Thursday, August 28, 2014

Game of the Day (8/27/84)

Giants 5, Expos 4 (11). Montreal's Charlie Lea was making his second consecutive Game of the Day start while the clock ticked down on his time bomb of a shoulder. He faced our old friend Bill Laskey, appearing in his sixth Game of the Day of the season.

Lea allowed a single and steal to Chili Davis in the first, but left him at second. Mike Stenhouse doubled with one out in the bottom of the inning; Andre Dawson singled him home, taking second on a Davis error, and Gary Carter then singled to bring Dawson around for a 2-0 lead. Dan Driessen ended the inning by hitting into a double play. Lea walked Scot Thompson and allowed a Fran Mullins single in the second before leaving them both on; Laskey then walked Tim Wallach before erasing him on a Mike Ramsey double play ball.

Dan Gladden and Davis both singled in the top of the third, putting runners at the corners; Lea then retired the next two hitters to strand them. Montreal extended its lead in the bottom of the inning when Tim Raines singled, stole second, and scored on a Dawson single. San Francisco threatened yet again in the fourth when Thompson led off with a single and Johnnie LeMaster singled with one out, taking second on a Wallach throwing error. Lea struck out Laskey and retired Gladden on a grounder to leave both runners in scoring position. Doug Flynn's single was all the Expos managed in the bottom of the inning.

The Giants finally scored in the top of the fifth when Manny Trillo singled and Davis homered. Bob Brenly later singled and took second on a groundout before being left on. Raines led off the home fifth with a single and made it as far as second, but not past that point. LeMaster drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the inning; Laskey bunted, and the Expos failed to convert the force at second, allowing both runners to reach safely. Gladden bunted the runners to second and third, Trillo grounded out, Davis was intentionally walked, and Jeffrey Leonard hit into a force to leave the bases loaded. Laskey retired the Expos in order in the sixth, giving him the first 1-2-3 inning of the game. Lea allowed a walk and steal to Mullins in the seventh, but nothing else; Raines got the same walk and steal in the bottom of the inning, and his team failed to convert as well.

Bob James replaced Lea in the top of the eighth. Gene Richards reached second on a Ramsey error, stayed there for two outs, and came home on a Davis single to tie the game; Leonard singled Davis to third, but Brenly fouled out to end the inning. Greg Minton relieved in the bottom of the inning and was greeted by singles from Dawson and Carter, putting runners at the corners. Driessen's groundout didn't allow Dawson to score, but advanced Carter to second. Wallach was intentionally walked to load the bases, but pinch hitter Miguel Dilone hit into a force at home, and pinch hitter Tony Scott grounded out to strand all three runners.

James threw a perfect ninth. Minton had a bit more trouble; Raines hit a one-out double, and walks to Dawson (intentional) and Carter (unintentional) loaded the bases before Driessen flied out to send the game to extras. Jeff Reardon and Frank Williams exchanged flawless tenths, keeping the 3-3 score in place.

Leonard drew a one-out walk in the eleventh, stole second, and scored the go-ahead run on a Brenly double. Reardon intentionally walked Thompson, and one out later, unintentionally walked LeMaster to load the bases and bring Williams to the plate. Reardon's pitching counterpart proceeded to single, scoring Brenly with an insurance run that proved necessary when Raines singled, stole second, and scored on a Carter single in the bottom of the inning. Williams eventually retired Driessen to leave the tying run at third and end the game.

Both teams had significant numbers of scoring chances in this game - the Expos went 5 for 16 with runners in scoring position, while San Francisco was 3 for 19. Of particular note is that the Giants had at least one RISP AB in each of the first eight innings, but went hitless in such situations for the first seven - and still managed to force extra innings.

But the real fun to be had in this game comes on the individual level. The Expos had three genuinely outstanding players in their lineup, and all three had excellent games - Andre Dawson and Gary Carter both went 3 for 5 with a walk and two RBI, and Tim Raines was 4 for 5 with a double, three stolen bases, and two runs scored. All three of them had WPAs of +.200 or higher - and yet, the Expos went down, largely because the non-Hall of Fame candidates in the lineup combined for a total of only two hits. Particularly damaging was Dan Driessen's 0 for 6 performance in the fifth spot in the order; there were runners in scoring position in five of those six at bats, including runners at the corners with nobody out in the eighth, bases loaded with two outs in the ninth, and runners at the corners with two outs and a one-run deficit in the eleventh. Driessen made damaging outs in all three cases, ending the day with a WPA of -.484, the lowest single-game total of his quality 15-year career.

On the other side, the Giants benefited from the first game in Chili Davis's career to feature four hits and a home run; Davis also drove in three, including the tying run in the eighth, and posted a season-high WPA of +.476. And yet, Davis's hitting feats were arguably not the most notable in the game. That honor may also fall to reliever Frank Williams, whose eleventh-inning single was the fourth of his eventual five career hits, and produced both his lone major league RBI and the eventual winning margin.

All of that adds up to... a pretty typical start for Bill Laskey in 1984, actually.

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