Friday, June 17, 2016

Game of the Day (6/17/91)

Expos 3, Astros 2 (16). Houston's Jim Deshaies took on Montreal's Oil Can Boyd. Boyd's career numbers look a bit better overall, but if you remove Deshaies's initial cup of coffee in 1984 and disastrous last two seasons in 1994-95, they're nearly identically mediocre.

Houston grabbed the lead in the top of the first on a Craig Biggio double and a Luis Gonzalez single. That lead would last them a long time.

Both teams put regular baserunners on through the early innings. Delino DeShields singled and stole second in the bottom of the first. Eric Anthony doubled in the top of the second, and Larry Walker walked and stole second in the bottom of the inning. The third saw a walk from Eric Yelding, and a single-and-balk that put Marquis Grissom on second. Houston managed multiple runners in the fourth, on an Anthony single and a Casey Candaele double, but Deshaies was retired to leave them at second and third.

The rally attempts mostly stalled for a while after that; Jeff Bagwell singled in the top of the sixth, but was caught stealing second, and nobody else on either side reached through the end of the seventh. Yelding singled and was caught stealing in the eighth, and Deshaies was perfect yet again in the bottom of the inning; the third out was pinch hitter Junior Noboa, whose presence spelled the end of Boyd's excellent stint on the mound. Scott Ruskin relieved in the top of the ninth and worked around a Ken Oberkfell single, and Deshaies opened the bottom of the inning by retiring Grissom, the 18th consecutive hitter he'd set down.

The streak ended there, as DeShields drew a walk, and Ivan Calderon then doubled him to third. Deshaies intentionally walked Tim Wallach to load the bases, and Dave Martinez followed with a game-tying sacrifice fly. Deshaies then drew a grounder to the mound from Gil Reyes, sending the game to extras.

Ruskin allowed a Steve Finley single in the tenth, but saw him caught stealing. Al Osuna replaced Deshaies in the bottom of the inning and worked around a walk to pinch hitter Mike Fitzgerald. Tim Burke opened the eleventh by walking Yelding, and one out later, allowed an RBI double to Gonzalez, putting Houston back in front; Bagwell somehow managed to follow that by grounding into a double play with no forceouts involved, as Gonzalez was caught in a rundown and Bagwell was then thrown out trying to advance to second behind the play.

Osuna allowed a leadoff single to DeShields in the home eleventh, and Calderon then reached on a Candaele error. Wallach grounded to third, where Oberkfell recorded a force, then threw wildly when trying for the double play, allowing Calderon to move up to third, and Martinez's RBI groundout brought in the tying run.

Burke worked around an Oberkfell single in the twelfth, and Mike Capel set the Expos down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. Barry Jones and Capel both worked the next two frames; both had one perfect frame, and one baserunner removed on a double play in the imperfect one. Jones set the Astros down in order again in the fifteenth, and Curt Schilling relieved in the bottom of the inning; he walked Spike Owen, but Owen was removed as the back half of a K/CS double play to extend the game yet again.

Jeff Fassero kept the bases free of Astros in the sixteenth. Grissom led off the bottom of the inning with a single, and was bunted to second; Calderon was intentionally walked, and Wallach then singled to score Grissom with the winning run.

The Astros really should have won this game. They held the lead for literally all but one half-inning of regulation, then led again in extra innings, and never trailed until the last play. Moreover, they did all that despite regularly messing things up; they had three runners caught stealing (and no successful steals), they hit into one of the stranger double plays I can remember to blow a scoring chance, and they also committed two errors to help the Expos score the tying run in the bottom of the eleventh.

And as a result, they lost the division by one game at the end of the season.

(Just kidding - they were actually terrible all year and lost 97 games. Which, if they regularly played like this in their pitchers' rare good starts, makes a lot of sense.)

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