Even though a two-run triple and a bases-empty home run by Paul Molitor ignited the Toronto Blue Jays to a 10-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies last night, the biggest play of the game wasn't a hit, but a strikeout.
It came in the first inning, when the Phillies threatened to negate the three runs scored by the Blue Jays in the top half of the inning.
Right-hander Pat Hentgen couldn't afford to let the Phillies come back with a big inning.
After striking out Len Dykstra, Hentgen gave up back-to-back singles to Mariano Duncan and John Kruk. Right fielder Joe Carter's error on the second put runners on second and third.
In that situation, a hit not only would have significantly reduced the Blue Jays lead, but also would have set up a possible big inning. An outfield fly or an infield ground ball would have produced one run, enabling the Phillies to at least strike back in a hurry and take some of the sting out of the Blue Jays' early lead.
But Hentgen silenced the partisan crowd by striking out cleanup hitter Dave Hollins. He followed that with another strikeout, as Darren Daulton also went down swinging, but it was the punch-out of Hollins that was the key to keeping the Phillies from scoring early.
From that point on, Hentgen and the Blue Jays were in control.