WHITE SOX 1, RANGERS 0
Monday, August 14, 1978 at Arlington Stadium
Game 1548 – 11/20/16
With a capacity crowd on hand at a misty Arlington Stadium hoping to witness ace Jon Matlack earn his league-leading 19th win, the Rangers quickly took control in the opening frame and loaded the bases off Chisox starter Steve Stone; things then quickly spiraled downward from there. For the Rangers, that is.
Stone, who was coming off a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to the Royals six days earlier, worked his way out of the first-inning jam, and continued to work his way through Texas batters the rest of the night, stopping the division-leading Rangers on no runs and seven hits for the complete game 1-0 win. It was Chicago’s third victory in a row, their first such streak this season, and gave Texas their second consecutive loss.
The night’s lone tally came in the sixth, when White Sox catcher Bill Nahorodny opened the frame with a base hit to right off Matlack (18-4); after Ralph Garr fouled out to first, Don Kessinger sent a dribbler down the third-base line that stayed fair for an infield hit, putting runners at first and second. Jorge Orta then struck out looking for the second out, setting the stage for slugger Eric Soderholm, who punched a bloop single to right, sending the slow-footed Nahorodny home past coach Pat Corrales’ frantic stop sign. Richie Zisk’s throw from right was on-target, and the collision at home was good for the out…but the impact jarred the ball loose from catcher Jim Sundberg’s glove, and Nahorodny was ruled safe by umpire Larry Barnett for the 1-0 advantage.
That slim lead would hold up, as Stone had no trouble handling Ranger bats the rest of the way, allowing just three hits after the third, including a one-out triple in the fifth by Bump Wills, who remained stranded, and a two-out single in the sixth to Sundberg, who was left marooned at first. But that third hit caused Stone some trouble in the ninth, and it could’ve cost him the win; after pinch-hitter Sandy Alomar led off the frame with a base hit (in his first appearance of the season), pinch-runner Bert Campaneris moved into scoring position with a close steal of second. A deep fly-out from Nelson Norman moved Campaneris to third, setting up what was probably the pivotal play of the night.
“I’d actually thought about stealing home,” Campaneris told WBAP radio after the game. “Stone wasn’t paying attention to me at all, so I figured I had a pretty good chance. In hindsight, I probably should’ve gone.”
Instead, Campaneris was doubled-up off third after catcher Jim Sundberg made a highlight-reel play on batter Toby Harrah’s foul pop-up to the left of home; Sundberg dove and made the catch with his bare hand, then came up firing to third baseman Soderholm, who applied the sweep tag to a straying Campaneris for the third out, ending the game and making a winner of Stone (8-13).
Offensively, Kessinger and Nahorodny led the Sox with two hits apiece, while Wills topped the Rangers with a 2-for-4 night, which included his 59th stolen base of the season. The two teams will meet again tomorrow for the second game of their four-game weekday set at Arlington, with Texas righthander Doc Medich (8-4) taking the hill against Chisox righty Francisco Barrios (6-9).
• The game was played at night at site AZ18 in Peoria, Arizona, at the living room table while I listened to Breakfast in America by Supertramp.
• This was the 50th game played at site AZ18, good for 11th place on the all-time games hosted list.
• This was the third game ever played on this date, and the first since 2014.
• It was a rainy night outside my Peoria apartment when I started the game, so I decided to make it rainy night at Arlington Stadium as well.
• This was the third of Chicago’s three consecutive wins, which were all complete-game victories for the starting pitchers; they only allowed one run over the three games, no doubt the team’s most impressive three-day pitching performance of the season.
• White Sox outfielder Henry Cruz, recently called up from the Iowa Oaks of the American Association, appeared in his first SP78 game when he took over for left fielder Ralph Garr as a defensive replacement in the ninth.
• That comment Bert Campaneris made above about stealing home was based on fact: I’d considered sending him, but then thought it wouldn’t be a smart decision in an actual game, so I held him at third. And yes, the next Fast-Action card draw would’ve resulted in a successful steal of home for Campaneris, tying the score at 1-1. Instead, a double play ended the game and sealed the Texas loss.
• Earlier in the day, I’d made a big purchase on eBay for $39.99: a Statis Pro Baseball game with player cards from the 1979 season…in case I ever finish my current forty-years-and-counting replay season, and feel like starting another one.