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.

Mesa worked a perfect top of the first. Cary's opener was a bit more eventful, as Billy Ripken doubled and moved to third on a passed ball. Cal Ripken then grounded to the mound, with his younger brother getting caught too far off of third and thrown out; the elder Ripken would advance to second in the ensuing rundown, but was left there when Randy Milligan struck out.

Kevin Maas and Mel Hall both singled to open the second, but a flyout and and a double play brought the frame to a scoreless conclusion. Baltimore also managed a pair of hits in the bottom of the inning, but Tim Hulett's double play ball came after Dwight Evans singled and before David Segui doubled, so the Birds remained in shutout territory as well. Two out singles from Roberto Kelly and Steve Sax put another Yankee in scoring position in the top of the third, but Don Mattingly flied out to strand them, and the Orioles opened the scoring in the bottom of the inning. The Ripkens began the rally with back-to-back two-out hits, and Milligan walked to load the bases. Evans followed with an infield single that scored Billy Ripken with the game's first run.

Both starters were perfect in the fourth, and both had moderate amounts of trouble in the fifth; Mesa walked Hensley Meulens and allowed a single to Kelly, while Cary gave up a leadoff double to Mike Devereaux, saw a groundout move him to third, and intentionally walked Ripken the Elder before Milligan hit into a double play. Maas singled and Evans walked in the sixth, and they were the only players to reach in their respective halves of the inning.

Mesa worked a 1-2-3 top of the seventh; Eric Plunk relieved Cary in the bottom of the inning and duplicated Mesa's result. Gregg Olson took the mound in the eighth and worked around a Mattingly single, while Plunk set the O's down in order again.

In the ninth, Olson remained on the mound to attempt the two-inning save. The attempt lasted for a grand total of three pitches, the last of which was whacked over the right-center field fence by Hall for a game-tying home run. Olson then allowed a single to Matt Nokes and walked pinch hitter Jesse Barfield before recovering to end the inning. Plunk and Steve Howe combined on a scoreless bottom half (with Brady Anderson's single against Howe making him the only baserunner), and the game moved into extra innings tied at 1.

Olson was pulled after walking Mattingly with one out in the tenth. Maas greeted Mike Flanagan with a single, but Flanagan retired the next two hitters to leave the go-ahead run in scoring position. Baltimore wasted their own opportunity in the bottom of the tenth, as a Devereaux single, two runner-advancing outs, and two walks (one intentional) combined to load the bases with two away. Hulett then flied out to strand all three men.

Bob Geren led off the eleventh with a single, and one out later, Flanagan balked him to second. Kelly then doubled, scoring Geren with the go-ahead run. Greg Cadaret worked the bottom of the inning, walking Anderson but keeping the bases free of Orioles apart from that, and the game was over.

The Yankees and Orioles were not good teams in 1991; they would end the season in 5th and 6th places in the AL East, losing 91 and 95 games, respectively. Which generally explains not just how we got a pitching matchup of Chuck Cary and Jose Mesa, but how it turned into a pitcher's duel. And yet, from the early escape artistry of both starters to the game-tying homer from Mel Hall to the eleventh-inning balk that moved the eventual winning run into scoring position, these two bad teams managed to produce a closely-contested, entertaining baseball game. Which... isn't even uncommon, really, and that's why even the bad teams play all 162 games.

No comments:

Post a Comment