Baseball: Long player goes on record for wrong reasons: Toronto are within reach of clinching a second consecutive World Series after incident-filled fourth game against Philadelphia

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The Independent Online
PITCHING, some sage once wrote, is 90 per cent of baseball. That won't do any more. Not after Game Four of the 1993 World Series, all 4hr 14min of it, in which the Toronto Blue Jays won by the odd run in 29 to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Series.

It was the longest, and the highest scoring, game in World Series history. It was also probably the worst pitched, at least until we got to Toronto's closing relievers in the eighth and ninth innings.

The majority of the 62,731 Veterans Stadium crowd were desperate for a solid game from Tommy Greene, Philadelphia's starting pitcher. But they were not to be gratified, as the Blue Jays got eight men on base and scored three quick runs in the first. It seemed a repeat of Game Three was in prospect, when the Phillies never recovered from an early deficit.

Nothing of the sort. Todd Stottlemyre, the Toronto starter, had even worse control of his pitches than Greene, and the Phillies roared back with four runs of their own to bring the frenzied crowd into the heart of the contest.

So it went on, with both teams gorging themselves on runs like men at an all-you-can- eat contest. In the second inning Lenny Dykstra, one of Philadelphia's heartbroken heroes by the end, helped himself to the first of two two-run homers to open up a 6-3 lead.

But, in the third, Greene was chased from the game as Toronto scored four times to regain the lead. Back again came the Phillies. Dykstra hit the top of the wall in centre, and Mariano Duncan drove in Philadelphia's pocket Hercules to tie the score.

Toronto replaced the ineffective Stottlemyre with Al Leiter, and in his first major league at- bat, the relief pitcher smacked the ball down the third-base line for a double. If Leiter suspected that such a feat meant some divine agency was working for him, he had another thing coming when the Phillies came up in the bottom of the inning. Dykstra, with homer number two and Darren Daulton, with a two-run shot, of his own, blew the game open as the Phillies took a 12-7 lead.

The crowd broke out their party-piece rap chants of 'Whoot, there it is]', and though two Blue Jay runs momentarily shut them down, the noise redoubled when Daulton was judged by umpire Richie Williams to have been hit by a pitch, walking in another run. With two innings to go, the Phillies led 14-9. They couldn't let this one get away. Could they? The annals of the game will record that Roberto Alomar grounded out to third to start and end the eighth inning of Game Four in 1993, but what transpired in between will be known as the Six-Run Eighth.

Joe Carter kicked the engine over with a base hit. John Olerud was walked on four pitches. Paul Molitor, chosen to play at third on a late hunch by Toronto's manager, Cito Gaston, then got a huge break as Dave Hollins, his Phillies counterpart, failed to get his body behind Molitor's bouncing hit to third and the ball shot low on the wet artificial turf under Hollins' glove. One run scored.

Olerud was driven in. To protect his shrinking lead, Philadelphia's manager, Jim Fregosi, went to the Wild Thing, the team's closer, Mitch Williams. 'I always need an extra vodka to get to sleep after watching Mitch throw,' Bill Giles, the Phillies owner, had said before the game. He must have drained the bottle for this one. Rickey Henderson showed up for Toronto when he was needed with a base hit to centre. Two more runs scored.

And finally to Devon White. The Jamaican would grace any West Indies batting line-up, and now he struck the mightiest blow of his career, driving in the winning runs of this unbelievable game with a triple to right centre. Wild Thing was done, and so were the Phillies. 'I have no excuses, I just stunk,' he said, after the Philadelphia batters were retired in order in the eighth and ninth.

Before the play-offs Williams spoke of his attitude to his role. 'You're either gonna get or you're gonna get got,' he had said. What the Phillies got on Wednesday night was a brutal reminder that even with 14 runs on the board, these Blue Jays will still be coming to get you.

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