Saturday, August 23, 2014

Game of the Day (8/22/84)

Expos 5, Dodgers 3 (11). LA started Rick Honeycutt, a 30-year-old lefty having a solid year. His effectiveness would decline over the next three seasons, but underwent a resurgence after a move to the bullpen once he joined the A's. Montreal's hurler of choice was Charlie Lea, a 27-year-old right hander who was blossoming into quite a good pitcher when this game occurred - and who would be felled by a serious shoulder injury after making only four more starts.

Honeycutt faced Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, and Gary Carter in the top of the first - but the only hit of the inning was by Derrel Thomas, who doubled after Raines grounded out. Dawson flied to center, Carter was intentionally walked, and Dan Driessen hit into an inning-ending force. Lea was perfect in the first, and Honeycutt matched him in the second. LA then drew first blood in the bottom of the second when Mike Marshall and Mike Scioscia singled, putting runners at the corners, and German Rivera's sac fly scored Marshall.

Neither starter allowed a baserunner in the third. Montreal tied it up in the fourth on singles by Carter, Tim Wallach, and Jim Wohlford. Greg Brock reached on an error in the bottom of the inning, but was left at first. Rivera's single in the bottom of the fifth made him the only player on either team to reach in the frame, and Steve Sax's flyout (or lineout or popup) to second doubled him off of first.

The Expos took their first lead in the top of the sixth. Dawson and Carter opened the inning with singles, Driessen bunted them to second and third, Wallach was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Wohlford hit into a run-scoring force at second for a 2-1 edge. Lea was perfect in the bottom of the inning. Honeycutt walked Raines in the top of the seventh, but the speedy leadoff man was then caught stealing. Marshall led off the bottom of the seventh with a double and made it as far as third before being left on. Honeycutt and Lea then exchanged spotless efforts in the eighth.

Pat Zachry relieved Honeycutt in the ninth and retired the Expos in order. Lea allowed a leadoff double to Ken Landreaux in the bottom of the ninth, and the runner moved to third when Thomas erred after catching Pedro Guerrero's popup (an errant throw in attempting to double off the runner, maybe). Jeff Reardon took Lea's place and struck out Marshall, but then allowed a game-tying Brock single. Scioscia walked and Rivera singled to load the bases, but Reardon then retired Rafael Landestoy to keep the tie in place and force extras.

Zachry allowed two-out singles to Thomas and Dawson in the tenth, but Ken Howell took his place and struck out Carter to strand the runners. Bob James retired the Dodgers 1-2-3 in the bottom of the tenth, and Montreal struck quickly in the top of the eleventh on consecutive doubles by Driessen and Wallach. Carlos Diaz replaced Zachry and notched one out; Burt Hooton then relieved and allowed a double to Doug Flynn which somehow only moved Wallach to third. Pinch hitter Mike Stenhouse followed that with a two-run single to make it a 5-2 lead.

Gary Lucas replaced James in the bottom of the eleventh and retired Guerrero, then got himself into trouble with singles by Marshall, Brock, and Steve Yeager, the third of which brought in a run. Rick Grapenthin was summoned to the mound and retired pinch hitter Tony Brewer, then coaxed a Landestoy groundout to end the game with the tying runs in scoring position.

Rick Grapenthin pitched 34 major league innings in his career, which managed to spread themselves out across three seasons. His four innings in 1983 (which came in one game) were quite bad, and the seven he threw in 1985 were somehow actually worse. But in 1984, he managed 23 innings of serviceable relief, including two saves - of which this game was one. His WPA of +.183 would be the second-highest of his career, trailing only the +.306 he would earn in his lone win.

It's not necessarily the kind of thing that makes for a compelling highlight video - but it's a contribution to a victory in a major league baseball game, and in that sense, Rick Grapenthin accomplished something for which many people would exchange a valued body part and/or significant fraction of their lifespan.

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