The scene is Dodger Stadium. It's Hollywood Stars Night, which was still a baseball game at the time between E-list and F-list celebrities. Tony Danza could have been there, but I don't know. I missed that fine event. By design.
It was also "Baseball Night in America", which was MLB's incredibly idiotic plan to get people interested in baseball again after the work stoppage of 1994 by having nationally televised games shown on Saturday nights. Starting at 8 pm. And almost every game involved your local team. Just with different announcers. This same set up also gave us the idiotic idea of having all four division series games shown simultaneously, so you could only see one at a time. But I digress.
The game this night matched the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers started the day tied for first with Colorado at 53-45. The Pirates were 40-56 and in fourth place, 20 1/2 games behind Cincinnati.
Loaiza was a 23-year old rookie at the time. Tapani was making his third start for the Dodgers after coming over from Minnesota in a trade that also netted the Dodgers Mark Guthrie and cost them four players, most notably Ron Coomer: Future All-Star!
On this night, Tapani didn't have it. Brumfield got a leadoff infield hit, went to second on a throwing error by Tapani on a pickoff and with two outs King and Liriano doubled to make it 2-0 Bucs.
But Señor Loaiza was not quite on the ball either as the Dodgers matched him with two runs in the bottom of the first as Fonville, Offerman, and Piazza strung together singles for one run and Karros cashed in another with a sacrifice fly.
But the Pirates kept hitting against Tapani and drove him out after 4 1/3 innings and 12 hits. Rudy Seanez came in to relieve and could only get one out and that was Loaiza on a sacrifice. Guthrie came in along with Mitch Webster as part of a double switch to take out Cedeno and gave up an RBI single to Martin and the Bucs led 7-2 going to the bottom of the 5th.
The Dodgers mounted a bit of a comeback in the 6th when Piazza singled with one out and scored on a Mondesi triple. Kelly drove in Mondesi with a triple to make it 7-4 Pittsburgh. Wallach got another hit and Pittsburgh manager Jim Leyland pulled Loaiza for lefty Dan Plesac, who struck out pinch hitter Billy Ashley and Webster to end the inning.
John Cummings was the next Dodger pitcher and he got through the 7th without a run scoring. In the bottom half of the inning, Offerman had a one-out double that sent Plesac out of the game as Mike Dyer came in to pitch to Piazza. Dyer walked Piazza and Karros followed with a single to score Offerman to make it 7-5 Pirates as Piazza went to third. Mondesi scored Piazza on a sacrifice fly and it was Pittsburgh 7, Los Angeles 6 after seven innings. That score would hold up to the bottom of the ninth.
In the bottom of the ninth, Leyland called on his closer, Dan Miceli. It didn't start well for Miceli as he walked leadoff man Offerman and then threw a wild pitch to send him to second. Miceli bore down to strike out Piazza, but Karros tied the game with an RBI double. After an intentional walk to Mondesi, Kelly and Wallach were unable to drive in the winning run.
Free baseball! By this time, the game was long past the three-hour mark and I think it was close to three and a half hours. My two friends who came along with me really didn't want to stay that long, but I had the advantage of having the car keys. And the car. So we stayed along with a few thousand other hearty souls.
The crowd dwindled even more in the top of the 10th when the Pirates scored three times off of Antonio Osuna. The Pirates got four hits, including a 2-RBI double from Liriano and an RBI single from Bell.
Miceli went back out for the bottom of the 10th to try to get a win to go with his blown save. But the Dodgers had other plans. Pinch hitter Carlos Hernandez flied out for the first out, but Webster and Delino DeShields (who had replaced Fonville in the sixth for reasons I forgot) both singled. Offerman popped out and only Piazza was in the way for Miceli. But Piazza doubled to score two runs and Karros then tied the game for the third time with an RBI single.
Dodgers manager turned to Pedro Astacio for relief in the 11th. Astacio had started the year in the rotation, but was ineffective and was now the long man.
Parent reached on an error by Offerman, one of 35 he would make on the season. Angelo Encarnacion, the backup catcher, ran for Parent and Steve Pegues pinch hit for Miceli and singled Encarnacion to third. Brumfield flied to left and Kelly threw home and Encarnacion held up, but Pegues moved up to second. Martin was walked intentionally to load the bases.
Astacio wriggled out of trouble by getting Merced to ground into a force out at home and then fanning King.
That set the stage for the weird bottom of the 11th inning as the clock was heading past 12:30 am. My friends were still there and they were too tired to complain, which was my plan all along.
Encarnacion stayed in as catcher. John Wehner replaced King at third base. And Jeff McCurry came in to pitch.
Kelly singled to left to start the 11th. Wallach doubled to left and Kelly was at third. With the Dodgers out of pinch hitters, Astacio batted for himself and struck out. This brought up Webster.
McCurry bounced a pitch in the dirt to Webster and it rolled away from Encarnacion who took off his mask and scooped it up and handed it to home plate umpire Brian Gorman.
After a brief pause, Lasorda stormed/waddled/trotted out of the dugout in indignation. Lasorda yelled something at Gorman who agreed with him and the umpire told Kelly to come home.
Now Leyland came out of the dugout and he ran a bit faster and with much more purpose. But Gorman's call stood.
Except no one in the stadium really seemed to know what it was. The scoreboard flashed "Error 2." About the only person in the stadium who seemed to know what was going was me (or so I liked to think.)
What had happened was that Encarnacion had committed an automatic error (two base error) under a somewhat tortured reading of Rule 7.05 (d) which, at the time, awarded two bases to bases to any runner "if a player touched a thrown ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person."
One could argue (and likely successfully) that a thrown ball is not a pitch, but eventually Leyland agreed with the call, mainly because of precedent. In this game on May 12, 1987, Gene Mauch of the Angels lobbied the umpires to give Mike Heath an error on a similar play. But the Tigers won 15-2, so Sparky Anderson wasn't too upset.
The rule was modified this year to make it clearer and now it's Rule 7.05 (j)
A runner is awarded - (j) One base, if a fielder deliberately touches a pitched ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play, and the award is made from the position of the runner at the time the ball was touched.
The game ended at 12:44 am and "Baseball Night in America" became "Baseball Morning in America."
Here are the scorebook pages from that game. The book only held 10 innings, so I opted to make a new page for the 11th inning, which in retrospect was a bad idea.