Saturday, June 25, 2016

Game of the Day (6/25/91)

Orioles 5, Indians 3 (12). Baltimore's Jeff Robinson, who would throw just over 700 innings in his career with an ERA+ of 83, faced Cleveland's Rod Nichols, who would narrowly exceed 400 innings and post a 92 ERA+ in the majors.

Sometimes, I have something interesting to say about a pitching matchup. This is not one of those times.

Nichols was perfect in the first. Robinson allowed singles to Jerry Browne and Mike Aldrete, but Browne was caught stealing before Aldrete reached, and the inning ended with Aldrete still on first. Each starter plunked a batter in the second (Joe Orsulak and Chris James, respectively), and each runner was left on first. In the top of the third, Tim Hulett and Mike Devereaux matched Cleveland's first-inning effort, both singling with Hulett getting thrown out stealing before Devereaux's hit. Browne walked and was wild pitched to second in the third before getting left there.

The scoring began in the top of the fourth when Cal Ripken was hit by a pitch and Sam Horn homered. Orsulak and Chris Hoiles would single later in the inning, but Hulett hit into a double play to erase the additional threat. Robinson worked around a Carlos Baerga single in the home fourth, while Nichols was perfect in the fifth.

Cleveland got on the board in the fifth when Alex Cole singled, stole second, and scored on a hit by Browne. In the sixth, Ripken's leadoff hit was squandered by the Orioles; Cleveland then evened the score at 2 in the bottom of the inning when Sandy Alomar Jr. and Baerga singled, James bunted them into scoring position, and Mark Lewis scored Alomar with a groundout. A pair of walks loaded the bases, and Kevin Hickey replaced Robinson and drew an inning-ending forceout from Mike Huff.

Nichols allowed a Billy Ripken single in the top of the seventh, but nothing else, and Cleveland grabbed the lead in the home half, starting with a one-out Aldrete triple. Todd Frohwirth relieved Hickey and coaxed a groundout from Alomar, then intentionally walked Baerga and allowed a tiebreaking single to James.

Baltimore swiftly tied the score when Ripken the elder (and better) homered in the top of the eighth. Frohwirth worked around a leadoff hit in the bottom of the inning. Shawn Hillegas replaced Nichols in the top of the ninth and set the Orioles down in order; Frohwirth had a much more eventful time of it in the bottom of the inning. Beau Allred led off with a walk, and Aldrete singled him to second. Alomar hit into a popup double play back to the mound, but Baerga singled and James walked to load the bases with two outs before Lewis grounded out to send the game to extras at three runs apiece.

Hillegas recorded two quick outs in the top of the tenth. The third took a bit more effort, as he walked Brady Anderson, saw a passed ball move him to second, then intentionally walked Cal Ripken before striking out Sam Horn to end the inning. Frohwirth also retired the first two hitters, then gave up a double to Huff and was pulled. Paul Kilgus intentionally walked pinch hitter Luis Lopez and was then relieved by Mark Williamson, who coaxed a groundout from Brook Jacoby to end the inning. Hillegas once again walked a brace of Orioles in the eleventh, this time Orsulak and David Segui (intentionally, after Orsulak stole second), and once again stranded them both; Williamson worked around a James single in the bottom of the eleventh to keep the game going.

Doug Jones took the mound in the top of the twelfth; he gave up a one-out single to Anderson, but then retired Cal Ripken and had to like his chances of escaping the inning. Instead, Horn doubled Anderson home with the go-ahead run, and Randy Milligan followed with an RBI single. Gregg Olson relieved in the home twelfth and set the Indians down in order to seal the game.

As usual, in a game of this length and closeness, there is more than one major contributor. In this case, there were three. The first was Shawn Hillegas, who managed to throw three scoreless, tie-preserving innings despite walking four batters (giving up no hits helps, as does striking out five). The second was Sam Horn, whose two-run homer opened the scoring in the second and who broke the final tie with his two-out RBI double in the twelfth.

And the third was whoever was pitching to Sandy Alomar Jr. Alomar went 1 for 6; he did score the tying run after leading off the sixth with a single. But things went sharply downhill from there. He grounded out with the go-ahead run at third and one out in the seventh, failing to bring the run home. And in the ninth, he stepped to the plate with two on and nobody out, and hit into a catastrophe of a double play that converted the situation to runner at first, two out. The Indians would overcome his failure in the seventh to bring that run home, but the same could not be said in the ninth, and after that missed chance, they would not score again. Alomar's WPA for the day was -.412, the third-worst figure of his 20-year major league career. It almost perfectly counteracted Hillegas's +.414, which was the second-highest he would ever manage (and the highest he would achieve in relief).

So the fans who attended this game got to see history! Or something like that.

No comments:

Post a Comment