Saturday, May 24, 2014

Game of the Day (5/23/84)

Padres 2, Expos 1 (11). San Diego's Andy Hawkins and Montreal's Steve Rogers, facing each other for the second time in a week and once again making it the best game of the day.

Rogers threw a perfect first; Hawkins made things a bit more interesting, giving up a double to Terry Francona and walking Tim Raines before Andre Dawson hit into a double play. Kevin McReynolds singled with two out in the second and was left on, and Hawkins allowed a Tim Wallach single and walked Mike Stenhouse before Doug Flynn hit into Montreal's second double play in two innings.

Garry Templeton led off the third with a single, but one out later, Alan Wiggins hit into a force, then got caught stealing. Hawkins was spotless in both the third and fourth, while Rogers permitted only a Graig Nettles single in the fourth. San Diego opened the scoring in the fifth, as Carmelo Martinez walked, moved to second on a groundout and took third on a wild pitch. There were two outs, and the batter was Hawkins (career average of .108 entering the game), so naturally, Hawkins singled to drive in Martinez for his third career RBI. Rogers reciprocated the single in the bottom of the inning, but the runner on base at the time was on first rather than third, and Hawkins retired Bryan Little to end the inning with no scoring.

Both starters were perfect in the sixth. Rogers allowed a Terry Kennedy single to start the seventh, but McReynolds hit into a double play. In the bottom of the inning, Hawkins retired the first two Expo hitters, bringing Stenhouse to the plate. Stenhouse had a defensive replacement's resume entering the game - 28 career games, 52 plate appearances, and a .152 slugging percentage. But for one at bat, he turned into a cleanup-hitting DH, cranking his first career home run to tie the game.

Rogers cruised through the eighth, allowing only a Wiggins single. Miguel Dilone hit for the starter in the bottom of the eighth and cracked a leadoff triple, but Little lined out, Raines fouled out, and Dawson flied out to squander an opportunity so good that calling it "golden" seems insufficient: a platinum opportunity, perhaps. Both teams had similar chances in the ninth; a Nettles walk, a Steve Garvey single, and a Kennedy flyout put Padres at first and third against Jeff Reardon, who worked out of the jam, while Hawkins allowed hits to Gary Carter and Wallach, then walked Stenhouse to load the bases with one out. Flynn was understandably lifted for a pinch hitter, and a pretty good one - but Pete Rose hit into a double play to send the game to the tenth inning.

Reardon made the top of the tenth less interesting than the previous three halves had been, although he still allowed a single-and-steal to Wiggins and intentionally walked Tony Gwynn before ending it. Dave Dravecky was spotless in the bottom of the inning, and Andy McGaffigan relieved in the top of the eleventh. After a prompt two outs, McGaffigan face McReynolds and gave up a McTiebreaking home run. Raines led off the bottom of the inning with a single, but Dawson struck out and Derrel Thomas hit into a double play to end the game.

The starting lineups for these two teams included three Hall of Famers (Gary Carter, Tony Gwynn, and Andre Dawson), along with three other players who have arguments (Steve Garvey, Graig Nettles, and especially Tim Raines). Throw in a pinch hitting appearance from Pete Rose, and you've got a wealth of baseball accomplishment available, facing a pair of starting pitchers that could loosely be described as a has-been and a never-really was.

So how is it that, not only did the teams combine for a mere two runs through 10 innings, but those two runs came as a result of a single by a pitcher and the first career home run of a scrub outfielder?

I've been known to look for lessons in these recaps, especially the 30-year-old ones. If there's a lesson in this bit of baseball absurdity, it's that searching for meaning in the events of a single game is overwhelmingly likely to prove a foolhardy pursuit. Over the long haul of a season or a career, yes, there are many truths to be found. But in analyzing a single game, you have to embrace the madness of random chance.

Programming note: I will be out of town for the weekend, and thus away from my computer. The 1984 Game of the Day recaps can be written in advance and will be scheduled to post daily; the 2014 recaps, for obvious reasons, cannot, and will therefore necessarily wait until my return.

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