Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Game of the Day (10/4/91)

Tigers 4, Orioles 2 (14). Detroit's Scott Aldred and Baltimore's Mike Mussina were born almost exactly 6 months apart, and were 23 and 22, respectively, when this game took place. Both pitched partial seasons in 1991 - Aldred started 11 games, Mussina 12. And... well, Mussina pitched about 50% more innings, and Aldred gave up more runs. Which gave a pretty accurate indicator of how their respective careers were going to play out.

Mussina walked both Lloyd Moseby and Cecil Fielder in the top of the first, but left them on. Aldred was perfect in the bottom of the inning, and the Tigers pulled ahead in the second when Travis Fryman singled, stole second, and scored on a hit by Scott Livingstone. Baltimore promptly tied the game on a leadoff homer by Glenn Davis in the home second.

That was all of the scoring for a very long time. Here are the offensive events in the middle innings: Mike Devereaux singled in the bottom of the third. Mickey Tettleton singled and was erased on a double play in the top of the fourth. David Segui singled and was balked to second in the bottom of the fourth. Milt Cuyler singled in the top of the fifth. And that was it through six.

Segui singled and Chris Hoiles walked in the home seventh, marking the first time since the second that more than one runner had reached in a half-inning, but Aldred stranded them. Mussina and Dan Gakeler were both perfect in the eighth; Mussina walked Fielder in the top of the ninth, but pinch runner Johnny Paredes was caught stealing. Gakeler walked both Davis and Segui (the latter intentionally, after a sac bunt), leading Paul Gibson to relieve and send the game to extras with the 1-1 tie still in place.

Gregg Olson relieved in the top of the tenth and retired the Tigers in order; Gibson had more trouble in the bottom of the inning, allowing singles to Juan Bell and Devereaux and walking Joe Orsulak to load the bases before escaping. Olson worked a 1-2-3 eleventh, while Jerry Don Gleaton allowed only a Leo Gomez walk. Todd Frohwirth provided another spotless inning for the Oriole bullpen in the twelfth; Gleaton stranded a lone runner again, though it was a Cal Ripken triple this time.

Detroit broke the ten-inning scoring drought in the top of the thirteenth when Dave Bergman doubled, Fryman bunted pinch runner Skeeter Barnes to third, and Pete Incaviglia singled the go-ahead run home. But facing Dave Haas in the bottom of the inning, Dwight Evans drew a leadoff walk, and...

Let's pause for a moment here. Dwight Evans was born in November of 1951, so at the time of this game, he was a month shy of his 40th birthday. He had never been anyone's idea of a speed demon; his career high in stolen bases, set over a decade earlier, was eight. And when the 1991 season ended, so did his career - this was his third-to-last MLB game, played for a terrible team that was playing out the string.

So naturally, when David Segui laid down a sacrifice bunt, Evans went first-to-third, then scored the tying run on Gomez's single. And naturally, because the Orioles were a terrible team, it went for naught; Jim Poole walked Tony Phillips and gave up a two-run homer to Tettleton in the top of the fourteenth, and John Cerutti worked around a Bob Melvin pinch single in the bottom of the inning.

But even though the effort proved meaningless in more ways than one, the image of Dwight Evans turning on what passed for a burst of speed and grabbing an extra base in extra innings is one of my favorite Game of the Day moments of this season.

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