19th nervous breakdown finally does in White Sox

May 02, 1991|By Alan Solomon | Alan Solomon,Chicago Tribune

MILWAUKEE -- Entire empires rose and fell in less time than this.

Where to begin? The final score: Milwaukee Brewers 10, Chicago White Sox 9 in 19 innings.

It was a six-hour, five-minute survival test. Hyperbole? Maybe, but consider this: The winning pitcher, Don August, got hit in the head by a line drive in the 15th, then threw four more innings.

"Augie showed me a lot of [fortitude]," said Robin Yount.

Hyperbole? Before the game, shortstop Bill Spiers was declared out three to five days with a bruised right thumb. He pinch-ran in the 15th, then played the last four innings at short.

"We were out of players, and we were out of pitchers," said Milwaukee manager Tom Trebelhorn. "We were down to nothing."

It all came down to a messed-up play in the 19th. With one out, Jim Gantner dumped a single to center off Wayne Edwards, the seventh Sox pitcher. Edwards then had him picked off, but Ozzie Guillen couldn't handle Frank Thomas' low, wide throw, and Gantner was on second.

B.J. Surhoff was walked intentionally, Spiers' fly ball pushed Gantner to third, and Paul Molitor was passed intentionally to fill the bases for Willie Randolph. Randolph's single in the 15th inning off Brian Drahman had tied the game after the Sox had scored three in the top of that inning.

"I've been around Willie a long time, and I hated to have to pitch to him in those situations," said White Sox manager Jeff Torborg. "But he's got Molitor on one side of him and Yount on the other."

Randolph bounced a single up the middle, Gantner scored, the remnants of 13,973 cheered, and this one -- in the literal sense of the word -- was history.

Only four White Sox games have been longer, the longest, on May 8 and 9, 1984, coming between the same two clubs in Comiskey Park. The Sox won that one 7-6 in the 25th.

They seemed to have this game won hours and hours before the 19th inning. In what was almost another lifetime, Greg Hibbard was sailing along with a 5-0 lead, then saw it vanish when the Brewers put six across in a very curious fifth.

That inning saw singles by Rick Dempsey (batting .091 starting the day) and Dale Sveum (0-for-14 in 1991 before that) and a three-run homer by Franklin Stubbs.

In its heart was a double-play grounder that Randolph bounced at Scott Fletcher, who flipped to Guillen, who was flipped by the sliding Molitor. Guillen's throw flew into the Milwaukee dugout, two runs scored and what should've been a one-run inning turned to six.

The Sox bullpen threw nine shutout innings after that, and Tim Raines' first AL homer tied it at 6 in the seventh.

In the 15th, the inning August -- if he still has a memory -- won't forget, the Sox scored three times. One came in on Guillen's shot, which August deflected only slightly with his bare hand. The other two came on a Fletcher fly ball and an RBI single by Raines.

The inning, by the way, featured three sacrifice hits by the Sox, something you don't see every day. But then this wasn't your average game.

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