Friday, June 13, 2014

Game of the Day (6/12/84)

Padres 7, Braves 6 (12). Atlanta started Pascual Perez; the Padres sent Eric Show to the mound. In other words, two good teams were starting pitchers who were at least arguably their best, which makes for a promising matchup.

Show allowed a leadoff single to Rafael Ramirez in the first, but Ramirez was promptly caught stealing. The Padres then unloaded on Perez in the bottom of the inning: Alan Wiggins singled and stole second, Tony Gwynn tripled, Graig Nettles doubled, Steve Garvey singled, and Terry Kennedy doubled. When the dust settled, San Diego had a 4-0 lead, and there were still no outs.

That beginning would not typically lend itself to an excellent baseball game, but the remaining innings did not play out in typical fashion. Perez retired the next three Padres, and the Braves responded in the top of the second. Dale Murphy tripled, Chris Chambliss reached on catcher's interference, Brad Komminsk singled in a run, Glenn Hubbard walked to load the bases, Bruce Benedict hit a sac fly, Perez hit into a force, and Ramirez hit an RBI single to make it 4-3. Randy Johnson was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Gerald Perry flied out to end the inning.

Perez was perfect in the second and third, while Show walked Komminsk in the top of the third, but saw him caught stealing. Kevin McReynolds led off the bottom of the fourth with a single, but Bobby Brown hit into a delayed double play, forcing McReynolds at second and then getting caught stealing. The Braves scored again in the fifth. Show retired the first two hitters, but Perry singled and Murphy walked, and Show then uncorked an errant pickoff throw that scored Perry with the tying run and moved Murphy to third. A Chambliss single scored Murphy, and Chambliss moved to second on the throw home. Why there was a throw home after a single with a runner on third, I'm not sure, but however it happened, it allowed Chambliss to score on Komminsk's single and make it a 6-4 game.

The Padres responded promptly in the bottom of the fifth when Gwynn singled, Nettles walked, Garvey singled in one run, and Kennedy hit into a force that scored another and tied the game at 6. After Show worked around a walk in the sixth, both starters were pulled from the game.

The bullpens immediately quelled the scoring. Terry Forster worked a spotless bottom of the sixth, and Goose Gossage matched him in the top of the seventh. Wiggins singled, stole second, and beat the throw to third on a Gwynn bunt in the bottom of the seventh, but Nettles struck out and Garvey hit into a double play to end the inning. Chambliss led off the top of the eighth with a single, but was erased on a double play; Kennedy led off the bottom of the inning with a single as well, but pinch runner Luis Salazar was cut down stealing. Both pitchers worked spotless ninths, though that was assisted by the fact that they each faced the other during the inning.

Gossage was perfect in the top of the tenth, while Forster allowed only a Garvey single. Glenn Hubbard doubled with two outs in the top of the eleventh, but Gossage stranded him. The bottom of the inning started when McReynolds reached on an error; he was bunted to second, and Garry Templeton was intentionally walked. Kurt Bevacqua was summoned to hit for Gossage, and promptly hit into an inning-ending double play.

Craig Lefferts relieved in the top of the twelfth, and retired Terry Harper, who was hitting for Forster. Ramirez singled and stole second, but was left there by the next two hitters. Steve Bedrosian took over in the bottom of the inning, and did not record an out; Wiggins walked and stole second, Gwynn was intentionally walked, and Nettles singled Wiggins in with the winning run.

The top five Padres in the batting order all had multi-hit games, and combined to score and drive in all seven of the team's runs; all three of the innings in which they scored were led off by Alan Wiggins. That's pretty impressive.

It is not, however, as impressive as the extraordinary relief pitching duel between Terry Forster and Goose Gossage, who combined for eleven innings of six-hit, one-walk, scoreless baseball, completely erasing the memory of their predecessors' spotty moundwork and amassing 1.208 WPA between them. You would almost never see a faceoff like this in 2014, and certainly not until every other reliever available was already used. But in 1984, it was still possible, and it helps to elevate this game to the #21 spot for the year so far.

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