Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Game of the Day (7/13/91)

Orioles 2, A's 0. Baltimore's Bob Milacki, a moderately effective, moderately young right-hander, faced Oakland's Eric Show, a much older righty who had once been better than Milacki ever would be, but was now deservedly in the last year of his career.

Show was perfect in the top of the first, and Milacki worked around a Jose Canseco walk in the bottom of the inning. The Orioles picked up singles in each of the next two frames, by Randy Milligan and Mike Devereaux, respectively, but Milligan was left on and Devereaux was caught stealing; meanwhile, no A's reached base in either inning. Harold Baines's walk in the home fourth made him that inning's only baserunner.

Chito Martinez doubled with one out in the top of the fifth, moved to third on an errant pickoff throw, and scored on a Chris Hoiles single to put the game's first run on the board. One inning later, Devereaux homered to double Baltimore's lead. Milacki walked Dave Henderson in the home sixth, but allowed nothing else.

Show was flawless in the seventh, and Mike Flanagan took over for Milacki in the bottom of the inning and allowed only a walk to Vance Law. Devereaux singled against Steve Chitren with one away in the eighth; Joe Klink then relieved and stranded him at first. Mark Williamson worked a spotless home eighth; Dennis Eckersley relieved for Oakland in the ninth and walked both Milligan and Martinez, but stranded them. Gregg Olson then took the mound for the O's and set the A's down in order to end the game.

This is a pretty straightforward contest; over in regulation, no lead changes, and the losing team never had a runner in scoring position. So why does WPL pick it as the most exciting contest on a day in which 12 games were played?

The short answer? It doesn't. Instead, the game is selected because of my lone subjective modifier to the WPL system: it was a no-hitter.

This raises two questions. First - does a combined no-hitter deserve the same excitement bonus as one thrown by a single pitcher? It's still cool, but I don't think it's got quite the same cachet.

Second - why was Milacki pulled from this game? Per a quick Google search, he was struck by a line drive (which then bounced toward first base, resulting in an out) in the sixth inning, and was lifted at the end of the frame. It was a strictly precautionary measure; Milacki made his next scheduled start.

So all the ill-placed line drive cost him was a chance at a solo no-hitter.

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