Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Game of the Day (7/20/91)

White Sox 7, Brewers 6 (10). We've seen Chicago's Ramon Garcia in two previous Game of the Day entries this year, and both times, he was facing an exceptional starting pitcher. This time, the pitcher he opposed had his name on a Hall of Fame plaque; it just happened to be a plaque belonging to someone else. The Jim Hunter who was starting this game for the Brewers would never be referred to as "Catfish," at least as far as I'm aware; he would also pitch 31 innings in his career, and give up 26 runs. Which is a lot closer together than you'd usually like those numbers to be.

Garcia walked Paul Molitor to open the game. Darryl Hamilton hit into a force, and Gary Sheffield flied out, but Hamilton then advanced to third on an errant pickoff throw, and Greg Vaughn singled him home to open the scoring. Hunter walked both Robin Ventura and Dan Pasqua in the bottom of the first, and stranded them. Candy Maldonado led off the second with a single, and Garcia issued two walks later in the inning, which might have led to an intriguing rally had Maldonado not been erased on a double play.

Hunter was perfect in the home second. Garcia allowed only a Vaughn single in the third, and Hunter plunked Ventura but put nobody else on. The fourth inning was notably more eventful, starting with singles from Maldonado and Jim Gantner. Garcia retired the next hitter, but Bill Spiers then homered on an 0-2 pitch, quadrupling Milwaukee's lead and chasing Garcia from the mound.

Melido Perez notched the remaining two outs uneventfully, and the Sox drew a run closer in the home fourth on singles by Pasqua, Ron Karkovice, and Joey Cora. Perez was flawless in the top of the fifth, and in the bottom of the inning, Tim Raines walked, Frank Thomas singled, and Warren Newsom's two-out double scored both of them, pulling Chicago within 4-3.

Milwaukee got to Perez in the sixth inning, as Gantner, Spiers, and Molitor singled to bring in a run (though Molitor was thrown out trying to stretch his hit, ending the inning). Mark Lee relieved Hunter in the home sixth and walked Cora and Raines, but gave up no hits or runs. Perez walked Hamilton in the seventh and erased him via a twin killing; Chuck Crim, who had recorded the last out of the sixth, walked Newsom and saw Matt Merullo reach on an error in the seventh, recovering to leave them at the corners.

Perez gave up a leadoff double to BJ Surhoff in the eighth, and was pulled for Scott Radinsky one out later; Radinsky retired the next two hitters without incident. With one out in the home eighth, Raines reached second on an error by center fielder Dante Bichette. Ventura singled Raines home, and Thomas singled as well, prompting Dan Plesac to replace Crim on the mound. Pasqua greeted Plesac with a game-tying double, and pinch hitter Craig Grebeck followed with a sacrifice fly that plated Thomas with the go-ahead run.

Radinsky yielded a leadoff single to Spiers in the ninth before being yanked for Bobby Thigpen. Two outs later, Spiers stole second on the first pitch to Gary Sheffield - and on the next one, Sheffield singled Spiers around to tie the game at 6. Plesac worked around an Ozzie Guillen single to send the game to extras.

Vaughn drew a four-pitch walk to begin the tenth and was bunted to second. After the second out, Willie Randolph was intentionally walked, and Dempsey labored through a ten-pitch walk to load the bases, but Thigpen then retired Spiers to end the rally. The bottom of the inning was far less involved, but also more decisive, as Ventura led off with a game-ending home run.

This game can be summed up as follows: Every hitter had a good day, and every pitcher had a bad day.

That's not quite literally true - but every single starting position player on both teams reached base at least once; 15 of the 18 had at least one hit, and two of the three who went hitless scored runs. Meanwhile, all but two of the eight pitchers on the day were charged with at least one run allowed; one of the two no-run pitchers was pulled without finishing his first inning of work (and with two runners on base), and the other allowed an inherited runner to score in the ninth and was charged with a blown save. Seven of the eight pitchers had negative WPA scores.

And you know what a big part of that was? The pitchers for the White Sox - the winning team, mind you - combined for a total of zero strikeouts on the day, in ten innings. Their twelve hits, seven walks, one homer, and one error allowed make it seem rather surprising that they held the Brewers to "only" 6 runs for the game - but they did, and Milwaukee's similarly unimpressive pitching made that good enough.

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