Friday, August 8, 2014

Game of the Day (8/7/84)

Tigers 7, Red Sox 5 (11). Just in case you didn't get your fill of high-scoring Tigers-Red Sox games with two-run victory margins in yesterday's writeup, this one provides more of the same, starting with a pitching matchup of Detroit's Milt Wilcox, a long-tenured righty whose career was nearly over, and Boston's John Henry Johnson, a lefty who started in only three of his 30 appearances in 1984, being pressed into such service in this one because it was the second game of a doubleheader.

Both starters were perfect in the first, with Johnson striking out the side in the top of the inning. Larry Herndon got the game's first hit in the top of the second - and produced its first run as well, as the hit left the yard. The starters then worked around occasional singles through the end of the third (Barbaro Garbey and Howard Johnson had hits for the Tigers, Bill Buckner and Jackie Gutierrez for the Sox).

Detroit extended its lead in the top of the fourth on solo homers by Lance Parrish and Kirk Gibson. Jim Rice doubled in the bottom of the inning, but was left on, and the Tigers made it a 4-0 game when Howard Johnson tripled and scored on a wild pitch. Boston finally joined in on the scoring in the bottom of the fifth when Marty Barrett doubled, Gutierrez singled him to third, and Wade Boggs doubled him home, but Dwight Evans and Rice were both retired to leave the remaining two runners in scoring position.

Steve Crawford relieved in the top of the sixth and worked around a Garbey single. Mike Easler reached on an error in the bottom of the inning, but was erased on a double play. Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell both singled in the top of the seventh, but Chet Lemon flied out to leave them at the corners, and Boston finally put up a crooked number in the bottom of the inning. Jeff Newman drew a leadoff walk, and Barrett hit into a force. Pinch hitter Rick Miller singled, and Boggs grounded out to advance the runners to second and third. Evans then homered, tying the game at 4, and Rice went deep as well to put the Sox in front for the first time.

Bob Stanley relieved Crawford for the eighth and worked around a pinch single from Darrell Evans. Aurelio Lopez retired the Sox in order in the bottom of the inning, giving his team a final shot at overcoming the one-run deficit. Pinch hitter Dave Bergman led off with a double, Johnson grounded out to move him to third, and Mark Clear came on in relief of Stanley. Whitaker greeted him with a grounder to first, and Buckner misplayed the ball, allowing the tying run to score. Whitaker then took third on a passed ball and a steal, Trammell walked, Lemon struck out, Parrish walked to load the bases, and Ruppert Jones struck out to strand all three runners.

Lopez was perfect in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game to extras. Rich Gale walked Gibson in the top of the tenth, but allowed nothing else, and Lopez set the Sox down 1-2-3 again in the home half. Trammell singled with one out in the eleventh, and after Lemon hit into a force, Parrish homered to put Detroit back in front. Willie Hernandez then threw a flawless half inning to finish off the victory.

This game was actually almost modern - neither starter made it through the seventh, and the teams combined for four walks, six homers, and 27 strikeouts. If it hadn't been for the Tigers using Aurelio Lopez for 3.1 flawless relief innings as the first man out of the bullpen, you'd think the game had been dropped into 1984 from 30 years in the future.

At least, you'd think that if you didn't notice that the catcher who hit two homers, including the game winner, and had one of the five best WPAs of his 19-year career (+.533) was '80s stalwart Lance Parrish. Or that the first baseman who made a crucial error that helped the Red Sox blow their lead and lose an 11-inning game was Bill Buckner.

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