Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Game of the Day (7/15/84)

Astros 3, Phillies 2 (16). Philadelphia's Charles Hudson was five years younger than Houston's Bob Knepper, but Knepper still had more time left; in fact, Hudson would end his career when he was the same age Knepper was at the time of this game.

Both starters were perfect in the first. In the second, they both allowed a double and a walk. But the Phillies had Glenn Wilson walk before John Wockenfuss doubled, while Jose Cruz's double preceded Harry Spilman's walk in the bottom of the inning, so the Phils were the team that scored the game's first run. Knepper and Hudson traded perfect innings again in the third, and the visitors scored again in the fourth in far less sequence-dependent fashion when Mike Schmidt homered.

After two more perfect half-innings, Houston tied the score in the fifth when Terry Puhl singled and Mark Bailey homered. They threatened again in the sixth when Cruz singled and Jerry Mumphrey walked, but left both men on. Knepper worked around a walk in the seventh, while Hudson was flawless. John Russell hit for Hudson in the eighth and singled, but Garry Maddox hit into a double play.

Larry Andersen relieved Hudson in the eighth and got himself into trouble, walking Bill Doran and making an error on a Craig Reynolds bunt that put the runners at second and third with nobody out. Denny Walling struck out, Cruz walked to load the bases, and Mumphrey flied (or popped, or lined; it's hard to tell with 30-year-old play-by-play) into a double play to second, ending a marvelous scoring chance. Knepper was perfect in the ninth, and Andersen was pulled after allowing a Puhl single in the bottom of the inning. Al Holland took over and gave up a pinch single to Phil Garner, but pinch hitter Enos Cabell hit into a double play to send the game to extras.

Bill Dawley walked Ozzie Virgil in the top of the tenth, then coaxed a double play from Wilson; Holland allowed a Reynolds single in the bottom of the inning but nothing else. Ivan de Jesus led off the eleventh with a single but didn't move past first. Holland was then perfect in the eleventh, and Dawley set the Phils down in order in the twelfth.

In the bottom of the twelfth, the game started becoming really unusual. Bill Campbell took the mound for the Phillies and allowed a leadoff triple to Kevin Bass. Two intentional walks loaded the bases. Reynolds then popped up, Walling hit into a force at home, and Cruz flied out to strand all three runners. Joe Sambito was perfect in the top of the thirteenth, and the Astros tried again in the bottom of the inning. Mumphrey led off with a single and was bunted to second, Puhl was intentionally walked, and a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third. Ray Knight struck out, Cabell was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Doran grounded out to leave all three on again.

The fourteenth was more of the same. Julio Solano set the Phillies down in order. A one-out Walling single chased Campbell in favor of Don Carman, who wild pitched Walling to second and intentionally walked Cruz. A Mumphrey strikeout and an Alan Ashby groundout ended the inning with a comparatively tame two runners on. Kiko Garcia led off the fifteenth with a single, becoming the first Phillie to reach since the eleventh, and a Schmidt double play promptly removed him from the bases; the Astros responded with a two-out Cabell double, but Reynolds grounded out to end the inning.

Frank DiPino relieved in the sixteenth and gave up a leadoff hit to Wilson, but Von Hayes matched Schmidt by hitting into a double play. In the bottom of the inning, Cruz singled with one out, moved to second on a wild pitch, and saw Mumphrey intentionally walked behind him; Ashby then singled to bring Cruz home with the winning run.

Three wild pitches, seven hits, seven intentional walks, and nine at bats with runners in scoring position. That would be a pretty eventful game - and it was only the bottom halves of the last five extra innings. Meanwhile, the Phillies had only four players reach in extra innings; none of them moved past first, and three were eliminated on double plays. The tallies for the full game are incredible: The Astros left a plentiful 20 runners on base, the Phillies stranded a paltry 3. The Astros had an impressive 16 at bats with runners in scoring position (which does not count all the intentional walks), only managing one hit; the 1 for 16 performance looks bad until you compare it to Philly's unbelievable 0 for 1.

Given that, the outcome seems to have been almost inevitable... in hindsight. But as it occurred, it was the Astros wasting win expectancies of 93%, 83%, 69%, and 60%, in order, and going 0 for their first 15 with RISP. Despite the famine of drama in the top halves of the innings, the Astros hitters on their own dragged the game into the top 10 on the season so far, with a WPL of 7.36 (4.84 of which came with Houston at the plate), and along the way, they finally managed to bring in one of those runners from second base with the game-winner.

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