Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Game of the Day (5/31/91)

Mets 10, Cardinals 5. The Cardinals started Ken Hill, a pitcher who was emerging from his uneven younger years into a very solid prime. New York countered with Dwight Gooden, whose younger years had been among the best any pitcher has ever had, and who had eventually emerged from them to have... a very solid prime, which was still ongoing.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Game of the Day (5/30/91)

A's 8, Blue Jays 6. In 1990, Todd Stottlemyre lost 17 games and had an ERA well over 4. Bob Welch won 27 games and the Cy Young.

A year later, Stottlemyre would be the more effective pitcher.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Game of the Day (5/29/91)

Blue Jays 8, A's 3. It was a matchup of the two division leaders at this point in the season. Toronto started Jimmy Key, who was a highly capable pitcher in his prime. Oakland responded with Joe Slusarski, who was... a pitcher.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016

Game of the Day (5/27/91)

Tigers 15, Brewers 9 (14). The Brewers started Kevin Brown, who is definitely not the Kevin Brown you're thinking of; rather than being the highest-paid player in baseball at one point and a Hall of Fame candidate, Milwaukee's Kevin Brown would throw less than 100 innings in his career.

Detroit's response was Bill Gullickson, who... well, if you're thinking of a Bill Gullickson, it's this one. He was a pretty solid pitcher for a while, and was on the way to a 20-win season in 1991.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Game of the Day (5/26/91)

Yankees 2, Orioles 1 (11). Baltimore's Jose Mesa was relatively young and on his way to a fairly undistinguished starting stint that gave way to a lengthy and productive career in relief. New York's Chuck Cary was several years older; he had debuted in relief and pitched fairly well, but was now suffering through a fairly undistinguished starting stint that would shortly give way to retirement.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Game of the Day (5/25/91)

Rangers 8, Mariners 6 (11). Seattle started Rich DeLucia, who was a fairly unimpressive pitcher making his second GotD appearance this month. Texas replied with Scott Chiamparino, who could be described in exactly the same way.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Game of the Day (5/24/91)

A's 6, White Sox 5. The two starters in this game were both born in 1966 (albeit 11 months apart), were both right-handed, and both had names that would appear to be spoken in trochaic dimeter. Outside of that, there is very little similarity between Oakland's Joe Slusarski, a rookie on the way to a short and ineffective career, and Chicago's Jack McDowell, already in his fourth MLB season and starting a streak of three consecutive years receiving Cy Young votes.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Melog Rankings: Pre-French Open 2016

The French Open should be interesting this year.

Well yeah, it's a Grand Slam. But even by Grand Slam standards...

For starters, Novak Djokovic is trying for the career Slam again - and this time, he also has a chance at the consecutive Slam (or contiguous Slam, if you prefer); if he takes Roland Garros, he'll hold all four Grand Slam titles at once, which hasn't been done (in men's singles, at least) since Rod Laver in 1969.

Djokovic has held the #1 ranking virtually unchallenged for the last two years, so you'd figure him to have an excellent shot at the French this year (which, to be fair, he does). But at the same time, the clay season has been considerably more topsy-turvy than has been the norm recently. The three clay court Masters events of 2016 were each won by a different player (Rafael Nadal, Djokovic, and Andy Murray, respectively); it's only the second time that's happened since Nadal emerged in 2005. Throw in the fact that Stan Wawrinka won the French last year, and things look rather unsettled in terms of how everyone is playing on the dirt right now.

That fact culminated a week ago in Rome, where Djokovic was defending a title he's won four times. Novak edged past Nadal in the quarterfinals, then won an even closer match with Kei Nishikori in the semis... and then lost the final to Murray in straight sets. It was Murray's first-ever win over Djokovic on clay, and it pairs nicely with his victory over Nadal in Madrid the previous week. Murray is more a factor on clay than he's ever been, and with the French Open draw putting Djokovic and Nadal on the same side again (for the third time in four years, with the only exception being 2014, when they were the top two seeds and had to be on opposite sides), Murray has a good chance at not just reaching the final, but facing a tired opponent once he gets there.

But we'll see how that plays out over the next two weeks. For now, here are the Melog ratings before the French begins.

Game of the Day (5/23/91)

Rangers 10, Twins 6 (11). Why yes, it is the same two teams as yesterday. The best game of 5/22/91 proved to be merely a warmup for this matchup of Minnesota's Scott Erickson, who was having both his first and best full season, and Texas's Jose Guzman, who had spent the two previous years outside the majors but was making a fairly triumphant return in 1991.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Game of the Day (5/22/91)

Rangers 5, Twins 2 (12). Both of the starters in this game won ERA titles at some point in their careers, and both were in their mid-20's when this game took place. Apart from that, it's tough to be less qualitatively similar than Minnesota's Allan Anderson and Texas's Kevin Brown (though Brown was not yet the star he would later become).

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Game of the Day (5/21/91)

Orioles 5, Tigers 4. Detroit started John Cerutti, who was in the final season of his career at age 31, and was pitching like it. Baltimore's answer was Jose Mesa, who was pitching like someone who might be in the last year of his career at age 25 - but he managed to hang around in rotations for two more years, then got shifted to the bullpen, nearly won a Cy Young award, saved over 300 total games, and pitched until he was 41.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Game of the Day (5/20/91)

Mariners 8, Royals 6. The two starting pitchers in this game were separated by just under 6 months in age. Their accomplishments to this point had a slightly larger gap, as Seattle's Rich DeLucia was in his first full season in the majors (and only full season of starting, for good reason), while Kansas City's Bret Saberhagen had been a starter for seven years already, winning two Cy Young awards and a World Series MVP.

Plus, it was an odd year, so you knew he was going to be good.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Game of the Day (5/19/91)

Expos 5, Giants 4 (13). Montreal started Mark Gardner, who ended his career with over 1700 innings and an ERA+ of 88; I don't imagine that's a common combination. He was opposed by Kelly Downs, who threw barely half as many innings at a rate that was only slightly better.

Hey, if every pitching matchup included a future Hall of Famer, we'd go numb to Maddux and Clemens eventually.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Game of the Day (5/18/91)

Angels 4, Orioles 2. There are some pitching matchups that lend themselves to expounding on the careers of the two hurlers, seeking out the similarities and differences that add the sort of nuance that Game of the Day seeks to achieve. And there are some pitching matchups that are simply a pitcher who's very good facing a pitcher who isn't.

California's Chuck Finley was very good. Baltimore's Jeff Robinson was not.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Game of the Day (5/17/91)

Phillies 1, Cubs 0 (16). Philadelphia's Pat Combs was a 24-year-old lefty who had emerged on the scene in September 1989 with a very strong six starts (4-0, 2.09) that earned him a regular starting job in 1990. Sadly, his success proved unsustainable in the long term, as he backslid to average performance over a full season, and then got worse in 1991. He would end the '91 season having appeared in only 14 games (13 starts), and having walked more batters than he struck out.

All of that is to say, he's not the pitcher you'd expect to start an extra inning mutual shutout.  His opponent, Greg Maddux, is somewhat less of a surprise.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Game of the Day (5/16/91)

Giants 5, Expos 4. San Francisco's Don Robinson was in the second-to-last year of a career that had begun in 1978. He could have reasonably expected to be the most experienced pitcher in almost every matchup at this point in his career. But not this one, as he was opposed by Dennis Martinez, who had made his debut two years earlier than Robinson - and who still had seven years left after this season.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Game of the Day (5/15/91)

Rangers 5, Tigers 4 (12). Both teams started pitchers who'd already seen action in Games of previous Days in 1991, with Texas sending Bobby Witt and Detroit responding with Walt Terrell.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Game of the Day (5/14/91)

Cubs 5, Braves 4. Atlanta started John Smoltz. Opposing him was a player who would join Smoltz on the Braves before too long, and enjoy the 1995 World Series title along with him.

But that was right fielder Dwight Smith, not Greg Maddux. Cool as that pitching matchup would have been, Smoltz's counterpart on the mound in this game was slightly less notable - Bob Scanlan, making the second appearance (and start) in a fairly short career that would mostly be spent in relief.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Game of the Day (5/13/91)

White Sox 4, Red Sox 3 (10). Chicago's Jack McDowell would finish 9th in Cy Young voting in 1991 (which means he got one second-place vote, I think), and would go on to second- and first-place finishes in the next two seasons. His overall total of Cy Young award shares (fraction of votes earned each year, added together) is in the top 50 in baseball history.

He still comes out at a slight disadvantage when matched up against Roger Clemens.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Game of the Day (5/12/91)

Mets 4, Giants 2 (11). San Francisco started Trevor Wilson, who was on the way to his best season. New York countered with Frank Viola, who was having one of his worst. It's still arguable which of them would end up with a better 1991.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Game of the Day (5/11/91)

Twins 5, Tigers 4. It would be the revenge of Jack Morris, if Jack Morris had started this game. As it is, it's merely Allan Anderson, who at age 27 was in the last year of his career, and who has to be one of the least-impressive pitchers ever to win an ERA title (less than 1000 career innings and a career ERA+ that barely stayed above average despite the 166 he put up in 1988) facing Steve Searcy, who at age 26 (he would turn 27 in June) was making the last start of his career (making several more appearances from the bullpen and not pitching very well in those either).

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Game of the Day (5/10/91)

White Sox 5, Blue Jays 3 (12). The pitching matchup was a pair of youngsters. Chicago's Alex Fernandez, making the 20th start of his career, was on his way to borderline ace status, which he would hold through the mid '90s before his career was cut short by injuries. Denis Boucher was making his sixth start - and had only 20 more remaining to him, because he was not as good as Alex Fernandez.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Game of the Day (5/9/91)

Red Sox 8, Rangers 4. This game has one of the least-accomplished pitching matchups I can remember in any Game of the Day. Boston started Tom Bolton, who was in the middle of an eight-year career as an intermittently-used swingman whose career high in innings was 119.2 - and he was the more distinguished member of the pairing, as Texas sent Scott Chiamparino, who would assemble 15 starts and 85.2 innings in three big-league seasons.

Melog Rankings: Post-Madrid 2016

And order was restored to the universe.

Three weeks ago, the Monte Carlo Masters saw Novak Djokovic absorb his first loss to a player ranked outside the top 50 in five and a half years. As a result, Djokovic decided to play Madrid last week, an event that he has sometimes skipped in the past - and he won it, rather easily, beating quality clay opponents such as Kei Nishikori and Andy Murray along the way.

The last three weeks also saw another return to normalcy, as Rafael Nadal reclaimed the Barcelona title that he'd long dominated, but which had eluded him for the last two years. The title match came against Nishikori, who continues to be established as one of the world's best clay court players.

Lower down in the rankings... well, let's just say there's a lot going on at all levels, and get to the table.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Game of the Day (5/8/91)

White Sox 2, Brewers 1. Chicago's Jack McDowell faced Milwaukee's Jaime Navarro in a matchup of pitchers in their mid-20's who would start pretty regularly throughout the '90s.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Game of the Day (5/7/91)

Expos 3, Giants 2 (15). San Francisco's Kelly Downs was a kind-of-OK pitcher who was approaching the end of a relatively short career that was mostly, but not entirely, spent in the rotation. Montreal's Chris Nabholz was a kind-of-OK pitcher who was just beginning a relatively short career that was mostly, but not entirely, spent in the rotation.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Game of the Day (5/6/91)

Cubs 4, Astros 3. Houston's Jim Deshaies was a perfectly respectable pitcher, coming off of a stretch of three consecutive 200-inning seasons with ERAs of roughly average or better. There are plenty of pitching matchups in which he might have given the Astros the advantage.

None of those involve pitching against Greg Maddux.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Game of the Day (5/5/91)

Mariners 5, Yankees 4 (16). Seattle's Rich DeLucia was 26 and getting his first opportunity as a full-time starter; given that he posted an ERA north of 5 and led the AL in home runs allowed, it's not a huge surprise that it was also the last time he would start over half of his games, though he did hang around in various bullpens for the rest of the decade. He was opposed by Dave Eiland, who also never stuck as a starter, but didn't spend much time in bullpens either; Eiland would match DeLucia's ten major league seasons, but threw less than 400 total innings in very intermittent starting duties.

Most of the other starters on May 5 were better than these two, some of them significantly so (Kevin Brown, Dave Stieb, Dwight Gooden, Bob Welch, Doug Drabek, Bud Black, and Greg Swindell would all throw at least 2000 innings with above-average ERAs, with some of them clearing both barriers by wide margins). But it was this little-known pairing that would begin an absolute epic of a baseball game.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Game of the Day (5/4/91)

Padres 6, Expos 5 (13). Montreal started Rick Mahler, who at age 37 was embarking on the final season of a relatively long, moderately-distinguished career. San Diego opposed him with Eric Nolte, who, despite being over a decade younger, had even less time left in the majors than Mahler. (Which is not a great sign.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Game of the Day (5/3/91)

A's 4, Indians 3 (11). Cleveland started young right-hander Charles Nagy, who we've already seen in one Game of the Day this year. That's nothing compared to Oakland's Dave Stewart, who matches Nagy's one 1991 GOTD, and who also started no less than five GOTDs in the 1984 season.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Game of the Day (5/2/91)

May 2, 1991, saw only two major league games played. It's as if all of baseball decided to take a breather after the 19-inning classic played the day before. (Of course, one of the two games played featured the Brewers, who participated in the aforementioned single-game doubleheader, so maybe it was just a coincidence of scheduling.) The best of the pair was Blue Jays 3, Royals 1, which matched up a pair of solid young right-handers. Toronto's Todd Stottlemyre was on the way to the best season he would have while on the team for which he pitched over half of his career. Kansas City's Kevin Appier would have a similarly-effective 1991, then go on to become one of the best pitchers in baseball over the next two seasons.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Game of the Day (5/1/91)

Brewers 10, White Sox 9 (19). Milwaukee's Mark Knudson had already started one Game of the Day before this one. Chicago's Greg Hibbard had him beat in that regard, as his prior two starts had also been their days' most exciting contests. And as you can most likely tell from the scoreline, none of those three previous games had come anywhere close to the journey on which these two pitchers (and their bullpens) were about to embark.