Thursday, September 11, 2014

Game of the Day (9/10/84)

Expos 8, Pirates 5. Montreal's David Palmer, age 26 and still trying to establish himself after missing two of the previous three seasons, faced Pittsburgh's John Candelaria, a former ERA champ who threw his last 200-inning season in 1980, but would pitch until 1993.

Montreal stormed out to an early lead when Andre Dawson walked, Gary Carter singled, and Jim Wohlford homered in the top of the first. However, Pittsburgh responded swiftly in the bottom of the inning. Marvell Wynne led off with a double, and Lee Lacy singled him home. Johnny Ray walked, and Jason Thompson and Tony Pena followed with RBI singles to tie the game at 3. Jim Morrison walked to load the bases, Brian Harper flied to center for the first out of the inning, and Denny Gonzalez walked to force in the go-ahead run. Palmer was then yanked in favor of Rick Grapenthin, who struck out Candelaria and induced a flyout from Wynne to end the inning.

The Expos tied the score in the second on singles by Doug Flynn, Mike Ramsey, and Tim Raines. With two outs, Dawson singled as well, but Grapenthin, who had hit into a force earlier in the inning, was thrown out trying to score on the play, ending the threat. Grapenthin tossed a perfect second. Lee Tunnell relieved Candelaria in the third and worked around a Wohlford single, while Grapenthin allowed a Pena walk and a Morrison single in the bottom of the inning, then induced a double play and a flyout to extinguish the rally.

The visitors pulled ahead again in the fourth. Tunnell retired the first two hitters of the inning, but then allowed a Raines double, walked Wallace Johnson, and yielded a tiebreaking RBI double to Dawson. Carter was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Wohlford proceeded to single in a pair of runs, making it a 7-4 lead. Grapenthin threw a spotless fourth, then singled against Jim Winn with one out in the fifth, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a Johnson single. He then retired the Pirates in order again in the bottom of the inning.

Winn allowed only a walk in the top of the sixth; Joe Hesketh relieved in the bottom of the inning and allowed a Morrison single, which was followed two outs later by a pinch RBI double from Eddie Vargas. The remainder of the game passed relatively calmly. Don Robinson allowed singles in the seventh (Ramsey) and eighth (Carter), and Kent Tekulve retired the Expos in order in the ninth. Hekseth, meanwhile, pitched the last four innings for Montreal, and after the run he allowed in the sixth, gave up only one hit per inning - singles to Thompson, Morrison, and Lacy, respectively.

It probably will not shock anyone to learn that a game whose decisive runs were scored in the fourth does not garner a particularly exemplary excitement value; the WPL of 3.08 is solid, but does not reach the 70th percentile. However, despite the early determination of the eventual outcome, the game still featured two lead changes, plus a fairly rare four-inning save - the first save of Joe Hekseth's career - and a career high 5 RBI from Jim Wohlford, who played 15 big league seasons.

There was also Rick Grapenthin, a pitcher who has now appeared in this space four times in the last few weeks. In this game, he took the mound after his team's starter blew a large early lead, and remained there when they pulled ahead, even contributing a hit and a run on offense. He also threw 4.2 innings of one-hit baseball at the Pirates, and his efforts earned him the win.

Grapenthin would end his career having made a total of 19 major league appearances, with a 6.35 ERA. This game includes his only run scored, and one of his two hits. More notably, it was also the longest outing of his career, and his only victory.

Not a bad consolation prize for the fans who "only" got to watch a very good game.

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