Sunday, July 17, 2016

Game of the Day (7/17/91)

Royals 9, Orioles 8 (15). Baltimore's Ben McDonald was 23 and had posted an excellent partial season in 1990. KC's Mark Gubicza was a veteran at 28, and had been an All Star in two of the three preceding seasons.

But we're past the midway point of the season now, and it's time to start talking about how the pitchers were doing in the '91 season itself. In this case, both of them had ERAs over 5.

Brady Anderson led off the game with a single. Gubicza retired the next two Orioles, but then walked Sam Horn and gave up a 3-run homer to Randy Milligan. Adding injury to injury, Baltimore tacked on another run courtesy of a Chito Martinez single, a Leo Gomez walk, and a Chris Hoiles single before Gubicza finally brought the inning to a close.

McDonald allowed singles to George Brett and Danny Tartabull in the bottom of the first, but nothing else. In the top of the second, Anderson reached on a Gubicza error and stole his way into scoring position before being stranded, and McDonald gave up a hit to Bill Pecota but erased him on a double play. The third inning saw singles from Gomez and Brian McRae, but both runners would be left on.

Baltimore extended its lead in the fourth, once again starting with Anderson, who tripled with one away. After the second out, Cal Ripken Jr. singled Anderson home. Horn struck out, which would have ended the inning if not for Brent Mayne's passed ball which allowed him to reach safely, and Milligan followed with a two-run double that extended the lead to 7-0 and ended Gubicza's day. Mike Magnante retired Martinez to restore at least some semblance of dignity to KC's efforts.

The Royal lineup finally went to work in the bottom of the fourth. Tartabull led off with a homer. One out later, Pecota walked and Mayne singled. Terry Shumpert lined out, but pinch hitter Kevin Seitzer tripled to bring both runners home. McRae then walked, and Kirk Gibson singled Seitzer home to pull the home team within 7-4 and send McDonald to the showers. Paul Kilgus came in and retired Brett, who was batting as the tying run.

Magnante allowed a Hoiles double in the top of the fifth; nobody else on either team reached base in the inning. In the top of the sixth, Joe Orsulak led off with a single and Ripken singled him home. One out later, Magnante put Milligan on intentionally, and Storm Davis relieved him and retired the next two hitters. Kilgus was flawless in the home sixth, while Davis allowed a single to Hoiles in the visiting seventh but erased him on a double play.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Gibson singled. Brett singled as well, and Anderson's error on the play allowed Gibson to come home and Brett to reach second. Todd Frohwirth relieved Kilgus and struck out Tartabull, but Todd Benzinger then tripled Brett home before Frohwirth ended the inning. Orsulak's single made him the only runner to reach in the eighth, and Davis worked around a Milligan single in the top of the ninth, keeping the score at 8-6.

Having relieved partway through the eighth, Mike Flanagan remained on the mound to begin the bottom of the ninth. McRae led off with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a Gibson groundout, halving the deficit. Gregg Olson relieved and struck out Brett, but Tartabull singled and pinch runner Scott Thurman stole second. Benzinger then hit an infield single - which still would not have scored the tying run if not for Juan Bell's throwing error, which not only allowed Thurman to come home but moved Benzinger to third with the winning run. Olson retired Pecota to send the game to extras tied at 8.

Jeff Montgomery and Olson both gave up two-out doubles in the tenth (to Orsulak and Seitzer, respectively), but neither man scored. Mike Devereaux's single made him the only baserunner for either team in the eleventh. Mongtomery was flawless in the top of the twelfth, while Mark Williamson relieved Olson and worked around singles by Benzinger and Mayne, leaving the winning run at third.

Ripken greeted Luis Aquino by reaching on an error in the top of the thirteenth, but was removed when Milligan lined into a double play. Williamson walked Brett with two outs in the home half, then allowed a single to pinch hitter Jim Eisenreich before leaving the winning run at third once more. Devereaux and Bell both singled in the top of the fourteenth, but Baltimore failed to capitalize; the Royals did the same with regard to walks from Pecota and Kurt Stillwell in the bottom of the inning, leaving the winning run at third yet again.

Aquino allowed a two-out Horn double in the fifteenth, but left his pinch runner at second. Brett then singled with one out in the bottom of the inning, and after Eisenreich was retired, Benzinger and Pecota singled to bring Brett around with the game-winner.

This game combines one type of contest that WPL usually disdains (lengthy comeback from a huge deficit) with one that it loves (extended extra innings with several scoring chances in extras). The combination works out somewhat less well than might be expected from the 9-8, 15-inning score - but that still makes it a top-10 game of the '91 season to this point. (At least as long as you're not a fan of the team that blew a 7-run lead.)

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