Sunday, September 21, 2014

Game of the Day (9/20/84)

Twins 5, White Sox 4. Minnesota's Frank Viola was approaching the end of a terrific 1984 season, one that would begin a decade in which Viola was frequently (though not always) one of the best pitchers in baseball. Over the next 7 years, Viola would lead the league in wins once, starts twice, and innings once, win a Cy Young award, and throw a shutout in a World Series Game 7. Not a bad list of accomplishments at all.

He was opposed by Chicago's Tom Seaver, whose career already included three Cy Youngs and an equal number of ERA titles, and would eventually include to 311 wins and the to-date highest Hall of Fame vote percentage ever. Viola's career isn't outclassed by a huge number of pitchers, but Seaver was worth approximately two of him.

Both starters allowed single runs in the first. Scott Fletcher led off the game with a walk and took second on a Viola wild pitch; Tom Paciorek then singled Fletcher to third, and Fletcher drew a throw home that allowed Paciorek to take second. Harold Baines grounded out to score Fletcher, and Paciorek then stole third but was left there when Viola struck out the next two hitters. The Twins tied it in the bottom of the inning when Kirby Puckett walked and Kent Hrbek doubled. Neither team put a baserunner on in the second, and Viola was perfect in the third as well; Minnesota then pulled ahead in the bottom of the inning on a Tim Laudner double, a Puckett groundout, and a Ron Washington sacrifice fly.

Chicago retied the score in the top of the fourth by way of a Baines triple and a wild pitch, and Seaver worked around a Tom Brunansky single in the bottom of the inning. Viola threw a 1-2-3 fifth, however, and the Twins got a Laudner double and a Puckett single in the home half to take another one-run lead. Ron Kittle homered in the top of the sixth to equalize the game again, but singles by Gary Gaetti, Tim Teufel, and Puckett put the home team back in front. Viola and Seaver were both perfect in the seventh, maintaining the 4-3 score. In the top of the eighth, Carlton Fisk smacked a pinch home run to tie the game once more.

Viola was perfect in the ninth; Seaver worked around singles by Teufel in the eighth and Puckett in the ninth to send the game into extras. Both starters remained on the mound in the tenth, and combined to allow only a Brunansky walk in the inning. The bullpens finally made their first appearance in the eleventh. Ed Hodge retired the Sox in order, while Ron Reed walked pinch hitter Darrell Brown, but gave up nothing else. Ron Davis walked Jerry Hairston in the top of the twelfth and left him on; Reed then set the Twins down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.

Pinch hitter Steve Christmas led off the top of the thirteenth with a single, and Julio Cruz singled pinch runner Rudy Law to third, then stole second. Davis recovered quickly, however; he struck out the next two hitters, intentionally walked Baines, and coaxed Kittle to fly out, leaving the bases loaded. Bert Roberge relieved in the bottom of the inning and proceeded to allow a rather undignified winning run - he walked Brunansky to start the inning, Gaetti bunted the runner to second, and a passed ball and a wild pitch brought him the rest of the way around.

This game has something that highlights the fact that it occurred 30 years ago, and something timeless. The obviously-from-the-past aspect is the fact that two starting pitchers who each gave up four runs spread throughout the game were left in for the tenth inning. (Well, that and the appearance of familiar stars like Seaver, Viola, Puckett, and Fisk, the last of whom hit one of the three pinch home runs of his career in this game.)

The reassuringly familiar part? The highly undignified extra-inning walkoff, of course. No matter how much things change, it's rather comforting to know that major league baseball teams can still find ridiculous ways to lose close games.

No comments:

Post a Comment