Friday, August 29, 2014

Game of the Day (8/28/84)

A's 4, Yankees 3 (12). New York's Ray Fontenot took on Oakland's Tim Conroy in a matchup of two pitchers who were right around halfway through careers that didn't quite last 500 innings.

Conroy was perfect in the first, while Fontenot hit Joe Morgan with a pitch and walked Dave Kingman before stranding them both. Don Baylor started the top of the second with a walk, and nobody else on either team reached until Carney Lansford's two-out single in the bottom of the third. Bobby Meacham opened the fourth with a bunt hit and made it to second before being stranded; Fontenot was then perfect in the bottom of the inning.

Don Mattingly led off the fifth with a single, and moved to second on a two-out hit by Rick Cerone, but Willie Randolph grounded out to leave them both on. Mike Heath singled and was erased on a Tony Phillips double play ball in the bottom of the inning. New York got a Meacham HBP, a Baylor single and steal, and a Toby Harrah ROE courtesy of Phillips in the top of the sixth, but Dave Winfield had doubled up Meacham before the others reached, and Mattingly grounded out to leave Baylor and Harrah at the corners. Morgan singled in the home half and was left on. Conroy and Fontenot then worked around a single apiece in the seventh, with the hits coming from Cerone and Dwayne Murphy, respectively.

The Yankees finally opened the scoring in the eighth on a Winfield solo homer. Phillips walked to start the bottom of the inning; Rickey Henderson hit into a force, then stole second before being left there. Conroy was perfect in the top of the ninth, and Jay Howell relieved Fontenot in the bottom of the inning. Davey Lopes doubled with one out, Dave Righetti was summoned in Howell's place, and Murphy greeted him with a game-tying single. Murphy was then caught stealing, and Righetti ended the inning with the tie still in place, sending the game to extras.

Bill Caudill walked Cerone in the tenth, but Randolph hit into a force, then was caught stealing second. Mike Armstrong worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the tenth, and the Yanks threatened in the eleventh. Winfield led off with a single and was bunted to second; Mattingly was intentionally walked with two outs, and pinch hitter Steve Kemp struck out to leave the go-ahead run on. Lansford led off the bottom of the inning with a double, but after Morgan was intentionally walked, Armstrong struck out the next two A's and Bob Shirley retired Jeff Burroughs to end the inning.

Caudill remained in the game for the top of the twelfth and allowed a one-out single to Butch Wynegar, then drew a force from Randolph. Meacham walked, advancing Randolph to second, and the lead runner then stole third. Winfield proceeded to single Randolph home with the go-ahead run, and Henderson, who'd moved to center as part of a defensive realignment this inning, committed an error that allowed Meacham to race home as well. Baylor flied out to end the top of the inning.

Shirley quickly recorded the first two outs in the ninth. Phillips then drew a walk, and Shirley was replaced by Dale Murray. That was when the roof caved in, as Henderson doubled Phillips home, Lansford singled to score Henderson with the tying run, and Bruce Bochte and Kingman singled to bring Lansford around with the game-winner.

Dave Winfield had a rather excellent game in this one - 3 for 6 with a go-ahead homer in the eighth and a go-ahead RBI single in the twelfth (on which a second run also scored, thanks to an error). It adds up to a rather lovely +.635 WPA; that basically means that Winfield gave his team enough to win the game more than once, which is a fair interpretation of the hits in the eighth and twelfth innings. But after being shut down by Ray Fontenot (who was decent, but hardly spectacular in '84), the A's managed to rally against New York's exemplary two-man bullpen in the ninth, and did it again when facing the pen's softer underbelly in the twelfth.

Had the Yankees finished off the game easily in the bottom of the twelfth, this would already have been a top-notch contest, and would have taken the day's top spot with no complication. The extra-inning comeback, though, is basically WPL catnip, pushing the game to a score of 6.19, occupying the #23 spot in the overall rankings for the year. Not bad for a game in which there were no runs and five total at bats with runners in scoring position in the first seven innings.

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