Monday, May 19, 2014

Game of the Day (5/18/84)

Expos 5, Dodgers 4 (11). The pitching matchup was between Montreal's David Palmer, who had been limited to 13 total starts over the preceding three seasons by injuries, and LA's Alejandro Pena, who would go on to win the ERA title in '84, only to need rotator cuff surgery in '85 and be moved to the bullpen thereafter.

Tim Raines reached second on an error and Andre Dawson singled with two outs in the first, but Pena retired Gary Carter to leave them at the corners. In the bottom of the inning, RJ Reynolds walked, stole second, and scored the first run of the game on a Ken Landreaux single. Montreal loaded the bases in the second on a single by Terry Francona, a walk to Doug Flynn, a sac bunt by Palmer and an intentional walk to Pete Rose, but Bryan Little grounded out to end the inning.

Palmer threw a perfect second, and the Expos once again had a good shot at scoring in the third when Raines led off with a single and stole second. Dawson flied to center, leading Raines to tag up; the play-by-play says he was thrown out at home 8-5, which I guess might mean that he rounded or overslid third and was tagged out? Or the play-by-play could be incorrect. Either way, Montreal had gone from runner at second, nobody out, to nobody on and two out. So naturally, Carter proceeded to homer and tie the game anyway.

The starters quelled the scoring for quite some time after Carter's homer. Reynolds walked and was caught stealing in the bottom of the third; Landreaux walked and moved up on an errant pickoff throw in the bottom of the fourth, but ended the inning at second. Pena was spotless in the fourth, then allowed a Raines double in the fifth before stranding him; Jack Fimple led off the bottom of the fifth with a hit, but two forceouts and a strikeout squandered the opportunity.

In the top of the sixth, Tim Wallach reached on a Pedro Guerrero error (Guerrero's tenth of the season in his team's forty-first game, which is a rather prodigious pace). Francona doubled Wallach home to take the lead. Landreaux singled and was caught stealing in the bottom of the inning, and Dave Anderson's seventh-inning single was erased on a Fimple double play ball. Pena allowed only a walk between the seventh and eighth innings, keeping the Dodgers within range, and LA tied it in the bottom of the eighth on a Franklin Stubbs single and a Reynolds double. Gary Lucas and Jeff Reardon combined to end the inning with Reynolds still at second.

Tom Niedenfuer relieved Pena to start the ninth and allowed a leadoff hit to Flynn, who was bunted to second and didn't advance from there. Reardon threw a perfect ninth to send the game to extras tied at 2. Niedenfuer allowed a leadoff hit and steal to Raines in the tenth, then struck out Dawson and intentionally walked Carter. Pinch hitter Miguel Dilone flied out, but Francona singled Raines home with the go-ahead run, and Flynn grounded into a Rafael Landestoy error that scored another.

Dan Schatzeder relieved in the bottom of the tenth, and after the first out, allowed singles to Landestoy and Reynolds. Andy McGaffigan took the mound at that point and retired pinch hitter Candy Maldonado, but then threw a wild pitch that moved the runners to second and third and allowed a Guerrero single to score both of them with the tying runs.

Niedenfuer remained on the mound for the eleventh, and quickly got into trouble again. Little reached on a bunt hit with out out, and Raines singled him to second. Dawson hit into a force that moved Little to third, and the go-ahead run came home on a Carter single. Greg Harris then retired the Dodgers in order in the bottom of the inning to nail down the win for Montreal.

According to WPA, there were a lot of excellent offensive performances in this game. Pedro Guerrero singled in the tying runs in the bottom of the tenth inning (+.304). Gary Carter hit a game-tying homer in the third, then singled in the go-ahead run eight innings after that (+.393). Tim Raines went 4 for 5 with a walk, and his one hitless at bat actually put him on base as well thanks to an error; he also stole two bases and scored the go-ahead run in the tenth (also +.393). RJ Reynolds reached base four times, scoring the game's opening run, driving in the tying run in the eighth, and scoring the tying run in the tenth (+.395, the highest total of his career to date).

But none of them quite caught up to Terry Francona, who went 3 for 5 with 2 RBI, and those RBI were the go-ahead run in the sixth and the go-ahead run in the tenth. His +.550 WPA was both the highest total of the game and the highest single-game total of his career.

On the flip side of that was Tom Niedenfuer, who gave up go-ahead runs in two different extra innings. His WPA was -.614, which is quite bad; Dodger fans wish it had been the worst of his career, because then they wouldn't have lost this game.

Multiple lead changes and an extra-inning comeback are pretty much always good things to have in a game, and this one is no exception; it scores as the #12 game of 1984 to date.

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