Monday, June 27, 2016

Game of the Day (6/27/91)

Rangers 9, A's 6. We occasionally run into pitchers who are at opposite ends of their careers, but rarely to this extent. Texas's Terry Mathews was making the first start of his big league career (which sounds less impressive when you realize he only ended up making five starts in his career, but it was his fourth appearance overall and he would pitch in over 300 games). Oakland's Andy Hawkins, meanwhile, had less than 10 starts remaining in his decade-long career.

Hawkins put runners on base in three different ways in the first, walking Ruben Sierra, hitting Julio Franco with a pitch, and allowing an infield hit to Kevin Reimer, but induced Juan Gonzalez to pop up, leaving the bases loaded. Mathews was perfect in the bottom of the inning, and Texas pulled ahead in the second when Ivan Rodriguez doubled and Dean Palmer singled him home. The A's promptly came back to tie in the bottom of the inning on doubles by Terry Steinbach and Ernie Riles.

Sierra led off the third with a double, but was still on second when the inning ended. With one out in the home third, Rickey Henderson walked, and Dave Henderson followed with a go-ahead two-run homer. Jose Canseco then singled before being erased on a double play. Jeff Huson walked in the top of the fourth, and Riles doubled in the bottom, with neither runner advancing or being joined by a teammate.

Texas narrowed the gap in the fifth, as Sierra walked, Franco singled him to third, and Reimer scored him with a sacrifice fly. Mathews was perfect in the bottom of the inning, and Texas pulled ahead in the top of the sixth. Steve Buechele led off with a walk, and Rodriguez bunted him to second. Rick Honeycutt relieved Hawkins and struck out pinch hitter Mike Stanley, but Palmer then homered, pushing the Rangers in front 4-3.

That lead lasted long enough for the A's to bat again, and was promptly erased when Canseco led off the home sixth with a home run. Harold Baines then singled, chasing Mathews; Wayne Rosenthal coaxed a double play from Steinbach and ended the inning without further incident.

Honeycutt allowed a one-out bunt single to Franco in the seventh and was pulled for Steve Chitren. Franco promptly stole second and scored the go-ahead run on a single by pinch hitter Brian Downing. Gonzalez drew a walk, and Buechele followed with a three-run homer that made it an 8-4 game. Rosenthal worked around a Mike Bordick double in the bottom of the seventh, and Texas added on in the eighth when Chitren walked both Gary Pettis and Rafael Palmeiro and Johnny Guzman came on to allow an RBI single to Sierra.

Oakland narrowed the gap in the home eighth, starting with a Canseco double and a Baines single. One out later, Rosenthal walked Mark McGwire and was pulled for Jeff Russell, who allowed an RBI single to Riles, but retired the next two hitters to end the inning. Guzman and Russell worked the ninth; both of them put runners in scoring position with nobody out (Gonzalez single/Buechele walk, Rickey Henderson double, respectively), but neither allowed any of them to score.

Rickey Henderson, as you may have noticed, was the Oakland leadoff man - and he had a fine game in the role, with a double, two walks, and a run scored. Typically, that would be enough to give his team the advantage in the batting order's top spot - but not on this day, as his Texas counterpart had two hits, scored a run and drove in three.

Who was that masked leadoff man? None other than... Dean Palmer?

Yes, Dean Palmer, noted slugger (he hit a go-ahead two-run homer in this game) and generally pretty slow guy, who would occupy the top spot in the batting order only ten times in his career, outplayed Rickey Henderson, the undisputed greatest leadoff hitter of all time, in the leadoff role in this game. And that largely made the difference in Texas's favor.

Just when you think you've seen everything baseball has to throw at you...

No comments:

Post a Comment