January 2, 2013

April 24, 1984 - Flanagan Tosses One-Hit Shutout

Game #206 - Baltimore Orioles, 1 @ Chicago White Sox, 0

Very early in this Statis Pro endeavor I started to wonder:  will I ever see a no hitter, or even a perfect game?  At the start of each game I reserve a little piece of excitement until the first walk or hit happens.  Every now and then it will last three, even four innings.  Nothing had happened yet like this game.

Through the first two innings, both pitchers, Mike Flanagan and LaMarr Hoyt, were perfect.  In the top of the third Rick Dempsey poked a single off the pitcher card, ending Hoyt's bid.  But Flanagan kept mowing down Chicago hitters.  He was perfect through three.

In the bottom of the fourth it was more of the same, he even recorded his first strike out, getting the number three hitter, Harold Baines, to whiff.  Kittle, Walker, and Vance Law also went down silently in the fifth.  Was this it?  Was I seeing a Statis Pro perfect game?  What was equally amazing was that Hoyt had only given up the Dempsey hit and a walk himself.  There was nothing but goose eggs on the scoreboard.

In the top of the sixth, the Orioles finally got something done on offense.  With two outs, Mike Young singled.  That brought up Cal Ripken.  He managed to crank his second triple of the season to score Young.  Eddie Murray grounded out to third to end the surge.

Now I was heading into the bottom of the sixth, and my stomach had actual knots.  I can't imagine what real major leaguers are feeling when their guy on the mound is approaching history.  Here I am sitting at my kitchen table about to have a panic attack over an imaginary game - I just can't imagine the pressure the pros experience.  Anyway, Tom Paciorek was up first and grounded out to the pitcher.  Marc Hill, in the game because Carlton Fisk was being rested, grounded out to Murray.  Two outs in the sixth, perfect game intact!  That left the number nine hitter, Julio Cruz, in the batter's box.  He's easily the weakest hitter in the lineup.  So what does Flanagan do?  Walks him!!!  Perfect game ruined!!!  But alas, the no-hitter was still in play.

The next batter in the lineup was the lead off man, Scott Fletcher.  Now I'm stuck in a moral dilemma.  The Orioles are not only my favorite team, but I'm dying to see ANYBODY in this Statis Pro season toss a no-no.  There's a runner on first and Scott Fletcher is an above average hit and run specialist in Statis Pro.  Opting for the hit and run bypasses the normal "fast action card" process and goes directly to a corresponding chart.  The White Sox are only trailing by one, and Flanagan is absolutely dominant, so I tried to make the most objective decision possible:  go for the hit and run.  The card turned and Fletcher got the hit, moving Cruz to third.  The no-hitter is history.  Rudy Law flew out to end the inning.  I was pretty crushed - I scoped out the cards that would have popped up had I not attempted the hit and run and Fletcher would have been out.  That's not to say the White Sox wouldn't have scored four runs the next inning, but I'll always wonder...

As it turns out, that's the only hit Chicago would get on the day.  In the eighth Vance Law reached on a Ripken error and Paciorek walked, but those were the last threats the Orioles would face.  Hoyt went the distance too and only gave up four hits and struck out seven O's.  That's a pretty tough loss for him.  Still, Mike Flanagan pitched an honest-to-goodness one-hit shutout, and this was by far my favorite game of the Statis Pro season!

Winning Pitcher - Mike Flanagan
Losing Pitcher - LaMarr Hoyt
Player of the Game - Flanagan, complete game shutout, one hit, 3K's
Hall of Famers in the Game - Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray

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