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.

Toronto struck in the top of the first, as Devon White doubled, was bunted to third by Roberto Alomar, and scored on a Joe Carter sacrifice fly. Stottlemyre set the Royals down in order in the bottom of the inning, and his team threatened seriously in the second, loading the bases on one-out singles by Greg Myers, Mookie Wilson, and Manuel Lee. Rene Gonzales grounded into a double play to erase the rally, however, and KC would tie it in the home second. Kirk Gibson drew a walk to start the inning, Jim Eisenreich singled him to third (taking second on the throw to third), and one out later, Kurt Stillwell's sacrifice fly brought Gibson home.

The Jays tried again in the third, with a rally involving two walks and a double - but White was caught stealing after his leadoff base on balls and before Alomar's double. Carter's walk was then followed by a double play ball from John Olerud. Once that scoring effort was extinguished, neither team would manage a baserunner until after the end of the fifth.

The tie was broken on the third pitch of the sixth inning when Alomar homered. Toronto took a shot at extending the lead later in the inning, as Olerud singled and Myers walked, but Wilson hit into a force to squander the opportunity. Still, the Royals had only managed to put anyone on base in one of the five innings to this point, so the lead might have seemed secure.

It was - but Kansas City at least made things more interesting in the late innings than they had in the early going. Warren Cromartie reached on an error in the bottom of the sixth and was left on. Mike Macfarlane walked and Stillwell singled in the home seventh before Brian McRae grounded out to leave the tying run in scoring position. Terry Shumpert led off the bottom of the eighth with a single against reliever Mike Timlin, but a double play ball from pinch hitter Terry Puhl kept the Jays in front, and they padded their advantage in the ninth when Wilson tripled to chase Appier and Lee singled against Jeff Montgomery to score the insurance run. Duane Ward worked around an Alomar miscue in the bottom of the ninth to close things out.

The game itself was a serviceable pitcher's duel between two capable hurlers, but there's not much else to say about it beyond that. So let's check in on the participating teams.

The loss in this contest dropped the Royals to 8-13, last place in the AL West. They would recover to post a barely-winning record at 82-80, which was good for sixth in their seven-team division, a grouping that has to have included the highest percentage of "pretty good" teams of any division ever (six of the seven won between 81 and 87 games).

The Blue Jays were rather more interesting. Their victory pushed them to 13-10, placing them in a three-way tie for first in the AL East. It also established their seasonal winning percentage exactly, as 13-10 is a pace for 91-70 after 161 games, and they ended at 91-71. The Jays would lose the ALCS in '91, but went on to win the World Series each of the next two years, and the White-Alomar-Carter top of the order, which played a significant role in their victory in this game, would have a similarly substantial role in the two titles.

No comments:

Post a Comment