Thursday, July 24, 2014

Game of the Day (7/23/84)

Mets 4, Cardinals 3 (12). Both teams started fairly young, relatively effective lefties, with St. Louis's Ricky Horton taking on New York's Walt Terrell.

Tom Herr singled in the top of the first, but Terrell induced a Terry Pendleton double play ball to erase him. In the bottom of the inning, Keith Hernandez and George Foster hit two-out singles. Darryl Strawberry followed with a hit of his own, scoring Hernandez with the game's first run and moving Foster to third - but Strawberry was thrown out trying to stretch the single into a double, ending the inning. The Cards quickly tied the score in the second when Darrell Porter reached on a Hubie Brooks error, George Hendrick singled, Andy Van Slyke walked to load the bases, and David Green hit into an RBI forceout; they still had runners at the corners, but Chris Speier then hit into an inning-ending twin killing, and New York took the lead back quickly when Brooks reached on a Pendleton error and Mike Fitzgerald homered.

Both starters were perfect in the third. In the fourth, Terrell worked around a Pendleton single and a Hendrick walk, and Horton set the Mets down in order again. St. Louis picked up a run in the fifth when Speier doubled, Horton bunted him to third, and Herr hit a sac fly to score him; Horton allowed a hit to Rafael Santana in the bottom of the inning, but Santana was then caught stealing. Van Slyke walked in the top of the sixth, and Hernandez singled and Foster walked in the bottom of the inning, but the score remained 3-2.

Terrell tossed a 1-2-3 seventh; Jeff Lahti relieved Horton in the bottom of the inning and gave up a Santana single, but nothing else. After Herr drew a leadoff walk in the eighth, Jesse Orosco relieved Terrell. Herr moved to second on a groundout; Orosco then attempted to pick him off, but Kelvin Chapman allowed the throw to escape into the outfield, and Herr scampered around with the unlikely tying run. Lahti walked Mookie Wilson, who was then bunted to second and stole third before Dave Rucker relieved and retired Strawberry to strand him. In the ninth, Orosco and Neil Allen were both perfect, and the game moved into extras.

Doug Sisk took the mound in the top of the tenth. He was greeted by a pinch single from Art Howe, who was then bunted to second and took third on a groundout before being left on. Allen walked Sisk to start the bottom of the tenth, which is rather mortifying (it would be the only walk Sisk would draw in 42 career plate appearances); Wilson then walked as well, but a strikeout and a double play combined to squander both baserunners. Ed Lynch allowed a Porter single to start the eleventh, but kept him out of scoring position; Allen was flawless in the bottom of the inning. In the twelfth, Lynch gave up a hit to Howe, but nothing else. Fitzgerald led off the bottom of the twelfth with a single, Santana bunted him to second, and Wally Backman then singled Fitzgerald home with the winning run.

Enter this one in the "things that would be inconceivable in 2014" file: The Cardinals used only 3 relievers in this game; the third one pitched 3 innings and was sent out for a fourth before finally losing the game. With baseball in its present state, there is no chance of that happening - but then, it's possible the Cards would have lost earlier if Allen had been pulled.

Even less likely than that, however, is the fact that the Mets let reliever Doug Sisk hit for himself leading off the bottom of the tenth. Not only would there be zero chance of that happening today, there's really no justification for it having happened in 1984 either. And yet, it worked out both in the short term (he drew his only walk ever) and the long term (they won the game), once again demonstrating the principle that even bizarre managerial decisions aren't guarantees of failure.

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