Sunday, June 12, 2016

Game of the Day (6/12/91)

Expos 10, Reds 9. Cincinnati started Jack Armstrong, who had started the previous year's All Star game. Montreal countered with Oil Can Boyd, who was (deservedly) in the last year of his career.

Montreal still had the advantage in the pitching matchup. Jack Armstrong, All Star starter, is one of the weirdest footnotes from this period in baseball history.

Boyd walked both Bill Doran and Barry Larkin in the top of the first, but left them on, and Montreal grabbed the lead in the bottom of the inning. Delino DeShields led off with a single, but was caught stealing. However, Marquis Grissom then singled, was balked to second, stole third, and scored on an Ivan Calderon double. Tim Wallach walked, and Dave Martinez tripled both runners home, then scored himself on Larry Walker's groundout, making it a quick 4-0 lead. A single and a walk later, Boyd fouled out to end the inning.

Armstrong provided some value in the second inning, starting in the top half; Chris Sabo and Todd Benzinger opened the inning with walks, and one out later, Armstrong singled Sabo home. Doran's single got Benzinger thrown out at the plate, but Billy Hatcher followed with a two-run triple, pulling the Reds within one. Armstrong then threw a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning, while Boyd worked around a leadoff double from Paul O'Neill in the third.

Wallach led off the home third with a single, and Martinez followed with a double. An intentional walk to Walker loaded the bases, and Gil Reyes then singled Wallach home, chasing Armstrong from the mound. Don Carman retired the next three hitters, but Tom Foley's fly ball to short was deep enough to score Martinez and make it a 6-3 game.

Jeff Reed led off the fourth with a single, but was left on, and Montreal's lead expanded in the bottom of the inning. Grissom walked, moved to second on a groundout, and then scored on a steal-and-error combo; Wallach made his baserunning efforts look rather irrelevant with a solo homer that pushed the advantage to 8-3. Martinez then doubled, but Carman left him on, and the Reds closed the gap in the fifth when Larkin doubled, Hal Morris walked, and Sabo launched a 3-run homer. A walk, a flyout, and a single later, Boyd was pulled for Bill Sampen (along with a good bit of defensive maneuvering), and Doran hit into a force to leave the tying runs on base.

Ken Gross worked around a single in the home fifth, and Sampen did the same in the top of the sixth; Gross then set the Expos down in order in the bottom of the inning. Sabo led off the seventh with a single, and one out later, Reed singled as well; Calderon misplayed the ball in the outfield, allowing Sabo to score and Reed to reach second. Pinch hitter Luis Quinones singled Reed to third, and Doran's sacrifice fly brought him home with the tying run. Hatcher then singled to move the go-ahead run into scoring position, but Larkin grounded out to leave it there.

Pinch hitter Junior Noboa led off the bottom of the seventh with a single against Randy Myers, and Walker doubled him to third. One out later, Noboa was caught stealing home, and a walk and a strikeout ended the inning from there. In the top of the eighth, Sabo reached on a Wallach error and stole second, but Scott Ruskin stranded him. Myers recorded the first out in the eighth, but then walked Grissom and Calderon, and Wallach's single brought Grissom in with the go-ahead run. Rob Dibble relieved Myers and allowed a sacrifice fly to pinch hitter Eric Bullock to make it a 10-8 game.

The Reds managed to mount two separate threats against Barry Jones in the ninth. Reed led off with a walk, and Herm Winningham followed with a single. Doran hit into a double play, but Hatcher singled Reed home, and Larkin's single moved Hatcher to third with the tying run. Jeff Fassero relieved Jones and retired O'Neill to end the game.

With as close as this game was, and as many runs as it included, it's rather surprising that you can argue that its key play occurred in the second inning when Marquis Grissom threw Todd Benzinger out at home. Cincinnati was rallying hard at that point, and would continue to do so, closing a four-run deficit to one before the end of the inning. Had Benzinger scored, they would have had one more run and one fewer out; chances are they would have at least tied the game, and they could have scored even more, or possibly knocked Montreal's starter out earlier...

But they didn't, and they lost the game by a run. Which serves as a useful reminder that the most important thing that happens is not always the most recent.

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