The game on 7/30/88 was played at Dodgers Stadium and featured the first place Dodgers (59-42) against the 2nd place Astros (55-47). The Dodgers, of course, were managed by Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda and the Astros were still managed by Hal Lanier, who led the team to a NL West title in 1986. Fernando Valenzuela was on the hill for LA, with Joaquin Andujar taking the mound for Houston. The Astros would go with the following lineup: Gerald Young CF, Bill Doran 2B, Kevin Bass RF, Buddy Bell 1B, Billy Hatcher LF, Ken Caminiti 3B, Rafael Ramirez SS, Alex Trevino C, Andujar P. The Dodgers countered with Steve Sax 2B (recent PBS guest), Gibson LF, Pedro Guerrero 1B, Mike Marshall RF, John Shelby CF, Mike Scioscia C, Tracy Woodson 3B, Dave Anderson SS, Valenzuela P.
Valenzuela would get the Astros out 1-2-3 in the top of the 1st. The Dodgers got on the board in the bottom of the inning, with a Gibson solo HR to right center. Valenzuela would make it through 4 innings without allowing a hit with the Dodgers adding another run in the bottom of the 4th on a Shelby single to score Guerrero.
Fernando would take the hill for the 5th inning, when the game would take a little bit of an odd turn. After getting Hatcher and Caminiti out on ground balls, Valenzuela surrendered his first hit of the game, a single to Ramirez. The next batter, Trevino, would hit a 2 run HR on a 3-2 pitch to tie the game. Valenzuela would have to leave the game as he injured himself during that pitch and would not return until the end of September of that season. Brian Holton would take over and give up a single to the opposing pitcher Andujar. Lanier sent in pinch runner Craig Reynolds for Andujar, as Joaquin was injured as well. Andujar would return to the mound 9 days later but only make 3 more starts the rest of the season. And 1988 was Andujar's last in the big leagues.
After a Gerald Young single moved Reynolds to third, Young would steal 2nd. Both runners would score on a Doran base hit to make it 4-2 Astros. Danny Darwin would enter the game for the Astros to start the home half of the 5th inning- and get the Dodgers 1-2-3. Tim Crews entered the game to start the 6th, relieving Holton. Whether Crews knew it or not, he was going to be left in the game to get some length. The Dodgers had a couple of pitchers not available for this game and Valenzuela was expected to be the one to provide the length. His injury forced a change in plans.
Bell opened the 6th up with a single. After Hatcher flied out, Caminiti followed with a single. Then, Ramirez would hit a 2 run triple and score on a Trevino double to make it 7-2. After Darwin struck out, Crews would give up an RBI triple to Young and a single by Doran to score Young. Bass would draw a walk before Crews mercifully got Bell on a pop out to the catcher. Darwin would surrender 4 hits in the bottom of the sixth, as the Dodgers scored 2 runs on RBI hits by Scioscia and pinch hitter Franklin Stubbs to make it 9-4.
Crews would be sent back out for the 7th inning. Hatcher would lead off with a single and advance to 2nd on Marshall's fielding error. Caminiti flied out to CF before Lasorda brought in Jesse Orosco in a double switch. SS Anderson was replaced by Alfredo Griffin, known for his defense. Of course, the first batter Ramirez hits a routine ground ball that Griffin misplays for an error, putting runners on 1st and 3rd. Orosco's next pitch beans Trevino to load the bases. Similar to the previous inning, the Dodgers had a chance to get Darwin, an easy out. At the time, Danny was just 1-38 on the season coming off his 6th inning strikeout.
Darwin would promptly hit a double to left center to clear the bases making it 12-4 Astros. After a Young strikeout, Orosco got Doran on a ground ball to end the inning. Despite an error and a single, Darwin got through the Dodgers 7th without a problem. Lasorda had seen enough of an erratic Orosco and decided to take him out as the Astros came to bat in the 8th. The only problem was... they had no more pitchers. OF Danny Heep was brought into the game to pitch for the first time in his big league career.
Heep would promptly retire Bass and Bell to start the inning. Hatcher would single and advance to 2nd on a Heep wild pitch. Caminiti, who had 203 ABs in his rookie season of 1987, was starting just his 2nd game in 1988. He would take Heep deep to make it 14-4 and in doing so, hit his first and only HR of the season. When the Astros took the field for the bottom of the 8th, Lanier unloaded his bench bringing in Casey Candelle, Jim Pankovits and a speedy catcher by the name of Craig Biggio. Biggio was just 22 at the time only being up in the majors for a little more than a month. Darwin got the Dodgers 1-2-3 in the 8th. Heep came out for the top of the 9th for his 2nd inning of relief. Heep retired the first two batters and would have the third if not for an error by Guerrero, who at the time was playing third base. A fly out by Pankovits ended the inning. Darwin would surrender 2 runs in the bottom of the inning, one was unearned because of a fielding error by Stubbs, the first baseman. The Astros won the game 14-6, gaining a game on the first place Dodgers.
Sure this was a random ugly mid season game that had no impact on the standings. There were a total of 5 errors and the bullpens threw 90 and 94 pitches, respectively. Both starters were out by the 5th inning, both injured and one after just 49 pitches. Just over 2 weeks later, Guerrero was dealt to St Louis for LHP John Tudor. The Astros would finish the season at 26-33, finishing at 82-80 for 5th place in the NL West. The Dodgers would finish 35-27 on their way to 94 wins and the NL West crown. Of course, a major contributor in this game for each team would suffer a tragic death at an untimely age. Crews would die on March 23, 1993 in a boat accident with former Indians RHP Steve Olin; one that also injured Bobby Ojeda. And after having a good career in Houston and winning the 1998 NL MVP for the Padres, Caminiti would die on October 10, 2003 at the age of 41 due to his use of steroids.