Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Game of the Day (6/30/84)

White Sox 5, Orioles 4 (11). Baltimore's Storm Davis was 22 and on the way to a 125 ERA+ in 225 innings. That would prove to be the best season of his career. He was opposed by Chicago's Britt Burns, who can sympathize with the plight of peaking early; he was at his best from 1980-81, at ages 21 and 22, and by 1984 was a 25-year-old on his way out of the league, courtesy of a 5.00 ERA.

Burns allowed a Cal Ripken single in the first, but nothing else; the White Sox took the game's first lead in the bottom of the inning when Rudy Law walked, stole second, moved to third on a flyout, and scored on a Harold Baines groundout. Floyd Rayford walked and was left on in the top of the second. With one out in the bottom of the inning, Scott Fletcher and Vance Law singled, putting runners at the corners. Julio Cruz struck out, and the White Sox tried a double steal on strike 3; Fletcher was thrown out at home, 2-4-2, to end the inning.

Mike Young walked in the top of the third, while Rudy Law reached on an error and stole second in the bottom, but neither runner scored. Baltimore took its first lead in the top of the fourth when Eddie Murray and Gary Roenicke singled and Benny Ayala doubled both runners home. Ayala would come around to score on a Rich Dauer single to pad the lead, which proved fortuitous in the bottom of the inning when Marc Hill tripled and Fletcher singled to pull Chicago within 3-2. Cruz would later single Fletcher to second, but Davis retired both Laws to keep the tying run from scoring.

Both teams squandered a walk in the fifth, and the Orioles failed to avail themselves of an error and a walk in the top of the sixth. The Sox had a more productive bottom of the inning, starting with a Hill single. Fletcher was then hit by a pitch, and Vance Law bunted the runners to second and third. Cruz walked to load the bases, and Tom Underwood was summoned from the bullpen to replace Davis. He struck out pinch hitter Greg Luzinski, but Jerry Hairston then singled in a pair of runs to put Chicago back in front, 4-3.

In substitutional news, Hill had been lifted for pinch runner Darryl Boston during the rally, and Boston took over in center field; Luzinski, having hit for Rudy Law, was pulled for Joel Skinner who entered the game behind the plate. That's an exchange of positions in the batting order you don't see too terribly often.

Ron Reed relieved Burns in the seventh and retired the Orioles in order; Underwood matched his effort in the bottom of the inning. Reed allowed a Rayford double in the eighth, then walked pinch hitter John Lowenstein, but retired the next two batters he faced to leave the tying run at second. Underwood was spotless again in the bottom of the eighth, and Reed got through the first two Baltimore hitters in the ninth unscathed, but then allowed consecutive doubles to Murray and Roenicke, tying the game at 4. Underwood then tossed his third straight 1-2-3 inning to force extras.

Reed worked a spotless tenth, and Underwood and Sammy Stewart combined to do the same. Al Jones relieved Reed in the top of the eleventh and allowed a single to Young and a walk to Ripken. A force moved Young to third before Roenicke fouled out to strand him. And with one out in the bottom of the eleventh, Vance Law took Stewart deep to end the game.

Ron Reed pitched creditably in relief for the White Sox, throwing four innings of three-hit, one-walk, one-run baseball. His work was exceeded by that done by Tom Underwood - four innings, one single and no other baserunners allowed. But the run that Reed allowed was the tying tally in the ninth, and the lone single that Underwood permitted came with the bases loaded and his team up a run; as a result, both pitchers were awarded blown saves, just like a pitcher who enters in the ninth with his team ahead by three and gives up five.

It would seem that the slight possibility exists that not all blown saves are created equal.

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