Saturday, June 28, 2014

Game of the Day (6/27/84)

Cubs 8, Pirates 7 (11). Pittsburgh's Lee Tunnell faced Chicago's Rick Reuschel. Reuschel would make eight times as many starts as Tunnell in their respective careers, and throw over seven times as many innings - but in 1984, at least, they pitched with similar (and highly limited) effectiveness.

The Pirates jumped out to an early lead when Marvell Wynne singled and Lee Mazzilli doubled him home. Mazzilli would make it to third on a groundout, but did not score, and the Cubs countered in the bottom of the inning when Bob Dernier singled (on a play that apparently injured Pirate shortstop Rafael Belliard, as he left the game and did not play again for 2 months) and Ryne Sandberg homered to take a 2-1 lead.

The teams mounted consistent scoring threats for the next couple of innings. Pittsburgh got a Lee Lacy single and a Wynne walk in the second. The Cubs had Ron Cey single, Larry Bowa walk, and Reuschel bunt the runners over, but Dernier grounded back to the mound and Cey was thrown out at home on the play, defusing the threat. Singles by Bill Madlock and Jason Thompson started the top of the third, but a fly ball and a double play kept the Pirates off the board in the inning. Gary Matthews led off the bottom of the third with a walk, and took second on a wild pitch; he was thrown out at third when Keith Moreland grounded to the mound, but a Richie Hebner single moved Moreland to third, and he scored on a Jody Davis groundout to extend the Cub lead to 3-1.

Pittsburgh wasted a Lacy single in the fourth, and the Cubs struck again in the bottom of the inning. Reuschel drew a one-out walk, Dernier reached on an error, Sandberg singled in a run, and a Matthews groundout brought Dernier home to make it a 5-1 lead. That lead swiftly vanished in the top of the fifth when Madlock singled, Thompson doubled him home, Tony Pena singled (and was caught stealing second), Doug Frobel singled to score Thompson, and Jim Morrison homered to tie the game at 5. However, Davis led off the bottom of the fifth with a homer that put Chicago back in front. Tunnell would be pulled later in the inning after Reuschel reached on a K/WP and Dernier singled him to third, and Cecilio Guante struck out Sandberg to end the threat.

George Frazier relieved Reuschel in the sixth, and quickly allowed a game-tying homer to Mazzilli. Madlock singled and stole second, but was left there, and the game temporarily assumed a rather sedate state, as Guante was perfect in the sixth and seventh while Frazier allowed only a Lacy walk in the seventh and retired the Pirates in order in the eighth.

The respite ended in the bottom of the eighth, as pinch hitter Thad Bosley walked, Dernier bunted him to second, and Matthews drove him in with a two-out double. Pittsburgh came right back in the ninth against Lee Smith as Pena doubled and Morrison tripled him home. Lacy was intentionally walked, and pinch hitter Johnny Ray grounded out to leave the go-ahead run at third; Kent Tekulve then threw a perfect ninth to send the game to extras.

Wynne greeted reliever Tim Stoddard with a single in the top of the tenth, but was promptly caught stealing, and nobody from either team reached base for the rest of the inning. Stoddard walked Thompson to start the eleventh, but a double play ball from Frobel ended that potential threat, and the Cubs got to Rod Scurry in the bottom of the inning when Sandberg led off with a double, Henry Cotto singled, Moreland was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Davis drew a one-out walk to force in the winning run.

Let's see, a tense, high-scoring, 11-inning game at Wrigley in which Ryne Sandberg plays a key role in a Cub win? Where have I heard that before?

Oh, right. The other game meeting that description, which occurred four days before this one, is more famous, largely because it includes a far superior Sandberg performance (he was 3 for 6 with a double, a homer, 3 RBI, and 2 runs, including the game winner, in this one - fine work, but not the 5-hit, 2-homer, 7-RBI masterpiece of the eponymous Game). But WPL finds this contest to have been more exciting overall - it was closer, and the lead kept appearing and disappearing throughout, rather than just in the very late innings.

The histories have been written, and the June 23 game is always going to be the one that gets featured treatment. But the June 27 game should at least be mentioned in some kind of "and if that wasn't enough, here's what he did four days later!" way, because it's outstanding in its own right.

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