Saturday, September 10, 2016

Game of the Day (9/10/91)

White Sox 3, A's 1. Chicago's Charlie Hough faced Oakland's Mike Moore. I've done the "he makes a veteran pitcher seem like a whippersnapper" bit with Hough already this year, so let's move on to something these two have in common - they combined to lead the AL in batters faced three times in a four-year span from 1984-87. Notably, both Hough in '84 and Moore in '86 led the league in batters faced without leading the league in innings. Uncoincidentally, both of those seasons also led the AL in hits allowed.

By 1991, Hough was solidly on the downside of his career; Moore was having a fine season, but would join Hough in decline a year later.

Moore allowed two baserunners in the first inning and still faced only three hitters, as Tim Raines was caught stealing and Robin Ventura was erased on a double play. Hough also faced the minimum, in far more conventional fashion. Lance Johnson doubled in the top of the second, which made him the only player to reach in either half of that inning; Brad Komminsk also reached second (via walk and steal) in the bottom of the third, and was equally lonesome on the bases.

The top of the fourth saw a double from Dan Pasqua and a walk from Bo Jackson, but the runners reached in the wrong order for that combination to bring about any scoring. In the home fourth, Jose Canseco and Harold Baines walked and Mark McGwire doubled; this time, the order of those events was the one which would normally produce runs, but Canseco was picked off and Baines only reached third on the two-base hit, so the game remained locked in a scoreless tie.

After a flawless fifth from Moore, the A's finally opened the scoring in the home half of the inning when their middle infield Mikes (Bordick and Gallego) doubled and singled, respectively. Raines led off the sixth with a walk, but the Sox failed to advance him past first; Hough then walked Baines and hit Jamie Quirk with a pitch in the home sixth, and was pulled for Brian Drahman, who left both men on.

Jackson led off the seventh with a single and was lifted for a pinch runner (which is, in and of itself, a sad commentary on the loss of an all-time athletic talent). Rodney McCray was bunted to second, then stayed there when Craig Grebeck was hit by a pitch. Moore retired Carlton Fisk and Ozzie Guillen to leave the tying run in scoring position. The bottom of the seventh looks similar at a glance, but was actually considerably more lively. Vance Law singled and was bunted to second, ending Drahman's outing. Melido Perez walked Gallego, then allowed a single to Dave Henderson on which Law was thrown out at home. Canseco popped up to end the inning at that point.

Raines opened the eighth with a single, ending Moore's day. Rick Honeycutt retired the next two Chicago hitters, then saw Raines steal second and walked Pasqua, and was relieved by Dennis Eckersley. Pinch hitter Warren Newsom greeted the great Oakland closer with a double, scoring both runners and putting the Sox in front. Johnson followed with a single, bringing Newsom home and making it 3-1.

Perez was perfect in the home eighth. Joe Klink took the mound in the top of the ninth and had a pretty eventful outing by the standards of those in which no hits or walks are allowed; he hit Fisk and saw Raines reach on an error, then escaped via the double play. In the bottom of the ninth, Perez gave up a one-out pinch single to Terry Steinbach, then allowed pinch runner Willie Wilson to steal second. Gallego worked a two-out walk, and Perez was pulled for Bobby Thigpen, who struck out Henderson to end the game.

I'm not entirely sure what to say about this one, honestly. It's a good game without being a great one. The score was within two runs at all times, and there were 19 combined at bats with runners in scoring position, a total that could have been higher if not for a pair of double plays, one runner caught stealing and one runner picked off. But at the same time, there was only one lead change, and while the starters pitched well, both of them turned the game over to their bullpens relatively early considering the score.

Still - the game had a runner thrown out at home, Jose Canseco doing something dumb, a pinch running substitution that would have been unfathomable just a few years earlier, and an unlikely hero coming through at the expense of an unlikely victim. All things considered, it's an excellent contest.

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