Thursday, April 10, 2014

Game of the Day (4/9/84)

A's 4, Blue Jays 3. Original Blue Jay Jim Clancy, who was kicking off his worst season in quite a while, against Tim Conroy, who had a decent 1983 at age 23 and was on his way to... not really anything.

Despite a fairly undistinguished pitching matchup, the game had minimal offense in the early innings. Both starters were perfect through 2, and both allowed the second batter of the third inning to reach, then induced a double play from the next hitter. (The Jays hit into the more unusual double play, as Alfredo Griffin flied to right and Dave Collins was doubled off of first.)

Conroy recorded two quick outs in the fourth; he then allowed a single to George Bell, wild pitched him to second, and walked Cliff Johnson before striking out Jesse Barfield to end the inning. Rickey Henderson led off the bottom of the inning with a double, but didn't advance past there as Clancy induced a groundout, walked Joe Morgan, and coaxed a double play grounder from Carney Lansford. The starters combined to allow one two-out walk in the fifth, keeping the game scoreless.

The sixth was more eventful for both pitchers. Conroy allowed one-out singles to Damaso Garcia and Lloyd Moseby, putting runners at the corners. Bell fouled out, Johnson walked to load the bases, and Barfield hit into a force to leave all three runners on. Clancy quickly notched the first two outs of the home sixth, but Murphy walked, and Morgan, Lansford, and Bruce Bochte hit consecutive singles, the last two of which drove in a run each to open the scoring.

Conroy got a flyout and a popup to start the top of the seventh. Collins and Griffin followed with singles, chasing Conroy from the mound; Chris Codiroli threw a wild pitch that moved the runners to second and third and Garcia singled both of them home to tie the game. Clancy worked an easy seventh to keep the teams even, and Bell greeted reliever Bill Caudill with a leadoff homer to give Toronto its first lead of the day.

It was not to last. Murphy reached on a Garcia error to open the bottom of the eighth. Clancy was then pulled for a pitcher making his second career appearance - one Jimmy Key. (Yes, that's two days in a row that the best game included the second MLB outing for a future star pitcher.) Key got Morgan to hit into a force, and was promptly pulled for Dennis Lamp, who allowed a go-ahead two-run homer to Lansford. Caudill allowed a one-out single to Collins in the ninth, but he was immediately caught stealing, and Ernie Whitt struck out to end the game.

Two mediocre pitchers (or, in Clancy's case, a good pitcher having a mediocre year) taking on two pretty good offenses. So of course it's a pitcher's duel deep into the game. But the offenses woke up late, leading to the multiple rapid swings of fortune that you so often see in a Game of the Day selection. It may not be a 13-inning classic like yesterday's, but any game that has four game-tying or go-ahead rallies in a three-inning span from 6 to 8 is going to grade out well, and deservedly so.

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