Friday, July 1, 2016

Game of the Day (7/1/91)

Cubs 6, Pirates 5 (13). Pittsburgh's Bob Walk had two years remaining in a career that was pretty long and usually fairly solid. He was opposed by Frank Castillo, who was making his second big league appearance, and who would end up with a very similar career.

Orlando Merced led off the game with a double; one out later, Andy Van Slyke singled him home, taking second on the throw. Van Slyke then scored on Barry Bonds's two-out single. Walk worked around Mark Grace's double in the home first. Neither team had a hit in the second, and the only baserunner (Dwight Smith reaching on an error) was erased on a double play. Castillo allowed singles to Van Slyke and Bobby Bonilla in the third, but retired Bonds to leave them on.

Walk was spotless in the home third, and Castillo worked around a Mike LaValliere double in the top of the fourth. Grace led off the bottom of the inning with a single, and George Bell doubled him home one out later. Smith followed with a game-tying RBI single. The tie was short-lived, however, as Van Slyke broke it with a home run in the top of the fifth.

Walk worked around a Rick Wilkins single in the bottom of the fifth, and the Pirates extended their lead in the sixth when Bonds walked, stole second and third, and scored on a single by LaValliere. Neal Heaton replaced Walk in the home sixth; he walked Ryne Sandberg, and Bell's single moved Sandberg to third, but Heaton left them on the corners. Pittsburgh then added another run in the seventh as Merced singled, was bunted to second, and scored on Van Slyke's single to make it 5-2. Heaton walked pinch hitter Jerome Walton in the home seventh but left him on.

Heathcliff Slocumb allowed only a Jose Lind single in the eighth, and the Cubs narrowed the margin in the bottom of the inning. Heaton walked Grace and was pulled for Vicente Palacios, whose fourth pitch was hammered for a two-run homer by Sandberg. Luis Salazar and Shawon Dunston both singled, putting the tying run in scoring position, but Bob Patterson relieved and left it there.

Paul Assenmacher was flawless in the top of the ninth, and Bill Landrum came on for the home ninth to preserve Pittsburgh's one-run lead. He failed rather immediately, as Walton led off the inning with a home run. Sandberg would single two outs later, but was then caught stealing, sending the game into extras.

Assenmacher recorded two quick outs in the tenth, then allowed a triple to Mitch Webster before stranding him. The Cubs also threatened in the inning, starting with a single from Bell. Pinch runner Ced Landrum stole second and was balked to third. Salazar grounded out, with Landrum holding in place, and a pair of intentional walks then loaded the bases. Pinch hitter Jose Vizcaino flied out, and Walton struck out to leave all three men on.

Bob Scanlan took the mound in the eleventh and worked around a leadoff hit by Lind; Bob Kipper allowed a single-and-steal to Sandberg in the bottom of the inning, but left the winning run in scoring position. Both pitchers were perfect in the twelfth. Scanlan saw Don Slaught reach on an error in the thirteenth; a groundout moved him to second, and a wild pitch advanced him to third before pinch hitter Curt Wilkerson grounded out to leave him there. Stan Belinda notched two quick outs in the bottom of the thirteenth, but Damon Berryhill was then hit by a pitch, Grace's walk moved him to second, and Sandberg singled to bring him home with the winning run.

In the first inning of this game, Andy Van Slyke hit a single that brought in the game's first run; he would score as well later in the inning. In the third, Van Slyke singled and was left on. In the fifth, he homered, breaking a 2-2 tie. And in the seventh, he hit an RBI single. His last two at bats, in the ninth and twelfth, resulted in outs.

In the first inning, Ryne Sandberg flied out. In the fourth, he lined out (the Cubs scored twice in the inning anyway). He drew a walk in the sixth and was left at third. But in the eighth, his two-run homer brought the team within a run. In the ninth, he singled to put the winning run on base, but was caught stealing to send the game to extras. He singled and stole second in the eleventh but was left there; in the thirteenth, however, his single came with a runner on second, and scored him to win the game.

Sandberg and Van Slyke (the #3 hitters on each team) were both 4 for 6 with a homer and 3 RBI in the game. Sandberg reached base one extra time (on a walk) but also erased himself once by getting caught stealing.

Van Slyke's effort resulted in a WPA of +.264; Sandberg's WPA was +.557, over twice as high. This difference comes up despite the fact that they had nearly identical production, and they were (obviously) playing in the same game.

WPA is all about context. From a purely value-added standpoint, Van Slyke and Sandberg were effectively indistinguishable in this one. But Sandberg's production was much more dramatically-timed; his walkoff hit could easily have led Sportscenter, for instance, while Van Slyke's first-inning RBI single certainly would not.

You can view that as a benefit or a drawback of WPA - but either way, it helps to keep in mind what the numbers actually represent, and this game is an excellent demonstration of that. (It's also a pretty good baseball game in its own right.)

No comments:

Post a Comment