Friday, June 3, 2016

Game of the Day (6/3/91)

Blue Jays 5, Yankees 3. Toronto started Jimmy Key, a fine pitcher making his second GotD start in a very short amount of time. New York countered with Tim Leary, who was not as good as Key, but was at least experienced in starting interesting games; it's his fourth Game of the Day so far in 1991.

Just a few days after hitting the second-to-last home run of his career, Mookie Wilson started the scoring in this game with the last one, a one-out solo shot in the top of the first. Leary then allowed a single-and-steal to Roberto Alomar and walked Rance Mulliniks before ending the inning. Key gave up hits to Steve Sax and Roberto Kelly in the home first, but left both men on. Neither team managed a baserunner in the second, and Leary worked around an Alomar double in the top of the third.

New York rallied in the home half of the third, starting with a Pat Kelly single. A groundout moved the runner to second, and he then came home on an Alvaro Espinoza single. Roberto Kelly followed with a go-ahead RBI double, moved to third on a groundout, and scored on a hit by Jesse Barfield to make it a 3-1 game.

Toronto responded quickly in the fourth. Mulliniks led off with a double, and one out later, John Olerud singled him home. Manuel Lee followed with a two-out single, and Devon White and Wilson then walked to load the bases and force in the tying run, respectively. Key worked around a Bob Geren walk and a Pat Kelly double in the bottom of the fourth, and the Jays grabbed the lead in the fifth on a leadoff homer by Joe Carter. Mulliniks then doubled and Greg Myers singled, chasing Leary from the mound; Eric Plunk relieved and retired the next three hitters, but Ed Sprague's flyout was deep enough to score Mulliniks and make it a 5-3 game.

And... that was it. Oh, not entirely; Key allowed a two-out hit to Jesse Barfield in the bottom of the fifth, and the Toronto double play combination picked up three combined hits (two for Alomar, one for Lee) during the remainder of the game. But the Blue Jay bullpen (three innings of Mike Timlin, one of Tom Henke) did not allow a single Yankee baserunner, which meant that the tying run stepped to the plate exactly once after the Canadian team reclaimed the lead.

This was an entertaining game for the first five innings, featuring multiple lead changes and fine performances from some very good players (including the last home run of Mookie Wilson's career, which, while not exactly storied in and of itself, at least played a substantial role in a few stories). That proved to be enough to give it the top spot on a day that included only four MLB games (it was the Monday after Memorial Day; given that every team probably played on the previous Monday, a few extra off days are not unexpected.)

Really, though, this game worked out just fine from Toronto's perspective. Their goal is not to provide the maximum level of excitement to the fans (especially when they're on the road). If they were trying for that, building a world-class bullpen would have been the wrong way to do it. Great relief work is, however, a helpful tool in winning baseball games, thrilling and otherwise.

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