Tag Archive | "Game Shutout"

St. Louis Cardinals need to give Shelby Miller a break

The second half of the Major League Baseball season is still a week away, but St. Louis Cardinals rookie right-handed starting pitcher Shelby Miller is throwing as if the calendar is about to turn to September, not July.

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Miller had the worst outing of his brief career Friday when he gave up five runs in 1.2 innings in a 6-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics, which continued a downward trend that suggests Miller could use a few extra days off as the regular season reaches its midpoint.

Miller had a sensational start to the season. He won five of his first seven starts, including a one-hit, complete-game shutout in a 3-0 win May 10 over the Colorado Rockies. He followed that with a five consecutive quality starts to establish a 7-3 record with a 1.91 earned-run average that earned him a prominent spot on the Major League Baseball pitching leaderboards.

Then reality started to set in. The weather warmed up as Miller crossed the 80-inning plateau in early June, he has given up four or more runs in fewer than six innings in three of his last four starts and his ERA has risen to 2.79, which has him tied for the 17th best ERA in baseball with the man who beat the Cardinals on Friday, Bartolo Colon.

Unfortunately, the Cardinals are still one solid pitcher short of living close to Easy Street in terms of how to work their starting rotation. The team could’ve given Miller some additional off days in the past two weeks if left-handed starter Jaime Garcia hadn’t had to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery in May.

With four off days between June 24 and July 8, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny could’ve set the rotation in a way that would’ve had Miller start maybe twice during that stretch. However, Matheny has had to use that strategy with the No. 5 spot in the rotation after lefty starter Tyler Lyons faltered and dropped back to pitch for the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds June 22 after four straight poor starts in June.

Right-hander Joe Kelly replaced Lyons in that role, but he won’t make his first replacement start until July 6 because off all the off days. If Garcia hadn’t gotten hurt, the Cardinals could’ve put Miller in Kelly’s spot and given him some much-needed rest before the All-Star Break that begins July 15.

But that’s life in Major League Baseball. Part of the challenge for teams is how to navigate a six-month, 162-game schedule when players get hurt.

Thankfully, the schedule continues to offer the Cardinals a chance to lighten Miller’s workload before the All-Star Break. With off days the next two Mondays, Miller will likely make just two more starts before the break, and then he’ll have the four days of the break to rest, as well, assuming he doesn’t make the All-Star Team for the National League.

He probably would’ve been named an All-Star if they game had been played in mid-June instead of mid-July, but his numbers have dropped enough now that others will likely get the call ahead of him.

That’s OK. He needs the break, and the Cardinals dearly need him to be good in the second half of the season in what is shaping up to be one heck of a battle with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds.

The Cardinals had 11 scheduled off days in the first half of the season but will only get five after the All-Star Break, so Miller and all of the Cardinals young pitchers will likely be pushed to the limit down the stretch in the heat of the pennant race.

With that intense schedule ahead, it is vital for the Cardinals to get their young players rest while they can, or the team’s incredibly fast start could become a distance memory if the Pirates and Reds end up as the NL Central Division playoff representatives.

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Westbrook To Make Rehab Start

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Springfield, MO – The St. Louis Cardinals have announced that Cardinals RHP Jake Westbrook will make a rehab start for the Springfield Cardinals this Tuesday, June 4.

The Cardinals host the Arkansas Travelers at 7:09pm on Tuesday. Click below to get your tickets right now.

Westbrook, 35, got off to a great start to the 2013 campaign with St. Louis, posting a 2-1 record with a 1.62 ERA through six starts early this year. His finest outing came on April 10 when he dealt a complete game shutout against the Cincinnati Reds, striking out three and scattering only five hits in the dominant performance. Westbrook had limited opponents to one run or fewer in all but two starts this season, prior to being placed on the disabled list on May 12.

The 14-year Major League veteran has compiled a 100-96 record with a 4.24 ERA throughout his career, and helped the Cardinals win the 2011 World Championship with two scoreless relief innings in the World Series against the Texas Rangers.

Originally from Athens, GA, Westbrook was selected by the Colorado Rockies with the 21st overall pick in the 1st round of the 1996 Draft. He made his Major League debut on June 17, 2000 with the New York Yankees, before spending the next 10 years with the Cleveland Indians. Westbrook was acquired by the Cardinals in a three-team trade with the Indians and San Diego Padres on July 31, 2010.

Click here to get your tickets to see Jake Westbrook at Hammons Field this Tuesday!

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Kansas City Royals Power Rankings

Welcome to a new feature on I70 Baseball, the Royals Power Rankings. Each week we’ll rank the top five Royals in 2013 with a heavy emphasis on their performance in the past seven days. Just moments ago, Alex Gordon topped a 4-1 week with a walk off hit in the tenth inning. The club now sits at 17-10, on pace for 102 victories. As awesome as Gordon’s hit was, the week belonged to Lorenzo Cain, who continues to be the best hitter on the club in 2012.

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#5 James Shields- Big Game James was brought in to be the ace and I seriously doubt the Royals thought his 3.00 ERA would rank third on the starting staff more than a month into the season. Shields picked up a victory off his old team with a gutsy performance on Tuesday night. After surrendering two runs in the first, Shields proceeded to pitch six shutout innings and notch his second victory of the season. It was the third time this season Shields has pitched 6+ innings and given up two runs of less.

#4 Alex Gordon- Sunday’s big hit aside, it was a rough week for the Royals’ left fielder. Gordon was 3/23 on the week before his 10th inning stroke and saw his average slide from .337 to .303 this week. Still, he leads the team with 20 RBI and is tied for the team lead in both home runs (3) and doubles (6)

#3 Jeremy Guthrie- The performance of the week goes to Guthrie for his complete game shutout of the White Sox on Saturday night. Guthrie completely owns the Sox, and has now gone a club-record 17 straight starts without a loss. Guthrie hasn’t given up a run in his last two starts.

#2 Ervin Santana- The official stats will tell you that Ervin Santana didn’t even pitch last week, but of course we all know that’s not true. Santana continued his dominance on Thursday afternoon before a snow out erased his efforts. To say Santana has been great this year would be underselling it. He’s struck out 31 batters in 36 innings and sports a 2.00 ERA.

#1 Lorenzo Cain- Cain was one of the biggest question marks heading into the 2013 campaign and so far he’s been incredible. He leads the club with a .341 average and didn’t do anything to hurt that this week. We was 8/20 with five runs scored and five RBI on the week (including the only two RBI in the team’s 2-0 win on Saturday night. Through five weeks Cain has been the best player on the team and one of the best in the league.

Honorable mention: Bruce Chen- Chen picked up his second victory of the season with two shutout innings against the Rays on Wednesday night. Chen has now made five appearances out of the pen without allowing an earned run. Perhaps more impressively, he’s struck out 11 batters in only 9 2/3 innings.

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Adam Wainwright back in domination mode

This is the Adam Wainwright the St. Louis Cardinals think is worth $97.5 million for the next five years.

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In his second season after Tommy John surgery to repair a torn elbow ligament, Wainwright has returned to the Cy Young award-caliber pitcher he was before the injury.

He simply dominated the Washington Nationals on Tuesday and now has a 4-1 record and a 1.93 earned-run average with 37 strikeouts against one walk in five starts. He’s established himself once again as the Cardinals’ ace, and that’s a huge relief for everybody involved.

Wainwright had put together a 64-34 record with a 2.99 earned-run average in four seasons as a starter before he suffered the elbow injury at the beginning of spring training in 2011. He also possessed a fastball that reached 96 mph and one of the most devastating curveballs in Major League Baseball.

But that was gone for much of 2012. Wainwright had a winning record, 14-13, but he also had the highest ERA of his career, 3.94, and rarely had the dominating games he did before the injury. His fastball wasn’t as fast, his curveball didn’t break as sharply and too many of his pitches were up in the strike zone, which allowed hitters to often drive balls they hit for extra base hits.

He did have a few standout games, including a four-hit, complete-game shutout May 22 against the San Diego Padres, but he also had several poor stretches such as back-to-back games against the Nationals and New York Mets in late August and early September when he gave up a combined 11 runs in just 7.2 innings.

Wainwright said he was sure his good stuff would come back, but he hadn’t proved it until that complete game against the Padres.

“It’s a huge sense of relief; it’s a huge sense of feeling blessed,” he said after the shutout against San Diego. “Mentally, tonight, I was so much better than I had been. I’ve worked very hard to get back to where I am.”

However, not every game went so well, and the Cardinals had an important decision to make as the 2013 season approached. Wainwright was about to enter the final year of his contract, and the Cardinals had to figure out if they were going to keep him beyond this season.

Overall, his career track showed he could be as good a pitcher as there is the game, but his performances after the injury caused plenty of concern.

Yes, most pitchers come back from Tommy John surgery and pitch as well as they did beforehand, but successful surgery is never a guarantee, and Wainwright’s 2012 season offered no certainties that he would ever be the type of pitcher he was beforehand.

But the Cardinals signed him to the long-term deal March 28, just days before the season started. Now, it is a fairly big risk to give a five-year contract to a 31-year-old pitcher who had major elbow surgery, but so far Wainwright has made the Cardinals’ management look pretty smart.

And the best could be yet to come. Wainwright sliced through the Nationals on Tuesday for 8.1 shutout innings with nine strikeouts and his first walk of the season after 34.2 innings, which was fewer than six innings from the franchise record.

He threw a fastball at 94 mph, his curveball buckled Nationals hitters’ knees throughout the night and his control was as precise as ever.

Wainwright is back to the form Cardinals officials hoped they would see when they signed him to the contract extension, and now they can sit back and watch their investment dominate opposing hitters as if its 2010 again.

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St. Louis Cardinals set to begin second surge as All-Star break approaches

The St. Louis Cardinals began their World Series title defense in impressive fashion, going 14-8 in April and leading the NL Central division by three games over the Cincinnati Reds. But then the season quickly took a turn for the worse as several key players got hurt and the Cardinals lost the division lead.

However, the Cardinals looked a lot more like the team of April this week than the depleted roster that struggled to keep up through much of May and June.

Sure, they are just 3-2 in their last five games heading into play Sunday, but the team has played much more solid games devoid of the mental lapses and poor fundamental play that plagued the team for more than a month.

Lance Lynn started last week’s series against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers unimpressively. He gave up five runs in five innings, but since then the Cardinals pitching staff has been dynamite. Jake Westbrook threw a complete-game shutout Wednesday, and Kyle Lohse certainly pitched well enough to win Thursday afternoon’s game the Cardinals lost 2-1 in 10 innings.

But the real wake-up call came when the team showed up Friday at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City to begin a beatdown of their cross-state rival, the Royals. The Cardinals plastered 10 runs on the board in the first two innings of Friday’s game started by Joe Kelly. They went on to win 11-4 and then pounded out eight more runs Saturday to help Adam Wainwright get the 8-2 win.

Perhaps how the Cardinals won those games is more impressive than the fact that they won them. The offense jumped out to early leads in both games and put the Royals in a position where they had to try and make a comeback if they were going to win.

That’s what the Cardinals did so well at the beginning of the season. Fans who were late to their seats would miss most of the scoring because the Cardinals often had a multiple-run lead before the stadium lights would begin to take effect.

Not coincidently, the Cardinals recent performances happened the same weekend as centerfielder Jon Jay and utility man Matt Carpenter returns from the disabled list. Both players returned to the lineup for Friday’s game.

Now let’s not oversell those two players return as the saviors to the season. Injuries have certainly played a major role in the Cardinals’ struggles this year, but there have also been defensive lapses and bullpen problems that have nothing to do with injuries.

Still, the return of Jay and Carpenter are a boost to the club and should be the beginning of a stretch of better baseball.

Plus, the Cardinals will begin a series Monday in Miami to face the Marlins, who are in the middle of a rough stretch where they’ve lost nine of their last 10 games. The Cardinals started the season in Miami with a 4-1 behind a masterful performance by Lohse and maintained that momentum for the rest of the month.

Westbrook is scheduled to start Monday’s game, but his complete game last week in Detroit might have been the spark for a similar run into the second half of the season.

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Royals sign first-round pick Kyle Zimmer

ROYALS SIGN FIRST-ROUND PICK KYLE ZIMMER

Kansas City, MO (June 7, 2012) – The Kansas City Royals today announced the club has signed first-round draft choice Kyle Zimmer, the fifth overall selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.  Consistent with team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The 20-year-old Zimmer, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-handed starter, went 5-3 with a 2.85 ERA in 13 starts, including three complete games, for the Dons in 2012.  In 88.1 innings, he allowed 76 hits, 28 earned runs and 17 walks, while striking out 104.  Zimmer led the West Coast Conference in shutouts (2), strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings (10.6).  Baseball America rated Zimmer as having the best fastball among all collegiate prospects and his curveball as the third-best in the collegiate ranks.  He was named a preseason second-team All-American by Baseball America entering 2012 and to the 2012 Midseason USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List last month.  Zimmer was also a member of the 2012 WCC All-Academic team, posting a 3.72 GPA.

Born in San Francisco, Calif., he attended La Jolla (Calif.) High School in the San Diego area where he played four years of baseball, mostly as a third baseman, while also competing in water polo and basketball.  Serving mostly as a position player, he pitched a total of 21.1 innings during his high school career.  Zimmer converted to pitcher his freshman season at USF, but only made five appearances that year.  He then posted a 6-5 record with a 3.73 ERA last season, including outdueling 2011 first-overall selection Gerrit Cole and the UCLA Bruins, 3-0, in a four-hit complete-game shutout with 11 strikeouts in a NCAA regional game on June 3, 2011.

Zimmer is the 23rd pitcher to be selected by the Royals in the first round and the first since 2011 All-Star Aaron Crow in 2009.

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July 17, 1954 – The Other “Almost” Comeback

When the New York Giants (57-27) came into St. Louis on July 15, 1954, manager Eddie Stanky knew he had his hands full. The Giants were a very solid team and were playing exceptional baseball. Their pitching was very good, and if the opposition somehow got into the bullpen, they had to contend with the likes of Hoyt Willhem (12-4) and Marv Grissom (10-7), both with ERA’s hovering around 2 runs per game. If that wasn’t enough, manning center field was a young slugger named Willie Mays. Mays would go on to win the first of his two Most Valuable Player awards, the other coming in 1965.

The Cardinals would split the first two of this early summer three game series. They would be shut out in the opener, 4-0, but after nearly blowing a lead late, Ray Jablonski drove in Wally Moon with a 2 out walk off single in the ninth. That set up an exciting rubber game on Saturday.

Royce Lint would get the start for the Cardinals. The rookie left-hander would start the season in the bullpen, and had been shaky at times. He had also been able to work long relief, often 5 innings or more. Thanks to a doubleheader in Chicago on July 4, Lint would make his first major league start and it was a dandy – a complete game shutout at Wrigley Field. That would earn him another start, and he pitched well enough to win, but the Cardinals bats did not cooperate. This game would be his third start, and also the shortest of his brief career, lasting just 1/3 of an inning.

Cot Deal

Three of the first four Giants batters would reach base against Lint. With the score 2-0, Stanky goes to his bullpen for Cot Deal. Deal was a veteran who had been called up several times, but failed to stay with the big club for long. Entering the game in a difficult situation, he gets Willie Mays to hit into a double play, ending the inning without any further damage.

Deal would retire the Giants in order in the second inning, but totally fell apart in the third. Deal would face seven men in that brutal inning, not retiring any of them. A pair of errors by Ray Jablonski, the late inning hero the day before, extended the inning and led to a barrage of subsequent hits and runs.

Ralph Beard would enter the game with runners on the corners and a 7-0 deficit. A pair of fly balls would give the Giants two more runs and a seemingly insurmountable 9-0 lead. Or that’s what the modest crowd at Sportman’s Park thought.

Beard would pitch three more scoreless innings, doing all that he could to give the Cardinals a chance for a comeback. That comeback would start in the sixth inning.

Giants starter, Johnny Antonelli, had been cruising until the Cardinals bats came to life in the sixth inning. And that inning reads like a Who’s Who in Cardinals history: Wally Moon, Stan Musial, Joe Cunningham and Red Schoendienst. The big blow in the inning was a two out double by Red, cutting the Giants lead to 9-5. The Cardinals also managed to chase Atonelli, with Hoyt Willhem taking over in relief.

The Cardinals would pull even closer in the seventh. With Ray Jablonski on first base with two outs, pinch hitter Solly Hemus draws a walk. Pinch hitter Joe Frazier would rip a triple, scoring Jablonski and Hemus. That would be the end of Wilhelm’s appearance, a rare short and ineffective outing. Frazier would not stay on third base for long. A Rip Repulski single brought the Cardinals to within a run at 9-8.

Meanwhile the Cardinals bullpen was just brilliant. The Giants had not been able to mount anything resembling a rally against Ralph Beard, Joe Presko, and the new Cardinals hurler, Al Brazle.

Harry "Peanuts" Lowrey

With the score still 9-8 in favor of the Giants, the Cardinals were about to accomplish the unthinkable. After chasing Hoyt Willhem, they were about to tie the game against the Giants All Star reliever, Marv Grissom. And it was just the kind of run you would expect in a game like this. With runners at first and second base with one out, Joe Cunningham grounded into what looked like an inning ending double play. But the 3-6-3 is one of the hardest to turn, and the Giants failed to do so. Dick Schofield, grandfather of the Washington Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth, scored from second base when a throw went wild, tying the game. Solly Hemus would extend the inning with a single, putting the go-ahead run on third base. Unfortunately, Peanuts Lowrey was unable to drive Cunningham home.

The game would go into the ninth inning tied at 9 runs apiece. Marv Grissom and Harvey Haddix were now the pitchers of record. They would still be on the mound when the Giants took the lead in the 11th inning, and it was a beautifully manufactured run, typical of how that Giants team won many of those 58 games. A lead-off single, sacrifice bunt and infield single would put the potential winning run on third base. That run would score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Don Mueller. Haddix limited the damage to just one run, but that would prove to be enough as Windy McCall retires the now disappointed Cardinals in order in the bottom of the 11th.

Marv Grissom failed to earn the save, but a courageous long relief effort was enough to earn him the win. McCall would pick up the save. Harvey Haddix would take the loss for the Cardinals.

Following this series, the Giants would continue steamrolling over opponents in the National League. They would go on to win 97 games, capturing the NL Pennant by 5 games over their crosstown rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers. In a workman like fashion, they would sweep the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.

Bob Netherton covers Cardinals history for i70baseball.com and writes at On the Outside Corner. You may follow Bob on Twitter here or on Facebook here.

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Being Great & Being Underrated

The thing about being underrated is that people’s expectations of your performance level is generally wrong. This could be for a variety of reasons:

  • Unreasonable expectations
  • Bias (ridiculous or not)
  • Misinformed/uneducated opinion
  • Pre-conceived notions about the player or team
  • Not playing in huge television/media markets on the East Coast
  • …etc.

It’s been my opinion for the last couple of years that the number one most underrated pitcher in all of baseball is Jered Weaver, of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. More on him later. The guy I want to talk about is Kyle Lohse, a guy who is having an outstanding year.

Kyle Lohse is having a career year with the Cardinals in 2011.

Kyle Lohse reported to spring training in mid-February, as he always does. But in a ridiculous display of control, he waited until April 4th to walk a batter. So all he did was pitch for a straight month before missing the plate 4 times to one batter. That’s control. He walked one batter in 7 innings in his 2011 season debut (April 4th). Did not walk a single batter in 8 innings on April 10th, he walked one batter in 7 ⅓ on April 15th, and on April 21st he walked 2 in his first complete game shutout of the year. On the 27th of April, he walked one Houston batter in 7 strong innings. April totals: 5 walks surrendered over 38 ⅓ innings pitched.

I realize that April is distant memory, but this is a sample of the Kyle Lohse (a finally healthy Kyle Lohse) that we’ve seen this season–clearly his best since the ‘08 campaign with the Cardinals.

Most players, managers, and others in baseball will tell you that they’d “rather be lucky than good”. I submit to you that Lohse has been rather unlucky at times this year, yet much much better than just “good”.

Consider his masterful performance on the 7th of May: 8 innings, scattering 6 hits, and surrendering only one run. Unfortunately, he took a tough loss in that game. (That was during a stretch where the Cardinals were spending 14 straight innings going hitless) So, no run support for him, and Lohse takes a hard luck loss after pitching his guts out! Then, take this week’s game versus the Philadelphia Phillies, when he faced off against Cliff Lee. (Who walked a career-high six batters his last time against the Cards, if I recall*) That game actually had some very incredible undertones, in terms of unusual pitching performances on both sides. Primarily, a second unlucky loss for Lohse. I spoke of his control earlier–in this game he pitched 8 innings without a walk or a strikeout (think he knows where the plate is?) You have to go back more than 12 years to find 3 similar occurrences, that’s only the 4th time it’s happened since May of 1999. What’s more amazing is that you have to go back another decade to May of 1989 to find the last time the same thing that happened to Lohse happened to someone else–throwing 8 innings without walking or striking out a batter, yet taking a loss (Mike Witt).

So, the 7-4 record is a bit misleading, 9-2 could easily be in its place at this point. What’s not misleading?

  • His career-high 2.95 K/BB ratio
  • Career-low 1.6 BB/9
  • Career-low 7.6 H/9
  • Career-low 1.029 WHIP
  • Sub-3.00 ERA
  • Wiith already 105 innings (on pace to set a new career high), his walk total for the season is still in the teens.

Toss in a complete game, and look at a few of the other things he’s accomplished, and it’s hard not to put Kyle Lohse near the top of the list, when it comes to underrated players. Heck, I’ll bet as a Cardinals fan, you weren’t even aware he’s had this good of a season**!

*Running late for deadline, feeling a bit lazy to fact-check, but that “sounded right”.
** Does not apply if your name is Bob Netherton

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May 2 And 3, 1967: Total Domination Of The Cincinnati Reds

The San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates were supposed to battle for the National League Pennant in 1967. At least that was the plan before the season began.

The Cincinnati Reds had a lot to say about that early in the season. They got off to a quick start, leading by as many as 4 1/2 in early June. Eventually their pitching depth would come into play and they would fade during the dog days of summer. The Reds would end up winning 87 games, but would finish 19 behind the Cardinals when all was said and done.

The first meeting between the Reds and Cardinals would be a short two game series in early May. The Reds would come into St. Louis, hoping to make a statement, as well as increasing their lead in the National League standings. The scheduling would be fortunate for the Reds as manager, Dave Bristol, would be able to use his two best pitchers: Jim Maloney (1-0) and Milt Pappas (2-1). Red Schoendienst and the Cardinals would counter with their top two starters: Bob Gibson (3-1) and Ray Washburn (0-2). You could always count on Bob Gibson to give you a good game, but it was a healthy Ray Washburn that gave Cardinals fans the most to cheer about in the early part of 1967.

May 2 – St. Louis 5, Cincinnati 0

In the first game, Bob Gibson was exceptional. The big right hander was never in trouble. Gibson would only give up two hits in this game: a leadoff double to future Cardinal Vada Pinson in the fourth and a single to Leo Cardinas in the fifth. While dismantling the Reds lineup, Gibson would fan 12 and walk 2. From the very first pitch of the game, Gibson overmatched the first place Reds, making a statement of his own.

Jim Maloney

On the other side of the diamond, the Cardinals would put pressure on Jim Maloney all night long. A single by Tim McCarver in the second inning, advancing on a ground out by Mike Shannon would set up the first Cardinal run. McCarver would steal third base and later score on a Jim Maloney wild pitch.

The Cardinals would add three more runs in the fifth inning when Mike Shannon would hit a bases loaded double, scoring all three baserunners. Roger Maris would single in Bob Gibson for the final Cardinals run in the sixth, giving the home team a 5-0 lead.

All in all, a nifty 2 hit complete game shutout for Gibson’s fourth win of the season.

But that’s not the story. That would come 22 hours later.

May 3 – St. Louis 2, Cincinnati 0

When the Cardinals took the field the next night, we expected a rejuvenated Reds lineup to try to earn a split in the short series. What we got was one of the best pitched games of the year by Ray Washburn. Finally healthy after dealing with arm troubles, the newly retooled Washburn kept the Reds off balance all night long. Where Gibson was striking out Reds hitters, Washburn was getting weak ground balls to the infield. When your infield consists of Mike Shannon, Dal Maxvill, Julian Javier and Orlando Cepeda, that is a recipe for success. Like Gibson in the previous game, Washburn would surrender only two hits: a two out single by Pete Rose in the fourth and a two out single by Chico Ruiz in the fifth.

Milt Pappas

Other than a shaky first inning, Milt Pappas was nearly as good as Washburn. The top of the Cards order would manage a small rally in the fourth inning. Just as he had done in the previous game, Mike Shannon would deliver the big blow, a bases loaded single to drive in two runs – the only runs that would be scored in the game.

As the game wore on, Washburn seemed to get stronger and stronger. Forget any hits; in the the last three innings, the Reds would get only a single base runner (on a walk). When they did hit the ball, only two made it out of the infield, both harmless fly outs to Curt Flood. It was also one of the quickest games I’ve ever heard, lasting only an hour and forty minutes.

More important, this game was something Cardinals fans had been waiting to see since 1962, a healthy and dominating Ray Washburn. We would see a lot of this over the next two seasons.

Message delivered

The high flying Reds game into Busch Stadium, hoping to extend their lead. Over two games and just under four hours of baseball, all they managed were four hits. They left St. Louis with their tails tucked between their legs, as they would several more times that unforgettable summer.

Bob Netherton covers Cardinals history for i70baseball.com and writes at On the Outside Corner. You may follow Bob on Twitter here or on Facebook here.

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Top Ten October Memories

Some of the obvious perks associated with being a St. Louis Cardinals fan include the lifetime of wonderful memories the team has produced in the month of October. Everyone has their favorite Redbird memories from that championship month; some of us are old enough to remember the glorious season of 1964, when the Cardinals surprised the world with their amazing championship run; others were just tykes when the first edition of “Whitey Ball” thrilled Cardinal Nation with the World Championship in 1982.

No matter where your personal recollection of St Louis Cardinals heroics begins, one thing is certain; Cardinal Nation has been blessed with many thrilling October highlights.

Here are my top ten favorite October memories:

10 – October 7, 1982 – Game 1 NLCS – Bob Forsch pitches a three-hit complete game shutout against the Atlanta Braves, as the Cards cruise to a 7-0 win in front of 50,000+ fans at Busch Memorial Stadium. The highlight of this game occurs when Willie McGee stops at third base “for no apparent reason” (Jack Buck’s call), settling for a triple instead of an easy inside the park home run; poor Willie didn’t see third base coach Chuck Hiller’s “green light” to head home on the play. Ozzie Smith, took care of his pal, driving him in with a sacrifice fly, and the Cards were never slowed down.

9 – October 21, 2004 – Jim Edmonds’ two-out, two-run, walk-off home run in the 12th inning, lifts the Cards to a thrilling 6-4 win over the Houston Astros, forcing Game 7 in the NLCS…

8 – Setting up the thrilling 5-2 win the very next night, over Roger Clemens, of all people; the win sends the Cards to the World Series, where they would be swept by the Boston Red Sox, and none of those games made this top ten list; okay?

7 – October 14, 1987 – The Cards win Game 7 of the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants, 6-0; highlighted by Jose Oquendo’s three-run home run off Atlee Hammaker, which broke the game open in the second inning. Prior to this at-bat, Oquendo had two career home runs in 903 regular season at bats.

6 – Then there was the three-run home run light-hitting Tom Lawless hit off Frank Viola, on October 21, 1987, in Game 4 of the 1987 World Series; temporarily giving Cards fans hope for a World Championship over the Minnesota Twins. Unfortunately, the Cards had to play four of those games in the Homer Dome. Forget about it!

5 – The home run Albert Pujols cracked on October 17, 2005, off Brad Lidge, staved off elimination in that year’s NLCS; turning a 4-2 Cardinals deficit into a thrilling 5-4 win. Unfortunately, they lost the next game at home at old Busch Stadium; the last game ever played there.

4 – October 15, 1964 – The Cards win Game 7 of the World Series over the Yankees at the older version of Busch Stadium (aka “Sportsman’s Park”), 7-5. Bob Gibson becomes every Cardinals fan’s biggest hero in that Series.

3 – October 12, 1967 – The same Bob Gibson does it again; this time with a thrilling Game 7 World Series clincher over the Boston Red Sox, at Fenway Park. He even hits a home run in that contest, as the Cards cruise to a 7-2 victory, and Gibby becomes an even bigger hero throughout Cardinal Nation.

2 – October 16, 1985 – Jack Clark’s 450 foot home run off Tom Niedenfuer, gives the Cards a thrilling 7-5 win over the Dodgers in LA, and has many baseball experts wondering to this day, why they pitched to Jack the Ripper with first base open and Andy Van Slyke on deck?

1 – October 14, 1985 – To this day, this was the most memorable date in Cardinals history; Ozzie Smith’s impossible game winning home run off that same Tom Niedenfuer, with one out in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game; 2-2. Who could forget Jack Buck’s legendary play-by-play call of that unforgettable blast? It went something like this: “Smith corks one into right down the line; it may go! Go crazy folks! Go crazy! It’s a home run, and the Cardinals have won the game by the score of 3-2 on a home run by…the Wizard!”

There they are; my personal top ten memories from October baseball. Certainly, Gibson’s 17 strikeout classic in Game 1 of the ’68 World Series deserves an honorable mention; or the thrilling Game 7 win over the New York Mets in 2006; that was definitely a very cool moment, as well. That’s the beauty of memories; especially Cardinals memories; there are plenty of them to last a lifetime.

As we try to cope with the failure of 2010, it is heartening to reflect back on some of the glory of seasons gone by; then we realize how lucky we are to be fans of the most successful franchise in National League history.

That is not such a bad thing, after all. Thanks, Gibby, Ozzie, Lou, Tim, Orlando, and Albert. You have provided one Cards fan a lifetime of great moments to cherish; nothing can dimminish those wonderful memories.

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