Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Game of the Day (9/29/84)

Blue Jays 5, Brewers 4. Toronto's excellent Dave Stieb, who would lead the AL in ERA the next season, took on Milwaukee's mediocre Bob McClure, who would move to the bullpen at the end of the year.

McClure got into and out of trouble in the first inning. Tony Fernandez led off with a single, but was erased on a double play; the Jays then got hits from George Bell and Cliff Johnson, followed by a walk from Jesse Barfield to load the bases before Willie Upshaw flied out. Robin Yount also led off the first with a single and was removed on a double play, but Stieb recorded the third out without all the extra drama.

Both starters were perfect in the second and third, and the Jays took the lead in the top of the fourth. Johnson led off with a homer to open the scoring. Barfield then drew a walk, was bunted to second, and scored on a two-out double by Garth Iorg. Alfredo Griffin proceeded to single Iorg home for a 3-0 lead. Milwaukee got a run back in the bottom of the inning when Yount singled, Ed Romero doubled him to third, Doug Loman walked to load the bases with one out, and Bobby Clark hit an RBI groundout back to the pitcher; Stieb then stranded the remaining pair of runners.

Each team picked up a pair of singles in the fifth, hit by Johnson and Barfield for Toronto and Willie Lozado and Yount for the Brewers, but neither team scored. Griffin doubled and was stranded in the sixth, and Milwaukee rallied in the bottom of the inning. Cecil Cooper led off with a single, and Loman walked to advance him to second. With one out, Dion James singled; Cooper rounded third, but Barfield's throw home sent him scurrying back, and Martinez then threw to second and caught Loman off of the base. There were still two runners on, however, and Roy Howell tripled them both home to tie the game at 3.

Lloyd Moseby led off the seventh with a single and moved to second on a groundout, but advanced no further. Yount then gave the Brewers their first lead with a homer in the bottom of the inning. Martinez led off the eighth with a single; Jim Kern replaced McClure one out later and allowed a pinch single to Willie Aikens, then walked Fernandez to load the bases. Rick Waits took over for Kern and induced a double play from Moseby to end the inning.

Stieb worked around a walk and an error in the bottom of the eighth, and the Jays tried again in the ninth. Johnson hit a one-out double to chase Waits, and Jaime Cocanower walked pinch hitter Rance Mulliniks. Upshaw hit into a force at second, and pinch hitter Ernie Whitt singled pinch runner Mitch Webster home with the tying run. Rick Leach became the third Toronto pinch hitter to reach in the inning, drawing a walk to reload the bases, and Fred Manrique singled Upshaw in to put Toronto in front. Stieb remained on the mound in the bottom of the inning and walked Jim Sundberg, but allowed him to advance to second and no further before the end of the game.

Robin Yount certainly finished the 1984 season on a tear - this was the third of four consecutive multi-hit games, involving a total of 11. Throw in a homer (in this game), a double, a triple, two steals, 5 runs, and 5 RBI over that half-a-week stretch, plus a four-game WPA of +1.152, which is rather impressive.

Had that streak come in any of the season's other five months, the Brewers likely would have won all four games. As it was, they still prevailed in three of them - but the fact that it was September allowed the Blue Jays to use callups Mitch Webster (who scored the tying run) and Fred Manrique (drove in the winner) as key parts of their decisive ninth-inning rally.

On the bright side, at least Milwaukee's fans got to see a great day from Yount, plus one of the five most dramatic 9-inning games of 1984. Given that this game was the Brewers' 94th loss of the season, I don't know that they were hoping for much more than that anyway.

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