Thursday, June 30, 2016

Game of the Day (6/30/91)

Giants 8, Padres 7 (10). San Diego started promising youngster Andy Benes, who at age 23 had been in the big leagues for two years an dwas on his way to probably his best MLB season. San Francisco countered with a player who was two years older, but had made his MLB debut earlier in the month, and would return to the minors after less than 50 innings. It would be six more years before Mike Remlinger fully established himself in the majors, but he would still go on to a productive career, most of it spent in relief.

Both pitchers gifted their opponents with runs in the first inning. In the top half, Will Clark singled with two outs and Kevin Mitchell doubled him to third. Benes then balked, bringing Clark home. The home first started with a Bip Roberts single and a Thomas Howard walk. Tony Gwynn hit into a double play, putting Remlinger one out from escape, but he threw a wild pitch, scoring Roberts with the tying run.

Benes worked around a double by Tony Perezchica in the top of the second, and the Padres took the lead in the bottom of the inning when Scott Coolbaugh and Paul Faries doubled. But San Francisco came back immediately, retying the game on a Mitchell home run in the top of the third.

Remlinger allowed a single to Jerald Clark in the bottom of the third, but left him on. Benes was spotless in the fourth, however, and Darrin Jackson led off the home half of the inning with a home run, putting San Diego back in front. Coolbaugh then walked, and Faries doubled, sending Coolbaugh to third and Remlinger to the dugout. Kelly Downs relieved and induced a groundout from Benes, but Roberts followed with a two-run single to extend the lead. Howard singled as well, and Gwynn hit into an RBI forceout that made the score 6-2.

The Giants mounted a slight response in the top of the fifth. Mike Felder drew a one-out walk, Willie McGee singled him to second, and Benes then balked the runners to second and third. Clark's groundout scored Felder, but Benes prevented any further damage. Jose Segura worked around a Coolbaugh single in the home fifth; Benes allowed hits to Robby Thompson and Dave Anderson in the sixth, but left them at the corners. Shawn Abner hit for Benes in the bottom of the sixth and singled; he would move up a base on each of two outs before being left at third.

Larry Andersen took the mound in the top of the seventh, and McGee greeted him with a single. Up next was Will Clark, who singled as well - and that was when the fun started. Gwynn committed a throwing error, I believe on McGee's attempt to take third; this allowed McGee to score. Andersen, presumably backing up on the play, ALSO committed a throwing error... which allowed Clark, who was the batter, to score as well, pulling the Giants within a run. Andersen settled in from there, keeping the remaining lead intact, and it doubled in size when Jackson homered against Mike LaCoss in the bottom of the inning.

A pair of singles started the top of the eighth, putting the tying runs on base and chasing Andersen in favor of Craig Lefferts, who retired the next three hitters to maintain the 7-5 score. LaCoss set the Padres down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, giving the Giants one more chance. Mitchell led off the ninth with a single, and pinch hitter Steve Decker singled him to third. Mike Benjamin laid down the least productive of sacrifice bunts, moving the trail runner to second while Mitchell stayed at third - and it paid off, as Terry Kennedy's sacrifice fly scored Mitchell and moved pinch runner Trevor Wilson to third, and Perezchica followed with an infield single to score Wilson with the tying run.

Jeff Brantley allowed a hit to Jerald Clark in the home ninth, but nothing else. Despite the fact that he'd already thrown two innings and gave up two runs in one of them, the Padres left Lefferts on the mound for the tenth, and a McGee double and Will Clark single quickly put San Francisco in front. Brantley then retired the Padres in order to end the game.

Let's not put too fine a point on it: the Padres should have won this game. Andy Benes balked twice, both of them leading to runs. The team also committed two errors on one play, leading to two more runs. Had any of those four runs not scored, San Diego would have won in regulation. As it was, the game went to extras - and the Padres made the odd decision to ask a third inning out of Craig Lefferts, who had just blown a two-run lead the inning prior. Lefferts was only their second reliever of the day, and the bullpen hadn't been terribly overtaxed in the preceding games (nobody had gone back-to-back days, I checked), and the team would have the next day off (checked that too). Lefferts gave up one more run, and that was the game.

The Padres were a better team than the Giants in 1991, and despite an 0-for-5 with a double play and an error from Tony Gwynn, they would have been better in this game too, if they'd been able to stay out of their own way. But as it turns out, giving the other team a handful of free runs is detrimental to your chances of winning a baseball game.

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