Sunday, June 15, 2014

Game of the Day (6/14/84)

There were four nine-inning one-run games played on June 14, 1984, all of them scoring in the top third of games to that point in the season.

There was also Yankees 12, Red Sox 11 (10). Shockingly, WPL selects that game as better than the accompanying lower-scoring, nine-inning contests. New York's Ron Guidry took on Boston's Bob Ojeda in a matchup of capable lefties who were not necessarily having their best years (Guidry, in particular, was having his worst; Ojeda was merely decent, although he did lead the league in shutouts).

Ojeda worked around a walk to Willie Randolph in the first, and Boston picked up a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. Wade Boggs led off with a single and took second on a throwing error, then scored on a hit by Dwight Evans. Jim Rice doubled Evans to third, and Tony Armas scored him with a sacrifice fly. Guidry ended the inning without further incident, and the Yankees halved the deficit in the second on a Lou Piniella single, a Toby Harrah walk, a sac bunt (by Don Mattingly!) and a sac fly.

The starters allowed four runners combined in the next three half-innings, but a pair of double plays helped them avoid any scoring. The Yankees tied the game in the top of the fourth when Piniella doubled, Harrah singled, and Mattingly hit a sac fly. Boston wasted an Ed Jurak double in the fourth, while New York squandered a Randolph walk-and-steal in the fifth. That allowed the Sox to take the lead in the bottom of the inning when Jackie Gutierrez tripled and Boggs singled him home. They had a chance to extend the lead; Evans hit into a force, but Rice and Armas both singled. However, Evans was thrown out at home on Armas's hit, and Mike Easler struck out to end the inning.

The Boston lead did not last long. Don Baylor and Piniella started the sixth inning with singles, and Harrah walked to load the bases. Mattingly hit into a fielder's poor choice to score one run, and Ken Griffey singled in another to put New York in front for the first time. With the bases still loaded and nobody out, Ojeda was lifted for Rich Gale, who allowed an RBI single to Tim Foli. Randolph struck out, but Butch Wynegar singled in a pair of runs to make it a 7-3 lead.

The Sox went quietly in the sixth, as did the Yankees in the seventh. Guidry recorded the first two outs in the bottom of the seventh, then gave up a homer to Evans; Rice and Armas followed that with singles, and Easler doubled to score Rice. Armas was thrown out at home on the play to end the inning, but Boston had cut the lead in half. Gale was perfect again in the eighth, and Guidry was pulled for Clay Christiansen in the bottom of the inning; Rick Miller led off with a single, Marty Barrett reached on an error, Rich Gedman singled to load the bases, and Gutierrez singled in a pair of runs to tie the game. Christiansen was yanked for Ray Fontenot, who allowed an RBI groundout to Boggs and a run-scoring double to Evans. Rice was intentionally walked, a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, and Armas singled them both home to extend his team's reclaimed lead to 11-7.

Bob Stanley took the mound for the Sox in the ninth, and got into trouble with remarkable promptness. Wynegar led off with a single, and that effort was duplicated by Dave Winfield and Baylor, loading the bases and bringing the tying run to the plate with nobody out. Steve Kemp grounded out to score one run, and pinch hitter Oscar Gamble whiffed, putting Stanley one out from finishing the game. Unfortunately for Boston, the next hitter up was Mattingly, who cracked a game-tying three-run homer.

Fontenot worked around a walk in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extras, and with one out in the tenth, Randolph homered as well to put the Yankees in front. Dave Righetti walked two hitters (one on purpose) in the bottom of the tenth, but struck out Easler to end the game with the tying run at second.

Lead changes in this game: 2-0 to 2-2 to 3-2 to 7-3 to 11-7 to 12-11. Big leads can be a drag on a game, but these didn't last long enough to put much of a damper on the excitement. Throw in extra innings and a last-chance game-tying homer, and you've got a pretty terrific effort.

On an individual level, it's Don Mattingly again; he seems to keep showing up in these things. This time, it's the aforementioned game-tying homer, plus two non-hit run-producing plays, giving him the unusual feat of having 5 RBI with only one hit. If Game of the Day MVP was an actual award (which, now that I think of it, is a possibility - get back to me at the end of the season), Mattingly would be one of the leading contenders at this point. His repeated late-game heroics have now also helped boost the Yankees very narrowly past the Pirates and Indians as the most exciting team of '84 through this date.

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