Monday, April 20, 2015

Game of the Day (4/20/91)

Tigers 2, White Sox 1 (12). Detroit's Walt Terrell, a nearly-33-year-old right-hander winding down an almost-2000-inning career with his second stint as a Tiger, took on Chicago's Greg Hibbard, a 26-year-old lefty whose previous two seasons looked promising, but who would soon enter a pretty sharp decline largely due to an utter dearth of strikeouts.

Hibbard walked Tony Phillips to open the game, but neither team put another runner on in the first. The second inning passed similarly, with Frank Thomas leading off the bottom half with a single and nobody joining him on the basepaths. Phillips singled with two out in the third, and was promptly caught stealing to end the inning. The first player on either team to reach scoring position was Rob Deer, who doubled with one out in the top of the fourth and moved to third on a flyout before being left there. Lance Johnson led off the bottom of the inning with a double and also made it to third one batter later, but stayed there as Terrell struck out both Thomas and Carlton Fisk.

Travis Fryman and Mickey Tettleton both singled in the top of the fifth, but Fryman was caught stealing before Tettleton reached. Phillips and Deer both walked in the sixth and were eventually left at the corners. Meanwhile, Terrell threw back-to-back clean innings. Detroit finally broke through in the seventh, as Tettleton doubled, then came around on a two-out, two-base hit by Andy Allanson. Terrell cruised through two quick outs in the bottom of the inning, but then allowed a double to Fisk, and Dan Pasqua followed with a single to bring in pinch runner Ron Karkovice and even the score.

Donn Pall allowed a leadoff hit to Alan Trammell in the eighth, then erased him on a double play. Scott Fletcher singled against Terrell in the bottom of the inning, and Paul Gibson relieved with two outs and stranded Fletcher at second. Pall was spotless in the ninth; Gibson allowed a single to Robin Ventura and was replaced by Mike Henneman, who ended the inning in mildly eventful fashion (a runner-advancing groundout and an intentional walk being the relative highlights) and sent the game to extras.

Pall circumnavigated a Phillips single in the visiting tenth, while Henneman did the same with a hit by Ozzie Guillen in the inning's latter half. Deer greeted new hurler Scott Radinsky with an eleventh-inning double and made it to third, but no farther; Craig Grebeck led off the bottom of the inning with a single but was doubled off on a Karkovice air out (listed as a flyout, may actually be a line drive) to second.

Detroit finally pulled ahead again in inning number 12 when John Shelby hit a one-out double and Phillips singled him in. Bobby Thigpen relieved Radinsky and prevented any further damage, but what had already occurred proved to be enough, though Chicago made an effort in the bottom of the inning. Pasqua reached on a Henneman error to lead off; Jerry Don Gleaton then relieved and allowed a one-out Guillen single, and a forceout moved the tying run to third. Gleaton left it there, however, getting Tim Raines to fly out and end the game.

There was a time when a 2-1, 12-inning game would be a classic pitcher's duel. By 1991, that was generally no longer the case. The game was still very well-pitched, of course - but the starters were pulled after 6.1 and 7.2 innings, respectively, and their duties were taken over by a series of relievers who were all more effective per-inning than the men who began the game on the mound. It wasn't quite the relief parade you see in games like this today; three of the six relievers used pitched over an inning, and two of them went 3 or longer. But it was definitely a game that demonstrated the ongoing transition in pitcher usage.

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