Come one, come all for Play At the Plate Detective. Today's suspect is a prime action shot of Chris Hoiles awaiting a throw home whilst Seattle Mariner (and future Oriole) second baseman Harold Reynolds slides into the plate, presumably safe. I am a big fan of the batting helmet frozen in midair from now until the end of time. On with the hunt:
According to his 1992 Game Log, Reynolds appeared in five Seattle at Baltimore contests that season. If we narrow it down to games in which he scored a run, we're left with three. Next, we need to find out if Hoiles was the Orioles catcher in all three. Nope! Jeff Tackett wore the tools of ignorance on May 3 in an 8-6 O's win. So we're left with either August 18 or the first game of an August 20 doubleheader. The photo depicts a day game, but Baseball-Reference doesn't have start times for these games. So we'll have to check the descriptions of the plays that drove in Reynolds in both games. They're both sacrifice flies, so that doesn't help. However, you'll notice that Hoiles is facing the right side of the field while anticipating the throw.
On August 18, Reynolds led off the seventh inning with a double and advanced to third on a bunt single by Omar Vizquel (who is STILL ACTIVE in 2011!). Edgar Martinez drove a Ben McDonald pitch deep to left-center field, where Brady Anderson snared it and threw plateward. Cal Ripken, Jr. cut the ball off and redirected it to brother Billy at second base, where Vizquel was caught trying to advance. An exciting play, but not our play. The O's lost that one 8-3, so no biggie.
The August 20 game is the one we want. It's a Thursday afternoon battle, and the Birds need a win after four straight losses have put them four back of the first-place Blue Jays. Rick Sutcliffe faces Brian Fisher, a 30-year-old journeyman who entered the 1992 season with 22 major league innings pitched over the previous three seasons. But on this day, Fisher appears to get the best of Sut, pitching into the seventh and limiting the home team to one measly Chito Martinez single and pitching around three walks. Sutcliffe walks a tightrope, allowing eight Seattle hits and four walks in seven and two-thirds innings. The only run he allows is on a third-inning sacrifice fly to right by Edgar Martinez that followed back-to-back singles by Harold Reynolds and Omar Vizquel. This is of course the play captured above. The M's strand an astounding 13 runners, squandering opportunities in each and every inning.
The O's are surely pressing by the bottom of the eighth inning, when Tim Hulett leads off with a single off of reliever Russ Swan. Mark McLemore gives up one of the six outs the Orioles have left by bunting Hulett to second base, and Brady Anderson strikes out. Fortunately, a by-the-book pitching change by the Mariners backfires, as righty batter Mike Devereaux greets righty reliever Jeff Nelson with a fly ball that eludes right fielder Jay Buhner for a game-tying triple. Less fortunately, Cal Ripken, Jr. strands Devo at third by striking out. In the ninth inning, each club wastes a bases-loaded opportunity. Storm Davis turns a 1-2-3 double play off the bat of Tino Martinez to end the visitors' half, and Nelson walks three Birds before a McLemore grounder allows him to escape. It's free baseball for the capacity crowd in Baltimore.
Davis has an easier time with the Seattle bats in the 10th, allowing a leadoff single to Buhner before retiring three in a row, the last two on strikes. Mike Schooler takes the mound for the Mariners and brings the drama to a swift conclusion. Brady Anderson pokes Schooler's third pitch down the right field line for a triple, and two pitches later Devereaux plays the hero again by driving the ball deep to left field for a game-winning sac fly. The Orioles win 2-1 in 10 innings. Storm Davis, who stranded an inherited runner and tossed 2.1 scoreless innings, gets the W, and I get 1,000 words out of one picture. Well, 698 words. But who's counting?