Friday, May 2, 2014

Game of the Day (5/1/84)

Dodgers 3, Giants 2 (11).

This one veered into oddity before the game even began. The Dodgers started Burt Hooton against San Francisco's Randy Lerch; that's not the odd part, because both of them spent most of their careers as starters. However, they spent very little of 1984 as starters - Hooton made only 6 starts that season (against 48 relief appearances), while Lerch started a mere 4 games (and relieved 33 times). Based on those numbers alone, the odds that a game in which both Hooton and Lerch appeared in 1984 would be started by both of them are 4/333, which produces the rather satisfying decimal form of .012012 (repeating those three digits infinitely, as do all fractions of 333).

Math aside, you don't often see both teams turn to emergency pitchers at the same time. It's as if the Dodgers and Giants forgot they had a game scheduled and their entire starting rotations were out golfing.

Despite not being recently accustomed to the role, both Lerch and Hooton began the game well; Lerch was perfect in the first, while Hooton worked around a two-out Jack Clark single. Lerch allowed his first baserunner on a two-out second-inning walk, but the scoreboard remained empty until the bottom of the inning, when Hooton walked Joel Youngblood and Bob Brenly, then allowed an RBI single to Johnnie LeMaster.

The Dodgers tied it back up in the third, starting with a Dave Anderson single and a Hooton sac bunt. Steve Sax walked, Bill Russell's groundout advanced both runners, and Lerch then walked Candy Maldonado (loading the bases) and Mike Marshall (forcing in the equalizing run). And that was the end of Lerch's day; Frank Williams relieved him and got German Rivera to ground out, ending the inning.

Hooton continued to get into and out of trouble to varying degrees. He walked Dusty Baker and Jeffrey Leonard with two outs in the third before stranding them; he allowed singles to Brenly, LeMaster, and Manny Trillo in the fourth, only escaping without any scoring because Brenly was thrown out at third on LeMaster's hit. Williams had a few adventures of his own; after getting around a Steve Yeager single in the fourth, he yielded a hit to Russell in the fifth, and after a groundout moved Russell to second, an intentional walk to Maldonado and an unintentional pass to Rick Monday (pinch hitting for Rivera, because who doesn't hit for their cleanup man in the fifth inning) loaded the bases. Greg Brock flied out to strand all three runners.

The game finally settled down in the bottom of the fifth; Hooton cruised through three consecutive perfect innings, while Williams allowed only a walk in the sixth. Greg Minton took over for the Giants in the seventh and threw a pair of flawless frames, and Tom Niedenfuer relieved Hooton in the eighth and also kept the bases clean. Minton permitted a Mike Scioscia single in the ninth, but nothing else, and Niedenfuer circumvented a Brenly walk to send the game to extras.

Gary Lavelle and Orel Hershiser relieved in the tenth, and both retired the side in order. Lavelle also got through the first two batters in the eleventh without mishap, but Anderson and Scioscia then singled, and Sax tripled them both home to take a 3-1 lead. Hershiser walked Baker, struck out Leonard, and allowed a single to Youngblood; pinch hitter Scot Thompson also singled, bringing Baker home and putting the tying run at third with one out. Hershiser was pulled for Carlos Diaz, and the Giants countered with pinch hitter Chili Davis, which is a nice option to have on the bench. It came to naught, however, as Davis grounded into a game-ending double play.

After the game was started by a pair of relievers (for this season, at least), the win was earned by Orel Hershiser, who would end 1984 with twice as many starts as both of the starters combined. Carlos Diaz, meanwhile, earned his only save of the season, and the last of the four he would accumulate in his career; he did so by facing only one hitter, but that one highly-leveraged at bat gave Chili Davis his worst single-game WPA of the '84 season (-.444). On the other side of the ledger, the Giants used four pitchers, all for stints between 2 and 3.1 innings in length, which is kind of charmingly egalitarian of them.

This game gets May off to a pleasantly unusual start. Maybe tomorrow, we'll see some teams that actually remembered to bring starting pitchers.

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