Thursday, September 22, 2016

Game of the Day (9/22/91)

Yankees 7, Red Sox 5 (10). New York's Pascual Perez was 34 and pitched less than half a season, averaging barely 5 innings per start in the 14 starts he managed to make. Boston's 22-year-old Kevin Morton started a little more and pitched a lot worse. Counting this game, both men had exactly three major league appearances remaining in their careers.

Both pitchers worked around lone hits in the first, as Jim Leyritz doubled with one out in the top of the inning and Carlos Quintana singled with two out in the bottom. Morton walked Mel Hall to begin the second, but erased him on a double play; a Phil Plantier single and a Tom Brunansky walk formed the basis of a potential rally in the home second, but Perez also induced a twin killing to finish it off.

Morton was perfect in the third, and the Red Sox took the lead in the bottom of the inning on singles by Luis Rivera and Wade Boggs and an RBI forceout from Jody Reed. Leyritz and Hall both singled in the top of the fourth, and Hensley Meulens followed with a hit of his own, but Leyritz was thrown out at home on the play to end the threat. Perez was flawless in the home fourth, however, and New York broke through in the fifth. John Ramos led off with a walk, and Alvaro Espinoza singled. After the runners were bunted to second and third, Bernie Williams walked to load the bases. Steve Sax tied the game with a sacrifice fly, and Leyritz singled Espinoza home to put the Yankees in front and chase Morton. Dennis Lamp ended the inning with the next batter.

Boston struck back in the bottom of the fifth on a Brunansky walk and a two-run homer by Rivera, grabbing a 3-2 lead. But the Yanks replied in the sixth, starting with a Hall double. Kevin Maas singled Hall to third, and Espinoza's hit brought him home with the tying run and put Lamp out of the game. Tony Fossas coaxed a force from Matt Nokes, putting runners at the corners, and with Williams at the plate, the Yankees pulled a double steal, with Maas carrying the go-ahead run home.

Perez combined with Greg Caradet on a 1-2-3 home sixth. Fossas had rather more difficulty in the top of the seventh, loading the bases on a Sax single and walks to Roberto Kelly and Don Mattingly (the latter intentional after a groundout moved the runners to second and third) before rallying to strand all three men. John Hayban gave up a single to Tony Pena in the bottom of the seventh, but erased him on a double play from Rivera. Williams singled in the top of the eighth, but Greg Harris picked him off of first to end the inning.

Boggs led off the bottom of the eighth with a single, and Reed's walk moved him to second. Quintana then singled Boggs around to tie the game at 4, and with Jack Clark at the plate, Hayban's pitch escaped from Nokes for a passed ball, allowing Reed to tally the go-ahead run. Hayban combined with Lee Gutterman to set down the next three hitters and strand Quintana at third, but the damage was done.

Or so it seemed. Jeff Reardon retired the first two hitters he faced in the ninth, and worked a 1-2 count to Kelly - and then Kelly homered, evening the score at 5. Steve Farr gave up a leadoff single to Brunansky in the home ninth, but coaxed a double play from Pena and sent the game to extras. In the top of the tenth, Matt Young loaded the bases without allowing a hit, walking Maas and Espinoza and plunking Nokes. Dan Petry relieved and promptly served a two-run double to Williams, putting the Yankees in front, and they stayed there as Farr worked around a Mo Vaughn double to finish off the game.

It was a perfectly normal late-season Red Sox-Yankees game: one of the teams was fighting for a playoff spot, and the other was nearly 20 games out of first. And it was also a perfectly normal outcome in the history of the rivalry, as the Yankees won.

Only this time, it was the Sox who were the contender, and the Yanks playing spoiler. And they played the role to the hilt, as their late rally pushed Boston a game and a half back of first.

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