Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Game of the Day (4/26/91)

Yankees 3, White Sox 2 (11). Chicago's Greg Hibbard was making his second consecutive Game of the Day start; New York's Tim Leary was already making his third of the season.

Hibbard opened the game by getting into trouble early, as Roberto Kelly led off the first with a single and Steve Sax drew a walk; a popup and two strikeouts followed, ending the inning without further advancement. The Sox took the early lead in the home half, courtesy of singles from Lance Johnson, Robin Ventura, and Carlton Fisk; Frank Thomas then cut the rally short by hitting into a double play.

Each starter allowed a single in the second inning (to Jesse Barfield and Cory Snyder, respectively), but nothing else. In the top of the third, Kelly walked and was caught stealing; Chicago then doubled the size of its lead when Tim Raines singled, Johnson hit into a force and moved to second on a wild pitch, and Ventura singled him home.

Both pitchers cruised through the game's middle innings; Hibbard was perfect in the fourth and sixth, and allowed only a Bob Geren single in the fifth, while Leary gave up hits to Scott Fletcher in the fourth and Dan Pasqua in the sixth, but nothing else. Hibbard allowed a leadoff hit to Kevin Maas in the seventh, but retired the next two hitters, then induced a grounder to third from Mike Blowers. Ventura misplayed the ball, putting the runners at the corners; Geren singled Maas home for New York's first run of the day, and Alvaro Espinoza followed with a double that drove in pinch runner Scott Lusader to even the score at 2. Geren was then thrown out trying to follow Lusader home, ending the inning.

Leary workd around a Fletcher single in the home seventh. Kelly led off the eighth with a walk, and Don Mattingly matched him one out later, chasing Hibbard from the mound; he was replaced by Scott Radinsky, who ended the inning quietly. Lee Guetterman supplanted Leary in the home eighth and gave up singles to Ventura and Thomas, but Fisk hit into a double play in between them, mitigating the threat, and Steve Farr relieved and drew a flyout from pinch hitter Sammy Sosa to end the inning.

Donn Pall was perfect in the top of the ninth; Farr recorded two quick outs in the bottom of the inning, and was then pulled after walking Fletcher. Pinch runner Joey Cora was promptly caught stealing after Greg Cadaret's first pitch of the game, sending the game to extras tied at 2.

The Yankees threatened in the top of the tenth. Espinoza led off with a single, and moved to third on a bunt and a groundout. Pall then intentionally walked Mattingly and was relieved by Wayne Edwards, who proceeded to unintentionally walk Maas and was promptly pulled for Brian Drahman. Hensley Meulens flied out to leave the bases loaded. Cadaret was spotless in the bottom of the tenth, and Drahman came back out for the road eleventh; a hit by Barfield started the inning, and a bunt and a Matt Nokes single brought him around, giving New York its first lead of the day. Cadaret struck out three White Sox in the bottom of the eleventh, but the third one, Snyder, reached when strike 3 went wild, and with Thomas having walked earlier in the inning, Chicago had the tying run in scoring position. And that's where it stopped, as Ozzie Guillen grounded out to end the game.

In general, baseball games are too complicated to be easily captured by a single statistic. This one may be an exception. Here it is:

Hitting with runners in scoring position
Yankees 3 for 14
White Sox 2 for 7

Yes, the Sox actually had a better average with RISP - but the Yankees had twice as many chances. And given that (a) each hit in this situation produced exactly one run, and (b) neither team scored a run otherwise (there was only one extra-base hit in the game on either side), it seems rather clear that New York's extra scoring chances decided the game in their favor.

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