Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Game of the Day (6/9/84)

Rangers 4, A's 3 (12). Dave Stewart is best remembered as a member of the A's, but started against them in this one; he was just entering the mid-career nadir from which Oakland would rescue him a few years later. Oakland sent Chris Codiroli to the mound; he was in a similarly ineffective phase, but in Codiroli's case, that phase was his entire career.

The A's got to Stewart early. With one out in the first, Dwayne Murphy singled and Joe Morgan walked. A wild pitch moved them to second and third, and a Carney Lansford single scored Murphy with the game's first run. Davey Lopes walked to load the bases, and Mike Davis hit into a run-scoring force at second. Davis then stole second, but Bruce Bochte popped up to leave a pair of runners in scoring position, allowing Stewart to limit the damage to a pair of runs.

Codiroli was perfect in the first and worked around a walk in the second before Texas pushed a run across in the third. George Wright and Donnie Scott both singled, and Curt Wilkerson bunted for what would have been a sacrifice had Mike Heath not thrown the ball away, allowing Wright to score. Billy Sample defused most of the potential for additional scoring by hitting into a double play, and a walk later, Buddy Bell grounded out as well to end the inning.

Stewart was starting to have an easier time of it, allowing just a walk to Morgan between the second and third innings. In the fourth, he walked Bochte and gave up a two-out single to Tony Phillips, but then picked Phillips off of first to end the inning. Codiroli got back into trouble in the fourth, albeit not entirely of his own making, as Larry Parrish led off the inning by reaching on a Lansford error. Pete O'Brien and Gary Ward both singled, bringing Parrish around to score the tying run. O'Brien was picked off of second, but Wright was hit by a pitch (coming out of the game as a result, with Alan Bannister running for him), and Scott singled Ward home to put Texas in front and chase Codiroli in favor of Lary Sorensen, who retired the next two hitters to end the inning.

Oakland rallied to tie the game in the fifth, thanks to second baseman Wayne Tolleson having a disastrous inning in the field. Rickey Henderson reached second when Tolleson misplayed a grounder. Bill Almon then popped to second; Tolleson caught the ball, but threw errantly in trying to double Henderson off, and the speedy leadoff man sprinted around to score the tying run.

Sorensen worked around a Parrish single in the fifth, then threw perfect innings in the sixth and seventh. Stewart was spotless as well in the sixth, but had rather more trouble in the seventh, walking Phillips and allowing a single to Henderson before recording three consecutive fly balls of increasing distance (pitcher, third base, right field) to end the inning. The A's went down in order in the eighth; the Rangers replied with two-out singles by O'Brien and Ward that chased Sorensen in favor of Bill Caudill, who struck out Bob Jones to end the inning. Stewart and Caudill were both flawless in the ninth, sending the game to extras.

Stewart remained on the mound in the tenth. Morgan reached on a one-out Wilkerson error and Lopes walked with two away, resulting in Dave Schmidt being summoned from the bullpen to retire Davis and end the inning. Parrish doubled with two away in the bottom of the inning, but was stranded at second. Phillips walked in the eleventh, but no other A's reached, and Keith Atherton relieved to retire the Rangers in order as well.

Garry Hancock singled to lead off the twelfth, and was bunted to second. Lansford was intentionally walked, and after the second out, Davis walked as well to load the bases. Bochte grounded out to end the inning, however. The bottom of the inning started with a quick out, but Tolleson and Bell both singled and Parrish was hit by a pitch to load the bases; O'Brien then flied out in foul territory, apparently deep enough to score Tolleson with the winning run.

Two things: First, in the middle of a poor season and in a game in which he allowed three fairly early runs, Dave Stewart was allowed to pitch into the tenth inning. Chris Codiroli was yanked 6.1 innings earlier for allowing the same amount of scoring. That is 1984 starting pitcher usage in a nutshell.

Second, I don't think I've ever seen this particular walkoff play before. I hope the play at the plate was extremely close, because if a foul fly is deep enough to score the winning run, it would be entirely inexcusable not to let it drop harmlessly to the ground. But whether it was a bang-bang play at home or an irredeemably stupid moment from Garry Hancock (or both), it was an extremely rare baseball event, and one that on its own makes this game worth discovering.

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