Saturday, July 30, 2016

Game of the Day (7/30/91)

Reds 6, Cubs 5 (10). Cincinnati started Tom Browning, who once threw a perfect game. Chicago responded with Greg Maddux, who never even managed a measly no-hitter.

See, if you try hard enough, you can make any pitching matchup sound even! (Seriously, though, Browning was decent, and Maddux, while very good, was not MADDUX quite yet.)

Browning worked around Mark Grace's single in the top of the first, and the Reds grabbed the game's first lead when Barry Larkin led off with a double, stole third, and scored on a wild pitch. The Cubs tied it immediately when George Bell opened the second with a homer, but a Bill Doran double and a Jeff Reed single in the bottom of the second put Cincinnati back in front.

Browning worked a 1-2-3 third, and the Reds extended their lead when Hal Morris singled and Chris Sabo doubled him around in the home half. But Bell homered again in the fourth, pulling the Cubs within 3-2. After a pair of runnerless half innings, the Reds restored the two-run margin when Larkin doubled and Morris singled.

Browning and Maddux both threw hitless sixth innings, and Chicago tied the game in the seventh on back-to-back homers from Luis Salazar and Shawon Dunston. Rick Wilkins then doubled (for the first non-homer hit against Browning in six innings), and Maddux bunted him to third, but Cub catcher was then caught stealing home. (Actually, with one out and the leadoff man at the plate, I'd guess this was a failed squeeze, especially since the putout went 2-5.)

Maddux was flawless in the seventh, and since one of the men he retired hit for Browning, Ted Power took the mound in the eighth and worked around a leadoff walk to Grace. Billy Hatcher opened the bottom of the inning with a single and was bunted to second. He was then caught in a rundown when Sabo grounded to third, but stretched it out long enough that Sabo reached second safely behind him. An intentional walk and a single loaded the bases with two outs, but Maddux retired Doran to keep the tie intact.

Power gave up a two-out double to Wilkins in the ninth, but left him on. Les Lancaster was called in for the bottom of the inning and was greeted by a Reed single. Eric Davis pinch ran and stole second, and pinch hitter Luis Quinones walked. Larkin fouled out, but Hatcher singled to load the bases. Chuck McElroy replaced Lancaster and struck out Morris, then coaxed a groundout from Sabo to leave three Reds on base for the second straight inning.

Rob Dibble took the mound in the top of the tenth and Chico Walker led off with a double. One out later, Ryne Sandberg's infield hit had Walker stay at second, which meant that Andre Dawson's single merely loaded the bases rather than breaking the tie. That came one batter later, as Bell's flyout brought Walker home.

McElroy remained in the game for the bottom of the tenth, and that was quickly made to look like a mistake, as Paul O'Neill belted his first pitch of the inning for a game-tying home run. One out later, it got even worse, as Doran homered as well to end the game.

During regulation, both teams scored four runs (hence the extra innings). The Reds scored theirs in four single-run rallies, generally involving at most one double and one single. The Cubs, meanwhile, hit four solo home runs.

Once extras began, the teams swapped scoring methods; the Cubs had the protracted rally in the top of the tenth, and Cincinnati responded with a pair of solo shots, the latter of which was the second and final walkoff home run of Bill Doran's career.

Part of me is curious to know if they could have kept this up longer - trading one-run rallies with solo homers for another nine innings, then switching scoring styles again. The rest of me knows that they probably couldn't have, and is willing to just appreciate the relatively ordinary weirdness offered by the game as it occurred.

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