Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Game of the Day (6/29/91)

Rangers 7, Angels 4 (13). California's Chuck Finley was making the 111th start of his distinguished career (or eleventy-first, if you're a hobbit), one which would eventually include 467 starts. Texas responded with Gerald Alexander, who was making start number seven and had four more to go.

Finley worked around a leadoff single from fellow longtime Angel Brian Downing in the top of the first, while Alexander was perfect in the bottom of the inning. Juan Gonzalez singled to start the second, but was erased on a K/CS double play. In the bottom of the inning, Dave Parker walked with one out, and Gary Gaetti and Lance Parrish singled to load the bases, but Max Venable hit into a double play to end the inning.

Texas took the lead in the top of the third when Mike Stanley doubled, was bunted to third, and scored on a groundout by Downing; that lead then doubled in size when Rafael Palmeiro homered. In the bottom of the third, Luis Polonia singled with one out, and Dick Schofield reached on a Julio Franco error. After the second out, Dave Winfield singled to load the bases, and Parker then walked to force in a run. Alexander recovered to whiff Gaetti and end the inning.

The scoring continued in the fourth. Franco and Gonzalez started the top of the inning with singles, and two outs later, Stanley doubled Franco home. Parrish led off the bottom of the inning with a homer, pulling the Angels within a run once more. Venable would single and make it as far as second before being left there with the tying run. Texas padded the lead yet again in the fifth, as Palmeiro singled, Ruben Sierra doubled him to third, and Franco singled him home to push the score to 4-2; the inning then ended on Juan Gonzalez's second K/CS double play of the day, this one coming while he was at the plate.

Alexander worked around a Wally Joyner single in the fifth, and Finley walked Stanley and left him on in the sixth. In the home sixth, Luis Sojo singled with two outs, and Luis Polonia tripled him home to pull the Angels within a run. Alexander stranded Polonia at third, but Finley circumnavigated a Sierra walk and a Franco single in the seventh, and California finally tied it in the bottom of the inning against the Ranger bullpen. Joyner led off with a double against Mike Jeffcoat; two outs later, he was at third and Wayne Rosenthal was on the mound. Gaetti greeted Rosenthal with a game-tying single.

Finley walked Steve Buechele and left him on in the eighth; Venable opened the bottom of the inning with a single, but one out later, Kenny Rogers relieved Rosenthal and induced a double play to extinguish the mild threat. Jeff Robinson supplanted Finley in the ninth and worked two quick outs. Sierra then reached second on a single-and-error, and moved to third on a wild pitch. Franco was intentionally walked, and Robinson threw another wild pitch - but it was only wild enough to move Franco to second, not so much that it scored Palmeiro. Gonzalez then flied out to end the inning, and Rogers set the Angels down 1-2-3 to send the game to extras at 4-4.

Robinson allowed singles to Ivan Rodriguez and Jeff Huson in the top of the tenth, but left them on; Parker led off the bottom of the inning with a single, but Rogers then induced a double play from Gaetti. Scott Bailes was perfect in the top of the eleventh; Venable singled to start the home half and was bunted to second, leading to Jeff Russell relieving Rogers and leaving the winning run in scoring position.

Bailes walked Gonzalez to open the twelfth. One out later, Buechele struck out - and Gonzalez was caught stealing second, his third K/CS double play of the game. Russell set the Angels down in order in the home twelfth, and Rodriguez led off the top of the thirteenth with a single. Huson bunted Pudge to second, Downing was intentionally walked, and Palmeiro scoffed at the on-purpose pass, belting a go-ahead three-run homer. Russell then worked around a Venable single to end the game.

The Rangers started this game on the wrong end of a massively unbalanced pitching matchup - and they played the game under a self-inflicted handicap of three strikeout/caught stealing double plays involving Juan Gonzalez. And yet, they still came out on top - largely because their first baseman, who was still sufficiently new to the league that Brian Downing was intentionally walked to get to him, hit two home runs and drove in four. This may not qualify as putting the league on notice, necessarily, but Rafael Palmeiro was here to stay for a while.

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