Monday, June 30, 2014

Game of the Day (6/29/84)

Indians 13, Rangers 12 (13). I haven't seen many scores that serve to more clearly announce "THIS IS GOING TO BE THE GAME OF THE DAY" before the numbers are run than this one.

Texas started the eventually-excellent Dave Stewart; Cleveland countered with the already-excellent Bert Blyleven.

Blyleven allowed a single to Buddy Bell in the first, while Stewart walked Julio Franco and threw erratically on a pickoff to move him to second, but neither runner scored. Bob Jones was hit by a pitch in the second and made it around to third on a groundout and a wild pitch before being left there. Cleveland took the lead in the bottom of the inning when Mel Hall and Jerry Willard singled and George Vukovich added a sac fly.

Blyleven worked around an error by Tony Bernazard in the third; Stewart was perfect in the bottom of the inning, and Texas came back in the top of the fourth. Larry Parrish singled, Jones reached on another Bernazard error, and Gary Ward singled to load the bases. With two outs, Donnie Scott singled; Parrish scored to tie the game, and Bernazard committed a throwing error that allowed Jones to score as well. In the bottom of the inning, Stewart promptly served up an Andre Thornton homer to tie the game at 2, and a walk, a wild pitch, and a single plus throw advancement put runners at second and third before Stewart recovered to leave them on.

With one out in the fifth, Buddy Bell and Pete O'Brien hit back-to-back homers. Parrish doubled, and Jones and Ward both singled to make it a 5-2 lead and chase Blyleven from the mound. Tom Waddell allowed a pinch RBI single to Marv Foley, and a passed ball then scored Ward before Scott drew a walk. Mike Jeffcoat replaced Waddell and induced an RBI groundout from Curt Wilkerson, increasing the margin to six runs before the inning ended.

Brett Butler doubled with one out in the bottom of the fifth, and Mike Hargrove walked with two away. The Indians then did the Rangers one better, getting three consecutive homers from Thornton, Hall, and Willard, pulling within a run and sending Stewart from the game. Tom Henke ended the inning from there, and the Rangers padded their lead in the sixth on a Bell single, an O'Brien walk, a Jones RBI single, and a run-scoring Ward groundout against new reliever Luis Aponte that made it 10-7.

Henke walked a paid of hitters in the bottom of the sixth, but left both of them on; Aponte allowed a single and a walk in the seventh, but also stranded both men. Henke was perfect in the seventh, as was Aponte in the eighth. Henke finally cracked in the bottom of the eighth, walking Brook Jacoby, allowing a single to Butler and an RBI double to Franco. Odell Jones relieved Henke and immediately gave up a go-ahead three-run homer to Hargrove.

Ernie Camacho relieved Aponte in the top of the ninth and allowed a Scott double and a Wilkerson single to tie the game at 11. Wilkerson moved to second on a balk before being stranded there. Jones was flawless in the ninth, sending the game to extras, and Camacho kept the bases clear in the tenth; Franco doubled in the bottom of the inning and would advance to third before being left on.

Jamie Easterly relieved in the top of the eleventh and worked around a walk, while Jones set the Indians down in order. Bell led off the top of the twelfth with a single, moved to second on O'Brien's walk, and scored on Parrish's single to put Texas in front again; Jones then flied to right, and O'Brien appears to have thought the ball would drop, as he was doubled off of second to remove the threat of further scoring.

Carmelo Castillo started the bottom of the twelfth with a pinch single; Butler then hit into a force and stole second. Franco walked, Pat Tabler singled to load the bases, and Jones threw a wild pitch to allow the tying run in. Thornton walked to reload the bases with one out, and Hall hit into a 5-2-3 double play to squander a marvelous opportunity to score the winning run.

The Indians recovered quickly from the missed opportunity. Easterly was perfect in the top of the thirteenth, and Dave Tobik walked Willard (who was pulled for pinch runner Joe Carter), and allowed singles to Vukovich and Jacoby, the latter of which scored Carter with lucky run number 13, the game-winner.

The teams combined for 25 runs in this one, which is what happens when you get 37 total at bats with runners in scoring position and add in 7 home runs. The production was extremely well spread out across both lineups. No hitter had a WPA of +.400 or higher, but eight exceeded +.200. The Rangers scored 12 runs without anyone driving in more than two, and the Indians had 18 hits without anyone having more than three. The pitching staffs were equally balanced; nine of the ten pitchers who appeared gave up at least one run, and the only pitcher who didn't, Luis Aponte, allowed an inherited runner to score.

Despite the lack of a legendary individual performance, the game earns a couple of near-superlatives. It is the second-most hitting-dominated game of 1984 so far (measured by total WPA accrued by hitters on both teams), and the third-best game overall (second among games that ended within one day). Which is really about what you'd expect from a score like 13-12 (13).

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