike Marshall, then walked Greg Brock before escaping the inning. Reuss threw a 1-2-3 second, which meant that the Dodger runs in the top of the third were the first of the game. Reuss led off the inning with a single, and Steve Sax matched him. Terry Whitfield grounded out, advancing both runners. Ken Landreaux reached on an error by Phil Garner, scoring Reuss, and Pedro Guerrero followed with a sac fly, scoring Sax.

Reuss gave up a leadoff hit to Craig Reynolds in the third and saw him advance to third on a pair of productive outs before a third, inherently unproductive out left him there. Reuss and Sax both singled again in the top of the fourth, but this time the hits came with two outs, so Scott was able to prevent them from scoring. Reuss worked around a Ray Knight double in the fourth, and Scott reached on a strikeout/wild pitch in the fifth but also failed to score.

LA extended its lead in the top of the sixth on one-out singles by Bill Russell, Mike Scioscia, and Reuss. Sax then hit into a double play to end the inning, and the failure to take additional advantage of the opportunity was highlighted by the bottom of the inning.

Enos Cabell, Cruz, Jerry Mumphrey, and Knight started the home sixth with four consecutive singles, bringing in a pair of runs and chasing Reuss from the mound. Orel Hershiser relieved and Garner greeted him with a sac bunt, moving the runners to second and third. Alan Ashby was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Reynolds made the Dodgers pay for that decision with a go-ahead two-run double. Carlos Diaz replaced Hershiser and retired the next two hitters, but plenty of damage had already been done.

Mike Madden succeeded Scott in the seventh and retired the Dodgers in order. Diaz walked Cruz, saw him move to third on a steal-and-error, and walked Mumphrey in the bottom of the inning. Knight hit a grounder to second that got Cruz thrown out at home, and Pat Zachry relieved Diaz (as part of a double switch, with cleanup hitter Pedro Guerrero also coming out, because why would you want your best hitter in the lineup while you're behind?) and ended the inning with a walk and a groundout.

Frank DiPino allowed a Russell single-and-steal in the eighth, but nothing else; Zachry allowed a Bill Doran single but got a double play from Kevin Bass (a 2-3 flyout double play, no less, which... was with Doran running, I hope, because otherwise that's highly unaware baserunning). DiPino was still pitching to open the ninth, and retired the first hitter easily enough. But Sax followed with a single, and Candy Maldonado matched him; Sax took third, and Maldonado moved to second when the Astros threw to third. Jose Morales was intentionally walked to load the bases and replaced by pinch runner Rafael Landestoy, and Dave Anderson hit for Zachry. (Remember, this would have been Pedro Guerrero's spot in the order; he was one of the best hitters in baseball in the mid '80s.) Anderson popped up to third for the second out, leaving the game in the hands of Mike Marshall.

The ensuing play ended with a runner getting thrown out at home to end the inning. Unfortunately for the Astros, that runner was Landestoy, who started the play on first; the other two Dodgers on the bases had already scored ahead of Marshall's go-ahead double. Burt Hooton retired the Astros in order to end the game.

Apart from the fact that this is the second game I've written about in two days in which the winning team double-switched out its cleanup hitter and star, the most notable part of this one is Jerry Reuss's career day.

Wait, his what now? Jerry Reuss made 547 career starts (31st all-time). There's no way his best one was a 5-inning, 4-run outing. The man threw 39 shutouts, for starters.

It obviously wasn't the best day of Reuss's career on the mound - but it arguably was his best at the plate, where he went 3 for 3, drove in one run and scored another. It was one of only two 3-hit games in his career; the other included a double, but also an out, and was missing the run scored. It also ended in a tie, which is irrelevant to the issue at hand but is unusual for a baseball game that took place in 1983.

Whether it was his best day as a hitter or not, Jerry Reuss had 3 hits, a run, and an RBI in a game his team won by a single run. That would be pretty excellent even if there wasn't also a ninth-inning comeback - and there was one of those too.

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