Friday, July 22, 2016

Game of the Day (7/22/91)

White Sox 5, Brewers 4. Chicago's Greg Hibbard, who was a pretty solid pitcher for just under 1000 innings, faced Milwaukee's Bill Wegman, who was a pretty solid pitcher for just under 1500 innings.

Hibbard was perfect in the first, and the Sox grabbed the lead in the bottom of the inning when Robin Ventura doubled and Carlton Fisk singled him home. Milwaukee responded in the top of the second. Greg Vaughn led off with a walk and Candy Maldonado singled. Dante Bichette hit into a force at third, and Franklin Stubbs grounded out to advance the runners. Rick Dempsey then walked to load the bases, and Dale Sveum doubled, scoring two men to put the Brewers in front, though Dempsey was thrown out at home to end the inning.

Chicago rallied in the home second when Craig Grebeck reached on a Sveum error, was bunted to second, and scored on an Ozzie Guillen single. Neither team put a runner on in the third, but the same was not true in the fourth. Maldonado walked with one out in the top of the inning, and stole second while Bichette fanned. Stubbs's single scored Maldonado and put the Brewers in front again, and because Stubbs took second on a late-in-the-play error, he was able to come home on Dempsey's single that made it a 4-2 game. The Sox only managed one single in the bottom of the fourth, but they made it count, as Grebeck would move to third on an errant pickoff throw and score on a wild pitch to halve the deficit.

Both pitchers kept the bases clear in the fifth; Hibbard's error allowed Maldonado to reach in the sixth, but he was immediately erased on a double play. Dan Pasqua led off the bottom of the sixth with a homer to tie the game. Ron Kittle singled one out later, and after Grebeck hit into a force, Mike Huff doubled and Guillen singled to bring in the go-ahead run.

Stubbs led off the seventh with a single, and Hibbard was pulled for Melido Perez, who allowed Stubbs to advance to third but no further. Wegman was perfect in the home seventh; Perez allowed a single to Jim Gantner to open the eighth, but then combined with Scott Radinsky to strand him. Lance Johnson singled and was caught stealing in the home eighth, and Bobby Thigpen took the mound in the ninth. Bichette led off with a bunt single and moved to second on BJ Surhoff's one-out hit; they would advance to second and third on a groundout, but Thigpen then whiffed Paul Molitor to end the game.

This wasn't a hyper-dramatic game or anything, but there are a couple of interesting parts to it. First, Craig Grebeck, Chicago's #7 hitter, had one hit, no walks, and no HBPs - and scored three runs. The sequences were: reach on error, bunted to second, scored on single; single, to third on wild pickoff throw, scored on wild pitch; reached on forceout (second out of inning), double and single brought him around. If the two teams had been intentionally trying to maximize the number of runs scored by Craig Grebeck in the game, they could hardly have done better.

Second, the pitcher usage, which pinpoints the game pretty precisely in terms of when it occurred. Bill Wegman gave up five runs, including blowing the lead in the sixth, and yet was allowed to throw a complete game in defeat. (It was actually the third of four consecutive complete games for Wegman; he won the first two, lost this one, and then lost the fourth, giving up seven runs including a walkoff three-run homer in the ninth.) But Greg Hibbard was yanked after a leadoff single in the seventh inning, and the White Sox used three relievers to finish out the game (including a ninth-inning-only closer). You would virtually never see the 8-inning, 5-run complete game after the turn of the current century, and you would also essentially never see the three reliever pattern the Sox used before about 1985. And coincidentally, this game occurred in 1991.

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