Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Game of the Day (7/27/91)

White Sox 10, Red Sox 8 (14). Chicago's Greg Hibbard was a fairly decent, fairly young lefty who was becoming both older and less decent. Boston's Roger Clemens was on the way to the third of what would eventually be seven Cy Young awards.

Tim Raines led off the game with a single, and moved to second on a one-out walk by Frank Thomas. Dan Pasqua singled to bring home the game's first run. Warren Newsom walked to load the bases, and Matt Merullo's single then brought in two more. Lance Johnson singled, Joey Cora flied out to plate a fourth run, and Ozzie Guillen finally flied out to bring a rather surprising first inning to a close.

Boston picked up a run in the home first when Carlos Quintana reached on an error by Robin Ventura, Jack Clark singled, and Mike Greenwell reached on a Cora misplay. Clemens was perfect in the second, and Boston pulled closer still on back-to-back homers by Ellis Burks and Tony Pena in the bottom of the inning. Clemens was spotless again in the third, and the Red Sox completed their relatively prompt comeback when Clark walked, Tom Brunansky doubled him to third, and Burks singled them both home to take a 5-4 lead. (Burks was thrown out at second on the play, ending the inning.)

Neither team put a runner on base in the fourth, and Clemens worked a 1-2-3 fifth as well. Hibbard was pulled after walking Quintana with one out in the fifth, and Donn Pall promptly surrendered a two-run homer to Clark. One out later, Brunansky doubled, Burks walked, and Pena singled Brunansky home to make it 8-4.

Pasqua led off the top of the sixth with a single, making him the first Chicago baserunner in five innings. Newsom's single moved Pasqua to second; one out later, Johnson hit into a force, but Luis Rivera made a throwing error in trying for the double play, allowing Pasqua to score. Pall was flawless in the home sixth, and Tony Fossas relieved Clemens to begin the seventh. The White Sox breathed a sigh of relief that seems audible across a 25-year gap at the Rocket's departure, and it showed when Ventura and Thomas hit back-to-back homers against different relievers (Fossas and Jeff Gray, respectively) to pull the team within a run.

Melido Perez took the mound in the bottom of the seventh and set Boston's hitters down in order. Gray worked around a leadoff double from Newsom in the eighth, while Perez walked Burks and left him on. Jeff Reardon came on for the save chance in the ninth, and with two outs, Ventura homered for the second straight at bat, tying the game at 8. Rivera drew a walk to begin the bottom of the inning and was balked to second, but Perez then threw him out at third when Quintana grounded to the mound, and sent the game into extras two batters later.

Dennis Lamp was flawless in the top of the tenth, while Perez worked around a Burks single in the home half of the inning. Johnson led off the eleventh with a single and advanced as far as second before being stranded; Perez kept the bases clear in the bottom of the inning. Clark's single to begin the home twelfth made him the only runner for either side to reach, and pinch runner Kevin Romine was immediately caught stealing second. The thirteenth was baserunner-free on both sides.

Dana Kiecker replaced Lamp to begin the fourteenth and gave up a leadoff hit to Guillen. Raines bunted the runner to second, and Ventura was intentionally walked. Thomas then singled to load the bases, and Pasqua singled as well, bringing home two tiebreaking runners. Frank Thomas was then caught stealing home, which isn't a sentence I ever thought I'd write (the putout was 2-5, so I'm not exactly sure what happened here). Whatever that was, Kiecker ended the inning without much else happening, but Bobby Thigpen set Boston down in order to end the game.

The pitching matchup in this game was between a pretty good pitcher and a very great one. And there was a pitcher in the game who threw seven innings, allowing two hits, two walks and no runs, and striking out seven. But it was neither of the starters. Instead, it was Melido Perez, who shepherded the White Sox through innings 7-13, giving the lineup chance after chance until it finally broke through. His efforts earned him a striking WPA of +.788, easily the highest figure in his respectable nine-year career.

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