Sunday, July 6, 2014

Game of the Day (7/5/84)

White Sox 7, Indians 6. Cleveland's Steve Farr was a 27-year-old rookie in 1984. He was still looking for his first career win at the time of this game, but would end up pitching 11 years in the majors, mostly as a solid reliever.

By contrast, Chicago's Britt Burns was only 25, but was already in his seventh major league season. His 1984 season was a bad one, but he rebounded nicely to post 18 wins in 1985 - and then came down with an injury that ended his career, meaning that his last game came when he was younger than Farr was at the time of his MLB debut.

That's pretty weird.

Burns was perfect in the top of the first, while Farr hit one batter and walked another before managing to strand both of them. Carmelo Castillo singled in the top of the second, and a Pat Tabler walk pushed him to second, but Burns permitted no further advancement, and Farr worked around a Scott Fletcher single in the bottom of the inning to keep the game scoreless. In the third, Tony Bernazard led off with a single and moved to second on a groundout, but was then thrown out trying to make third on a grounder to short.

Chicago grabbed the game's first lead in the bottom of the third when Rudy Law walked and Carlton Fisk homered. But the Indians didn't let them enjoy it for long, striking back hard and fast in the top of the fourth. Andre Thornton led off with a walk, and Castillo singled him to second. One out later, Chris Bando singled in a run, and Brook Jacoby followed with a go-ahead two-run double; Jacoby took third when Julio Cruz made an error throwing home on the play. And then, with Bernazard at the plate, Jacoby (who would go 16 of 41 on steal attempts in his career) stole home.

Burns then walked Bernazard and was removed from the game for Dan Spillner. Spillner allowed singles to Brett Butler and Julio Franco; on the second of those hits, Bernazard was thrown out at home, his second time being thrown out on the bases in the game. But Butler took third on the throw home, then scored the inning's fifth run on a wild pitch.

With a 5-2 lead, Farr was in position to nail down that first win, and he yielded only a Fletcher single in the bottom of the fourth. Spillner allowed a walk and a single in the top of the fifth, but Pat Tabler produced a delayed double play (forceout, caught stealing) in between to keep a rally from coalescing, and the Sox got a run back in the bottom of the inning when Law singled, Fisk was hit by a pitch, Harold Baines advanced the runners with a groundout, and Greg Walker flied out to score Law. Fisk was thrown out trying for third on the play to end the inning, however, and the Indians picked up a run of their own in the sixth when Butler was hit by a pitch, Franco reached second on a Cruz error, and Mike Hargrove hit an RBI groundout.

Farr was pulled from the game at this point with a three-run lead. That lead was significantly curtailed in the bottom of the sixth when Tom Waddell allowed homers to both Greg Luzinski and Fletcher. Mike Jeffcoat came on for the last out of the sixth, but after Gene Nelson threw a perfect seventh, Fisk led off the bottom of the inning with a game-tying homer.

Nelson was perfect in the eighth and worked around a Thornton single in the ninth. Ernie Camacho, who relieved Jeffcoat with two out in the seventh, saw Fletcher reach on an error and walked Cruz in the eighth. Camacho was pulled in the ninth after Jerry Hairston led off with a single; Neal Heaton coaxed a double play grounder from Baines, but then gave up a walkoff homer to Walker.

This game has an interesting contrast in bullpen usage - the Indians churned through four relievers in 3.2 innings and blew a 3-run lead, while the Sox used only two in 5.2 innings and came back to win as Gene Nelson threw three brilliant frames.

Of course, there's also a slight chance that the comeback win was more closely related to the five home runs they hit than to their old-school relief patterns.

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