Saturday, April 23, 2016

Game of the Day (4/23/91)

Rangers 6, Brewers 5 (11). Texas started Bobby Witt, a veteran who was starting a shortened and ineffective season in the middle of a long and mildly distinguished career. Milwaukee countered with Jaime Navarro, a younger pitcher who was having a better season and was on the way to a very similar (and slightly worse) career.

Navarro worked around a Geno Petralli single in the top of the first, courtesy of a K/CS double play. Witt didn't fare as well, allowing a double to Robin Yount, walking Gary Sheffield, and yielding a go-ahead two-run double to Dante Bichette. Texas replied immediately in the second, starting with a leadoff homer by Ruben Sierra. Julio Franco then singled; Navarro struck out the next two Rangers, but then allowed an RBI triple to Jeff Huson to tie the score.

The Brewers leaped right back in front in the home second. Bill Spiers and Darryl Hamilton hit consecutive two-out singles, and Yount followed with a three-run homer. Texas threatened in the third on a walk by Petralli and a Rafael Palmeiro single, but Sierra grounded out and Franco struck out to leave them on. Witt issued a pair of walks in the home third, and was then pulled for Gerald Alexander, who induced a double play from BJ Surhoff to end the threat.

The Rangers stormed back to tie again in the fourth. Jack Daugherty led off with a walk, and Steve Buechele singled him to second. Huson bunted the runners to second and third, and Gary Pettis scored Daugherty with a groundout. Brian Downing doubled Buechele around, and Petralli singled Downing home with the run that tied the game at 5. Navarro was pulled for Mark Lee, who ended the inning without further incident.

Alexander worked around a two-out Yount single in the fourth, and Lee did the same with a hit by Daugherty in the fifth. Huson's leadoff walk in the sixth made him the last batter for either team to reach before the end of the seventh. Julio Machado, who'd worked the seventh for the Brewers, also recorded the first two outs of the eighth; he then issued walks to Huson and pinch hitter Kevin Reimer before being yanked for Chuck Crim, who struck out Downing to end the inning, stranding both Huson and pinch runner Nick Capra. Mike Jeffcoat allowed a Bichette single, but erased him when Jim Gantner lined into a double play. Crim and Jeffcoat were both spotless in the ninth, sending the game to extras tied at 5.

Extra innings began with the same ineffective hitting that had concluded regulation. Crim set the Rangers down 1-2-3 in the tenth, and Jeffcoat combined with Goose Gossage to achieve the same result in the bottom of the inning. Texas finally broke through in the eleventh, starting with a one-out walk by Capra. Downing singled Capra to third, chasing Crim in favor of Dan Plesac. Pinch hitter Mike Stanley then successfully executed a squeeze, bringing Capra home with the go-ahead run, and Jeff Russell threw a flawless eleventh to end the game.

We have seen a fair number of unlikely heroes already this year, from Marty Barrett to Gil Reyes to Scott Bradley. Nick Capra, however, tops them all. He walked, went first-to-third on a single, and scored on a squeeze, completing a standard-issue speed run. Given that he'd entered the game as a pinch runner three innings earlier, this doesn't seem like an unlikely contribution - not, that is, until you discover that the walk he drew in the eleventh was both his first major league plate appearance since August of 1988, and the last of his career.

If you're literally only going to get one chance at something, it would be hard to do a better job of taking advantage of that chance than Nick Capra did in this game.

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