Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Game of the Day (6/22/91)

Astros 4, Phillies 3 (10). Houston's Jim Deshaies, who we saw in his last start, took on Philly's Tommy Greene, who we've already seen a couple of times a year. Since we've already met both pitchers, let's get to the game.

Houston quickly grabbed the lead in the top of the first, as Steve Finley singled, stole second, and scored on a single by Rafael Ramirez. Craig Biggio singled Ramirez to second, but Greene recovered to retire the 4-5-6 hitters to leave both men on, and the Phillies responded in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Dickie Thon and Wes Chamberlain both singled, and Ricky Jordan hit a ground-rule double to score Thon and tie the game. Dale Murphy was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Charlie Hayes followed with a go-ahead sacrifice fly.

Greene and Deshaies walked each other in the second, but kept everyone else off the bases. Greene worked a spotless third; Deshaies allowed a leadoff triple to Thon, but induced a pair of foulouts and a flyout to strand him. And with two outs in the fourth, Eric Anthony homered to tie the game. Casey Candaele and Sid Campusano proceeded to hit squandered singles in each half of the inning.

With two outs in the fifth, Biggio singled and Luis Gonzalez walked, but Greene left them on. Deshaies then threw a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning, and neither team managed a baserunner in the sixth. Ramirez singled with two away in the top of the seventh, and Greene did the same in the bottom, but neither man would advance past first.

The tie broke with two outs in the eighth, when Ken Caminiti homered off of Greene. In the bottom of the inning, Thon led off by reaching on a Ramirez error, and Chamberlain singled. One out later, Jim Clancy relieved Deshaies and retired Murphy; Al Osuna was then called to the mound to face Hayes, who was replaced by pinch hitter John Kruk. Kruk stroked a single to tie the game at 3.

Osuna retired pinch hitter Jim Lindeman to end the inning. Roger McDowell relieved Greene in the top of the ninth and allowed a leadoff double to Candaele, but a strikeout, an intentional walk to Finley, and a pair of groundouts would result in the go-ahead run being left at third. Osuna then set the Phils down in order, sending the game to extras.

McDowell remained on the mound in the tenth and gave up a one-out double to Jeff Bagwell. Caminiti was intentionally walked, and pinch hitter Javier Ortiz drew a walk as well, loading the bases. Candaele then grounded into a force at second (if there was an attempt to complete the double play, it went unsuccessful and therefore unrecorded), bringing in the go-ahead run, and Mike Capel worked a 1-2-3 home tenth to end the game.

This is a quality baseball game - the scoring margin never exceeded one run, the teams traded runs in the eighth, and both left potential clinching runs at third (the Phils in the eighth, Houston in the ninth) before the Astros finally put it away in the tenth. The Astros got key contributions from several future stars - Ken Caminiti homered in the eighth, Jeff Bagwell doubled and scored the winning run in the tenth, Craig Biggio had two hits, and Steve Finley singled, stole second, and scored the game's opening run.

And the Phillies? They would win the NL pennant two years from now, so surely there were some precursors to that in this game...

Except that there weren't really. Out of the eight starting position players Philadelphia selected for this game, not one of them would be a regular starter for the '93 team that lost the World Series in six games. There's a bit of overlap; Wes Chamberlain and Ricky Jordan both played in 90 games in '93, and '93 stars John Kruk and Darren Daulton both came off the bench in this one, with Kruk driving in the tying run. But still, the Phillies would turn over a significant portion of their roster in the two years between this game and the madness of the 1993 postseason.

Which is... actually not all that uncommon, in baseball terms.

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