Thursday, September 18, 2014

Game of the Day (9/17/84)

Padres 3, Reds 2 (11). San Diego's Ed Whitson was an established veteran having what was a career year at the time; he would go on to pitch for a total of five teams (returning to the Padres again later and having his actual best seasons) and is best known (arguably) for getting into a fight with his manager (the manager in question was Billy Martin, which explains a lot). Cincinnati's Tom Browning, was making his second big league start; he would pitch for the Reds for the next decade and is almost certainly best known for throwing a perfect game.

Browning and Whitson each allowed a highly excusable single in the first inning - they were hit by Tony Gwynn and Pete Rose, respectively. Carmelo Martinez led off the second with a double and moved to third on a groundout, but Browning retired both Luis Salazar and Garry Templeton to leave him there. Brad Gulden singled in the bottom of the inning and was also stranded. Gwynn picked up another hit in the third, but was caught stealing, and Whitson retired the Reds in order in the home half of the inning.

San Diego opened the scoring in the fourth via singles from Steve Garvey, Carmelo Martinez, and Terry Kennedy. Cincinnati tied it in the bottom of the inning when Dave Parker walked, moved to second on a Cesar Cedeno single, took third on a flyout, and scored on a Dave Concepcion sac fly. The Padres then pulled ahead again in the fifth, courtesy of an Alan Wiggins double and a Gwynn RBI single, and the starters calmed things from there, as nobody else reached base through the end of the sixth.

Templeton singled and was left on in the top of the seventh. Wayne Krenchicki led off the bottom of the inning with a double and moved to third on a grounder back to the mound, but was thrown out trying to score the tying run on Gulden's flyout. Garvey singled in the eighth, but didn't advance from first, and Whitson retired the Reds in order in the home half. Carl Willis relieved Browning in the top of the ninth and kept the bases Padre-free.

Whitson quickly recorded the first two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Cedeno then singled, stole second, and scored the tying run on a Krenchicki double. Goose Gossage relieved Whitson and retired Concepcion to send the game to extras. Willis saw Gwynn reach on an error in the tenth, but left him on; Gossage got into rather more significant trouble in the bottom of the inning, as singles by Ron Oester and Tom Foley were followed by a base-loading Eddie Milner walk. However, Rose hit into a force at home, and Parker flied out to strand all three runners.

Kevin McReynolds greeted Ted Power with a single in the top of the eleventh. Two outs later, Graig Nettles stepped in to pinch hit, and smacked a go-ahead RBI triple. Gossage retired the Reds in order in the bottom of the inning to finish the game.

Graig Nettles played in 22 big league seasons, and ranks among the top 75 all time in both plate appearances and at bats. With a career of that length, it is rather unusual to find anything that he accomplished only once.

This game has one of them: it features the sole pinch hit triple of Nettles's career. Given that it also featured a game-tying two-out ninth-inning rally, followed by the same team leaving the bases loaded in the tenth before the fateful three-base hit, I'd say it qualifies as a pretty worthwhile contest.

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