Thursday, June 26, 2014

Game of the Day (6/25/84)

Rangers 5, Angels 4 (11). Texas started the 27-year-old Dave Stewart, who was not yet as good as he would become. California countered with the 38-year-old Geoff Zahn, who was on the way to one last excellent season before leaving the league in 1985.

Stewart allowed a single and steal to Gary Pettis, then walked Rod Carew in the top of the first; Fred Lynn flied out to move Pettis to third, and Doug DeCinces grounded to third, getting the lead runner thrown out at home. When a runner gets thrown out at home in the first inning, that seems like a good omen for the type of game that's about to ensue.

Zahn allowed a Buddy Bell single and a Larry Parrish walk in the first, but nothing else. Stewart threw a 1-2-3 second, while Zahn walked Alan Bannister and saw Wayne Tolleson reach on an error, then stranded them both. California opened the scoring in the third when Dick Schofield walked, Pettis singled, and Carew doubled them both home. Carew would be left at third, and the Rangers got a run back in the bottom of the inning when Bell tripled and scored on a wild pitch. A Parrish walk and a Pete O'Brien single would put the tying run in scoring position before Zahn recovered to strand it there.

Texas took its first lead in the fourth. Curt Wilkerson's single and Gary Ward's double tied the game; Bell then walked, and Parrish doubled Ward home to take the lead, though Bell was thrown out trying to add another run on the play, thereby ending the inning. California rallied in the top of the fifth on a Schofield single and a Pettis walk; Carew bunted the runners to second and third, but Lynn and DeCinces popped up to leave both men on. However, after a perfect fifth from Zahn, the Angels got another shot in the sixth. Reggie Jackson led off with a double, and Brian Downing reached on a fielder's poor choice, putting runners at the corners with nobody out and chasing Stewart from the game. Joey McLaughlin started his appearance by walking Rob Wilfong to load the bases; he retired Jerry Narron and Schofield to get within an out of escape, but then gave up singles to Pettis (tying the game) and Carew (putting the Angels back in front).

Zahn allowed only a Billy Sample single in the bottom of the sixth; McLaughlin allowed nothing at all in the seventh, and when Luis Sanchez relieved Zahn in the bottom of the inning, Bell greeted him with a game-tying homer. O'Brien and Bannister singled later in the inning, but Sanchez left them both on.

Dave Schmidt allowed a Wilfong leadoff hit in the eighth, but left him at second; the Rangers threatened in the bottom of the inning with singles by Wilkerson and Sample, but Wilkerson was caught stealing third to keep the threat manageable, and Sanchez managed it from there. Carew started the ninth with a single, and made it around to third before Schmidt stranded him; O'Brien singled with one out in the bottom of the inning and never made it past first.

Schmidt and Sanchez remained on the mound to start extras, and both threw perfect tenths. Schmidt allowed a single to Rob Picciolo in the eleventh, but a double play got him out of what wasn't quite a jam to begin with. Doug Corbett relieved Sanchez in the bottom of the inning and allowed singles to Ward, Parrish, and O'Brien, the third of which brought the game to an end.

Both teams had impressive performances in this game - and in opposite directions. The Angels had 10 hits and 5 walks, with only two of the hits going for extra bases. Somehow, this added up to 19 at bats with runners in scoring position, with these chances coming in six different innings. The Angels amassed an unimpressive total of 3 hits in those 19 chances: 0 for 3 in the first (with a runner getting thrown out at home), 1 for 4 in the third (scoring two runs on the lone hit), 0 for 2 in the fifth (plus a sac bunt), 2 for 6 in the sixth (one of the non-hits was a fielder's choice on which everyone was safe, which is how they had four in one inning), 0 for 2 in the eighth, and 0 for 2 in the ninth. They obviously converted some of the chances, but they could have done a great deal more with them.

Meanwhile, the Rangers had a remarkably contiguous offense. They had six players with multi-hit games, and those six were in consecutive spots in the order, 9 through 5; that's a good way to put rallies together. Most notably, Buddy Bell had three hits (including a homer and a triple) and a walk, and Pete O'Brien had the second four-hit game of his career, with the last of those hits ending the game. Throw in a marvelous four-inning relief stint from Dave Schmidt (whose +.525 WPA ended up being the best total of arguably his best year), and you've got enough to overcome an inefficient Angel offense in an excellent game.

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