Wednesday, August 23, 2006

August 23rd, 1989

Dodgers at Expos

I think if you attend a really, really long game, there comes a certain point where--assuming it's not a vitally important game--you're more or less just rooting for an end. It's hard to be espcially "up" or "down" on a game that has gone on for say, five hours and fourteen minutes. That, of course would be the time of today's Dodgers-Expos game back in 1989, with those five hours and fourteen minutes covering a grand total of twenty-two innings. Twenty-one and a half of which were scoreless.

The game pitted Orel Hershiser aganist Pascaul Perez in an afternoon start. Both starting pitchers were having decent years (Orel going just 15-15 but with a 2.31 ERA while Pascaul went 9-13 with a 3.31 ERA) but today both were nearly flawless. Hershiser left after seven innings having given up no runs and just six base runners while striking out an equal number. Perez went an inning longer, walked no one, and gave up seven hits while also striking out an equal number. In came the bullpens, and the Dodgers got a combined six scoreless innings out of Jay Howell and Alejandro Pena while the Expos countered with scoreless from Tim Burke and the Smiths, Bryn and Zane.

In the sixteeneth, Larry Walker led off with a single aganist Tim Crews. Andres Galarraga followed with another sending Walker to third. Tim Raines was walked intentionally loading the bases with none out but Tim Wallach popped up, giving the Expos just one more shot to win it on an out. Mike Fitzgerald appeared to do that with a sac fly in right field but--incredibly--the Dodgers appealed and despite two umpires no longer being on the field, the appeal was affirmed, putting Walker out and sending the game to the seventeenth.

That inning passed largely uneventfully, but in the top of the eighteenth things continued to go a little wacky. After Lenny Harris hit a two-out single, Eddie Murray hit an absolute screamer to right field. Larry Walker attempted to make the play but trapped the ball as Harris came around to score. Or, at least, that's what nearly everyone at the game save four people saw. As you might imagine, however, those four people were the only ones who counted, the umpires, and the inning was over.

The game continued scoreless until the twenty-second when the Dodgers faced Dennis Martinez. Martinez, usually a starter, was pitching because the Expos had emptied their bullpen, but needed someone to pitch the innings of a seemingly endless game. The Dodgers, also running low on players, led off the inning with ancient back-up Rick Dempsey. Dempsey had easily the most important at-bat of the game, slamming a home run to put the Dodgers up by a run. In the bottom of the inning, facing--of all people--John Wetteland who was in his sixth inning of work, the Expos managed a two-out single but saw that erased on a caught stealing.

After all those hours and all those innings, the game was at last finished: 1-0 Dodgers. As I said, I'm sure the Expos fans weren't pleased with the result, but having watched all that baseball, it's hard to imagine they were heart broken either.

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