Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Game of the Day (7/29/84)

Twins 6, Angels 5 (10). California's Mike Witt and Minnesota's John Butcher had debuted 3 and 4 years earlier, respectively; they were both right-handed, and they had very similarly solid 1984 seasons (between 225 and 250 innings, ERAs in the 3.40s, respectable records). Their careers would take sharply opposite turns starting in 1985, however, as Witt had several more good years remaining and Butcher had none at all. (It was not a shocking outcome, as Witt was four years younger and struck out over twice as many batters per inning.)

Butcher was perfect in the first, and the Twins seized a quick lead when Dave Engle doubled and Kent Hrbek homered. California countered in the second on doubles by Reggie Jackson and Brian Downing, but Minnesota padded its lead when Tim Teufel singled, Tom Brunansky walked, Gary Gaetti hit into a force, Houston Jimenez singled in a run, Kirby Puckett singled to load the bases, and Mickey Hatcher hit into an RBI forceout.

Now trailing 4-1, the Angels mounted another rally in the third. Dick Schofield led off with a walk, and Rod Carew and Daryl Sconiers singled to load the bases. Fred Lynn then hit into an RBI force, but Doug DeCinces ruled out the possibility of further scoring by hitting into a double play, and Hrbek homered again in the bottom of the inning to reestablish the three-run lead.

A Downing double and a Gaetti single went to waste in the top and bottom of the fourth, respectively. Carew singled and Sconiers walked in the top of the fifth, but both runners were left on. And after that abortive rally, the pitchers settled down, and neither team put another runner on until after the seventh.

Sconiers led off the eighth with a single, but the Angels failed to move him past first; the Twins similarly squandered a Randy Bush base hit in the bottom of the inning. Butcher started the ninth by walking Downing, and was pulled for Ron Davis; Davis promptly served up an RBI double to Bobby Grich. Jerry Narron then struck out, but Rob Wilfong singled Grich home, then took second on a wild pitch and saw Carew walked behind him. With the tying run now in scoring position, Len Whitehouse relieved Davis and drew a flyout from Sconiers that moved Wilfong to third, then uncorked a wild pitch that scored him with the tying run. Lynn grounded out to leave the go-ahead run at third; Luis Sanchez allowed a Gaetti single-and-steal in the bottom of the ninth, but left him at second to force extras.

Whitehouse allowed a leadoff single to DeCinces in the tenth and was pulled an out later. Rick Lysander gave up a single to Downing, but then coaxed an inning-ending double play from Grich. In the bottom of the inning, Sanchez allowed a one-out double to Engle. Hrbek was intentionally walked, Bush grounded out to move the runners to second and third, and Teufel single to bring home the winning run.

These two teams had healthy numbers of stars in their lineups, if primarily past and future stars more than present. And several of the stars had big games in this one - Rod Carew had a pair of hits, Brian Downing had three hits, two doubles, a run, and an RBI, and Kent Hrbek homered twice and drove in three.

But the last laughs on each side went to a pair of mediocre-to-acceptable second basemen, California's Rob Wilfong (who had a pinch hit RBI, then scored the tying run on a wild pitch) and Minnesota's Tim Teufel (who drove in the game-winner, and had another hit and scored a run as well). It's enough to make you think that Shakespeare was anticipating the development of baseball when he coined that phrase about every dog having its day.

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