Saturday, June 21, 2014

Game of the Day (6/20/84)

Tigers 9, Yankees 6 (13). Detroit's Dan Petry was a capable starter in the middle of a very good four-year stretch. New York's Bob Shirley was also solid, but primarily served as a reliever; his starts were strictly of the spot variety, and after making 17 of them in 1983, he would not begin as many as 10 games in any of his last four major league seasons.

New York picked up a pair of runs against Petry in the first. Butch Wynegar singled with one out, moved to second on a passed ball, and scored on a two-out Dave Winfield double; Winfield scored in turn on an Oscar Gamble single. The Tigers tied it in the swiftest fashion possible, as Rusty Kuntz led off with a walk and Alan Trammell homered. However, the Yankees recaptured the lead in the second on a single and steal by Omar Moreno, a double by Bob Meacham, and a single by Wynegar, pushing the score to 4-2.

After a pair of quick half-innings, Detroit scored once in the third. Trammell led off with a single, but was caught stealing; Barbaro Garbey then singled, and scored on Chet Lemon's two-out double to pull the home team within a run. Petry allowed a Roy Smalley single and walked Moreno in the fourth, but a force on a bunt and a double play ended the inning. Both teams also turned double plays in the fifth.

New York tried again in the top of the sixth, starting with a Gamble walk and a Steve Kemp single, but Petry retired the next three hitters he faced, and Lance Parrish led off the bottom of the inning with a game-tying homer. Shirley was pulled for Clay Christiansen, who worked around a Lemon single to keep the game tied. Aurelio Lopez retired the Yankees in order in the seventh, and then the fun began.

Pinch hitter Kirk Gibson drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the seventh, Trammell grounded out to move him to second, and Garbey singled him home with the go-ahead run. Lopez immediately served up a game-tying homer to Winfield to start the eighth, and was pulled for Willie Hernandez in the middle of walking Gamble. A bunt and a groundout moved Gamble to third before he was stranded to end the inning.

The teams weren't done with regulation just yet. Lemon led off the bottom of the eighth with a homer that broke the 5-5 tie. Christiansen then walked Larry Herndon before being pulled for Ray Fontenot, who got out of the inning. Hernandez served up a leadoff double to Willie Randolph in the ninth, and one out later, Don Mattingly singled him home to tie the game once more, this time at 6. Winfield singled to put the go-ahead run in scoring position, but Hernandez retired pinch hitter Toby Harrah and Kemp to end the inning, and Fontenot retired the Tigers in order, creating a need for additional baseball to be played.

Hernandez walked Smalley to start the tenth, but a double play helped him end the inning without lasting harm. Fontenot was perfect in the bottom of the inning, and both pitchers kept the bases clear in the eleventh. Doug Bair relieved in the top of the twelfth and worked around a pinch single by Ken Griffey, while Fontenot was spotless again in the home half of the inning. Bair worked a 1-2-3 thirteenth, and Fontenot was finally pulled for Jose Rijo in the bottom of the inning; Rijo allowed a Parrish single, saw him bunted to second, intentionally walked pinch hitter Johnny Grubb, got Lou Whitaker to fly out, and then served up a walkoff 3-run homer to Howard Johnson.

In some games, there's a larger story being served by the outcome; I try to find those stories where I can. (If there's one here, it's probably the fact that Jose Rijo absorbed the loss, dropping his record to a grim 1-7 to open his career. It got better.)

But this game just makes me want to revel in the ambiance of 1984 itself. It's got game-tying or go-ahead homers from Lance Parrish, Dave Winfield, and Chet Lemon. Those three players combined for nine hits, four of them from Lemon, who ended the game hitting .314/.389/.566. Alan Trammell also had a big day, going 2 for 5 with a homer, and Don Mattingly got to be a star yet again, with two hits including a game-tying single in the ninth.

Throw all that into a game in which the Yankees rallied to tie in both the eighth and ninth innings before losing in the thirteenth, and you've got a genuinely delightful contest.

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