Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Game of the Day (6/17/84)

Giants 5, Padres 3 (15). The Giants started Mike Krukow, a long-tenured pitcher having one of his worst seasons. San Diego replied with Mark Thurmond, who would barely pitch a third of Krukow's career innings, but had his best year in 1984. Sometimes, the difference between first place and last comes down to things like getting a career year out of Mark Thurmond while your rivals get Mike Krukow's worst work.

Thurmond was perfect in the top of the first, and San Diego loaded the bases against Krukow on a Tony Gwynn single, a Graig Nettles walk, and an error by Johnnie LeMaster that allowed Steve Garvey to reach. Terry Kennedy hit into a double play, however, keeping the game scoreless. In the second, Joel Youngblood doubled and Bob Brenly walked before Thurmond stranded them both. Kevin McReynolds led off the bottom of the second with a triple, and Carmelo Martinez singled him home with the game's first run; Martinez was caught stealing, but the Padres still put runners on the corners when Garry Templeton walked and stole second and Alan Wiggins reached on a Youngblood error. Gwynn grounded out, however, ending the inning.

Thurmond worked a 1-2-3 third, and Kennedy homered in the bottom of the inning to double the San Diego lead. But a Jack Clark single, a Jeffrey Leonard double, and a Brenly single in the fourth combined to score a pair of runs and tie the game at 2. Martinez responded with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the inning, putting the Padres in front once more; a Thurmond single and a Gwynn walk gave them another chance to extend the lead, but they squandered it once more.

LeMaster and McReynolds both singled in the fifth; the first of them was caught stealing, while the second was just generically left on base. Dave Dravecky relieved Thurmond in the sixth and walked Clark, but allowed nothing else, and Krukow was perfect in the bottom of the inning. Dravecky tossed a spotless seventh; Gary Lavelle allowed a Gwynn single but nothing else.

The Giants tied the score once more in the eighth when LeMaster singled, Dravecky balked him to second, and Al Oliver singled him home. A Martinez single in the eighth and a Brenly walk in the ninth were both wasted. In the bottom of the ninth, Lavelle allowed a leadoff double to pinch hitter Luis Salazar, who then moved to third on a passed ball. Wiggins struck out, Gwynn was intentionally walked, and pinch hitter Kurt Bevacqua was passed on purpose as well, loading the bases with one out. Greg Minton relieved and coaxed Garvey into a force at home, then got a groundout from Kennedy as well to send the game to extra innings.

Goose Gossage relieved to begin the tenth and worked around a single by Minton (yes, the opposing reliever). Minton replied with a perfect inning, and Gossage threw one as well in the eleventh. Salazar led off the bottom of the eleventh with a single, Wiggins bunted and reached on a Brenly error that put runners at the corners, and Gwynn was intentionally walked again to load the bases with nobody out; Champ Summers then hit into a 1-2-3 double play, and Garvey flied out to keep the game going.

Craig Lefferts was spotless in the twelfth, while Minton allowed singles to Kennedy and Martinez before stranding them. LeMaster led off the thirteenth with a single, but Oliver hit into a double play; Chili Davis then singled, Clark walked, and Leonard flied out to strand them. Randy Lerch notched the first two outs in the bottom of the inning, but then allowed a single to Lefferts; Garvey reached on a Youngblood error to move Lefferts to second, but Frank Williams relieved and Bochy flied out to end the threat.

Youngblood led off the fourteenth with a single, but Brenly hit into a double play. Fran Mullins then reached on a Templeton error before being stranded. Templeton singled and stole second in the bottom of the inning, and was also left on.

LeMaster started the fifteenth with a hit, and moved to third on a steal and a Bochy error. Oliver then singled him in with the go-ahead run. Davis struck out, but Clark reached on a miscue by Templeton, and Leonard singled pinch runner Scot Thompson home (although another pinch runner, Gene Richards, was thrown out at third on the play). Youngblood then reached on another Templeton error and stole second before Brenly struck out to strand a pair of runners. Williams retired the Padres in order to end the game.

By just about every measure available, the Padres out-hit the Giants in this game. They had 15 hits (in 59 at bats) to San Francisco's 14 (in 57), for a slightly higher batting average. More notably, two of the Giant hits went for extra bases (both of them doubles), while four of San Diego's did the same (a double, a triple, and two homers). Moreover, the Padres out-walked the Giants (6-4), had fewer strikeouts (9-7), and stole more bases (3-2) while being caught the same number of times (once each). Both teams turned three double plays, and both committed four errors. (Less importantly, they also got the same number of hits from relief pitchers, courtesy of Greg Minton and Craig Lefferts. It was Minton's only hit of the year, but he ended up with 15 in his career; Lefferts would finish 1984 with 5 total hits, and his career with 16. Relievers sure used to bat more than they do now.)

So how did the Giants win? Two ways. First, their hits were better-timed. The Giants went 4 for 8 with runners in scoring position; the Padres, a rather depressing 1 for 16. Second, San Diego's errors were much worse-timed; three of the four defensive misplays came in the decisive fifteenth inning.

Timing is wonderful over the course of a single game, but as a general rule, you shouldn't count on it being sustained over an entire season (2013 Cardinals aside). So you can argue that this game was actually a positive indicator for the Padres. I doubt it would have made them feel better about failing to score the winning run in two different chances with the bases loaded and less than two outs (plus having it in scoring position three other times), but they did have the undeniably soothing balm of a division lead to apply to any hard feelings.

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