Saturday, September 13, 2014

Game of the Day (9/12/84)

Phillies 6, Cardinals 5. Philadelphia's Kevin Gross took on St. Louis's Bob Forsch. The two men would end up with pretty similar careers (between 2400 and 2800 innings, ERA+ figures not far below 100), but were at very different stages in them. Gross was 23 and was not fully established in the rotation, while Forsch was 34, missed significant time in '84, and would soon be on the downslope of his career.

Gross worked around a Tom Herr single in the first, and the Phillies took the lead in the bottom of the inning on a Juan Samuel triple and a Jeff Stone sacrifice fly. A Mike Schmidt walk and a Tim Corcoran single put another runner in scoring position, but John Wockenfuss popped up to leave him there. Danny Green singled and advanced on a balk in the top of the second, but was left on. Forsch retired the Phils in order in the home second, and Gross did the same to the Cards in the third.

The home team increased its lead in the bottom of the third. With one out, Stone singled, Von Hayes walked, and Schmidt singled Stone home, though Hayes was thrown out trying for third on the play. A Corcoran walk and a Wockenfuss single brought Schmidt around in turn, making it a 3-0 lead. However, St. Louis responded in the top of the fourth, as Terry Pendleton doubled, Darrell Porter singled him home, and Andy Van Slyke and Green singled Porter around to pull within a run. Ozzie Smith then bunted back to the mound, and Gross committed a throwing error which allowed Van Slyke to score the tying run and moved Smith and Green to second and third. Mike Jorgensen hit for Forsch and popped up, and Willie McGee grounded out to end the inning.

Neil Allen took the mound in the bottom of the fourth and allowed a leadoff single to Steve Jeltz, then threw a wild pitch that moved the runner to second. Jeltz would advance as far as third before being stranded. Gross was perfect in both the fifth and sixth; Allen allowed only a fifth inning Corcoran single in that same span.

The dry spell of hitting ended in the top of the seventh, as Smith led off with a walk, stole second, and scored the go-ahead run on Herr's two-out single. Pendleton singled as well to chase Gross from the mound, and Tug McGraw retired Porter to end the inning. Allen retired the Phillies in order in the bottom of the seventh, and the Cardinals extended their lead in the eighth when Van Slyke and Smith both tripled.

Allen remained on the mound to open the bottom of the eighth, but one-out singles by Corcoran and Wockenfuss chased him in favor of Bruce Sutter. Len Matuszek was summoned as a pinch hitter, and greeted Sutter with a three-run homer that put the Phillies in front. McGee led off the ninth with a single and moved to second on an errant pickoff throw by McGraw, but was then thrown out trying for third on a grounder to short. McGraw then retired the next two hitters to end the game.

The Cardinals got a fine game from Ozzie Smith in this one; his bunt drove in the tying run in the fourth, he walked, stole second, and scored the go-ahead run in the seventh, and then tripled home an insurance run in the eighth. His contributions add up to a healthy +.350 WPA, the best total of what would end up as Smith's best season to date.

The Phillies? They simply got the highest WPA of Len Matuszek's career, with his come-from-behind 3-run homer in the eighth representing a +.624. The pinch hitter neatly countered Smith's contribution, turning apparent defeat into eventual victory. Which, you know, is a good thing - the best he would do in his respectable 7-year big league tenure.

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