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.

Both starters allowed leadoff singles in the first, to Brian Downing and Wade Boggs respectively. Those two men must have been among the very slowest leadoff hitters in the league, which might partly explain why both were promptly erased on double play balls.

Texas pulled ahead in the top of the second. Ruben Sierra led off with a single, and Julio Franco walked. Up next was 22-year-old Juan Gonzalez, who launched a three-run homer to open the scoring. Mike Stanley walked and Steve Buechele singled, but Bolton finally recovered, retiring the next three Rangers to prevent further damage.

Chiamparino walked Tom Brunansky and allowed a single to Carlos Quintana with two outs in the second, but left both men on. Julio Franco then homered with two outs in the third, pushing Texas's lead to 4-0. Chiamparino worked around a Luis Rivera walk in the bottom of the inning, but after Bolton threw a 1-2-3 fourth, the Sox joined the scoring in the home half. Mike Greenwell started the rally with a one-out triple, and Quintana's two-out hit brought him home. Franco committed a throwing error on the play that moved Quintana to second, which allowed him to score on Tony Pena's subsequent single.

Bolton loaded the bases with a trio of walks in the top of the fifth, but stranded all three men. Chiamparino was perfect in the bottom of the inning, and Bolton was pulled in the top of the sixth with two outs and a man on; Dennis Lamp struck out pinch hitter Kevin Reimer to leave Buechele at first. Boston halved their deficit in the home sixth, courtesy of singles from Jack Clark and Greenwell and an RBI groundout from Brunansky.

Lamp worked around a Rafael Palmeiro single and an intentional walk in the top of the sixth, and in the bottom of the inning, Boston unleashed the hounds. Rivera led off with a double that ended Chiamparino's tenure on the mound. Mike Jeffcoat took over long enough to throw a wild pitch and walk Boggs. Goose Gossage then relieved and surrendered a game-tying single to Jody Reed, walked Ellis Burks to load the bases, and walked Clark to force in the go-ahead run. John Barfield was summoned to become Texas's fourth pitcher of the inning and fared little better, serving up a two-run double to Greenwell and a sacrifice fly to Brunansky that made it an 8-4 game. An intentional walk later, Pena and Rivera were retired to end the carnage.

Texas would pick up leadoff hits in the eighth (by Geno Petralli) and ninth (by Jeff Huson), but neither runner would manage to score, and no other Rangers joined them on base.

In a game in which the two starters were both as anonymous as major league pitchers come, you generally wouldn't expect the least effective pitcher of the day to be the Hall of Fame reliever (even if he was 39 years old and no longer at his best). But that's how it turned out in this one, as Goose Goossage faced three hitters and recorded no outs. There's maybe a bit of symbolism to be found there, as the best of the multi-inning firemen of the '70s found himself unable to perform his accustomed role just as the role itself was vanishing from the game.

Or maybe pitchers just have bad days a little more often when they're two months away from turning 40.

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