Sunday, September 14, 2014

Game of the Day (9/13/84)

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 1. New York's Ray Fontenot and Toronto's Luis Leal were both in their mid-20's at the time of this game, and both had solid 1984 seasons; it was the fourth such campaign in a row for Leal, and Fontenot had another one coming the next year.

Leal was out of the majors one year later; Fontenot lasted two. So it goes with pitchers.

Leal was perfect in the first, while Fontenot cancelled a Damaso Garcia leadoff single with a double play ball. Scott Bradley singled and was stranded in the top of the second; Fontenot walked both Cliff Johnson and Buck Martinez, and left them on in turn. New York opened the scoring in the third when Omar Moreno was hit by a pitch, stole second, moved to third on a Rick Cerone single, and came home on a Willie Randolph sacrifice fly; they then loaded the bases on two-out hits by Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield, but Steve Kemp struck out to strand all three runners.

Toronto tied the score in the home third when Lloyd Moseby walked and George Bell doubled him home, but the Yankees pulled decisively ahead in the top of the fourth. Bradley led off with a double, Mike Pagliarulo doubled him home for a 2-1 lead, and Moreno then tripled, scoring Pagliarulo and chasing Leal. Ron Musselman allowed Randolph's second sacrifice fly of the game, making it 4-1. The Jays brought the tying run to the plate in the home fourth, courtesy of singles by Willie Upshaw and Garth Iorg, but Tony Fernandez hit into a double play to end the inning, and Mattingly whacked a leadoff homer against Bryan Clark in the fifth to pad New York's advantage.

The Toronto portions of the remaining innings passed quietly - Fontenot allowed a George Bell double in the fifth and walked Fernandez in the seventh, but finished out the eighth before being relieved by Jay Howell, who worked a flawless ninth. Clark walked a pair of Yankees in the sixth, then allowed them to load the bases with nobody out in the seventh on an error and a pair of singles, but a Bradley strikeout and a Pagliarulo double play ball ended that inning with nobody scoring. Jim Acker managed a scoreless eighth around a Randolph walk and a Bobby Meacham single, and the Yanks picked up a ninth-inning run against Jimmy Key via a Brian Dayett double, a groundout, a walk, and a Moreno single, giving the game its final score.

This game is overwhelmingly likely to end up as the single least-compelling Game of the Day of the 1984 season. Its 2.03 WPL puts it barely above the 30th percentile on the year, and its selection is entirely due to the fact that there were only five games played on September 13, and the other four managed to be even less dramatic.

On the other hand, it still produced one of the best starts of Ray Fontenot's abbreviated career, a fine effort from breakout star Don Mattingly (2 for 5 with a homer and an ROE), a fun outing by Omar Moreno (a single, a triple, a steal, an HBP, two runs and two RBI), and an odd day from Willie Randolph (five plate appearances and only one at bat, thanks to two walks and two sac flies). Which goes to show that baseball doesn't always have to produce a classic game to give you something worth watching.

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