Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Game of the Day (8/19/84)

Giants 7, Mets 6. New York started third-year right-hander Walt Terrell, who was on his way to a solid and lengthy career. San Francisco sent rookie Jeff Robinson, who was (very understandably) in the middle of his only full season as a starter, but would turn himself into a perfectly decent reliever and pitch for most of a decade.

The Mets started fast, scoring in the first on a Keith Hernandez double, a Darryl Strawberry walk, a wild pitch, and a two-run single by Hubie Brooks. Dan Gladden led off the bottom of the inning with a single, but was caught stealing while Manny Trillo struck out - and then the Giants tied the game anyway, as Chili Davis homered, Jeffrey Leonard walked, and Al Oliver and Bob Brenly hit back-to-back singles.

Rafael Santana led off the second with a double, but the starters settled in from there; Robinson stranded Santana at second, Terrell was perfect in the bottom of the inning, and Robinson retired the Mets in order in the third. Trillo led off the home third with a double, but didn't permit him past second, and New York scored again in the top of the fourth when Santana reached on a Johnnie LeMaster error, moved to second on a balk, and scored on a Ron Hodges single.

San Francisco mounted a swift response in the bottom of the fourth, tying the game on back-to-back doubles by Brenly and Joel Youngblood. LeMaster moved Youngblood to third with a single, Robinson sacrificed LeMaster to second, and Gladden's double scored both runners and put the Giants in front for the first time, 5-3. Mookie Wilson homered with one out in the top of the fifth, and Robinson then allowed a Hernandez single and a Strawberry double before being pulled for Bob Lacey. Lacey intentionally walked Brooks to load the bases, but then struck out George Foster and induced a force at second from Santana to end the inning with the one-run lead still in place.

Terrell was flawless in the bottom of the fifth, as was Lacey in the top of the sixth. Brent Gaff relieved in the home sixth and also worked an immaculate inning. Wilson led off the seventh with a single and was balked to second; Lacey retired Hernandez and Strawberry, but Brooks doubled Wilson home with the tying run. Frank Williams took the mound and retired Foster to leave the go-ahead run in scoring position. Gaff worked around a walk in the bottom of the inning, Williams was perfect in the eighth, and Tom Gorman allowed an Oliver single but drew a double play ball from Brenly, sending the game into the ninth still tied at 5.

Williams allowed a one-out single to Wilson and was pulled for Gary Lavelle. Wilson promptly stole second against the new pitcher, then moved to third when Hernandez reached on a Youngblood error. Strawberry grounded to the mound, getting Wilson thrown out in a rundown, but Brooks followed with a go-ahead RBI single. Brooks stole his was into scoring position, but Lavelle struck out Foster to end the inning with the Giants trailing only by one.

Jesse Orosco took the mound for the save situation. Youngblood led off with a single, and pinch hitter Dusty Baker struck out, bringing reserve shortstop Brad Wellman to the plate. Naturally, Wellman proceeded to hit a two-run, come-from-behind walkoff homer, one of six home runs he would hit in over 1000 career plate appearances.

Check out Hubie Brooks's day in this one: A two-out, two-run single in the first to open the scoring. A two-out RBI double in the seventh to tie the game. And a two-out RBI single in the ninth to put his team in front. Those three incredibly well-timed hits gave the Mets an excellent chance to win the game (more than one excellent chance, really), and also gave Brooks a startling +.756 WPA, the highest figure he would post in a perfectly respectable 1645-game career.

And yet, Brooks wasn't even the star of his own career game, because Brad Wellman's walkoff-from-behind homer gave him a +.772 WPA, nearly twice as good as the next-best mark he would manage in his 441 big league appearances.

This was a fabulous game - it was close (no lead of more than a run survived the next half inning), it was tense and dramatic (six of its 13 runs scored with two outs, and the teams left runners in scoring position in non-scoring innings three times, including the bases loaded once for the Mets), and it had a very big finish (the Mets taking the lead despite having a runner thrown out at home in the top of the ninth, then blowing it in stupendously unlikely fashion in the bottom).

It is, in total, the best nine-inning game of the 1984 season so far, and by a respectable margin. And it comes at a very good time for the seasonal excitement race, because it's one day after the Giants became the first team in several months to wrest the lead from the Yankees, and it helped them hold it despite the New Yorkers playing a barn burner of their own - a 9-6 win with a 5-run rally in the eighth.

That wasn't all that happened on August 19, either. Thanks to a pair of doubleheaders, there were 15 games played, and 11 of them were in the 60th percentile or better, with three in the 90th. It grades out as the third-most dramatic day of the '84 season to date - which is particularly remarkable because not one of the 15 games played went to extra innings.

No comments:

Post a Comment