REDS 4, EXPOS 2
Saturday, July 22, 1978 at Olympic Stadium
Game 1259 – 10/20/12
The Reds continued their late-July turnaround with a revamped lineup and an attitude on winning, backing starter Mike LaCoss with clutch hits and tenacious play in defeating the Expos for the second straight day at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, this time by a 4-2 count.
While LaCoss was pitching shutout ball through seven innings, the Reds offense was finally showing some spark, scoring a pair of single runs in the third and fifth, thanks to speed on the base paths and some team effort from utility players Rick Auerbach and Champ Summers, who received rare starts today in place of regulars Joe Morgan—who was out with an injury—and Cesar Geronimo.
In the third, Auerbach coaxed a walk from Scott Sanderson (3-3), as did follow-up batter Summers, putting runners on first and second with no out. LaCoss put down a textbook bunt, advancing the runners, and after a flyout by leadoff hitter Ken Griffey, Rose sent Auerbach home with the first run of the game with a slap single to right. The Reds then made it 2-0 in the fifth when Dan Driessen singled to open the frame, stole second, then scored on Summers’ base hit, a looper to left that barely eluded the grab of Expos third baseman Larry Parrish.
Cincinnati then delivered the death blow to Montreal in the sixth, with Griffey and Dave Concepcion on base via a single and a fielder’s choice, respectively. Cleanup hitter George Foster fought off several two-strike offerings before capitalizing on a mistake pitch from Sanderson, banging a shot off the wall in left-center that chased both baserunners home and allowed Foster to reach second with a stand-up double. That was it for Sanderson, who was dismissed from the game with a 4-0 disadvantage.
However, with LaCoss cruising along with a 4-hit shutout into the eighth, the Expos made things interesting when, with two out, Dave Cash lashed a two-bagger down the line; with Stan Papi now at the plate, Cash took a long lead off second that may or may not have blocked Concepcion’s sightline to home; the usually-reliable Concepcion then booted Papi’s routine grounder, permitting Cash to race home with Montreal’s first run.
The next two batters, Warren Cromartie and Ellis Valentine, kept the rally alive with a base hit apiece, the second of which scored Papi, cutting the Reds lead in half at 4-2. Suddenly, the go-ahead run was standing at the plate in the form of pinch-hitter Andre Dawson, who was taking a break from starting in center field today after seeing his average drop to .203 for July; with the game on the line, manager Dick Williams sent the always-dangerous Dawson to bat, for his first pinch-hitting appearance of the season.
But Cincinnati skipper Sparky Anderson wasn’t taking any chances, and brought in the team’s save leader, Doug Bair, to rescue the Reds from another embarrassing late-inning loss; Bair enticed the over-eager Dawson to lift a first-pitch fly to shallow right field, which was easily corralled by Griffey for the third out of the inning.
The out seemed to deflate the Expos’ comeback balloon, and after the Reds did nothing in the visitor half of the ninth, the home team went down easily in their half against Bair, who earned his 14th save in preserving the Cincinnati 4-2 victory. The win was the second of the year for LaCoss, and pushed the fourth-place Reds one step closer to the .500 mark, at 44-51. For the dejected Expos, it was their fifth loss in a row, and they now find themselves close to dropping into last place in the NL East.
• The game was played in the afternoon at site AZ8 in Peoria, Arizona, on the living room table while I listened to I’m Not Me by Mick Fleetwood’s Zoo.
• Before the game, the Reds placed injured second baseman Joe Morgan on the 15-day disabled list, and recalled relief specialist Dan Dumoulin from the Indianapolis Indians of the American Association. Morgan was injured in yesterday’s game against the Expos, when he collided with center fielder Mike Lum while chasing a fly ball off the bat of Tony Perez. For Morgan, it was his third injury of the year, and his first trip to the DL.
• As far as I know, my friend Brent was the first person to keep track of a game using my ‘live’ scoreboard on the main page, which I update every inning or so while I play. He stayed with this game ’til about the eighth, when a bottle of wine and a few rounds of backgammon with his wife on their apartment balcony proved more enticing than a make-believe baseball game from 1978. Check out our e-mail conversation about the game here.
• Reds outfielder Champ Summers had passed away a few weeks back, so with this being my first Reds game played since then, I chose to start him in center field as my way of honoring him. In three plate appearances, he had a walk, a single, and a strikeout, with the base hit good for an RBI that gave the Reds a 2-0 lead. Summers was the second Reds player from the ’78 squad to pass away, and the second this year, after reliever Pedro Borbon died of cancer in June.