Sunday, August 17, 2014

Game of the Day (8/16/84)

Tigers 8, Angels 7 (12). California started Ron Romanick, who was putting up a pretty respectable rookie year at age 23, but would be out of the majors after two more seasons. Detroit opposed him with Jack Morris, who you're probably already familiar with if you're reading this - 254 wins, one incredibly famous postseason start (and some other good ones), six times leading the league in wild pitches, and not quite enough (but still too many) Hall of Fame votes.

Morris walked Gary Pettis and Fred Lynn in the top of the first, but stranded both of them. Lou Whitaker led off the bottom of the inning with a double, took third on an Alan Trammell sacrifice, and scored when Kirk Gibson reached on a Romanick error. Gibson then stole second, was singled to third by Lance Parrish, and came home on a Darrell Evans groundout. Morris worked around a Dick Schofield single in the second, and the Tigers went back to work in the bottom of the inning. Howard Johnson led off with a single and Tom Brookens walked. Romanick retired both Trammell and Whitaker, but Gibson then smacked a two-run triple, and Parrish added an RBI single to make the lead 5-0 and chase Romanick from the mound. Curt Kaufman relieved and finished the inning without further incident.

The Angels joined in on the scoring in the top of the third. The inning began with a remarkable six consecutive singles by Pettis, Rob Wilfong, Lynn, Doug DeCinces, Brian Downing, and Reggie Jackson; Lynn's single brought in one run, Downing's scored two, and the bases were loaded with nobody out. Morris managed to avoid further damage, getting a double play from Daryl Sconiers and striking out Schofield, but Kaufman worked a perfect bottom of the third and the Angels picked up where they'd left off in the fourth. Bob Boone drew a leadoff walk, and Lynn walked as well with two outs. DeCinces then singled to score Boone, and Downing followed with a three-run homer to put California in front 7-5. Doug Bair replaced Morris and closed out the inning by retiring Jackson.

With both starters having been knocked out, the game calmed - slightly. Brookens led off the bottom of the fourth with a double and took third on a flyout, but was then thrown out at home on a Trammell grounder. Schofield singled with one out in the fifth, moved to second on a groundout and took third on a passed ball; Pettis then walked to put runners at the corners, but was caught stealing second to end the inning. Ruppert Jones doubled with two out in the bottom of the fifth and was balked to third before being stranded.

Bair was perfect in the sixth, and Doug Corbett relieved Kaufman and threw a 1-2-3 inning of his own. Downing and Jackson drew walks to start the seventh, but Sconiers hit into a double play and Schofield popped up to end the inning. Corbett allowed a Gibson double and walked Evans in the bottom of the inning before stranding both men.

Aurelio Lopez relieved Bair in the eighth and worked around a Boone single, and the Tigers finally struck again in the bottom of the inning. Chet Lemon led off with a walk, and pinch hitter Johnny Grubb walked as well with one out. Don Aase replaced Corbett and walked Whitaker to load the bases, then allowed a game-tying two-run single to Trammell. Gibson was intentionally walked to reload the bases, and Parrish hit into a double play, but Detroit had evened the score at 7. Lopez combined with Willie Hernandez on a scoreless ninth, and Aase retired the Tigers in order to send the game to extras.

Hernandez and Aase exchanged spotless tenths, and Hernandez did it again in the eleventh. Trammell led off the bottom of the inning with a single and moved to second on a bunt before being left there. Hernandez made it three flawless innings in a row in the twelfth, and John Curtis relieved Aase in the bottom of the inning; Lemon led off with a single, Johnson hit into a force, and pinch hitter Barbaro Garbey smacked a double to score Johnson with the winning run.

Jack Morris gave up seven runs in this game, and the Tigers won 8-7. This required two massive contributions from Morris's teammates - an eight-run day from the offense (with particular help from Kirk Gibson's double, triple, ROE, stolen base, two runs and two RBI), and a scoreless 8.1 innings from the bullpen (especially Willie Hernandez, who retired all 11 Angels he faced).

Is this the kind of game that Morris's Hall of Fame supporters talked about when referencing pitching to the score? Because to me, it looks a lot like Morris's teammates bailing him out of what should have been a loss - or, alternately, Morris's poor pitching making his teammates work extra hard (including a 3.2-inning appearance for the league MVP closer) for what could have been an easy win. So if this is a representative sample of a PTTS performance (which, to be fair, it may not be), then I'll pass.

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