Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Game of the Day (9/22/84)

Pirates 2, Phillies 1 (12). Pittsburgh's Rick Rhoden, a veteran having a to-date career year, faced Philly's Charles Hudson, a second-year pitcher whose most notable feat to this point was allowing a colossal number of unearned runs in the '84 season.

Rhoden was perfect in the top of the first, while Hudson worked around a Johnny Ray double in the bottom of the inning. Neither team put a baserunner on in the second. In the third, Mike LaValliere reached on a Doug Frobel error and Steve Jeltz singled, but Rhoden retired the next three Pirates to leave them both on, and Pittsburgh opened the scoring in the bottom of the inning on singles by Ron Wotus and Rhoden and a run-scoring Joe Orsulak groundout.

Mike Schmidt tied it in the fourth with a one-out homer, and the game proceeded from there with extreme scorelessness. Rhoden allowed a Jeltz walk-and-steal in the fifth and a Schmidt single in the sixth, then set the Phils down in order in the seventh. Hudson, meanwhile, walked Ray in the sixth, but put no other runners on in innings four through seven. In the top of the eighth, Jeff Stone walked, moved to second on a wild pitch, and took third on a groundout before being left there. Orsulak and Lee Lacy both singled in the bottom of the inning, but Hudson induced a groundout from Ray to strand them.

Al Oliver and Tim Corcoran opened the top of the ninth with singles, chasing Rhoden from the game. Pittsburgh then turned to a thoroughly modern procession of relievers. Kent Tekulve got Ivan de Jesus to hit into a force at third, Rod Scurry allowed a base-loading single to John Wockenfuss (the second of a pair of pinch hitters the Phils selected in that plate appearance), and Don Robinson induced a double play from Len Matuszek (also the second half of a double-PH). Tug McGraw had a much more sedate bottom of the inning, retiring the Pirates in order and sending the game to extras.

Stone led off the tenth with a single, stole second, and took third on a groundout, but was then thrown out at home when Von Hayes grounded to short. Hayes stole second and Schmidt was intentionally walked, but Oliver grounded out to end the inning. McGraw was perfect again in the tenth, and Robinson worked a spotless eleventh; McGraw then worked around a Lacy single in the home half of the inning.

The Phillies got two runners on in the top of the twelfth - Francisco Melendez on a K/PB and Juan Samuel on a single - but Hayes hit into a double play to erase Melendez, and Samuel was caught stealing. Larry Andersen relieved McGraw in the bottom of the twelfth, and with one out, Jim Morrison reached on the inning's second dropped third strike (this one a wild pitch). Frobel walked, and pinch hitter Lee Mazzilli singled Morrison home to end the game.

This was a terrifically-pitched game, as most twelve-inning games involving three total runs are. In particular, Don Robinson had one of the best outings of his career, entering with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth, escaping the jam, and throwing three further scoreless innings before his teammates won the game. The resultant +.730 WPA was the third-highest of Robinson's 15-year career.

That sort of performance probably still comes around more often than an inning in which both teams have a runner reach on a dropped third strike, and one of them scores the winning run. So yeah, it was a lively game.

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