Monday, July 11, 2016

Game of the Day (7/11/91)

Astros 6, Cubs 4 (11). Houston's Jim Deshaies, a decent pitcher having a bad year, took on Chicago's Greg Maddux, a great pitcher having a good year.

Maddux countered a Craig Biggio single by drawing a double play from Jeff Bagwell in the top of the first, and Deshaies set the Cubs down in the order. Maddux allowed a double to Eric Anthony in the second, but nobody else from either team reached in the inning. Houston opened the scoring in the third when Casey Candaele singled, Deshaies bunted him to second, and Steve Finley singled him home; one out later, Bagwell was hit by a pitch and Luis Gonzalez homered to make it a 4-0 game.

Maddux was perfect for the next two innings, but Deshaies kept the bases free of Cubs until there were two outs in the fifth, at which point he allowed a solo homer to Luis Salazar. Bagwell walked to open the sixth, but Gonzalez hit into a double play. Hector Villanueva drew an inning-opening walk as well and was left on.

Heathcliff Slocumb relieved Maddux in the seventh and set the Astros down in order, and the Cubs finally staged a rally in the bottom of the inning. Ryne Sandberg started it with a walk and was balked to second. Two outs later, Salazar doubled Sandberg home, and Shawon Dunston then singled Salazar around and pull within 4-3. Villanueva singled Dunston to second, and Jim Clancy relieved Deshaies and retired pinch hitter Chico Walker to end the inning with the tying run in scoring position.

Chuck McElroy took the mound in the eighth and gave up a leadoff single to Eric Yelding, but left him on. Mark Grace also singled in the home half, and was equally stranded. McElroy was perfect in the ninth, and in the bottom of the inning, George Bell led off with a game-tying home run. Two outs later, Clancy gave up a double to Rick Wilkins, and Al Osuna was called in to retire pinch hitter Jose Vizcaino and leave the winning run in scoring position.

Dave Smith threw a 1-2-3 top of the tenth; Osuna allowed a single to Grace and walked Sandberg in the bottom of the inning, but left both of them on. In the top of the eleventh, Smith walked Bagwell with one away, and after the second out, Ken Caminiti singled. Pinch hitter Ken Oberkfell then hit a tiebreaking two-run double. Mike Capel took the mound in the bottom of the inning and recorded two quick outs. Wilkins drew a walk, and Vizcaino doubled him to third. Jerome Walton walked to load the bases, but Grace grounded to first, ending the game.

This game has a substantial number of stars, both past (Andre Dawson, George Bell, Ryne Sandberg) and future (Greg Maddux, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Ken Caminiti). So naturally, the most productive player was a mediocre pinch hitter who was quickly approaching the end of a fairly long, perfectly OK career. Ken Oberkfell stepped to the plate in the eleventh as the fifth player to come off of Houston's bench in the game, and came through with the second-to-last extra base hit of his 16-year major league tenure.

Which is pretty good timing, especially when your team blew a 4-0 lead earlier in the day.

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