Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Game of the Day (9/9/84)

Phillies 6, Expos 5 (11). The two starting pitchers in this game had incredibly similar results in 1984 - 229 innings and 104 runs allowed (91 earned) for one, 226.2 and 100 (91) for the other. Apart from that, however, they could hardly have been more different. Montreal's Bill Gullickson was a 25-year-old right-handed control pitcher who would go on to a respectably long career that reached above stolid competence only a couple of times. Philadelphia opposed him with 39-year-old power lefty Steve Carlton, who would rank among the top half of the pitchers in the Hall of Fame by even the most uncharitable interpretation.

Von Hayes singled and stole second in the top of the first, but Gullickson stranded him, and the Expos took the game's first lead in the bottom of the inning when Jim Wohlford and Andre Dawson hit back-to-back doubles. The Phillies came right back in the second, however, courtesy of a Tim Corcoran walk, a John Wockenfuss single, and an RBI forceout from Ivan de Jesus. Carlton was perfect in the home second, and his teammates pulled ahead in the third by way of a Juan Samuel double and a Mike Schmidt home run.

Montreal loaded the bases in the bottom of the third on singles by Gullickson and Tim Raines and a two-out Gary Carter walk, but Tim Wallach struck out to strand all three runners. The Phils mounted a similar rally in the fourth, with a Wockenfuss single, a de Jesus walk, and a Samuel single cramming the bases with one out, but Jeff Stone hit into a force at home and Hayes popped up to end the inning. Carlton then retired the Expos in order in the fourth and fifth, while Gullickson also kept the bases clean in the fifth, then worked around a Carlton single in the sixth.

The Expos came back in the bottom of the sixth. Dawson led off with a single, and Carter doubled him to third. Wallach brought Dawson home with a sacrifice fly, and after the second out, Doug Flynn singled Carter in with the tying run. Mike Ramsey's single then moved the go-ahead run to third, but Gullickson grounded out to leave it there. However, after a baserunner-free top of the seventh, Raines tripled and came home a Wohlford sac fly in the bottom of the inning, putting Montreal in front 4-3.

Gullickson gave up a Wockenfuss walk and an Al Oliver single in the top of the eighth, but stranded both runners, and his teammates extended the lead in the bottom of the inning against Bill Campbell on singles by Bobby Ramos, Flynn, and Ramsey. Tug McGraw relieved Campbell and got pinch hitter Tony Scott to ground to third, with Flynn getting thrown out at home; Raines then struck out to end the inning.

Bob James relieved in the top of the ninth, entering the game with a 5-3 lead. He struck out the first two Phillies he faced, but Hayes then walked, and Schmidt doubled him home. Pinch runner Rick Schu took third on a wild pitch, then scored the tying run on a balk. (A balk!) Larry Andersen retired the Expos in order in the ninth, sending the game to extras.

James walked both Ozzie Virgil and Francisco Melendez in the tenth, but left them both on; Andersen retired the Expos in order in the bottom of the inning. Joe Hesketh relieved James in the eleventh, replacing Flynn in the batting order, and the Expos underwent some rather severe defensive changes: Dan Driessen, who had hit for Ramos in the previous inning, took over first base, Carter moved from first to catcher (which was hardly unfamiliar for him), Max Venable took over center field, and Raines shifted from center to second base (which was at least somewhat unfamiliar - second had been Raines's first major league position, and he played it 36 times in 1982, but this was the last infield appearance of his career).

It is unclear how much of an effect the realignment had, but Schu singled with one out, and Glenn Wilson doubled him to third. Hesketh intentionally walked Sixto Lezcano to load the bases and was pulled for Rick Grapenthin, who retired the next two hitters - but the first of them, John Russell, hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly. Kevin Gross took the mound in the bottom of the eleventh and walked Wallace Johnson, then allowed a two-out Wohlford single before Dawson flied out to end the game.

The stars were out in force for this one. Steve Carlton pitched seven innings, albeit with only moderate effectiveness; this was in large part due to the excellence of the Montreal lineup, particularly Tim Raines (two hits, a triple, and a go-ahead run scored) and Andre Dawson (two hits, a double, a run and an RBI). The Montreal outfield in turn was largely counteracted by Mike Schmidt, who hit a two-run homer and doubled in another run.

And yet, with all the big names in play, arguably the biggest contribution of all was made by pinch runner Rick Schu, who came from second to home with the tying run in the ninth inning by way of a wild pitch and a balk. Had the Expos been seriously contending for the playoffs, this would have been a miserable loss to absorb; with the defeat dropping them to 70-72, it was more in the realm of "highly unpleasant."

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