Monday, September 29, 2014

Game of the Day (9/28/84)

Brewers 4, Blue Jays 3 (11). A pair of franchise stalwarts faced off, as Toronto's Jim Clancy opposed Milwaukee's Moose Haas.

Haas allowed a single, a double, and a walk in the top of the first, but Tony Fernandez was caught stealing after singling, and Dave Collins, the man who doubled, was thrown out breaking for third while Willie Upshaw struck out. The Brewers also threatened as Robin Yount singled and stole second, then saw Doug Loman walk behind him before both men were left on. Cliff Johnson singled and moved to second on a groundout in the top of the second, and that made him the last runner to reach before the end of the third inning. Upshaw singled in the top of the fourth, as did Loman in the bottom; the former was left on, and the latter was caught stealing.

Toronto opened the scoring in the fifth, starting with singles by Rance Mulliniks and Ernie Whitt. Alfredo Griffin bunted the runners to second and third, and Mulliniks then came home on a Fernandez groundout. Ed Romero's single made him Milwaukee's only baserunner in the bottom of the inning. Haas allowed a Lloyd Moseby single and a George Bell double in the sixth, but Moseby was caught stealing before Bell's hit, defusing a potential threat. Cecil Cooper singled and stole second in the home sixth and was left on. The Jays went down in order in the seventh, while Dion James singled but was thrown out stealing in the bottom of the inning.

Collins singled and was cut down stealing in the top of the eighth, and Milwaukee finally scored in the bottom of the inning. Romero led off with a walk, and Willie Lozado and Yount singled him around to tie the game. Jimmy Key relieved Clancy and induced a foulout from Jim Gantner, but then allowed a go-ahead RBI single to Cooper and walked Loman to load the bases. Bobby Clark struck out, but Key then hit James with a pitch to force in another run. Ron Musselman retired Jim Sundberg to end the inning.

Toronto responded in the top of the ninth. Upshaw drew a leadoff walk, and Bell singled him to second, chasing Haas from the mound. Jim Kern walked Johnson to load the bases, and Ray Searage was summoned in Kern's place. Pinch hitter Jesse Barfield greeted Searage with a game-tying two-run single, but Searage then retired the next three Jays to keep the tie intact. Musselman was spotless in the bottom of the inning, sending the game to extras. Searage hit Collins with a pitch in the tenth, but left him on; the Brewers threatened in the bottom of the inning on a Gantner walk-and-steal, an intentional walk to Loman, a groundout that moved the runners to second and third, and an intentional walk to James that loaded the bases, but Sundberg struck out to leave all three runners on.

Searage was perfect in the top of the eleventh. Romero led off the bottom of the inning with a single and was bunted to second by Lozano; Yount then singled as well, and Kelly Gruber committed an error on the play that allowed Romero to come in with the winning run.

The difference in this very close game came down almost entirely to hitting with runners in scoring position - the Blue Jays were 1 for 10, while the Brewers were 3 for 10. And the gap in that category existed entirely in the person of Robin Yount, who went 3 for 6 in the game, and had hits in both of his RISP at bats, the first of which tied the game and the second of which won it.

In 1982, Robin Yount had been the best player in baseball - and that understates the quality of his season, which at 10.5 WAR was one of the 40 or so best ever by a position player. In 1983, he regressed to the level of a mere MVP candidate, and he took another step back in '84, having a mere All-Star-type season (though he was not an actual All-Star, as Cal Ripken and Alan Trammell nailed down the AL's shortstop spots). But even at a level below his peak, Yount was still capable of winning the occasional baseball game almost single-handedly, and his season-high WPA of +.476 suggests that's exactly what he did in this one.

Of course, it also helped that Toronto kept trying to steal bases against Jim Sundberg, who threw out half of the players who ran on him in 1984, and all four of the Blue Jays who did so in this game.

No comments:

Post a Comment