Friday, July 25, 2014

Game of the Day (7/24/84)

Mets 9, Cardinals 8 (10). New York's Bruce Berenyi was 29 and had just experienced the first and only team change of his MLB career. St. Louis's Dave LaPoint was only 24, but had already changed teams once, and was approaching the end of a four-year Cardinal tenure that would be easily his longest stint with one team; he ended up playing for a remarkable nine distinct squads in a 12-year career, plus a reappearance in St. Louis a few years hence.

Lonnie Smith was hit by a pitch to open the game and stole second, but Berenyi retired the next three Cardinals to leave him there; LaPoint was spotless in the bottom of the inning. David Green put together a walk and steal in the top of the second before being stranded, while LaPoint worked around a hit by Hubie Brooks. Berenyi set the Cards down in order in the third, and the Mets jumped out to the game's first lead in the bottom of the inning. Rafael Santana started out by taking second on a single-and-error (with Smith committing the miscue). Berenyi then laid down a bunt, and reached safely on a Porter error. Mookie Wilson fouled out, but Kelvin Chapman doubled in one run, Keith Hernandez brought in another with a fly ball, and George Foster added an RBI single for a 3-0 lead.

St. Louis replied swiftly in the top of the fourth. Terry Pendleton led off with a single, and George Hendrick doubled him home. Porter grounded out to move Hendrick to third, and the runner then scored on a wild pitch. Tom Herr followed with a single, and Green launched a go-ahead two-run homer. But New York put up a fourth-inning retort of its own, starting with a one-out Santana double and a game-tying Berenyi single. Wilson then reached on a Chris Speier error, and Chapman singled to score the go-ahead run and chase LaPoint in favor of Dave Rucker. Hernandez and Foster greeted the newcomer with an RBI single apiece to make it a 7-4 lead before Rucker managed to record the inning's last two outs.

After the eleven-run outburst over an inning and a half, the scoreboard quieted for a while; Berenyi allowed a Pendleton single in the fifth, Rucker walked Chapman in the sixth, and they were the only runners to reach over those two innings. The hitting picked up again in the seventh when pinch hitter Bill Lyons drew a one-out walk and Andy Van Slyke tripled him home. Doug Sisk replaced Berenyi and issued consecutive walks to Pendleton, Hendrick and Porter, the third of which forced in a run; he was hustled away in favor of Tom Gorman, who retired Herr to preserve the remaining run of the Met lead.

Ralph Citarella allowed a walk to Foster and a single to Junior Ortiz in the seventh before stranding both men. In the top of the eighth, St. Louis struck again, this time via a pair of pinch hitters; Art Howe singled, and Tito Landrum hammered a go-ahead homer. Dave Von Ohlen relieved in the bottom of the eighth and allowed a leadoff hit to pinch hitter Jerry Martin; Martin took second on a wild pitch, then scored the tying run on a Hernandez single.

Brent Gaff worked around a Porter walk in the ninth, while Jeff Lahti retired the Mets in order to send the game to extras. Green led off the tenth with a single-and-error, putting him immediately in scoring position, but a strikeout, a walk, and a pair of groundouts resulted in the inning ending with Green having advanced only to third. Neil Allen relieved for the bottom of the inning and worked through the first two outs quickly, but Wilson then singled and stole second, Wally Backman drew a pinch walk, and Hernandez singled in the winning run.

This game was a veritable feast of lead changes - from 3-0 to 4-3 to 7-4 (in the space of an inning and a half), then from 7-4 to 8-7 to 8-8 (with the lead and tie both coming in the eighth), and then the extra-inning walkoff. But the highlight of the game was individual rather than collective.

In the third inning, Keith Hernandez hit a sacrifice fly to pad the Met lead to 2-0. In the fourth, he added an RBI single to make it a 6-4 game. In the eighth, with New York trailing 8-7 with two outs and a runner at second, Hernandez singled to tie the game. And in the tenth, once again with two outs and a runner at second, he singled once more to win it.

That's a total of +.776 WPA, the highest mark of Hernandez's brilliant career. And it came against the team that had traded him just over a year earlier. I imagine this was at least a mildly satisfying experience.

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