Friday, April 10, 2015

Game of the Day (4/10/91)

Phillies 8, Mets 7 (10). Philadelphia started Jose de Jesus, who was approaching the end of a relatively brief career, largely because he was on the way to leading the NL in walks in 1991. The Mets countered with a pitcher who would pick up his own league lead this season - eventual strikeout champ David Cone.

The Phils threatened in the first when Lenny Dykstra walked, took second on a groundout, and moved to third on a wild pitch, but Cone stranded him there. Vince Coleman walked and stole his way to third in the bottom of the inning, but de Jesus left him on as well. John Kruk and Dickie Thon both singled in the second, but ended the inning on first and second, and the Mets took the lead in the bottom half. Mark Carreon, Tom Herr, and Charlie O'Brien all walked to load the bases with nobody out. Cone struck out, but Coleman walked to force in a run and chase de Jesus from the mound. Tommy Greene relieved and allowed an RBI single to Gregg Jefferies, then a sacrifice fly to Dave Magadan before striking out Hubie Brooks to stanch the bleeding after three runs.

Philadelphia mounted a responding rally in the third. Dykstra led off with a double, and Darren Daulton was hit by a pitch. Von Hayes flied out, moving Dykstra to third, and Dale Murphy walked to load the bases with one out. But Kruk popped up, and Cone struck out Charlie Hayes to leave all three men on. Greene was perfect in the bottom of the inning, and the Phillies capitalized on their opportunity in the fourth inning, starting with a walk to Thon. Two outs later, Dykstra and Daulton walked as well, loading the bases, and Von Hayes then doubled to score all three runners and tie the game.

The Mets answered in the home fourth, as O'Brien led off with a single, was bunted to second, moved to third on a groundout, and scored on a wild pitch to retake the lead. They threatened for more when Jefferies walked, stole second, and advanced to third on another wild pitch, but Brooks popped up to leave him 90 feet away. They soon regretted the missed run, as the Phillies rallied again in the fifth, courtesy of a Thon double and a game-tying single by former Met Wally Backman.

New York struck yet again in the bottom of the fifth. Howard Johnson led off with a double, and Tom Herr drew a one-out walk. Darrel Akerfelds was summoned to replace Greene on the mound and struck out O'Brien. With Cone at the plate, Johnson and Herr pulled a double steal, and not only were both of them safe, Daulton committed a throwing error that allowed Johnson to score the go-ahead run. Cone was then pulled for pinch hitter Mackey Sasser, who was intentionally walked. Coleman singled to load the bases, and Jefferies followed with a two-run single for a 7-4 lead.

Doug Simons worked around a Murphy single in the visitors' sixth, while Carreon and Herr reached on a single and an Akerfelds error in the bottom of the inning before being left on. Thon singled with one out in the seventh, and Backman reached on a Jefferies error. Alejandro Pena relieved Simons and struck out pinch hitter Ricky Jordan, but Dykstra walked to load the bases and Daulton doubled to score all three runs and, yes, tie the game again.

Joe Boever took the mound in the bottom of the seventh, and the Mets loaded the bases on walks to Keith Miller and Magadan sandwiched around Coleman reaching on a Charlie Hayes error. Boever recovered to retire Brooks and Johnson to strand all three runners. Murphy reached on a Johnson error to start the eighth, but was erased on a double play. Carreon led off the bottom of the inning with a single, and two-out walks to Miller and Coleman loaded the bases and ended Boever's tenure on the mound. Roger McDowell induced a flyout from Jefferies to end the threat.

Jeff Innis retired the Phillies in order in the ninth, and the Mets tried again in the bottom of the inning, as Brooks singled and pinch runner Daryl Boston stole second. McDowell recovered to strand the winning run in scoring position, sending the game to extras. Dykstra led off the tenth by drawing a walk from Innis. John Franco relieved, Daulton bunted Dykstra to second, Von Hayes and Ready walked to load the bases, and Kruk hit into a go-ahead forceout. In the bottom of the tenth, Mitch Williams took the mound and set the Mets down in order, ending the game with the first perfect inning by a Phillie pitcher since the bottom of the third.

The headline is the fact that the Mets and Phillies played (and split) the first two extra-inning games of 1991, and have therefore been highlighted in this space two days in a row. Outside of that, two things stick out about this game. First, for a high-scoring game, the teams were oddly inefficient with runners in scoring position; they combined to go 6 for 34, which is the kind of number that tends to give games very high scores in the WPL system. (The Mets, in particular, went 3 for 19 with RISP and lost by a run in extra innings, which can't have been pleasant.) And second, the Phillies scored eight runs in the game, and all eight of them came with two outs. Moreover, those eight runs were distributed across four innings - and in three of the four innings, accounting for seven of the eight runs, Lenny Dykstra drew a walk.

That is to say, if Lenny Dykstra had been anything less than one of the most patient hitters in the league, the Phillies probably would have lost this game. But he was, and so they didn't.

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