Sunday, July 20, 2014

Game of the Day (7/19/84)

Reds 9, Mets 6. Cincinnati's Mario Soto, who would end up as a career Red, faced New York's Bruce Berenyi, who had also been a career Red until the team traded him just over a month earlier. This was actually Berenyi's second appearance against his former squad in the roughly five weeks since the trade.

Soto was perfect in the first, while Berenyi worked around a Dan Driessen walk. Darryl Strawberry led off the second with a home run, and singles by George Foster and Ron Gardenhire combined with a Junior Ortiz sac fly to make it a 2-0 lead. But the Reds rallied in the bottom of the second, starting with a Dave Concepcion walk and a Nick Esasky single. A force moved Concepcion to third, and Brad Gulden singled him home. That brought Soto, who was a pretty ineffective hitter even for a pitcher, to the plate. Naturally, Soto smacked a game-tying double, and an error by Gardenhire on the play also allowed Gulden to score to put Cincinnati in front.

Soto worked a flawless third, while Driessen singled and took second on a wild pitch before being stranded. The Mets evened the score in the fourth when Strawberry once again produced a run on his own, albeit in very different fashion this time; he led off with a walk, stole second and third, and scored on a Hubie Brooks sacrifice fly. Berenyi was perfect in the fourth, and the Mets threatened in the fifth on walks by Wally Backman and Danny Heep, but Keith Hernandez struck out to leave them on.

Duane Walker led off the bottom of the fifth with a double; Eric Davis grounded to first, and Hernandez threw Walker out at third, which is one of those things that only Keith Hernandez can do. The Reds recovered nicely from the setback, however, as Davis stole second and scored the go-ahead run on Driessen's double. New York tied it again in the top of the sixth on a Brooks double and a Gardenhire single, but Cincinnati stormed back ahead in the bottom of the inning. Ron Oester walked with one out, and Gulden doubled him to third. Soto then grounded to third; Oester was thrown out at home, and then... madness apparently ensued. Somehow, the eventual scoring on the play was an error by shortstop Rafael Santana which allowed Gulden to score the go-ahead run and Soto to take third; sadly, the intervening intricacies that allowed the catcher and pitcher to take so many extra bases between them are not captured in the preserved play-by-play. Whatever absurdity had brought the situation about, the Mets made it worse by intentionally walking Walker, because Davis then doubled in a pair of runs for a 7-4 lead.

New York replied yet again in the seventh, starting with a Ron Hodges leadoff single. Heep and Hernandez drew one-out walks to load the bases and chase Soto, and Strawberry singled in a run against Bob Owchinko. Ted Power then relieved and allowed a sac fly to Foster. Strawberry stole second, Brooks was intentionally walked to reload the bases, and pinch hitter Rusty Staub grounded out to leave the tying run at third.

Dave Parker led off the bottom of the inning with a homer to pad the lead slightly, which made the eighth-inning Met rally (singles by Mookie Wilson and Backman and a two-out Hernandez walk to load the bases) mildly less heart-stopping. John Franco relieved and struck out Strawberry to dampen the potentially run-scoring sparks, and a Gulden single, Franco bunt, and Walker double then made it a 9-6 game. In the top of the ninth, Franco allowed a Brooks single, but then induced a double play to end it.

Boy, there's a lot of great 1984 stuff in this game. In particular, you have the young Darryl Strawberry and Eric Davis flexing their muscles - Davis with a two-run double, a steal, and a run scored, and Strawberry with his two one-man runs (homer, then walk-two steals-sac fly). You've got Keith Hernandez doing Keith Hernandez things on defense, and Dan Driessen reaching base four times, and Dave Parker hitting a homer, and Hubie Brooks scoring two runs.

And somehow, with that diverse cast of highly effective characters, the two most productive hitters in this game ended up being Brad Gulden (3 for 4 with a double and 3 runs, +.227 WPA) and Mario Soto (1 for 3 with a double; only one RBI, but three runs scored from his at bats, one tying and two go-ahead). Baseball!

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