SEATTLE — Sometimes, you don’t have to be the team that wins the game. Just as long as you aren’t the team that loses it.
The Brewers didn’t play their best baseball today. They really didn’t deserve to win. But the Seattle Mariners simply gave them too many second chances. Eventually, the Brewers won by default.
The Mariners took a 4-0 lead in the first inning thanks to an improbable rally. With no one on base and two outs, Al Cowens singled and Moose Haas walked both Richie Zisk and Dave Revering. Dave Henderson then launched a grand slam to put the Brewers into a huge hole.
Then the Brewers duplicated the start of the Mariners’ rally in the top of the second, again with two outs and no one on. Ed Romero, filling in for an injured Ben Oglivie, singled to center. Ned Yost walked. Jim Gantner then hit a routine grounder to Todd Cruz at short that should have ended the inning. Second baseman Paul Serna, though, was late covering the bag and everyone was safe. Paul Molitor reached on an infield single, scoring one. Todd Cruz then made a throwing error that scored two more runs. And Cecil Cooper singled in two more.
What do we have? Five Brewers runs, and although one of the runs was technically earned, none of them should have scored. Suddenly, the Brewers had a 5-4 lead that they didn’t really deserve.
Well, they did deserve it… Because the Mariners certainly didn’t deserve to lead. It’s complicated…
After that six outs of insanity, the bats went quiet for both teams until the bottom of the eighth. Once again, the Mariners struck with a long ball with two outs. This time, it was Al Cowens with a solo shot to tie the game at five.
But of course, this was not a game the Mariners were meant to win. Ned Yost led off the top of the ninth inning with a single to left. After Gantner bunted Yost over, Floyd Bannister was removed in favor of shut-down closer Bill Caudill. Let’s set the scene…
Caudill, known as “The Inspector,” entered the field to the playing of the Pink Panther theme song. Caudill was 10-4 with a 1.85 ERA. He has been close to automatic.
After a first pitch strike to Paul Molitor, the Kingdome organist giddily played The Inspector’s theme music again. Then on the next pitch, Molitor ripped a single to left that scored Yost, taking second on the throw, and giving the Brewers a 6-5 lead.
“I was looking for a fastball,” Molitor explained. “I came up against him in a similar situation in Milwaukee and he struck me out on fastballs, so that was all I was looking for and I got one.”
Molitor then stole third and scored when Robin Yount laced a single off of Caudill’s glove to make it 7-5. Yount then stole second, the team’s fourth swipe of the night, and scored off of Gorman Thomas‘ single off of the left field wall.
The Brewers scored eight runs in all, but only three of them should have scored. But sometimes, you can win by simply not being the worst team on the field that day. That was the case on this night.
The Brewers swept the Mariners and next play the Angels tomorrow in Anaheim. The Red Sox beat the A’s 4-2 to keep pace six games back of the Brewers.
Game Notes: The Brewers are in search of a right fielder and a left handed reliever. They did pursue outfielder Ellis Valentine of the Mets, but nothing materialized. … Frank DiPino has been dominating the Pacific Coast League and is expected to be called up when rosters are expanded to pitch the second game of a double header with Cleveland on September 2nd.