Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Game of the Day (9/15/84)

Red Sox 4, Yankees 3. Boston's Al Nipper, who was 25 and solid, but not destined for marked improvement, faced New York's John Montefusco, who at 25 had been better than Nipper ever was, but who was now 34 and had four starts (and a few relief appearances) left in his career.

Montefusco retired the Sox in order in the first; Nipper allowed a leadoff double to Bobby Meacham and walked Ken Griffey, but left them both on. Boston then took the lead when Tony Armas led off the second with a homer. A Mike Pagliarulo walk and a Rex Hudler double put a pair of Yankees in scoring position in the home second, but Nipper kept them from evening the score until Griffey homered in the bottom of the third. Pagliarulo's single made him the only player from either team to reach base in the fourth, and he remained anchored to first for the rest of the inning.

Boston pulled ahead again in the top of the fifth. With one out, Bill Buckner and Rich Gedman singled, and Marty Barrett doubled Buckner home. Jackie Gutierrez grounded out, Wade Boggs was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Dwight Evans singled in a pair of runs to make it a 4-1 game. Nipper plunked Griffey and allowed a Dave Winfield single in the bottom of the inning, bringing the tying run to the plate, but Steve Kemp flied out to strand both runners. Montefusco worked around an Armas double in the sixth, and the Yanks pulled closer in the bottom of the inning. Omar Moreno started the rally with a two-out double, Hudler was hit by a pitch, and Meacham singled to load the bases. Griffey followed with a two-run single, narrowing the deficit to one, but Don Mattingly grounded out to end the inning.

Gutierrez and Boggs singled in the seventh, but were left on. Winfield led off the bottom of the inning with a double and moved to third on a two-out wild pitch, but Nipper stranded him there. Montefusco was pulled after Buckner's two-out single in the eighth, and Dave Righetti struck out Gedman to end the inning; Nipper then retired the Yankees in order. Righetti allowed a hit to Gutierrez in the ninth, but Boggs hit into a double play. Griffey and Winfield then singled in the bottom of the inning, putting the tying run at second with one out; Bob Stanley relieved Nipper and worked through Kemp and Butch Wynegar to end the game.

The Yankees had the two best individual hitting performances in this game. Ken Griffey had a remarkable effort, going 3 for 3 with a homer, reaching base five times, and driving in all three Yankee runs; his WPA was a healthy +.502. Two spots behind Griffey in the order, Dave Winfield also had three hits.

Despite those two players, the Yankees still came out behind. The simplest reason is the fact that they went 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position - a legitimately painful performance in a game that is lost by a run. The worst offenders were the two players following Winfield in the lineup - Steve Kemp (0 for 5, four of them with runners in scoring position) and Butch Wynegar (also 0 for 5, two with RISP including the final out of the game).

In the larger scheme of things, Kemp and Wynegar were both capable hitters who just had bad days. I doubt that made the loss too much more pleasant to absorb at the time.

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