Sunday, June 22, 2014

Game of the Day (6/21/84)

Mets 10, Phillies 7. Philly's Charles Hudson had a career of just over 1000 innings; New York's Walt Terrell lasted for nearly twice as many. And yet, neither man would ever have a season in which he both qualified for the ERA title and had an ERA+ better than 110. Which hopefully explains why neither of them had made much of an impression on my baseball memory coming into this game.

The relatively anonymous young starters both began the game well. Terrell allowed a single and steal to Jeff Stone in the first, while Hudson permitted singles by Keith Hernandez in the first and Ron Hodges in the second before stranding both of them. The Phils opened the scoring in the third when Ivan de Jesus singled, Hudson bunted him to second, and Stone singled him home, and the Mets tied it in the bottom of the inning on a Terrell double and a Wally Backman single.

The Phillies loaded the bases in the fourth on singles by Mike Schmidt, Sixto Lezcano, and de Jesus, but Hudson lined out to leave all three runners on. The Mets would be the next team to score an inning later. Backman started the fifth-inning rally with a one-out single, Mookie Wilson singled him to second, and Hernandez doubled him home. Darryl Strawberry was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Danny Heep singled in another run. Hubie Brooks then hit a single, but it was one of those extra-weird "singles" where a runner gets hit by the ball. It was Strawberry getting hit in this case, so he was out and the bases remained loaded. Hodges then grounded to second, where Juan Samuel committed an error that allowed a pair of runs to score, and Jose Oquendo doubled in another run to make it a 6-1 lead and chase Hudson from the mound. Larry Andersen struck out Terrell to end the inning, which had been impressively disastrous for the Phillies - the only outs they recorded came when either the pitcher was hitting, or a runner got drilled by a batted ball.

Terrell worked around a pair of singles for a scoreless sixth, while Andersen allowed a hit to Hernandez but nothing else. In the top of the seventh, Terrell walked pinch hitter Luis Aguayo and Samuel, then allowed a bunt hit to Stone and was removed in favor of Jesse Orosco. Von Hayes fouled out, but Schmidt singled in a pair of runs (taking second on the throw to third), and pinch hitter John Wockenfuss also singled in two, making it 6-5. Lezcano doubled, Ozzie Virgil was intentionally walked to load the bases, and de Jesus grounded to second, where Backman committed a two-run error of his own to put the visiting team in front.

They didn't stay there long. Bill Campbell relieved in the bottom of the seventh and allowed singles to Heep and Brooks, followed by a game-tying RBI groundout from Hodges. Pinch hitter George Foster was intentionally walked, and pinch hitter Rusty Staub followed with a go-ahead RBI single. Jim Kern relieved Campbell and induced a force from Backman that brought in another run, then retired Wilson to end the inning.

The Phillies threatened briefly in the eighth when Doug Sisk allowed a Stone single and hit Schmidt with a pitch, but Wockenfuss lined into an inning-ending double play. The Mets padded their lead in the bottom of the inning when Hernandez singled, Heep doubled, Brooks was intentionally walked, and Hodges drew a walk as well to force in a run that made it 10-7. Sisk then retired the Phillies in order to end it.

The Phillies had a number of players who put together big games, most notably rookie Jeff Stone with the first of the five four-hit games he would have in '84 (which would be the only such games in his career). Sixto Lezcano had three hits, and Ivan de Jesus had two plus a two-run ROE.

The Mets had their share of big games as well - Keith Hernandez had four hits, Danny Heep and Hubie Brooks three each. But the difference in the game was that there were no Mets who had legitimately bad games as hitters. The worst WPA any New York batter posted was Darryl Strawberry's -.056 (0 for 3 with an intentional walk); the Phillies had three players at -.100 or worse, with the three of them combining to do about eight times as much damage as Strawberry. It was the balance in the lineup that allowed New York to string together the lengthy five- and three-run rallies that ended up deciding the game.

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