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.

The Indians had a chance to get off to a fast start. With one out, Mark Lewis and Chris James both singled, and Albert Belle walked to load the bases. But Carlos Baerga hit into a double play to squander the opportunity. The bottom of the inning was only slightly simpler, as Dave Henderson singled and Jose Canseco walked before Harold Baines GDP'd.

Beau Allred drew a leadoff walk in the top of the second, but was later caught stealing, and was the only batter to reach in the inning. Stewart set Cleveland down in order in the third, and the A's took the game's first lead in the bottom of the inning when Walt Weiss singled, stole second, was bunted to third, and scored when Rickey Henderson reached on a Baerga error. Nagy ended the inning without further drama, and after a perfect fourth from Stewart, Nagy also worked around walks to Baines and Mark McGwire.

Neither team managed a baserunner in the fifth, and in the top of the sixth, Cleveland evened the score. Mike Huff started the rally with a one-out walk. Lewis's single moved Huff to third, and James brought him home with a sacrifice fly. Belle then singled Lewis to third before Baerga grounded out to end the inning.

Nagy allowed only a two-out hit to McGwire in the sixth, while Stewart walked Allred and saw Turner Ward reach on an infield single in the seventh before stranding both of them. Oakland recaptured the lead in the home seventh, starting with singles by Weiss and Mike Gallego. Rickey Henderson then grounded out to bring in the go-ahead run.

Stewart remained on the mound at the beginning of the eighth, but was pulled after walking Lewis; Steve Chitren then ended the inning in two batters, courtesy of a Belle double play ball. Nagy was flawless in the eighth, giving his team one more chance at the one-run deficit, and they capitalized when Allred homered off of Dennis Eckersley to tie the score at 2. Nagy worked a 1-2-3 ninth to send the game to extras.

Eckersley allowed a single-and-steal to Jerry Browne in the top of the tenth, but left him at second. Steve Olin relieved Nagy and set the A's down in order. Eck was called on for a third inning in the eleventh, but Belle's leadoff triple brought his outing to an end that could either be considered premature, or one batter too late. Either way, Joe Klink then gave up a go-ahead RBI single to Baerga. A bunt and an intentional walk would set the Tribe up with a chance to augment their lead, but Ward then hit into a double play to close out the inning.

Olin remained on the mound in the bottom of the eleventh, and allowed a one-out single to Baines. Pinch runner Willie Wilson moved to second on a passed ball, and Olin then walked McGwire. Doug Jones took Olin's place on the mound, and Lance Blankenship ran for McGwire, which proved a fortuitous substitution when Terry Steinbach doubled and Blankenship was able to follow Wilson around with the tying and winning runs. respectively. (I can't find video of the walkoff play, but I don't imagine Blankenship's speed advantage over the lead-footed McGwire was harmful.)

Much as WPL loves a good extra-inning comeback (not to say that I'm not fond of them as well), the aspect of this game I'm going to focus on is Beau Allred's game-tying ninth-inning homer. Eckersley was an impressive victim, as he was in the middle of a three-year stretch in which he saved 142 games and blew only 13 chances (though, to be fair, 8 of those 13 blown saves came in 1991). But more notable than that was the fact that the home run was one of only four that Allred would hit in his 200 MLB plate appearances. You'd think that the homer hit off of a future Hall of Famer would be the most impressive of the four - and even though you would be wrong, it's still a pretty good one.

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