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Birthday Baseball (An Occasional Series): Game 13 – July 12, 1985

By now our readers know the story… I am looking back to see how the Yankees performed on my birthday each year since I’ve been born and then telling the story of what took place on that summer day.

As always, whenever I do research like this, my first two stops are always Retrosheet and Baseball-Reference.

Let’s head back to 1985, July 12 to see what took place in the Yankees game that day.

***

On Friday, July 12, 1985, the Yankees hosted the Texas Rangers. The Rangers were in New York for a four game series just prior to the All-Star Break. The Yankees had won the previous game 11-7.

On this day the Yankees (46-36) were sending Ed Whitson (4-6) against the Rangers (32-53) and their starter Bob Sebra (0-1).

The Rangers sent the following lineup into the Bronx that day:

Oddibe McDowell – cf

Toby Harrah – 2b (future Yankee, albeit very briefly)

Pete O’Brien – 1b

George Wright – rf

Gary Ward – lf (future Yankee)

Buddy Bell – 3b

Tom Dunbar – dh

Gino Petralli – c

Wayne Tolleson – ss (future Yankee)

The Yankees countered with the following lineup:

Rickey Henderson – cf

Ken Griffey – lf

Don Mattingly – 1b

Don Baylor – dh

Ron Hassey – c

Dan Pasqua – rf

Willie Randolph -2b

Mike Pagliarulo – 3b

Bobby Meacham – ss

***

Trivia question – Ed Whitson was much maligned as a Yankees’ pitcher. What was his winning percentage in pinstripes?

***

In the first inning, Ed Whitson made easy work of the Rangers’ batters. It was a quick one-two-three inning with a strikeout, a fly out, and a ground out. Simple and easy.

Not wanting to waste any time, the Yankees jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

Following a Rickey Henderson strikeout, Ken Griffey singled. He was doubled to third by Don Mattingly and he scored on a Don Baylor sacrifice fly. The inning also saw Ron Hassey get hit by a pitch, but Dan Pasqua struck out to end the frame.

The Rangers responded by having their three hitters all hit into ground outs – one to Willie Randolph at second, two to Bobby Meacham at short.

In their half of the second inning, the Yankees also went down in order.

The Rangers also didn’t score, but in the play-by-play account, we see a strange note for Wayne Tolleson’s at bat (he came up with one out) with Gino Petralli at first base after hitting a single:

“Single (Ground Ball); Petralli to 3B/Adv on E1 (throw); Tolleson out at 2B/1B”

Trying to make sense of that is challenging… The following is my guess as to what occurred –

Tolleson hit a slow roller in front of the mound, a sure hit, Whitson fielded it and threw it wide of the bag at first. That allowed Petralli to advance to third and for Tolleson to try for second. Don Mattingly fielded the ball after Whitson’s error, fired to second base and they caught Tolleson for the out.

If nothing else, it sounds reasonable.

After all that, the Rangers didn’t score anyway.

If I was watching this game at the time, the bottom of the third surely brought a smile to my face. Rickey Henderson led off with a single. Ken Griffey then singled. That brought up Don Mattingly with two runners on and no one out.

Mattingly promptly hit a three-run home run to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead. Nice!

One out later, after a Dan Pasqua double and a walk to Ron Hassey, Bob Sebra was lifted from the game. Former Tigers pitcher Dave Rozema came in to pitch and retired Willie Randolph and the Yankees on a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Toby Harrah walked in the fourth inning, but one out later George Wright grounded into an inning ending 1-6-3 double play.

The Yankees went down in order in their half of the fourth.

The Rangers did the same in their half of the fifth.

***

Trivia Answer: Ed Whitson’s Winning Percentage as a Yankee was .600. He went 15-10 over two seasons, but at the time, it sure seemed like he lost every game he pitched.

***

In the bottom of the fifth, with one out, Don Mattingly singled. Don Baylor was then hit by a pitch.

Two on, one out and Ron Hassey strode to the plate…

Hassey struck out – and on the strike three pitch, Don Mattingly was caught trying to steal third base for the inning’s final out.

(Was this a strange game or what? Don Mattingly trying to steal third?)

In the top of the sixth, the Rangers got a one out single from Wayne Tolleson, but Oddibe McDowell hit into a double play to end the frame.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees picked up their fifth run on a Dan Pasqua lead off homer. That was all they’d get.

In the Rangers’ seventh, Toby Harrah led off with a walk, but (is this getting predictable?) Pete O’Briend hit into a double play.

Greg Harris came in for the Rangers to pitch and set the Yankees down in order.

In response, Ed Whitson sent the Rangers down in order in the eighth inning.

In the bottom of the eighth, now facing Dave Stewart, Dan Pasqua hit his second homer of the game to give the Yanks a 6-0 edge.

Ed Whitson came out for the ninth…

Geno Petralli singled to left field. Up came Wayne Tolleson…

And he grounded into a 3-6 double play. Oddibe McDowell then flied out to right field to end the game.

Ed Whitson pitched a complete game shutout! Amazing.

This was the second shutout Whiston threw in 1985 (he had shutout the Orioles on June 19). It was the last one he’d ever throw for the Yankees.

***

Next we will head to 1986. In that game, the Yankees ventured to Minnesota to play the Twins. Scott Nielsen was the Yankees’ scheduled starting pitcher…

***

Yankees Record on July 12 (in this series – since 1968): 12-1

(There were no games played on July 12 in 1971, 1976, 1978, 1981, and 1982.)

Graig Nettles (as a Yankee on July 12): 33 AB, 7 hits (.212), 1 run, 5 strikeouts, 4 walks. 1 RBI (I had hoped that my favorite player would have done better on my birthday.)

Don Mattingly on July 12 (through 1985): 4 for 8 (.500), 1 2b, 1 HR, 4 RBI

#BirthdayBaseball

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