Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Game of the Day (5/20/84)

Mets 4, Padres 2 (10). New York sent Mike Torrez, a pitcher who had a long and distinguished career that is best remembered for a famous home run he allowed, to the mound for one of the last starts of his MLB tenure. San Diego opposed him with Tim Lollar, who doesn't even have the famous home run on his list of accomplishments. He did get utterly thrashed in a World Series game, though, so he's got that going for him.
Lollar walked two hitters and threw a wild pitch in the top of the first. There are some ways to make that result in a run, but not many, and even fewer involve a double play, which Lollar also successfully induced. Tony Gwynn hit into a delayed double play in the bottom of the inning, forcing Alan Wiggins at second after the leadoff man had singled, then getting caught stealing to completely defuse what might have been a rally. Lollar was perfect in the second; Carmelo Martinez reached second on a single-and-error in the bottom of the inning, then got doubled off on a Garry Templeton line drive.

In the top of the third, Kelvin Chapman drew a two-out walk and stole second, but Lollar struck out the other three Mets he faced. Torrez allowed a Tim Flannery single, then struck out Bruce Bochy while Flannery was caught stealing. Torrez had put a runner on base in each of the first three innings, yet still managed to face the minimum number of hitters on his first trip through the Padre lineup. Mookie Wilson singled and was stranded in the top of the fourth. The bottom of the inning saw Gwynn walk and Bobby Brown single him to third with one out, but Steve Garvey fouled out and Martinez struck out to waste the opportunity.

Jerry Martin opened the scoring by leading off the top of the fifth with a homer. San Diego rallied in the bottom of the inning, tying the game on a Flannery walk, a wild pitch, and a Bochy single. The Padres didn't stop there; Lollar singled and Wiggins walked to load the bases, and Gwynn singled in the go-ahead run before Brown ended the inning by hitting into a 1-2-3 double play.

Lollar worked 1-2-3 innings in both the sixth and seventh to maintain his newfound lead. Brent Gaff relieved Torrez and stranded runners at third in both of those innings, via a Templeton triple in the sixth and a Wiggins walk and a Gwynn single in the seventh. Lollar walked Gardenhire with two out in the eighth but allowed nothing further in the inning, and Doug Sisk similarly permitted a lone base on balls in the bottom of the inning.

Goose Gossage relieved Lollar in the top of the ninth and quickly got into trouble. George Foster led off with a single, and Wilson hit into a force at second. Hubie Brooks singled Wilson to third, and pinch hitter Darryl Strawberry singled as well to bring in the tying tally. Pinch hitter Rusty Staub was summoned to take a shot at bringing the go-ahead run in from third, but he flied out to first; Brooks attempted to score anyway and was thrown out. (I would be curious to see video of this play, to determine whether it was a difficult catch by Garvey or if Brooks was simply crazy.)

Sisk issued a pair of one-out walks (to pinch hitter Graig Nettles and Wiggins) in the ninth, but Jesse Orosco relieved and coaxed a popup from Gwynn and a flyout from pinch hitter Kurt Bevacqua to send the contest to extras. The Padres rearranged their defense for the top of the tenth, with Bevacqua taking over in right and Gwynn shifting to center while Craig Lefferts took the mound.

Orosco was allowed to hit for himself to start the tenth, and found the relocated Gwynn with a fly ball; Gwynn erred on the play, and apparently rather badly, as Orosco ended it standing safely at third base. Chapman followed with a go-ahead sac fly. New York piled on a bit, as Gardenhire and Keith Hernandez both singled and Foster followed with another sac fly for a 4-2 lead; Orosco then walked Martinez but allowed nobody else to reach in the bottom of the inning to finish off the game.

Jesse Orosco is baseball's all-time leader in games pitched. He played 24 seasons, for 9 different teams, in 4 different decades. He became the oldest player in baseball, and then went on pitching for another four seasons. He is the stereotypical "guy who played forever," and it's unusual to find a truly unique game in such a player's career.

Well, we've found one. This game was the only one of the 1252 Orosco played in his career in which he scored the winning run.

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