Twenty years ago today, the NL’s best rivalry saw one of its stranger games, a contest whose ending was either heart breaking or fantastic, depending on what team you supported.
It was a Giants-Dodgers game that just wouldn’t end. Pitchers on both teams did a great job, shutting down each other’s offenses through regulation and into overtime. After 12 innings, it was still 0-0.
Then came the 13th inning. For the Dodgers, 13 proved to be a very unlucky number.
In the top half of the frame, the Dodgers got off to a nice start against San Francisco reliever Jeff Brantley. First Brett Butler singled to third base and promptly stole second. He was the first Dodger to get that far since the eighth inning.
With the winning run 180 feet from the plate, Tommy Lasorda had the next batter, Juan Samuel, bunt Butler over to third. The play worked even better than intended. Butler made it to third all right, but Samuel was safe at first on a fielder’s choice when the Giants foolishly tried to nail the speedy Butler. Runners on the corner, and still nobody out.
Brantley bore down and struck out the next batter, but Samuel stole second in the process. With first base open, the Dodgers elected to intentionally walk Darryl Strawberry to load the bases with no one out. Please note nobody had hit the ball out of the infield, either. The upcoming batter? Future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray.
Everything looked like it was coming up Dodger, but it was not to be. Murray popped up for the second out. That brought up Gary Carter, who grounded out to end the inning. LA’s best chance slipped through their fingers.
Things would get even worse in the bottom half of the frame.
Now it was San Francisco’s turn to make things happen. Second baseman Grady Litton led off by smashing a double off Dodger reliever Kevin Gross. With a runner on second and no one out, the Giants did the exact same thing the Dodger had done a few minutes early—they had Darren Lewis a sacrifice bunt to move the runner over. Again, it worked out better than planned. Eddie Murray muffed the ball at first and everyone was safe.
Things continued to follow the same script as the top of the 13th as Darren Lewis stole second while the next batter fanned for the first out.
Will Clark came to the plate next. LA decided with a guy called Will the Thrill up, they may as well keep replaying the top of the 13th and issue an intentional walk. Besides, the runner on third was the only one who mattered.
Up to the plate strode Kevin Mitchell. Up to this point, the bottom of the 13th had followed the exact same pattern as the top of the 13th. That abruptly changed on Gross’s first pitch to Mitchell.
No, Mitchell didn’t do anything. He had no majestic shot, no thunderous crack of the bat. He didn’t even move much. And that last part was the key, because Gross threw an inside pitch that got away from him. Plunk. It hit Kevin Mitchell for that most unwanted of things: a walk-off HBP.
And not just any walk-off HBP, but a walk-off HBP for the game’s only run. Baseball hadn’t seen one of those since 1979. And not just any walk-off HBP for the game’s only run, but one that occurred in the 13th inning. I’m sure that’s happened some other time in baseball history, but I don’t know when.
Yeah, it was kind of a tough loss. Making it even worse, the Dodgers lost the division by one game that year. They’d like to have that inning back, I bet.
Aside from that, today many other events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago). I’ll put the better ones in bold if you just want to skim.
3,000 days since Albert Pujols enjoyed his first five-hit game.
3,000 days since Jason Bay made his big league debut.
8,000 days since the Royals’ all-time franchise record peaked at 162 games over .500 (1,739-1,577). That’s the highest mark by any expansion franchise. Since then, they are 1,520-1,943 (not including last night’s game).
8,000 days since Fay Vincent won election as the new baseball commissioner. It didn’t take.
10,000 days since the Phillies traded Willie Hernandez to the Tigers in a four-player trade. This works out rather well for Detroit.
1899 The Cincinnati Reds purchase Sam Crawford from Grand Rapids of the Western League. Crawford becomes baseball’s all-time triple king, though almost all of them will be hit with the Detroit Tigers.
1901 Baltimore third baseman Jack Dunn has an embarrassing game, as he knocks himself unconscious with his own foul ball. He misses a week.
1902 Reds owner John Brush sells them for $150,000 to George B. Cox, Max and Julius Fleischman, and August “Gary” Hermann.
1905 In Georgia, the mother of Tigers’ rookie Ty Cobb shoots her husband (and Ty’s father) dead.
1906 Cub pitcher Jack Taylor completes his 187th consecutive start, the all-time record.
1906 In the New England League, Lynn outfielder Tom Burke fractures his skull on a beanball. He dies two days later.
1910 Babe Adams tosses a complete game shutout despite allowing 11 hits. Pittsburgh 11, Boston 0.
1915 George Cutshaw of the Dodgers becomes the first player in 13 years to collect six hits in one game.
1916 The A’s snap a 20-game losing streak, beating Detroit, 7-1. In fact, prior to this game, the A’s were 6-63. That’s not a typo: they lost 63 of 69 decisions.
1919 Carl Mays first pitches for the Yankees, despite ongoing court case in which AL President Ban Johnson tried to nix the deal sending Mays to New York.
1919 The Pirates trade Casey Stengel to the Phillies.
1919 Birth of Ralph Houk, the longtime manager who won the pennant in each of his first three seasons on the job.
1922 Hall of Famer Max Carey belts his 100th career triple. It takes him 1,625 games.
1924 For the second straight day, Hall of Fame first baseman Jim Bottomley hits an inside-the-park home run. He also hit one barely more than two weeks ago. Yet he’ll end his career with seven.
1924 Pittsburgh’s star outfielder Kiki Cuyler collects six hits in one game.
1926 Tris Speaker legs out his 38th and final inside-the-park home run.
1932 The Pirates lose their 10th straight game—but they’re still in first place. Only one other team has done that, the 2010 Padres.
1934 Bobo Newsom, the well-traveled pitcher who ends his career with 211 wins and 222 loses, has his worst start, according to Game Score. His line: 8 IP, 20 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 4 BB, 5 K for a Game Score of –5. Clearly, the manager decided to leave him in and save his other arms for another day.
1936 Julian Javier born.
1939 Claude Osteen born.
1939 Red Rolfe of the Yankees begins an 18-game scoring streak.
1941 Paul Waner hits his third and final career slam. As it happens, each slam is in a different decade. I wonder how many other players can say they hit only three slams but all came in different decades?
1942 The Cubs beat the Reds 10-8 in a messy 18-inning game. The teams combine for 25 walks, and leave 44 on base. The Reds tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, 10th, and 12th innings only to lose anyway.
1942 Tommie Agee born.
1944 Early Wynn drops his 10th straight decision, tying his personal worst.
1946 For the first time in history, every major league game in one day occurs at night.
1949 The 34-game hitting streak of Boston centerfielder Dom DiMaggio comes to an end. It’s against the Yankees and brother Joe DiMaggio makes a shoestring catch to rob Dom of a hit in the eighth inning.
1949 Ted Simmons, one of the best hitting catchers of all-time, born.
1951 The Dodgers and Giants set a record with 24 walks in a nine-inning game. Brooklyn wins 6-5. All the while, prospective commissioner-to-be Douglas MacArthur watches from the stands.
1952 Jackie Robinson collects his 1,000th hit.
1956 The Washington Senators get a license to sell beer at Griffith Stadium. It took until 1956 to get that?
1959 Ernie Banks belts his 1,000th career hit.
1959 Yogi Berra hits his 300th home run.
1960 Vic Power gets one of the most bizarre homers in history. He hits it to the top of the wall, it bounces back to the field of play, but instead of landing on the ground, it hits the foot of outfielder Lu Clinton, who inadvertently drop kicks it over the fence for a homer.
1961 Don Drysdale belts the only grand slam of his career, as the Dodgers top the Braves, 8-3.
1963 Juan Marichal enjoys his 13th straight quality start. His line over that span: 9-2 record, 131 IP, 89 H, 27 R, 20 ER, 25 BB, 94 K, 1.37 ERA.
1964 Jim Bunning faces the Mets. Last time he faced them, he threw a perfect game. This time, he has a no-hitter until the sixth inning. He settles for a complete game shutout win.
1967 Tony Perez enjoys the first of 17 career multi-home run games.
1967 Washington’s current and former clubs meet up in a marathon game. The Twins take a 7-0 lead over the Senators, but Washington scores seven in the top of the seventh to tie it. There it stands until the 20th frame, when Washington pushes a pair across for the win.
In this game, both squads set franchise records that still stand for best one-game relief WPA score by a reliever. Minnesota’s Al Worthington has a 1.176 WPA thanks to 8.2 scoreless innings, and Darold Knowles tops him with a 1.231 WPA.
1967 Baseball/football player Deion Sanders is born.
1968 Angels pitchers plunk three Orioles in the seventh inning of a 3-0 Baltimore win.
1969 Pete Rose hits the second of three walk-off home runs.
1969 As recounted in the book Ball Four, on this day Seattle Pilots pitcher Gene Brabender tells teammate Jim Bouton, “You’re lucky. Where I come from we just talk a little while. After that we start to hit.” Given how huge Brabender is, Bouton feels very lucky.
1969 Ken Boyer plays his last game.
1969 Birth of reliever Troy Percival.
1971 Bill Freehan hits three homers, and his Tiger teammates belt three more, but they lose 12-11 to Boston.
1972 Steve Carlton belts a home run and tosses a complete-game shutout in the same game. It’s the second of four times he does both in one game. On this day, he fans 12 while walking one in a three-hitter.
1972 Ted Simmons, who has played without a contract all year, signs fro $75,000 through 1973.
1974 John Hiller walks 11 batters in one relief stint. No one has done more than that in the Play Index era, and no one can even tie Hiller’s achievement since 1948.
1974 Birth of Matt Morris, former pitching phenom.
1975 Sabermetric darling Bobby Grich walks five times in one game.
1975 Davey Lopes breaks an old Max Carey record by stealing his 32nd straight base without getting thrown out.
1976 Cesar Cedeno hits for his second career cycle.
1976 John Candelaria no-hits the Dodgers. It’s the first time they’ve been no-hit since their days in Brooklyn.
1979 Walter O’Malley dies at age 75.
1979 Dennis Eckersley completes his seventh straight start.
1981 Major league baseball returns from a lengthy strike. The first game is a belated All-Star contest, which the NL wins, 5-4.
1982 Dick Williams suffers his 1,000th loss as manager. He’s 1,135-1,000 for his career thus far.
1986 For the third time in eight days, Graig Nettles strikes out to end a game.
1986 The Mets beat the Expos 10-8 in a game with a wild ending. Playing in Montreal, the Expos led 3-1 at the seventh inning stretch, and 6-1 heading into the eighth. The Mets rally for seven runs in the top of the eighth for an 8-6 lead, but Montreal ties it in the bottom half of the frame. After a scoreless ninth, New York gets two in the 10th for the win.
1987 The Indians trade Phil Niekro to Toronto.
1988 It’s the first night game at Wrigley Field. It was supposed to be yesterday, but a rainstorm nixed that one. The Cubs beat the Mets, and Rich Gossage saves his 300th game.
1988 Don Sutton pitches in his last big league game.
1991 Hank Majeski dies.
1992 The Brewers retire Rollie Fingers’ number.
1992 Orel Hershiser ties his personal worst with a Game Score of 5. His line: 4.2 IP, 10 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 3 BB, 2 K.
1994 Andre Dawson endures maybe the worst day of his career, going 0-for-6 with four strikeouts. It’s his only four-K game.
1994 The Indians release Jack Morris, ending his career.
1994 Former Brewer ace Teddy Higuera plays in his last game.
1995 Former NL ERA champion Atlee Hammaker plays in his last game.
1995 Steve Bedrosian, one-time Cy Young Award winner, last pitches in the major leagues.
1995 A bizarre record set in San Francisco’s win over the Pirates. The pitchers who factor in the decision combine for a record 25 letters in their last name. Told you it was bizarre. William Van Landingham gets the win over Jason Christiansen.
1996 Frank Thomas receives three intentional walks in one game for the only time.
1998 Dennis Martinez wins his 244th game, topping Juan Marichal for most by a Latin American pitcher.
1998 On Dog day promotion, the Expos draw 757 canines as the Expos pound the Devil Rays, 8-2.
1999 A record five grand slams are hit across baseball on this day. The batters are: Jay Buhner of Seattle, Bernie Williams of the Yankees, Mike Lowell on the Marlins, Jose Vidro with the Expos, and Fernando Tatis on the Cardinals.
1999 The Angels release Jack McDowell, ending his career.
1999 The Rockies trade Brian McRae to the Blue Jays.
1999 Umpire union chief Richie Phillips says he’s considering an NLRB injunction to stop the firing of the 22 umpires who resigned when Phillips told them to resign. Man, that was a dumb plan by Phillips.
2000 The Rockies beat the Pirates 4-3 when the tying and winning runs both score on a walk-off error.
2000 Jamie Moyer has the worst game of his life: 3.2 IP, 13 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 2 BB, 2 K for a Game Score of –9.
2000 Gary Sheffield has his worst game, according to WPA. He goes 0-for-4 with a strikeout, intentional walk, and a double play for a –0.459 WPA as the Cubs top the Dodgers, 5-4.
2002 Vladimir Guerrero belts his 200th home run.
2002 Barry Bonds knocks out his 600th home run.
2004 The Reds trade Cory Lidle to the Phillies.
2005 The Royals suffer maybe their worst loss in a regular season game in franchise history. They lead the Indians 7-2 entering the ninth inning. Cleveland rallies to make it 7-6, but with two outs a batter hits a lazy fly ball that should end the game. Instead, its’ dropped. Cleveland ends up scoring 11 runs that inning, winning 13-7. It’s part of a 19-game losing streak for Kansas City.
2005 Kenny Rogers 20-game suspension and $50,000 fine for shoving two cameramen ruled excessive.
2006 Bobby Abreu plays centerfield for the final time in his career.
2008 Minor leaguer Micah Hoffpauir belts four homers for the Iowa Cubs and then flies out to left in the ninth inning.
2008 The Marlins sign free agent Paul LoDuca.
2010 Milwaukee trades Jim Edmonds to the reds.
2010 Seattle fires manager Don Wakamatsu.