February 17, 2012

April 6, 1984 - Mahler Delivers

Game #35 - Montreal Expos, 0 @ Atlanta Braves, 1

If you were a kid and a baseball fan like me growing up in the 1980's, you probably spent a good number of lazy summer afternoons with your baseball cards sprawled across the living room floor watching the Atlanta Braves on Turner Broadcasting. The Braves were usually losing, and for me at least I couldn't understand how Skip Caray could sound so bored to be broadcasting a game on national television. My father told me he thought Skip went with an understated delivery to differentiate himself from his dad Harry. I much preferred the Saturday afternoon games on NBC with Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola - that's still my favorite broadcasting team.

Anyway, when you watched all those Braves games on TBS, it felt like Rick Mahler was always the pitcher for the Braves. He was the ultimate innings-eater on a lousy team. He was sure to get roughed up, but he was also sure to get into the sixth or seventh inning. You almost felt bad for him, getting tagged for all those runs but no manager's trip to the mound in sight to end the misery. He would just be standing out there, pitch after pitch in a half empty stadium with Skip droning on.

1984 was an odd year for Mahler because he was actually pretty good. He had a 3.14 ERA and won more than he lost. He even completed 9 games. Yesterday he and Expos starter Bryn Smith delivered the best pitched game since I started this Statis Pro season.

The only run of the game occurred in the bottom of the second. 1B Chris Chambliss led off with a single and Rafael Ramirez sacrificed him to second. Glen Hubbard struck out but Bruce Bennedict walked. (Bruce, the worst hitter in the lineup, actually walked three times in the game.) With two outs that brought up Mahler to hit. Mahler had a good stick in '84 - he hit .296 in 70 at bats. Sure enough, he punched a single to score Chambliss. That was the only run of the game! Mahler pitched a shut out, only giving up four hits the whole game. Bryn Smith pitched seven innings but was lifted for a pinch hitter in the eighth. He only gave up four hits too while striking out seven. The Expos threatened in the top of the ninth when Pete Rose hit a single, but Gary Carter grounded into a double play to end the game - a particularly sad ending given Carter's passing yesterday.

Winning Pitcher - Rick Mahler
Losing Pitcher - Bryn Smith
Player of the Game - Mahler, CG SHO, 5K's, 4H's, 0BB's, RBI single
Hall of Famers in the Game - Gary Carter, Andre Dawson

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