Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Game of the Day (8/26/84)

Royals 6, White Sox 5 (16). Chicago's Richard Dotson had posted a very good year in 1983. KC's Charlie Leibrandt would go on to an excellent 1985. In 1984, neither pitcher was quite at his best, though both still did very good work (though Leibrandt's was abbreviated, as he had missed the entire '83 season and didn't make his first '84 appearance until June).

Harold Baines and Greg Luzinski both singled in the first, but Leibrandt stranded them both. In the bottom of the inning, Willie Wilson reached on a grounder back to the mound, and scampered to third on a Dotson throwing error. Pat Sheridan singled Wilson home, Jorge Orta doubled to score Sheridan, and Darryl Motley homered to push Kansas City's lead to 4-0. Leibrandt threw a perfect second, while Dotson worked around a leadoff single by Greg Pryor.

Chicago joined in on the scoring in the third when Julio Cruz doubled and Rudy Law singled him home. Carlton Fisk followed with a single of his own; Harold Baines hit into a force at second, but Buddy Biancalana committed a throwing error in trying to turn the double play, allowing Law to score. Dotson worked around a Motley triple in the bottom of the third, and the Sox picked up another run in the top of the fourth when Tom Paciorek doubled and came around on a pair of groundouts, closing the gap to 4-3.

Dotson was perfect in the fourth, as was Leibrandt in the fifth. Wilson led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and stole second; Sheridan then walked, Dane Iorg hit into a double play, and Orta flied out to end the inning. Baines singled in the top of the sixth, and Biancalana walked in the bottom of the seventh; both runners were removed on double plays, and nobody else reached in either inning.

Dan Quisenberry relieved Leibrandt in the top of the eighth. He allowed a one-out single-and-steal to Law, followed by a go-ahead two-run homer by Fisk. Baines and Greg Walker both singled, but Quisenberry salvaged the inning with a double play ball from Mike Squires. Sheridan led off the bottom of the inning with a single, moved to second on a groundout, and took third when Orta reached on a Vance Law error. One out later, Dotson threw a wild pitch that brought Sheridan home with the run that tied the game at 4.

Quisenberry worked a perfect ninth, while Dotson allowed a two-out Biancalana double, but retired Wilson to send the game to extras. Mark Huismann replaced Quisenberry in the tenth and retired the Sox in order; Sheridan drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the inning, and the next three hitters went sacrifice bunt, intentional walk, double play, keeping the game tied. Baines led off the eleventh with a single, and Squires walked; Huismann then stranded both of them.

Ron Reed took over for Dotson in the bottom of the eleventh and walked Frank White before retiring the next three hitters. Huismann and Reed both worked perfect twelfths, and Huismann kept the bases clear in the thirteenth as well; Reed allowed a Motley single, then retired White on a grounder that went 1-2-3, which... did it bounce off of Reed back toward the plate? Anyway, Motley took second on that play, Don Slaught was intentionally walked, and Pryor flied out to end the inning.

Huismann worked around a Squires single in the fourteenth. Bert Roberge relieved Reed in the bottom of the inning and retired the Royals in order. Larry Gura took the mound in the top of the fifteenth and allowed singles to Scott Fletcher and Rudy Law, then retired Fisk and Baines to strand them. Roberge was spotless in the bottom of the fifteenth, as was Gura in the sixteenth. White led off the bottom of the sixteenth with a single and moved to second on a groundout, but was then picked off - and Pryor followed the pickoff with a walkoff homer.

This game included sixteen innings, 25 at bats with runners in scoring position, and six double plays. Out of all of those events, two things stand out. The first is Richard Dotson, who allowed four runs in the first inning - and then pitched another nine, giving up only one unearned run in the process. The ten-inning start is nearly extinct in present-day baseball; the ten-inning, five-run start has most likely breathed its last. Even in 1984, it can't have been terribly common. As such, Dotson's thorough recovery from his early struggles is well worthy of note.

The second is Greg Pryor, who hit the walkoff homer. Pryor's career lasted 10 seasons and just over 2000 plate appearances, and he hit only 14 career home runs; the one in this game was his fourth of the 1984 season, establishing his career high. Given those modest totals, one might reasonably expect this longball to be the only walkoff job of Pryor's career.

One would be wrong in that expectation. In fact, no fewer than three of Pryor's homers were walkoffs. The other two were a come-from-behind pinch-hit bomb to end this 1980 contest, and a tiebreaking solo shot in this game, which came just four months earlier than the one described here. I don't figure there are a lot of players who had walkoffs as over 20% of their career home run totals, but Pryor did.

Throw in the aforementioned 16 innings, with a double comeback at what turned out to be the halfway point in the game, and you've got an effort that edges into the top 10 on the season so far.

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