Saturday, October 1, 2016

Game of the Day (10/1/91)

Phillies 6, Cubs 5 (13). Chicago's Frank Castillo faced Philadelphia's Tommy Greene. Both were young pitchers, and both would end up between 5 and 10 WAR for their careers. Greene had the bigger highlights (a no-hitter, a 16-4 season for a pennant winner), but Castillo would last over twice as many innings.

Greene... did not get off to a good start. Jerome Walton led off the game with a double, and Ced Landrum walked. Mark Grace doubled both runners home, and Ryne Sandberg singled, scoring Grace. Sandberg then stole second, moved to third on a single by Andre Dawson, and scored on a hit by Hector Villanueva. And that was it for Greene, who was pulled having recorded no outs; Danny Cox relieved, and coaxed a forceout and a double play to limit the Chicago outburst to four runs.

Castillo was perfect in the bottom of the first. Each team put one runner on in the second, as Walton walked and John Kruk led off with a double, but neither would score; the third saw no baserunners at all. Castillo singled with two outs in the fourth and was left on; the Phillies had a rather more productive two-out rally, as Kruk walked, Dave Hollins singled, and Dale Murphy doubled to score both of them and halve the deficit.

Sandberg homered in the top of the fifth, stretching the Cub lead to 5-2, and Castillo retired the Phils in order in the bottom of the inning, including a pinch hitter for Cox. Mike Hartley worked around a Shawon Dunston bunt single in the sixth, and in the bottom of the inning, Philadelphia struck again. Von Hayes led off with a walk, and Wes Chamberlain and Kruk singled to bring him around. Hollins hit into a fielder's poor choice, resulting in no outs, Hollins scoring, and the tying run advancing into scoring position. From there, however, Castillo retired Murphy, Darrin Fletcher, and Dickie Thon to preserve the last run of the Chicago advantage.

Hartley was spotless in the seventh, while Castillo allowed a single to Mickey Morandini and nothing else. Joe Boever and Castillo were both flawless in the eighth, and Boever set the Cubs down in order in the ninth as well. Chuck McElroy relieved in the bottom of the inning and recorded a quick first out. Thon then walked, and the Phillies followed with a trio of pinch hitters. Ricky Jordan singled, Jim Lindeman struck out, and Charlie Hayes (who, to the dismay of scorekeepers everywhere, was hitting for Von Hayes) singled Thon home to tie the game at 5.

Mitch Williams relieved in the top of the tenth; he allowed a walk and steal to Sandberg, but left him at second. Bob Scanlan gave up a leadoff hit to Kruk in the home tenth, then balked him to second and walked Murphy. A groundout moved the runners to second and third, but they would be stranded there. Williams worked around Luis Salazar's single in the eleventh, while Paul Assenmacher gave up a single to Braulio Castillo and walked Chamberlain before stranding them. Bruce Ruffin tossed a flawless twelfth; Assenmacher saw Murphy single, but permitted nothing else.

Ruffin set the Cubs down in order again in the thirteenth, and Chicago called on Assenmacher yet again in the home half of the inning. Steve Lake doubled with one out, John Morris was hit by a pitch, and after the second out, Kruk singled to score Lake with the run that completed a remarkable victory for a team whose starter was pulled (for performance rather than injury) without recording a single out.

The following things happened for the Phillies in this game: A player who had been with the team for nearly a decade (after being acquired in a mildly famous trade) drew a walk, and later scored a key run from second on a single. A player with the same last name as the previous player pinch hit for him, and delivered a game-tying single with two outs in the ninth. Two relievers combined for four scoreless extra innings, allowing only one hit and one walk between them. Two pinch hitters batted with the potential winning run on second; one lined out, but the other was hit by a pitch, extending the rally long enough for a walkoff win two batters later.

Those things not only happened to the Phillies - they all happened to players occupying the #2 slot in the batting order. Six different players occupied that space, and all six of them made some kind of notable difference in the game. Which is pretty impressive, even if it probably did result in a few instances of tooth-gnashing and scorecard-rending in the stands.

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