Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Game of the Day (7/12/91)

Yankees 2, Angels 1 (10). California's Mark Langston was in his eighth major league season and a firmly-established star. New York's Scott Kamieniecki was making the fifth start in a decent career that would end up encompassing just under 1000 innings.

The Yankees grabbed the lead before an out was recorded, courtesy of a Steve Sax double, a Randy Velarde walk, and a Don Mattingly double that plated Sax and moved Velarde to third. Langston recovered to prevent any further scoring, wrapping two strikeouts around a popup to end the inning. Luis Polonia led off the bottom half by reaching on a Pat Kelly error, but was erased one out later on a Dave Winfield double play ball.

New York mounted a mild threat in the second as Bernie Williams led off with a walk and Kelly (after hitting into a force) stole second, but Langston left the runner on. Kamieniecki worked around a Gary Gaetti single in the bottom of the inning. Jesse Barfield walked and was stranded in the third, and the Angels tried again in the home half, starting with a leadoff walk to Donnie Hill. Dick Schofield bunted the runner to second, and Polonia walked behind him. One out later, Winfield walked to load the bases, but Dave Parker flied out to leave them that way.

Langston was perfect in the fourth, while Kamieniecki once again gave up a hit to Gaetti and nothing else. The Yanks went down 1-2-3 again in the fifth, and the Angels finally tied it in the bottom of the inning when Schofield singled and stole second and Winfield singled him home. Neither team managed a runner in the sixth, and Langston kept the bases clear in the seventh as well.

Greg Cadaret took the mound in the home seventh and worked around a Polonia single. Neither team put a baserunner on in the eighth (Langston handled the top of the inning, while Cadaret combined with John Hayban in the bottom). Barfield singled in the top of the ninth, while Hill walked in the bottom, but neither runner made it past first, and the game progressed to extras tied at 1.

Bryan Harvey relieved Langston in the top of the tenth, and started the inning by walking Williams and allowing a pinch single to Matt Nokes. At that point, he had allowed more baserunners in two batters than Langston had in the preceding six innings. Kelly bunted the runners to second and third, and Sax hit into a no-out fielder's choice that brought the go-ahead run home. A steal and an intentional walk later, the bases were loaded for Barfield; he grounded out, keeping the Angels within a run, but a pair of Steves (Howe and Farr) combined on a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning to end the game.

In its simplest form, this game is a message of hope to lineups everywhere that are afflicted by exceptional performances from ace pitchers: If you stay in the game long enough, you're going to face the bullpen eventually. (Yes, that does require your team's pitchers to be good as well; if the other pitcher is great and your guys are lousy, your hopes will tend to be diminished significantly.)

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