Friday, August 1, 2014

Game of the Day (7/31/84)

Rangers 7, Orioles 6. Texas's Dave Stewart and Baltimore's Dennis Martinez were both pretty unimpressive in 1984, and would be for the next couple of seasons as well. Given their ages (not old, but not young), you'd figure they were both on their way out of the league. Instead, Stewart would go on to four straight 20-win seasons in his early 30's, and Martinez would capture an ERA title at age 37.

Martinez was perfect in the first, while Stewart worked around a Cal Ripken walk. In the bottom of the second, John Lowenstein singled, Gary Roenicke walked, and Rich Dauer singled Lowenstein home with the game's first run. Stewart then managed a 1-2-3 third.

Martinez, meanwhile, had gone through a full cycle of the Ranger order without allowing a baserunner. The first Texas hitter to reach was Gary Ward, who tied the game with a one-out homer in the fourth. The Rangers then put up three more quick runs on a Buddy Bell single and back-to-back homers by Larry Parrish and Pete O'Brien before Martinez managed to close out the inning.

Baltimore got a run back on a Roenicke homer in the bottom of the fourth, then put up a crooked number an inning later. Stewart plunked Rick Dempsey to start the inning, then walked Al Bumbry. One out later, Ripken doubled in one run. Eddie Murray was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Mike Mason was summoned to replace Stewart; Benny Ayala hit for Lowenstein and singled in a pair of runs to put the Orioles in front 5-4. The remaining runners stole their way to second and third before being stranded.

Martinez had been flawless in the fifth, and duplicated that result in the sixth. His teammates threatened again in the bottom of the inning on walks by Dempsey and pinch hitter John Shelby; the runners then stole second and third, and Mason was pulled for Odell Jones with two outs. Ripken drew a walk to load the bases and Murray struck out to leave all three runners on. After two quick outs in the seventh, Martinez then served up a game-tying homer to Jeff Kunkel, the rookie shortstop's first career round-tripper.

Jones was perfect in the bottom of the seventh, and Dennis Martinez was relieved by Tippy Martinez in the top of the eighth. The new Martinez was greeted by a Curt Wilkerson single, a Billy Sample sacrifice, and a Ward single. Bell walked to load the bases, and Martinez then uncorked a run-scoring wild pitch that put Texas in front. Parrish was intentionally walked, and O'Brien grounded out to bring in another run for a 7-5 lead. Dauer led off the bottom of the eighth with a single, and Shelby singled one out later, but Jones retired the next two Orioles to leave the runners at first and second.

Martinez worked a spotless ninth to give his teammates one more chance, and the bottom of the inning started well, as Murray doubled and Ken Singleton singled him in. Todd Cruz ran for Singleton, and Dave Schmidt relieved Jones; Floyd Rayford bunted Cruz to second, but Schmidt retired the next two Rangers to leave the tying run in scoring position.

The Orioles were constantly threatening in this game - they had 15 at bats with runners in scoring position (getting hits in four of them), and left 11 men on base. The Rangers, meanwhile, did not have a single plate appearance with a runner in scoring position or leave a single runner on until the eighth inning, when they had three and two, respectively.

But despite the lack of extended rallies (and largely, of course, because of their four homers), the Rangers came out on top anyway.

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