I was getting ready to write about the nine players in Padres history who have fallen a single short of the cycle, but that's a story for another day because I got sidetracked looking at the box score and play-by-play from a 1981 game against Montreal. It was a pretty fascinating game and I thought it'd be fun to "preview" and "live-blog" it. Ladies and gentlemen, set your Deloreans for May 6, 1981.
Today the last-place Padres will send Juan Eichelberger to the mound against a second-place Expos team. Juan Tyrone has been one of the bright spots for skipper Frank Howard's 8-17 club, going 1-1 with a 2.48 ERA in his first five starts of the season. He has been unbeaten in his past four starts after losing his first. Eichelberger has yet to give up more than two runs in a game but Howard has kept a short leash on him when he starts to get into trouble. In his 29 innings he has given up just two homers; one to Pedro Guerrero and the other to Rusty Staub. Staub is a six-time All-Star, and while Guerrero hasn't been named to a midsummer squad yet, he's a good young hitter who could very well be a multi-year All-Star by the end of the decade. As a matter of fact, of all 11 homers Eich has allowed in his career, nine have been hit by All-Stars, Jose Moreno and the aforementioned Guerrero being the exceptions.
Opposing Eichelberger will be Montreal northpaw Ray Burris. He has had a mostly-good start of the season since coming over from the Mets. Like Eichelberger, he lost his first start and none since. He has picked up two wins in those three starts and has an ERA of 3.65. It was a mere 2.21 before his last start, when he gave up five earned runs in 4.1 innings. Here's the lineup he'll be facing:
SS- Blizzard of Oz
CF- "The Other" R. Jones
1B- Bro Derick
3B- Salad Czar
Here's the lineup that Montreal manager Dick Williams will be sending out against Eichelberger:
LF- Tim Raines
2B- Rodney Scott
CF- Andre Dawson
RF- Ellis Valentine
C- Gary Carter
1B- Warren Cromartie
3B- Larry Parrish
SS- Chris Speier
Now that that's out of the way, let's get down to some baseball. Go Padres!
Ozzie grounded out, but Ruppert followed up with a walk. Richards singled Jones over to second, and then Kennedy hit a single of his own to score Jones and push Gene to second. After that, Broderick Perkins cleared the bases with his first homer of the year to give the Friars an early 4-0 lead. Joe Lefebvre popped up to catcher Gary Carter in foul ground for the second out before Luis Salazar tripled to right-center. Unfortunately, he got greedy and was nailed at the plate trying to stretch it into an inside-the-park home run.
In the bottom of the first, Tim "Rock" Raines led off with a single and moved to second when Eichelberger hit the next batter. Raines was promptly nailed by Kennedy while trying to steal third base. I don't know why Raines always slides head-first; it's as though he keeps a vial of cocaine in his back pocket or something. With Raines off the bases, Dawson struck out, Valentine walked, and Carter grounded out to end the threat.
Padres 4, Expos 0
Eichelberger singled following a groundout by Juan Bonilla, but was erased when Smith grounded into a force. Smith got on and went to second on an error on the play. It was all for naught when Ruppert Jones hit an easy fly ball to Dawson in center.
The Expos' first batter grounded out to second, but their second was not so kind. Larry Parrish took one deep to lower his team's deficit to three. Chris Speier followed up with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by the pitcher Burris, but was stranded after Raines struck out.
Padres 4, Expos 1
The Padres went down in order for the first time, as Richards, Kennedy, and Perkins were unsuccessful in their second plate appearances. The Expos didn't fare much better, as Dawson drew a one-out walk but got stranded on the bases after two prompt outs.
Padres 4, Expos 1
The Padres failed to pad their lead for the second consecutive inning, mustering just a one-out double from Salazar. He took third on an error by Valentine but was thrown out at home for the second time of this game when Bonilla hit into a fielder's choice to the third baseman Parrish.
After flying out to right to end the top of the inning, Eichelberger retired the first two batters in the bottom of the fourth. Chris Speier singled to reach base for the second time. He moved over to second when Juan Tyrone uncorked a wild one, but didn't get any closer to home as pinch-hitter Rowland Office lofted a lazy popup to Bonilla for the third out.
Padres 4, Expos 1
Ozzie Smith greeted Expos reliever Steve Ratzer with a single for his first hit of the game and took third on a two-base error by Raines. If you're keeping track at home, that's four free bases that the Expos have given Smith on the basepaths so far. Smith scored his first run when the next batter, Ruppert Jones, singled to right. Jones moved across the diamond to third base on a pair of groundouts by Richards and Kennedy. Broderick Perkins stepped in and laced a double to left field for his second extra-base hit of the game. Joe Lefebvre singled to put Padres on the corners, and then Salazar kept the rally alive with a single that put him a homer shy of the cycle and scored Big Perk. The Padres eighth hitter of the inning, Juan Bonilla, lofted a harmless fly ball to Raines in left to end the threat.
Eichelberger continued rolling through the bottom of the fifth. He allowed a single to Raines and balked him to second, but got him off the bases when Rodney Scott bounced into a fielder's choice, Bonilla to Smith. Scott never left first base as Eichelberger got the next two batters on fly balls to the left side of the field.
Padres 7, Expos 1
I love when pitchers help their own cause with their bat. Eichelberger did just that, leading off the sixth inning with his second single of the game. Ozzie followed up with a walk, and Ruppert Jones sent them both home with his second hit, a double to Valentine in right. After Richards popped out for the first out of the inning, Terry Kennedy singled Jones home and put the Padres in double digits. Kennedy moved to third on a wild pitch and a groundout by Perkins, and then scored on Joe Lefebvre's second single. Salazar walked, and Dick Williams decided that he'd seen enough of Steve Ratzer. Charlie Lea got the call and got Bonilla to pop out to Speier for the final out of the frame's top half.
Howard brought in Barry Evans to replace Luis Salazar at third base, depriving him of at least one more chance to complete his cycle with a home run. Like Eichelberger had done the previous three innings, he allowed one batter to reach base, but kept him from scoring. Gary Carter led off with a single and took second on a passed ball by Kennedy, but got stuck out there when Eichelberger struck out the next two batters and got out of the inning with a groundout by Speier.
Padres 11, Expos 1
The Padres' offense went down 1-2-3 for the first time in the game. Eichelberger struck out swinging and Smith went down looking. Lea then got Jones to pop out to short for the third out.
With the pitcher's spot due to lead off, Williams brought in pinch-hitter Mike Gates to make his major league debut. Charlie Lea could have done what Gates did, which was strike out. Raines grounded out to first base for the second out before Eichelberger put two Expos on base. Rodney Scott worked a walk and Dawson got plunked. Ellis Valentine didn't send them home, instead flying out to Richards in left.
Padres 11, Expos 1
Dick Williams made a couple of substitutions at the beginning of the penultimate inning. He left pinch-hitter Gates in the game as the second baseman, replacing Rodney Scott. Rookie cornerman Tim Wallach, playing in just the fifteenth game of his young career, took over Scott's slot in the lineup and Ellis Valentine's spot in right field. Stan Bahnsen took over mound duties and Valentine's cleanup spot in the batting order. Bahnsen got Gene Richards to ground out, but then allowed Terry Kennedy's third single of the contest.
With one out and Kennedy on first, Perkins tripled to right field, driving in his fifth run and putting him a mere single away from the cycle. With Lefebvre at the plate, Bahnsen unleashed a wild pitch past Carter that allowed Perkins to score his third run of the game. Lefebvre struck out and Barry Evans kept the inning alive with a single up the middle. Bonilla rendered that hit useless by flying out to left.
After seven innings of work in which he allowed only one run, Juan Eichelberger finally got his first 1-2-3 inning. Dave Edwards came in to replace Richards in left but it didn't matter as the Expos didn't even manage to get the ball out of the infield, with Carter lining out to Evans, Cromartie grounding out to Bonilla, and Parrish popping up to Bonilla.
Padres 13, Expos 1
Bobby Ramos came into the game for the Expos, taking over Gary Carter's position in the lineup and spot behind the plate. He must have called some good pitches because Bahnsen allowed just a single to Ozzie Smith in his second inning. The hit was Ozzie's second of the day. He didn't even make it as far as second base as the next two hitters, Jones and Edwards, struck out. When Edwards struck out, Kennedy was on deck. In the hole after him was Perkins, who would not get another shot at a cycle-completing single.
Frank Howard showed faith in Eichelberger, and sent him out to finish what he started. Chris Speier worked a walk and promptly scored Montreal's second run of the game when Mike Gates tripled to right field for his first major league hit. Tim Raines came to the plate for the fifth time and drove Gates in with a triple of his own, his second of the young season.
With Raines on third base, Wallach did the improbable by hitting Montreal's third consecutive triple. Oddly, three Cubs accomplished the same feat less than two weeks earlier, but before that it had been nearly 20 years since a trio of Kansas City A's did the deed in 1961. Like Gates's three-bagger, this was also Wallach's first career triple. The Expos came very close to matching the major league record of four consecutive triples, set by the 1934 Red Sox at the then 31-year-old Fenway Park, when Andre Dawson drove Wallach home with a double. I can only imagine that all of the players and the remainder of the 13,066 paying fans were thinking it could be yet another triple for at least a split second.
With four runs scored and no outs, Howard brought in Danny Boone to replace Eichelberger. Williams countered by bringing in Jerry White to pinch-hit in the pitcher's spot which, by this point, was the cleanup spot. Boone struck White out and got Ramos to ground out, short to first, before inducing a game-ending popup by Warren Cromartie.
Padres 13, Expos 5
San Diego's batters had a field day at the plate. Juan Bonilla was the only hitless member of the starting lineup, and Gene Richards was the only other one to have less than two hits. Terry Kennedy, Broderick Perkins, and Luis Salazar all had three-hit games. All of Kennedy's base knocks were of the one-base variety, but Perkins and Salazar both fell one hit shy of a cycle. Perkins collected every type of extra-base hit while Salazar came up a homer short. Kennedy, Perkins, and Ruppert Jones scored three runs apiece, with Jones chipping in the Friars' other extra-base hit, a double.
On the other side of the ball, Eichenberger picked up his second win of the season to improve his record to 2-1. The four runs he allowed in the ninth inning without getting an out marred an otherwise great performance and raised his ERA to a still-respectable 3.16. His final line included nine hits in eight innings with five walks, five strikeouts, and five runs (all earned).
The Padres and Expos will meet back up tomorrow, May 7, 1981, for the rubber match of this three game set. Rookie southpaw Chris Welsh is scheduled to take the mound for the visitors from San Diego. The start will be just the fourth of his young career. Welsh's record fell to 1-1 after his last start, in which he gave up six earned runs in just 2.1 innings against the Mets. Best of luck to him.