Friday, June 24, 2016

Game of the Day (6/24/91)

Blue Jays 4, Indians 3. The young Charles Nagy started for Cleveland against Toronto veteran Jimmy Key. Both pitchers were good; Key was better, especially this year.

Key allowed a two-out Chris James single in the top of the first, but stranded the runner, and his teammates grabbed the lead in the bottom of the inning. Devon White and Roberto Alomar singled, putting runners at the corners, and Alomar then stole second. Joe Carter hit a sacrifice fly to bring White home, and Rance Mulliniks followed with a single that scored Alomar. Nagy recovered to retire the next two hitters, but Toronto was ahead 2-0 after one inning.

Carlos Baerga opened the second with a single-and-error that put him in scoring position; he would advance to third before Key left him there. Mookie Wilson doubled in the bottom of the inning and stuck at second. Key worked around a Jerry Browne single in the third; the bottom of the inning saw Carter double, Mulliniks single, and John Olerud hit a sacrifice fly that padded the Blue Jay advantage to 3-0.

Key and Nagy both worked around two-out hits in the fourth (a Brook Jacoby single and a Wilson double, respectively). In the top of the fifth, Cleveland joined in the scoring; Mike Huff reached on a two-out Ed Sprague error, Browne singled, and James doubled them both home. Alomar led off the home fifth with a double, stole third, and was left there. The Indians also got a leadoff double from Baerga in the sixth; he moved to third on a flyout and scored the tying run on a Jeff Manto single. Felix Fermin singled as well, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position, but Mark Lewis ended the inning by grounding into a double play.

Greg Myers led off the home sixth with a walk; he was replaced by pinch runner Glenallen Hill, who was promptly caught stealing, allowing Nagy to end the inning scorelessly. Duane Ward took the mound in the top of the seventh and allowed a single to Browne, but nothing else. Nagy remained in the game to start the home seventh, but a White double and an Alomar groundout put the go-ahead run at third, and Nagy was yanked after intentionally walking Carter. Jesse Orosco relieved, and pinch hitter Pat Tabler greeted him with a tiebreaking sacrifice fly.

Ward was perfect in the eighth, as was Mike York. In the ninth, Tom Henke allowed a two-out single to Alex Cole, and promptly picked him off of first to end the game.

Through six innings, this game was tied 3-3 and both starters were still pitching. The Blue Jays immediately turned things over to their hyper-reliable bullpen, which worked three routine scoreless frames. Cleveland, meanwhile, tried to get one more inning out of their starter, and that led to the go-ahead run.

Best I can tell, there are two lessons to be learned here (and they seem to be the same lesson as in every Blue Jays game we've seen so far in 1991):

1. Have a hyper-reliable bullpen.
2. Use the hyper-reliable bullpen.

It's the recent Royals, 25 years early - and it worked pretty well then, too, because this Blue Jays team was about to win back-to-back titles.

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