Thursday, August 21, 2014

Game of the Day (8/20/84)

Braves 4, Pirates 1 (10). Both teams sent long-tenured right-handed starters named Rick - Mahler for Atlanta, Rhoden for Pittsburgh. The two of them were born within 3 months of each other, but debuted five years apart; as a result, Rhoden had already thrown well over half of his career innings, while Mahler was in only his second full season as a starter, and was beginning a streak of six straight 190-inning seasons.

Rufino Linares singled in the top of the first, Chris Chambliss doubled leading off the second, and Rafael Ramirez doubled with two away in the third, but Rhoden stranded all three of them. Meanwhile, Mahler retired the Pirates in order in each of the first two innings, then countered a Doug Frobel leadoff single with a Dale Berra double play ball in the bottom of the third.

Chambliss walked with one out in the fourth, and was then caught stealing while Brad Komminsk struck out. Mahler was spotless again in the bottom of the fourth, then singled with two out in the fifth; Jerry Royster singled as well, but Ramirez grounded out to leave them both on. Mahler worked a 1-2-3 fifth, and Rhoden matched that effort in the top of the sixth.

Doug Frobel had been the only Pirate to reach in the first five innings of the game. That remained true after he led off the bottom of the sixth with a home run that gave Pittsburgh the game's first run. One out later, Mahler finally allowed a hit to a different Pirate - Rhoden, who singled and was later forced out at second to end the inning. Atlanta came right back, finally capitalizing on an opportunity in the seventh; Komminsk led off with a single, stole second, moved to third on a groundout, and scored the tying run on a hit by pinch hitter Gerald Perry.

Donnie Moore relieved Mahler in the bottom of the seventh and was perfect in his first inning of work. A Linares walk, a Dale Murphy single, and a Chambliss walk loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the eighth, but Rhoden struck out Komminsk to leave all three runners on. Moore allowed a hit to Jim Morrison in the bottom of the inning, then struck out the side. Kent Tekulve worked around a Ken Oberkfell single in the top of the ninth, while Gene Garber tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning to send the game to extras.

Ramirez led off the tenth with a single. The next two hitters both grounded into forces at second, but Chambliss then singled with two outs, and Komminsk followed with a go-ahead RBI double. Oberkfell was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Alex Trevino broke it open with a two-run single; Garber then retired the Pirates in order to end the game at 4-1.

It is difficult to win a game in which you only get four hits, especially if you complement them with no walks. It is even more difficult when none of those hits come with runners on base, and your team doesn't even have a single at bat with a runner in scoring position. And it is well-nigh impossible when the other team has as many innings with multiple baserunners as you have baserunners, period.

The Pirates met all of those criteria - and while they didn't win the game, they came within Brad-Komminsk-doesn't-steal-second of doing so. Which is kind of impressive, in an unimpressive sort of way.

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