Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Game of the Day (9/13/91)

Royals 3, Mariners 2 (12). The pitchers for this game look like at least a bit of a mismatch, as Kansas City's hurler had an ERA over a run lower than Seattle's. That was artificially induced by his having spent much of the year in the bullpen, but even if you just take him as a starter, the Royal pitcher was more effective.

Sadly for Luis Aquino, he did not remain superior to Randy Johnson for the entirety of their respective careers.

The Mariners kind of threatened in the first, combining two singles and a stolen base, but Edgar Martinez was doubled off on a Harold Reynolds line drive before Ken Griffey Jr.'s single and steal, so nothing came of the attempted rally. KC's Bill Pecota singled with two outs in the first, and moved to third on a steal-and-error before being stranded there. Aquino was perfect in the second, and the Royals put together an unorthodox threat in the home half of the inning. Todd Benzinger led off with a single, and Harvey Pulliam singled as well; Benzinger took third on the play, but Pulliam was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double, and the Big Unit retired the next two hitters to leave Benzinger 90 feet from scoring.

Martinez and Griffey singled again in the top of the third. But this time, instead of doubling up Martinez before Griffey's at bat, Reynolds hit a triple, scoring Martinez, and then came home on Griffey's hit to make it 2-0. Johnson also allowed three baserunners in the third, but none of them came on hits; he plunked Terry Shumpert (who was then removed from the game), and walked both Pecota and Danny Tartabull before leaving the bases loaded.

Jorge Pedre singled with one out in the home fourth; that made him the only player on either side to reach in the inning, and nobody reached at all in the fifth. Aquino got back into trouble in the sixth, starting with a one-out bunt hit by Reynolds. Griffey then doubled, moving Reynolds to third, and Pete O'Brien walked to load the bases. However, Dave Cochrane hit into a force at home, and Greg Briley grounded out to end the threat. Johnson then worked around a Pulliam double in the home sixth. Aquino was spotless in the seventh, and Johnson once again allowed a two-out double, this one to Gary Thurman, and left him on.

Aquino was pulled for Tom Gordon in the top of the eighth, and Gordon set the top of the Mariner order down 1-2-3. With one out in the home half of the inning, Johnson allowed a single to Tartabull and walked Benzinger. Bill Swift relieved and struck out pinch hitter George Brett, and pinch hitter Jim Eisenreich hit into a force to end the threat.

Gordon was spotless again in the ninth, and the Royals stepped to the plate with one last chance at the 2-0 lead that had held up since the third. Swift walked pinch hitter Kirk Gibson to open the frame, and Russ Swan allowed a pinch single to Kevin Seitzer. Mike Schooler was called in from the pen, and pinch hitter Kurt Stillwell bunted the runners to second and third. Brian McRae walked to load the bases, and Pecota grounded an 0-2 pitch up the middle for a game-tying two-run single. Schooler managed to retire both Tartabull and Benzinger, sending the game into unwanted extra innings.

Tino Martinez walked to open the tenth. Omar Vizquel bunted foul for strike 3, and Alvin Davis struck out, with pinch runner Tracy Jones stealing second on the third strike. A wild pitch moved Jones to third before Edgar Martinez struck out to leave him there. Stu Cole greeted Calvin Jones with a walk in the home tenth, and Eisenreich bunted him to second. Gibson was then intentionally walked, and Brent Mayne hit into a double play to end the inning.

Jeff Montgomery worked a 1-2-3 top of the eleventh; Jones walked Pecota with two outs and threw a wild pitch that moved him to second, but whiffed Tartabull to strand him. Montgomery kept the bases clean again in the twelfth, and Michael Jackson took the mound in the home half of the inning. Benzinger led off with a walk, and Cole singled, putting the winning run at third. Eisenreich was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Jackson struck out both Gibson and Mayne. And then, with two outs and the bases loaded, Stillwell worked a walk to force Benzinger home and end the game.

This game is one of the most extreme of the 1991 season so far: it has the largest difference between the WPL accumulated by the home team and that accrued by the road team. And the reason why can be summed up in one simple statistic:

Hitting with runners in scoring position:
Seattle - 1 for 5
KC - 1 for 15

Both teams had one rally of exactly the same size in regulation, and both used their only RISP hit for the day in that rally. But if you keep putting runners in scoring position, eventually one of them is going to score even if you don't get a hit to bring him in.

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