Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Game of the Day (8/9/91)

Giants 1, Dodgers 0 (13). LA's Tim Belcher was on his way to a fine career that lasted nearly 2500 innings and would include league leads in complete games and shutouts (good), as well as earned runs allowed and losses (not as good). San Francisco's Trevor Wilson debuted three years younger than Belcher (22 to 25), but would end up with a career of less than a third as many innings, mostly thanks to injuries.

The game was quiet in the early going. The first baserunner came on Eddie Murray's single against Wilson in the top of the second, and there were no more until Wilson himself singled in the bottom of the third.

The fourth inning provided the best scoring chances to date. Juan Samuel led off the top of the fourth with a walk, and Kal Daniels singled him to second. One out later, Murray singled as well, but Samuel was thrown out trying to score on the play, and Wilson then retired Gary Carter to end the remaining threat. The bottom of the fourth saw a double from Will Clark and a walk to Kevin Mitchell; Matt Williams grounded out to advance them to second and third, but Belcher retired Robby Thompson to leave them there.

The ensuing innings continued to have intermittent baserunners, though none were as eventful as the fourth for a while. Jose Offerman singled and was erased on a double play in the fifth. Daniels singled in the top of the sixth, and Willie McGee in the bottom, but no serious rally materialized from either hit. In the top of the seventh, Carter and Mike Sharperson both singled with one out, but Wilson recovered to strand them at first and second. Mitchell led off the bottom of the inning with a double and would advance as far as third before being abandoned there.

Brett Butler drew an 11-pitch walk to open the eighth, and Darryl Strawberry took a base on balls as well, but the runners ended the inning at first and second. Jose Uribe reached on a wild third strike to begin the home eighth and was bunted to second, where he would come to a halt. Francisco Oliveras relieved Wilson and threw a spotless top of the ninth; Belcher was still on the mound to begin the bottom of the inning, but after a two-out single by Williams and a walk to Thompson, John Candelaria relieved and retired pinch hitter Kevin Bass to send the game to extras.

Oliveras notched two quick outs in the top of the tenth, then was pulled after Samuel singled; Dave Righetti coaxed a foulout from Daniels to end the frame. Roger McDowell was perfect in the home tenth, as was Righetti in the top of the eleventh; McDowell then worked around a walk to Clark to keep the game going into the twelfth. Righetti then traded 1-2-3 efforts with Jay Howell.

Jeff Brantley relieved Righetti in the top of the thirteenth and quickly got into trouble. Butler led off with an infield hit and stole second; Samuel then laid down a bunt, and the Giants tried and failed to get the lead runner at third. Pinch hitter Stan Javier struck out, with Samuel swiping second on strike three. Strawberry was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Brantley then induced a foulout from Murray and a groundout from Carter to leave them that way.

Kevin Gross took the mound in the home thirteenth and also got into trouble. Greg Litton led off with a double. Darren Lewis bunted and Murray committed a throwing error on the play, putting runners at the corners. Lewis then stole second. McGee struck out, Clark was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Gross's next pitch hit Mitchell, forcing home the winning run.

Total plate appearances coming with a runner at third:
Innings 1-12: 3
Inning 13: 7

Total non-disastrous hits with runners in scoring position in the game for both teams: 0.

This is a dynamite pitcher's duel that ended in a way... well, if the thirteenth inning had occurred in a video game, you would think that the game wasn't programmed to handle anything more than twelve innings and was therefore glitching. In actual baseball, it's more that this is what happens when you run out of your best relievers before your opponents do.

Which at least made things interesting for the fans who stuck it out through 12 scoreless innings to get to that point. And which most likely served to reinforce the fears of any triskaidekaphobes in attendance.

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