Friday, July 15, 2016

Game of the Day (7/15/91)

Blue Jays 5, Royals 3 (12). Toronto's Juan Guzman was a promising rookie. Kansas City's Mike Boddicker was also a promising rookie... eight years ago. (He still wasn't too bad in 1991 but didn't have much left after the season.)

With two outs in the top of the first, Joe Carter doubled and John Olerud singled - but Carter was thrown out trying to score on Olerud's hit. Kansas City also started a two-out rally with a double, this one by George Brett; it worked out much better, as Danny Tartabull drew a walk and Todd Benzinger doubled both runners home. Brent Mayne then pinch hit for starting catcher Mike Macfarlane; a first-inning pinch hitter is generally a bad sign, and this was no exception, as Macfarlane would miss the next two months, presumably due to an injury sustained at some point in the first inning. Mayne grounded out to end the frame.

Boddicker worked around a leadoff double from Rance Mulliniks in the second and a two-out Roberto Alomar single in the third. Meanwhile, Guzman was flawless in the second, but had a bit more trouble in the third, as Kirk Gibson singled, stole second, and moved to third on a wild pitch before being stranded. Toronto pulled closer in the fourth when Kelly Gruber singled and Greg Myers doubled him home. Bill Pecota reached on a strikeout and wild pitch in the home fourth, but was left on, and the Jays tied it at 2 in the fifth on an Alomar triple and a Carter single.

Brian McRae opened the bottom of the fifth with a double, but didn't advance past second. Mulliniks led off the sixth with a single and was erased on a double play. Bob Macdonald relieved Guzman in the home sixth and set the Royals down 1-2-3; Boddicker was pulled after Devon White's two-out single in the seventh, and Storm Davis ended the inning without further incident. Macdonald was flawless in the seventh as well. Carter began the eighth with a single, but Davis left him on; Duane Ward relieved Macdonald with one out in the home eighth, allowed a two-out hit to Benzinger, and then stranded him.

Jeff Montgomery took the mound in the top of the ninth; Myers greeted him with a double, and pinch runner Mookie Wilson was bunted to third before being abandoned there. Pinch hitter Warren Cromartie worked a two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth, and pinch runner Gary Thurman stole second, but Ward then retired McRae to send the game to extras still even at 2.

Alomar opened the first extra inning with a single and moved to second on a flyout, but advanced no further. Ward worked around a Tartabull single in the bottom of the tenth, and Steve Crawford relieved Montgomery in the eleventh; Pat Borders greeted him with a single, and two outs later White singled Manuel Lee (on base via forceout) to third before Alomar flied out to strand both of them.

Mike Timlin supplanted Ward in the home eleventh and quickly got into significant trouble, as Mayne led off with a single, Pecota reached on an Olerud error, and Kurt Stillwell was intentionally walked to load the bases. Kevin Seitzer grounded to short, with Mayne getting thrown out at home. McRae grounded to short, with Pecota being forced at the plate. And with Gibson at bat, Stillwell tried to score on an insufficiently wild pitch and was cut down to end the threat.

Toronto's version of a relieved sigh was loading the bases with nobody out themselves in the top of the eleventh, by way of a Carter walk, an Olerud double, and an intentional pass to Mulliniks. Gruber then singled to knock in the go-ahead run, and Borders was plunked to force in another run and chase Crawford. Mike Magnante allowed an RBI forceout to pinch hitter Cory Snyder that made it 5-2; KC would pick up a run on doubles from Brett and Tartabull against Tom Henke in the bottom of the inning, but nothing else, and the game closed out with the Jays on top.

Have I mentioned that the Blue Jays have a good bullpen? I feel like this may have come up a time or two...

But even the best bullpen (and the Jays were close) needs a ridiculous escape every now and again, and this game definitely qualifies. Bases loaded, nobody out in a sudden-death inning, and they stayed alive with two forces at home and a failed attempt to score on a wild pitch - that is to say, three consecutive runners were thrown out at home, which has to at least tie a record, and may well have set it.

It was the piece de resistance in a 10-inning scoreless stretch for the Royal lineup, one in which they left runners in scoring position in five of the ten innings. Toronto wasn't much better in key situations (3 for 15 with runners in scoring position to KC's 2 for 14), but they did just enough to squeeze through with yet another victory.

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