Monday, June 13, 2016

Game of the Day (6/13/91)

Cubs 4, Giants 3. San Francisco's Trevor Wilson, who was in the middle of the best year of his mediocre and fairly brief career, took on Chicago's Bob Scanlan, who was in the first year of his also-mediocre and even briefer career.

Both pitchers were perfect in the first. Neither matched that performance in the second, as Scanlan allowed singles to Matt Williams and Greg Litton, and Wilson walked Luis Salazar, but both of them stranded all of their baserunners.

San Francisco pulled ahead in the top of the third. Robby Thompson started the rally with a one-out single, Willie McGee reached on a Grace error, and Mark Leonard singled to load the bases. Williams followed with a double, bringing in two runs. Kevin Bass was intentionally walked to reload the bases, and Litton then hit into an unusual 5-2-3 double play to end the inning.

Wilson worked around a leadoff hit by Shawon Dunston in the third, and then singled himself and was stranded in the fourth. In the bottom of the inning, however, George Bell and Andre Dawson hit back-to-back homers to tie the game at 2. McGee led off the fifth with a single, but was then caught stealing. Wilson walked Doug Dascenzo in the home fifth; a forceout and an errant pickoff throw put Ryne Sandberg on second, where he would end the inning.

The Giants broke the tie in the sixth, starting when Scanlan plunked Bass. Litton followed with a bunt single. The runners attempted a double steal, with Bass getting thrown out at third; Steve Decker then singled to score Litton with the tiebreaker, though he was thrown out on the bases during the play (it's listed as him being thrown out at third; given that the out was 1-6, I assume he overran second and was tagged out by the shortstop after Scanlan cut the throw from the outfield.) With the bases now clean, Jose Uribe doubled, ending Scanlan's day; Mike Bielecki relieved and promptly threw a wild pitch, then walked Wilson before finally striking out Dave Anderson to end the inning.

Wilson worked around a Salazar single in the sixth, and Bielecki tossed a spotless seventh. With one out in the home seventh, Wilson gave up a pinch single to Chico Walker, followed by a Dascenzo double. Jeff Brantley relieved and immediately yielded a go-ahead two-run single to Sandberg.

Heathcliff Slocumb and Brantley traded perfect eighths; the ninth was rather more eventful. Will Clark led off with a pinch single, and Mike Felder walked. Anderson bunted the runners to second and third, ending Slocumb's day. Paul Assenmacher intentionally walked McGee to load the bases, and thanks to an earlier double switch, the pitcher's spot came to the plate. Mike Kingery was summoned as a pinch hitter and flied to right; pinch runner Tony Perezchica broke for home, and Dawson threw him out at the plate, ending the game.

A fairly high fraction of these recaps end with my examining where an individual player's performance ranks in terms of his career; typically, I do this in terms of WPA, since it's so closely related to the evaluation method I use for picking the Games of the Days.

This particular game does not feature a career high. It does, however, feature a career low. Mike Kingery pinch hit in the ninth inning, with his team trailing by a run, one out, and the bases loaded - and flied into a game-ending double play. That's a WPA of -.454, easily the worst total of his decade-long MLB tenure.

Also, it's the second GotD so far this month to end with the tying run being thrown out at home. Either there was a really nice run of tense baseball in June of 1991, or that ending isn't quite as rare as I'd thought.

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