Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Game of the Day (6/14/91)

Dodgers 2, Cardinals 1. St. Louis started Jose DeLeon; LA replied with Orel Hershiser. Wait, didn't we do this matchup already?

(Yes, we did, ten entire days ago. DeLeon's start in between these two games was also a Game of the Day. Apparently, watching Jose DeLeon pitch in June of 1991 was guaranteed excitement.)

Ray Lankford led off the game with a single and moved to second on an errant pickoff throw. He tried for third when Ozzie Smith grounded back to the mound, but Hershiser threw him out, then ended the inning quietly. DeLeon was perfect in the first, and the Cards tried again in the second when Felix Jose led off with a single; he advanced to second on a groundout but moved no further.

LA took the lead in the bottom of the second, as Kal Daniels and Lenny Harris singled to put runners on the corners and Mike Scioscia brought Daniels home with a sacrifice fly. Hershiser allowed another leadoff hit in the third, this time a Lankford double; he would advance to third on a groundout, but stalled there, and nobody else on either team reached in the inning.

Todd Zeile singled and advanced to second in the fourth, but was left there when DeLeon grounded out; Daniels drew a walk in the bottom of the inning and was stranded. St. Louis tried yet again in the fifth when Lankford reached on a bunt hit and Smith walked, but Milt Thompson hit into a double play and Pedro Guerrero grounded out to waste yet another chance.

DeLeon kept the bases clear once more in the fifth. The Cardinals had two runners in the sixth, but Jose was caught stealing before Zeile walked, and Pagnozzi flied into a double play immediately after, so for the first time in the game, they did not have a runner in scoring position for an entire inning. DeLeon was flawless again in the home sixth, and Tim Crews relieved Hershiser in the seventh and worked around a pinch double from Luis Alicea. Juan Agosto walked Daniels in the bottom of the seventh and gave up nothing else.

The Cardinals (finally) broke through in the top of the eighth. Guerrero singled with one out and was lifted for pinch runner Geronimo Pena, who stole second. One out later, Zeile singled Pena home to tie the game at 1. Crews ended the inning without further incident, and Agosto walked pinch hitter Mike Sharperson in the bottom half, but Brett Butler then produced a delayed double play (force at second, caught stealing) to end the mild threat.

Jay Howell relieved in the top of the ninth, and for the first time in the game, the Cardinals went down 1-2-3. In the bottom of the inning, Juan Samuel greeted Scott Terry with a single, and Darryl Strawberry doubled him to third. Eddie Murray was intentionally walked to load the bases; Daniels struck out, but Harris singled Samuel home to end the game.

There's no question that the Cardinals produced more scoring opportunities than the Dodgers in this game; they had runners reach in every inning but the ninth, and had at least one runner in scoring position in seven of the other eight frames. But out of their 13 RISP at bats, they produced only one hit - the same number as the Dodgers managed in only two chances. And since LA added a sacrifice fly, that was the game.

If you gave each team the same number of chances in ten versions of this game, the Cardinals would probably win at least eight. Sadly for them, you only get to play each game once.

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