Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Game of the Day (7/26/91)

Tigers 3, Rangers 2 (10). Detroit started the declining Walt Terrell; Texas, the young Kevin Brown. As of this point in time, there was absolutely no guarantee that Kevin Brown would end up with a career as good as Walt Terrell's.

(Spoiler: He did. In fact, he ended up being rather better.)

Brown walked Scott Livingstone and allowed a single to Lloyd Moseby in the first, but ended the inning with a double play from Cecil Fielder. The bottom of the inning saw a Ruben Sierra double and an intentional pass to Rafael Palmeiro before Juan Gonzalez fanned to strand both of them. The multibaserunner trend continued in the second, as Travis Fryman and Rob Deer reached in the top of the inning and were joined by Kevin Reimer and Dean Palmer in the bottom, but the starters continued to keep the game scoreless.

Brown worked a flawless top of the third, and Texas mounted the fiercest rally yet in the bottom of the inning; Brian Downing led off with a single, and with one out, Sierra singled and Palmeiro walked to load the bases. But Terrell retired the next two hitters and escaped without damage, and Detroit grabbed the lead in the fourth when Mickey Tettleton walked, moved to third on an errant pickoff throw, and scored on a Travis Fryman double.

Terrell was perfect in the fourth, and Brown matched him in the top of the fifth. Texas then loaded the bases on singles by Downing, Julio Franco, and Sierra; Palmeiro's flyout brought in the tying run, and Gonzalez hit into a double play to end the rally. Both starters worked around lone hits in the sixth, thereby proving that not all "lone hits" are created equal; Detroit's baserunner came from a two-out Tettleton single, while Texas got a one-out triple from Palmer, then left him at third. Rob Deer's double in the top of the seventh was similarly squandered. Terrell gave up hits to Downing and Franco to open the eighth. Sierra's flyout moved Downing to third and ended Terrell's day; Jerry Don Gleaton took the mound, saw Franco caught stealing, and struck out Palmeiro to leave the go-ahead run 90 feet away.

Brown set the Tigers down in order in the eighth, and Gonzalez led off the bottom of the inning with a double against John Kiely. Paul Gibson relieved and was greeted by a Steve Buechele single. Palmer then popped up to short, but Fryman misplayed the ball; he recovered enough to record a force at second, but Gonzalez was able to score the go-ahead run from third.

Brown recorded the first two outs in the ninth, bringing Fryman to the plate as the potential final hitter; the young infielder promptly redeemed his costly miscue, launching a game-tying homer on Brown's first offering. Jeff Russell replaced Brown and allowed a Deer single before ending the inning, and Mike Henneman worked around a hit by Franco to send the game to extras in a 2-2 deadlock.

Tony Phillips led off the tenth by reaching second on a misplay by Gary Pettis in center; he then took third on a poor pickoff thrown by Ivan Rodriguez, and scored the go-ahead run on a Livingstone single. Kenny Rogers replaced Russell and allowed a hit to Fielder, but retired two other Tigers, and Goose Gossage was called in to end the inning by striking out pinch hitter Mark Salas. Palmeiro opened the home tenth with a single; Gonzalez hit into a force, then took second on a wild pitch. Pettis managed a two-out walk, but Rodriguez flied out to end the game, thereby proving that not everyone who makes a key error to allow the go-ahead run will atone for it in their next chance at the plate.

Which, incidentally, makes this a pretty neat day for Travis Fryman - even apart from the fact that he went 3 for 4, drove in two, had a game-tying homer in the ninth, and posted a +.462 WPA, the highest of his blossoming career to date.

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