Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Game of the Day (7/19/91)

Twins 3, Red Sox 2 (11). Minnesota's David West was a swingman who would spend about a decade in the majors, never qualify for the ERA title, and pitch under 1000 innings split between four teams. Boston's Joe Hesketh would have a highly similar career, just a better version of it (and spent only on three teams rather than four).

Both pitchers worked into and out of trouble in the first. Hesketh allowed hits to Scott Leius and Al Newman to start the game, but left them on first and second. West gave up a single to Wade Boggs and walked Jody Reed; Carlos Quintana hit into a double play that moved Boggs to third, Jack Clark walked, and Tom Brunansky grounded out to leave runners on the corners. There was yet another abortive rally in the top of the second. Shane Mack led off with a single and was immediately caught stealing; Kent Hrbek then walked and Gene Larkin doubled Hrbek to third, but Hesketh retired the next two hitters to leave both runners in scoring position. The bottom of the inning was comparatively tame, as Ellis Burks walked and was erased on a double play.

Hesketh worked the game's first perfect inning in the top of the third. The latter half of the frame was far more lively, beginning with singles from Luis Rivera and Boggs. Reed bunted into a force at third for the first out. Quintana then singled, but Boggs was thrown out trying to score on the play, and Clark popped up to strand the two remaining runners. Mack walked and Hrbek singled in the top of the fourth, but they were left in scoring position, and West threw a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning.

Leius led off the top of the fifth with a triple. One out later, he was cut down trying to score on Kirby Puckett's grounder to second; the rundown lasted long enough that Puckett advanced into scoring position, but he was stranded there, and Boston grabbed the lead in the bottom of the inning when Tony Pena homered. One out later, Boggs tripled and Reed singled him home, doubling the Red Sox advantage. Quintana then hit into a double play, ending the inning.

With one out in the sixth, Hesketh allowed singles to Mack and Hrbek. Larkin then struck out, and Mack was caught trying for third on strike three, ending the inning. West set the Sox down in order in the home sixth. Leius doubled with one out in the seventh, ending Hesketh's day. Jeff Gray relieved and retired Newman, but Puckett followed with a double that put the Twins on the board. Carl Willis supplanted West in the home seventh; he walked Rivera and allowed a single to Boggs, but left them at first and second.

Gray was pulled after Hrbek singled in the top of the eighth, and Tony Fossas promptly coaxed a double play from Larkin. Mark Guthrie and Steve Bedrosian combined on a spotless bottom of the inning, giving Minnesota a final shot at their one-run deficit. They capitalized quickly, as pinch hitter Randy Bush tied the game with a one-out homer off of Boston closer Jeff Reardon. Bedrosian gave up a leadoff double to Burks in the home ninth, but kept him anchored to second, and the game progressed to extra innings.

Greg Harris and Bedrosian both worked flawless tenth innings, meaning that the game's first extra inning doubled as the first inning that passed without a baserunner. The same was not true in the eleventh; Chuck Knoblauch singled with two away, and then Mike Pagliarulo worked a 2-2 count and hit what the play-by-play describes as a "pop fly to deep 3B." With two outs, Knoblauch would have been running on contact (or possibly before, as a high-quality base thief), and that apparently allowed him to score after the ball dropped in, even though Pagliarulo held up at first on the play. Rick Aguilera took over in the home eleventh and gave up a single to Mike Greenwell, but ended the game with the runner still on first.

This is one of those games that seems likely to have shortened the lifespans of the fans of the two teams. One of the teams had the same runner get caught stealing twice, had their offense succumb to two double plays (although one of those is double-counting with the CS total, since it was a K/CS double play), had a runner thrown out at home, and went 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position.

And that was the winning team! Their opponents were little better off, going 2 for 10 with RISP (and one of the two hits resulted in a runner being thrown out at the plate), hitting into three double plays, and blowing a ninth-inning lead.

All in all, it was a sensational circus of self-sabotage. Which, as long as you weren't inclined to bang your head against the wall in frustration, would have been fairly entertaining to witness.

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