Wacky Game 4 not easy to forget Night of irony ends with Jays near title

October 22, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Jim Fregosi called it a historic game. He was the losing manager.

Cito Gaston all but delivered a concession speech with one-third of the game left to be played. He was the winning manager.

Game 4 of the 1993 World Series produced, along with a ton of records, the unexpected at virtually every opportunity Wednesday night. After twice trailing by five runs, the Toronto Blue Jays torched the Philadelphia Phillies' flammable bullpen for six runs in the eighth inning and a 15-14 victory that left them one win shy of a second straight World Series championship.

"I think," said a drained Fregosi, "it might just go down in the annals as one of the all-time games in World Series history. It was just unbelievable."

It also will go down as one of the all-time collapses, something Fregosi would just as soon not dwell on. "This was one of those games where the team with the last at-bat usually wins," said Fregosi.

"Well, we had the last at-bat, but we didn't win. We just didn't score 20 runs. We just didn't have anybody throwing the ball very well, to be honest."

The latter was the understatement of the series. In the wildest, longest (four hours, 14 minutes), zaniest World Series scoring spree ever, the Blue Jays managed an improbable win that all but doused any chance the Phillies had of completing their last-to-first saga.

The Phillies had a player (Len Dykstra) who hit two home runs, scored four times and drove in five runs and another (Milt Thompson) who had three hits and five RBI. And they lost.

By the sixth inning every player in the Phillies starting lineup, including pitcher Tommy Greene, had reached base safely -- except for John Kruk, who went into the game with a Series-leading .583 average. They failed to score in only one of the first seven innings, and it wasn't enough.

"It was pretty wild," said Gaston, as unflappable as always. "Just about everything happened. It was quite entertaining. It was quite long."

In a game that produced 32 hits and 29 runs there were, as might be expected, more than a few understatements. And at least as many twists.

For this night, at least, both managers undoubtedly wished the designated hitter (banned in National League parks) had been in effect. It would have saved both some embarrassment.

Consider the contrasting strategies, and the eventual outcome of the game.

In the fifth inning, after his team had taken a 10-7 lead and Roger Mason had pitched 2 2/3 innings (easily the longest such stretch of the night), Fregosi made two judgments. He was right about one of them, unfortunately for him it wasn't the right one.

"It looked like the kind of game where you couldn't get enough runs," he said. "So every chance I had, I went after more."

That offensive thinking influenced Fregosi to use Ricky Jordan to pinch-hit for Mason with a runner on second and one out. Jordan proved inconsequential, grounding out, but Dykstra followed with his second home run of the night to make it 12-7.

Little did Fregosi know that Mason would be the only effective Phillies pitcher he would see all night. The Blue Jays pounded that fact home, but not until after Gaston appeared to concede by letting reliever Tony Castillo strike out as the leadoff hitter in the seventh inning.

"They gave up when they let that guy [Castillo] hit -- and we still lost," a distraught Dykstra would say much later. Castillo gave up three hits, three walks and two runs in 2 1/3 very shaky innings -- and emerged as the winning pitcher.

David West, whose World Series ERA made an intermediate stop (after he recorded his first out in eight batters) at 162.00 while en route to 63.00, allowed two runs in one inning as Mason's successor. The Phillies got one back against Castillo and the 13-9 deficit was enough to convince Gaston he didn't want to use up his bullpen.

"I pretty much know what those guys can do," he said, looking ahead to Game 5, "and I didn't want to use [Mike] Timlin or [Mark] Eichhorn in that situation."

At that point, 22 runs had been scored, equaling the former World Series record. With one-third of the contest remaining, simple math revealed a probability of seven more before it was over.

That's exactly how many runs made it onto the scoreboard in the last three innings. Castillo gave up another (and barely escaped a bases-loaded threat) to make it 14-9 before the Blue Jays broke through the mist that fell throughout the game with a storm of hits.

If there was anything fitting about this game, it was the ending.

Mitch Williams needed five outs to protect a four-run lead after entering the game with two men on base in the eighth inning. Before he got the second one, five runs had paraded across home plate.

With Williams igniting the fuse, the fireworks show ended with two devastating bursts -- a two-run single by Rickey Henderson and a two-run triple by Devon White. The Blue Jays had produced an eighth-inning touchdown, and the missed extra point was meaningless.

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