Saturday, July 5, 2014

Game of the Day (7/4/84)

Reds 5, Phillies 4 (10). Cincinnati left-hander Bob Owchinko pitched just under 900 innings in his 10-year career. He had two seasons with above-average ERAs; he pitched 39.1 innings in one, and 15 innings in the other. In 1984, he made 49 appearances, with only four of them starts; this was the last of the starts. After the '84 season concluded, his remaining career would consist of three starts in 1986.

The opposing starter was also left-handed, but that was about all that Owchinko had in common with Steve Carlton.

Carlton and Owchinko were both excellent through three innings, allowing only one runner each; Mike Schmidt was responsible for both of them, first singling in the bottom of the second and then committing an error in the top of the third. The Reds opened the scoring in the fourth when Cesar Cedeno homered, but in the bottom of the inning, the Phillies got a double from Garry Maddox, a walk from Schmidt, and a three-run homer from Ozzie Virgil to take the lead. An inning later, Owchinko allowed a homer to John Wockenfuss; the Cincinnati starter would be pulled two batters later after yielding a double to Carlton, leaving Bill Scherrer to successfully clean up the mess.

Carlton was perfect in the sixth, while Scherrer gave up only another hit to Schmidt. Dave Parker led off the top of the seventh with a single, and Schmidt then committed his second error of the game on a Dave Concepcion grounder; Glenn Wilson compounded the problem by erring on the play as well, allowing Parker to score. Tony Perez then reached on an Ivan de Jesus error, and Nick Esasky singled home another run, putting the tying tally at second with nobody out. Carlton bore up admirably under the miscues of his fielders, recording a strikeout and a double play to preserve the remaining run of the lead.

John Franco threw a scoreless seventh for the Reds despite issuing a leadoff walk to Wilson. Al Holland relieved Carlton in the eighth and promptly gave up Cedeno's second homer of the game, tying the score at 4. Franco was perfect in the bottom of the inning; Holland allowed a single to Perez and walked Esasky in the ninth before striking out the next three hitters, and Ted Power allowed only a two-out Virgil walk in the bottom of the ninth, keeping the game tied and forcing extras.

Tom Lawless led off the tenth with a double, and Cedeno (having hit two homers already) bunted him to third. Parker walked, and with Concepcion at the plate, Holland balked in the go-ahead run. Power then threw a perfect bottom of the tenth to finish off the game.

This game provides something of an instruction manual for how to lose a game when you have a Hall of Fame starter throwing a gem. First, only get 10 runners on base for the game; even if you hit a couple of homers, you'll be rather bereft of non-homer scoring chances. Second, commit five total errors, three of them in one inning, to let the other team back into it. And third, once the starter has been relieved, have the new pitcher balk in the go-ahead run.

Hey, at least the fans got to go see fireworks after the game ended.

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