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A Look Back: 1982 – Game One

The year 1982 marked the first of three 1980′s appearances in the World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals. It also marks the one and only time that the Milwaukee Brewers reached the World Series.

With the two teams, now in the same league, prepared to face off for the National League Pennant, i70baseball brings you a look back to that series in 1982. A monumental series that took all seven games to decide a winner. A series that would see would see both teams win a game by a double digit margin as well as each team winning a game by two or fewer runs.

It was a series to remember for St. Louis fans. It was the series to forget for Brewers fans. It all began on October 12, 1982.

Game One: October 12, 1982
The Cardinals had finished the regular season with a 92-70 record and defeated the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series for the right to play for the World Title. The Brewers would finish with a 95-67 record and dispose of the (then) California Angels to earn their first trip to the World Series.

For you stat-heads out there, researching this article revealed that the Brewers played 163 games that season. One of which, the contest on June 16, was a tie with the Baltimore Orioles. It is explained that the Brewers were tied with the Orioles at the end of nine innings when the game became rained out. Because the game had passed the fifth inning, the stats were allowed to count, and the teams were required to make up the entire game at a later date.

If game one was to set the tone for the series, then Cardinal fans became concerned very quickly. Right hander Bob Forsch, who was 15-9 with a 3.48 earned run average, took the mound for the Cardinals in front of the home town crowd of 53,723 at 2:30 in the afternoon. As the Brewers stepped to the plate that first inning, Forsch would surrender a hit and a walk before first baseman Keith Hernandez would commit an error allowing Robin Yount to score the first run of the game. An infield hit by Gordon Thomas would drive in Cecil Cooper and the Brewers would have the only runs they would need to win this game.

When you are playing the game, however, you do not know just how many runs it will take to win and the Brewers were not going to settle for just two. In the top of the fourth inning, Brewers lead off hitter Paul Molitor would drive in Charlie Moore on a single that Molitor was thrown out trying to stretch into a double, making the score 3-0. It was later in the game, in the top of the fifth inning, when Ted Simmons would reach Bob Forsch for a fly ball into the left field seats. The bases were empty, but Milwaukee had opened a four run lead.

During this time in baseball history, home field advantage rotated every season. In even years, the National League had home field advantage. In addition to this rule, during those years when the National League had home field advantage, both teams were allowed to use the Designated Hitter in all seven games, regardless of the home stadium’s rules. This rule was changed in 1986 and the Designated Hitter is now only allowed to be used in American League parks and the All Star Game.

Robin Yount would bring an end to Forsch’s day in the sixth with two outs as he drove a double down the right field line scoring second baseman Jim Ganter and Molitor. The score was now 6-0 and the Cardinals turned to Jim Kaat to slow the bleeding. Kaat would pitch well, retiring four hitters and only surrendering one hit before turning the game over to Dave LaPoint. With two outs in the ninth inning, LaPoint would be reached for a run as Don Money would deliver a pinch hit single to score Ben Oglivie. LaPointe was then replaced by Jeff Lahti, who would surrender three straight hits: a single for Moore, a two-run triple to Gantner, and an RBI single for Molitor.

Brewers starter Mike Caldwell would be on his A game during the opening contest. Caldwell, who posted his second best record of his career in 1982 at 17-13, would throw a three-hit shutout that night for the Brewers. Of the three hits, two belonged to Darrel Porter. Porter would double in the second and reach second on Ken Oberkfell‘s base hit in the eighth inning, the only two times a Cardinal would end up in scoring position. Caldwell would finish the day having surrendered three hits and one walk while striking out three Cardinal batters.

Star(s) of the game: While Caldwell deserves mention for his performance from the mound, Molitor and Yount deserve recognition for their contributions. Molitor delivered with a 5-for-6 day at the plate, delivering five singles and driving in two runs. Yount was right behind him, going 4-for-6 with a double and driving in two runs.

The first game of the series belonged to the Brewers, 10-0.

Stay tuned as i70baseball brings you game recaps for all seven games of the 1982 World Series on game days of the 2011 National League Championship Series.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Fun With Royals Comps

Baseball-Reference.com has a list at the bottom of player pages called “Similar Pitchers/Batters” that shows the top ten similar players based on a system created by Bill James. I love the idea behind the similarity scores, but the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. RBI is used as a comparison while OBP is not, and there is no era adjustment. Just a reminder of the obvious point to not read too much into the lists; it is really just a fun toy. But now that the lists have been updated to include the 2011 season, let’s see what the lists have to say about some key Royals players:

• Before the 2011 season, I did a little exercise examining the numbers put up by Billy Butler‘s comparable batters through age 24. I averaged the seasons put up by his comps, which before last season included John Olerud, Kent Hrbek, Nick Markakis, Chet Lemon, Carlos May, Delmon Young, Carl Yastrzemski, Ellis Valentine, Tony Horton, and Keith Hernandez. Those comps ended up projecting a similar season to what Billy actually did in 2011. Here is the average age 25 season by those players compared to Billy’s:

Since Billy followed his comps closely, there was not a lot of turnover among his top ten similar batters this off-season. Off the list are Chet Lemon, Ellis Valentine, and Tony Horton, replaced by Don Hurst, Steve Kemp and Ben Grieve. I have calculated the average age 26, 27, 28, and 29 seasons using the updated comps, shown in the tale below. The age 21-25 seasons shown are Butler’s actual numbers, and the totals at the bottom add together Butler’s actual career to date with the projected age 26-29 seasons. The last line shows where the totals would rank in Royals history right now:


The games played by his comps decrease quite a bit from what Billy has done the last three seasons. Hopefully as a dedicated DH Billy can keep playing 150+ games a year. Even if Billy “only” follows the path of his comparable hitters and stays in KC, he should be around the seventh best hitter in team history when the contract is up, with the possibility of some more productive seasons after that.

Eric Hosmer has played a grand total of 128 games in the majors, so his comps mean even less than most. Keeping that in mind, it is still a kick to see three Hall of Famers on his list, and that one of them is, um, Willie Mays. Of course, Delmon Young is on there too. The eight retired players on Hosmer’s list put up a 125 OPS+ for the rest of their careers.

Alex Gordon‘s career to date has been so up-and-down and injury-riddled that I do not put any stock in his list. One exception is Larry Hisle, who was a very similar hitter before Alex’s age 27 season in 2011, including ups and downs and trips to the minors, and had a similarly big year at age 27. Hisle is an encouraging comp because he continued hitting at a high level for the next four seasons, only to be stopped by injury. In my mind, health is the only barrier to Alex continuing as a premiere hitter for many years to come (even if another year like 2011 is unlikely).

Bruce Chen’s comps pitched an average of three more seasons with an ERA+ of 99.

Luke Hochevar’s list does not offer any encouragement in the form of a starter who turned a corner after a similarly inauspicious career through the age of 27. I still have hope that Luke figured something out in the second half of 2011 that will allow him to become a decent starter, but the odds are stacked. Interestingly, Hochevar’s top comp, Jose Mesa, never started another game after age 27—but he closed out 632. There have been many games where Hoch cruises for three, four, five innings only to fall apart…he looks a lot like a reliever those days.

Danny Duffy‘s career is too young for his comps to have any meaning, but one of the names on his list, Jesse Burkett, started like Duffy and ended up in the Hall of Fame. Something tells me Duffy will not be converting to a left fielder and posting a 140 OPS+ over 16 seasons like Burkett did though.

Aaron Stilley also blogs here and tweets here.

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June 24, 1984 – Rick Horton Nearly Made History

On this night, the fifth place Cardinals would play the West Division leading San Diego Padres in the second game of a four game series. Even though the Cardinals were in fifth place in the East, they were only 6 games out of first. Both divisions were up for grabs. The Cubs would catch fire later in summer and win the East while the Padres would hold on and win the West. None of that mattered right now, the Cardinals and Padres had a game to play.

The Cardinals were in the middle of a rough transition. Gone was Keith Hernandez, one of the best players in recent years. Terry Pendleton had yet to make his major league debut. The Cardinals pitching staff was decimated by injuries, especially among the starters. At this point, Danny Cox, Dave LaPoint and Bob Forsch were all injured and unavailable. Over the course of the next week, Kurt Kepshire would make his major league debut and Rick Ownbey (part of the Hernandez trade) would make his Cardinals debut. Neither would make much of an impact. Whitey Herzog was so desperate for starters that he was using Ken Dayley and Neil Allen, just to have somebody take the mound in the first inning.

A Promising Rookie

Rick Horton

Younger fans may know Rick as one of the Cardinal announcers on Fox Sports Midwest. A very pleasant announcer with an ever present smile, Rick has become a very good broadcaster. He often speaks of his time pitching, always downplaying his abilities – especially his 82mph fastball. While that may be what White Sox and Dodgers fans remember, Cardinal fans know differently. Rick Horton was a very good pitcher for his first four years in St. Louis. And I mean very good. He didn’t have the flair of Joaquin Andujar. He didn’t throw hard like Ken Dayley or Todd Worrell. He couldn’t dominate game after game like John Tudor or Danny Cox. But Rick Horton was still a very good pitcher. He was crafty with a capital C. In those four seasons, Horton would put up a 24-12 record with an ERA that stayed under 3 runs per game, except when excessive mop up duty inflated it just a bit. He was used mainly out of the bullpen, but would be the occasional spot starter when needed. Tonight was one of those nights.

The 24 year old lefty made the team out of spring training. Up to this point, he had been used mostly in mop-up assignments. While not the most glamorous role, they gave him time to develop his major league game. At the same time, those appearances gave Whitey Herzog and Mike Roarke time to evaluate his talent. And there was plenty to be happy about. Horton would get his first start on June 12 and combine with Neil Allen for a nice win against the Phillies, picking up his second win of his short career. He would be hit a bit harder on his next start against the Mets, but together with Bruce Sutter, they would hold the Mets off for another win.

Rick would suffer his first loss on June 24 against the Cubs, although he pitched well enough to win. He had the bad fortune of facing Rick Sutcliffe in the beginning of his 16-1 run to his Cy Young Award (to go with his 1979 Rookie of the Year). Sutcliffe would shut out the Cardinals, striking out 14. Not a lot that the young man could do against that kind of performance. Very quietly though, Horton was putting together a nice season. His ERA to date was 1.75.

June 24 – St. Louis at San Diego

Eric Show

Rick Horton (3-1) would face the right hander Eric Show (7-5). Show was the Woody Williams of the 80s. Fairly durable, Show would throw a lot of innings but not a lot of strikeouts. He would win 15 games twice, and 16 in his best season, 1988. But he would never have that monster year that we thought he was capable of producing. How would he do tonight ?

Show was impressive from the first pitch. He would strike out the first two batters he faced. Willie McGee would end the inning grounding out to long time Dodger, Steve Garvey at first.

Although not as dominating, Horton was just as effective in his half inning, getting two fly outs and striking out Garvey to end the inning.

The Cardinal bats would wake up in the second inning. Darrell Porter would lead off with a double. He was unable to advance when Steve Braun flied out to left (Steve, you are supposed to hit the ball to the other side of the outfield with a runner in scoring position and less than 2 outs). Mike Jorgensen would single, but Porter was held up at third. With Art Howe at the plate, Jorgensen is caught stealing in a broken hit and run. It was so bad that Jorgensen isn’t even credited with a caught stealing. Howe then flies out to end the inning.

In the San Diego half of the second inning, Horton shuts down the Padres. The ball never left the infield. When Horton was on, he could nip the corners. With his ability to change the speed, hitters never got a good swing on anything near the plate. So far, Horton was in very good form tonight.

In the third, the Cardinals would put a run on the scoreboard. Ozzie Smith, hitting eighth at this point in his career, leads off with a walk. Horton bunts Smith to second. Lonnie Smith follows that with a single, easily scoring Smith from second. Show would limit the damage, but the Cardinals had an early 1-0 lead. Maybe that would be enough with the way Horton is pitching.

The Padres third inning was much like their second, nothing leaving the infield. Three up and three down. One time through the order and Horton retired all nine.

Show settles down in the fourth. Steve Braun would fly out. Mike Jorgensen would single, but Art Howe would hit into an around the horn double play: 5-4-3. In the Padres fourth, nothing. Tony Gwynn and Steve Garvey finally got something out of the infield, but the ball fell safely into the gloves of Cardinal outfielders.

Adding On

The Cards would stir up trouble in the fifth. Ozzie Smith would ground out to start the inning, but Ricj Horton would follow that with a walk. Walking the opposing pitcher is always a bad idea, and it generally comes back to haunt the other team. Lonnie Smith would fail to advance the runner, flying out to right. Tommy Herr would single, bringing free swinging Willie McGee to the plate. Show would throw a pitch to the backstop, moving the runners to second and third. Willie McGee would would single to left, scoring both Horton and Herr. McGee would advance to second when Carmelo Martinez misplayed the ball. Darrell Porter would end the inning with a strikeout, but the Cardinals now led 3-0.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Padres would get their first base runner when the just victimized Carmelo Martinez leads off with a walk. He is quickly dispatched when catcher Terry Kennedy hits the ball back to the pitcher and Horton starts a nifty 1-6-3 double play. Not only had Horton been getting it done with his arm and bat, now he is showing off a bit of leather. Kevin McReynolds would ground out to end the inning.

And On

More trouble for Show in the sixth inning. With one out, Mike Jorgensen would walk and Art Howe would hit a single. Ozzie Smith would single home Jorgensen. Once again, Horton lays down a good bunt, moving the runners to second and third. The young lefty was putting on quite a clinic tonight. Lonnie Smith would follow with a single, scoring Howe. Ozzie Smith would be thrown out in a close play at home. The Cardinals now led 5-0.

Absolutely nothing was happening in the bottom of the sixth. Another solid Horton inning. A pop up to short, a pop up to second and a ground out to short. Three batters, nothing leaving the infield. Through six, no Padre hits.

Andy Hawkins was in to replace Show, who had been lifted for a pinch hitter in the previous inning. Hawkins did what Show had not been able to do – retire the Cardinals in order. The bottom of the seventh was a repeat of the sixth. Three Padre batters, two infield grounders and a strikeout. Nothing left the infield. Through seven innings, Cardinals 5, Padres 0 – and no Padre hits.

The Cardinals went fairly quickly in the eighth. Two singles, a fly out and rarity: Ozzie Smith grounding into a double play.

Horton Hears a Hit

Kevim McReynolds

Rick Horton takes his no hitter into the eighth. He strikes out Carmelo Martinez and gets Terry Kennedy to pop out to third. With two outs, Kevin McReynolds ends Horton’s no hitter with a clean double. A disappointed Horton gets Graig Nettles to ground out to short, preserving the shutout.

The Cardinals go quietly in the top of the ninth. A very tired Rick Horton takes the mound, working on a one hit shutout. He gets Garry Templeton to ground out to his opposite number for the first out. Pinch hitter Kurt Bevacqua walks. Leadoff man Alan Wiggins would get the Padres second hit, with Bavacqua stopping at second base. Tony Gwynn, one of the games greatest hitters, would end things by hitting into a 4-6-3 double play.

What an amazing performance by the young lefty. A 2 hit shutout against the West leading Padres – a team that would go on to the World Series. Horton was four outs from throwing a no hitter in his fourth major league start. Only five balls would get out of the infield, the two hits and three harmless fly balls. This was as masterful a game as Cardinals fans had seen in a very long time.

The Rest of the Story

Horton would finish his rookie season with a 9-4 record, posting a modest ERA of 3.44. He would be equally impressive in the next three seasons, going 3-2/2.91 in ’85, 4-3/2.24 in ’86 and 8-3/3.82 in ’87 (with 67 appearances, 61 in relief).

Horton would be traded to the White Sox, along with speedster Lance Johnson after the 1987 season for Jose DeLeon. DeLeon was an amazing talent that no pitching coach had been able to figure out. The Cardinals would soon be added to that list as DeLeon gave us 4 1/2 frustrating years. Horton failed to impress the White Sox and he was dealt to the Dodgers in a last minute deal before the end of post season eligibility. Horton would return to the Cardinals in 1989 and retire at the end of the 1990 season.

Lance Johnson would go on to be one of the better hitters in the American League. He would routinely lead the league in triples as well as stealing 30 or more bases a year. That’s one we sure wish we had back.

The next time you hear Rick Horton talking about his pitching days, know that he is being modest. Horton was one heck of a pitcher. And on this night he almost pitched his way into the Cardinal record books.

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The Cardinals In Time: Runnin’ Redbirds

During the offseason we have been taking a look at the past, giving readers a timeline of St. Louis baseball throughout history. Last time we learned about how Whitey Herzog came in and rebuilt the organization into a lean mean running machine. Whiteyball led to a World Series title in 1982, but felt a little less than potent in the two years following. Could the team rise to the top?

When people talk about the Cardinals’ 1985 team, it all seems to boil down to the Series. More specifically, it points to the Call. The team here at I-70 Baseball even did a week-long tribute to the 1985 Series between the Cardinals and Kansas City Royals (You can find the archive here). It is unfortunate that a 101-61 record that witnessed players winning the MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Gold Glove awards has boiled down to one call, but it happened.

Whitey and owner Gussie Busch were disappointed with how the team had performed in both 1983 and 1984. Because of that, most of the championship team from 1982 was long gone before the beginning of 1985. The real holdovers included Ozzie Smith and Tommy Herr in the infield, Willie McGee in the outfield, and Bob Forsch and Joaquin Andujar in the rotation. Joining those names were slugging first baseman Jack Clark, outfielders Vince Coleman and Andy van Slyke, and starting pitcher Danny Cox.

The Cardinals did not exactly run away with the division, as their biggest lead of four games out in front would indicate. They battled with the New York Mets tooth and nail all the way through the season. The “Pond Scum” Mets featured former Cardinal Keith Hernandez and young pitching phenom Dwight Gooden, who at age 20 picked up 24 wins in 1985.

What pushed the Cardinals to the top? Speed. The Mets and Cardinals basically had the best two lineups and pitching rotations in the National League, going toe to toe in many of the top counting categories, with the exception of a few. Where the Mets relied on power, in the form of home runs from their sluggers and strikeouts from their pitchers, the Cardinals looked to speed around the bases and scoring runs in bunches.

The Cardinals pushed through the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers despite facing such pitchers as Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser and Tom Niedenfuer. The real loss of that series occurred in Game 4, when Rookie of the Year winner Vince Coleman was trapped by a rolling tarp and suffered a broken leg. Losing his speed on the basepaths for the rest of the playoffs was a tough blow, but the team was far from finished.

The big question: if the Call does not happen, do the Cardinals win the Series? It is certainly possible. However, one bad call does not produce seven games’ worth of outcomes. There was still one whole game after it happened. The Cardinals still could have won… but they rolled over in game seven. They let it slip away.

1986 was a down year across the board. For Willie McGee it meant dropping from an MVP winning season in which he batted .353/.384/.503 to a disappointing .256/.306/.370 line. He was not the only sharp fall. The team was dead last in hits, runs, doubles, home runs, batting average, slugging and on base percentages. That is correct… dead last in the National League. The funny thing is they still managed to lead the league in stolen bases, despite having the fewest opportunities to do so.

The pitchers did not have quite a drop, but consider this: in 1985, Tudor and Andujar both won 21 games and Cox won 18. The pitching staff was in the top 3 in every category except strikeouts. The next year Andujar had found his ticket out of town and Tudor/Cox/Bob Forsch all put up rather similar lines of 12-14 wins and a roughly 3.00 ERA. Not bad, but who was the shutdown ace? That was a rotation of number two or three starters.

Speaking of not having an ace, the 1987 team might fit that bill even better. Have you ever heard of a team that went to the World Series without a pitcher winning more than eleven games? It happened. Eight different pitchers won at least eight games, but no pitcher on the team won more than eleven. Whitey pulled wins out of that team every way he could, because on paper, this team was not the top.

Jack Clark

All in all, the lineup was solid. The starters all seemed to hit around .285, and for the first time in what felt like decades, the Cardinals had a genuine slugger in Jack Clark, who thumped 35 home runs and racked up a ridiculous 136 walks. The whole team was patient at the plate, leading the league in walks and, as a result, in on base percentage, but Clark blew them all away. Wonder of wonders, the highest batting average on the season belonged to “light hitting” shortstop Ozzie Smith, who smacked out a .303 batting average (despite 138 of them being singles).

Finishing at 95-67 put the Cardinals three up on the Mets in the National League and pushed them into the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants, led by Will “the Thrill” Clark. Despite pushing the series to seven games, the Cardinals snuck out of it and on to the World Series to face the big bats being wielded by the Minnesota Twins’ Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek and Garry Gaetti. The Cardinals’ wiry runners looked like batboys next to the big guys hanging out in the Twins’ dugout!

The World Series turned out to be one of those affairs where the home team wins every game, but some people have made somewhat of a stink about that. The Twins played in the Metrodome, and in at least one player account of the Series, when the Twins’ players were up to bat the crowd noise was such that the team would turn on fans somewhere in the stadium that caused balls to blow into the stands, helping those sluggers just a little bit more. Who knew there would be wind in a dome? This was never confirmed of course, but considering the very lopsided scores in those four games in Minnesota (10-1, 8-4, 11-5, and 4-2), I suppose anything is possible.

Coming out of the World Series that year felt like a letdown, but for kids like Joe Magrane, who finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting in ’87, getting to the postseason was a, “Ho-hum, we will be back next year,” kind of feeling. Little did any of them know that this would be the last time the team sniffed the postseason for ten long, lean years.

Joe Magrane

1988 was awful for the Cardinals. Jack Clark and general manager Dal Maxvill were not the best of friends, and when the two could not come to terms on a new contract, the free agent basically threw his hands in the air and walked away to join the Yankees. It was a sucker punch to the rest of the team, who relied on the big slugger to push across all the runners they were getting on base for him. Without a guy to bring in the runners, tallies on the scoreboard were scarce. Vince Coleman and Willie McGee were still tearing up the basepaths, but they were left stranded more often than not. Joe Magrane knew that better than anyone, winning the ERA title in ’88 with a puny 2.18, but finishing with a 5-9 record. He would go up against David Cone and the Mets’ fearsome lineup, but his team could only ever scratch out a run at a time for him. With that kind of support, the team finished an abysmal 76-86, a very distant fifth place in the NL East.

1989 had promise. Slugger Pedro Guerrero came through in a big way, finishing third for the NL MVP, being branded with a “clutch” label and bringing around all those baserunners to score, racking up what felt like a monstrous 117 RBI after a year in which no one could seem to push a runner across. The pitching staff felt less of a burden to allow one run or less in every start, and as a result Joe Magrane had a nice year, going 18-9 and finishing third in the CY Young race.

Unfortunately, things were getting messy off the field. Gussie Busch’s health was failing. He turned the team over to his son, August Busch III, who had little interest in the team, and forced Whitey to go through a board of directors to get any baseball decisions done. On September 29, Gussie died, but the Cardinals had already started to fade out of the pennant race, finishing a close third. The pitchers’ arms tired and the bats could not keep up with the Cubs.

The end was nearing for the Cardinals. Gussie was gone, and Whitey was going to be next. The only question was when.

Angela Weinhold covers the Cardinals for i70baseball.com and writes at Cardinal Diamond Diaries. You may follow her on Twitter here or follow Cardinal Diamond Diaries here.

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October 20, 1982 – The Other Other Game 7

Last week, Michael Metzger took us back to Game 7 of the 1987 World Series with his article, The Other Game 7. It was truly an amazing game that had more plot twists than a Dan Brown novel. With the 25th anniversary coverage of the 1985 World Series last month, that leaves just one more Game 7 for the Cardinals in the Whitey Herzog era. That would be October 20, 1982: The Other Other Game 7.

Getting There

Even though they had the best record in the National League East in the strike shortened 1981 season, not everybody was convinced that the St. Louis Cardinals had the pieces in place to win the division in 1982. Cardinals fans were still upset over the sequence of events that brought Darrell Porter to St. Louis and sent long time favorite Ted Simmons to Milwaukee. There were also questions about where the production lost in the Garry Templeton for Ozzie Smith trade was going to come from. We did have Bruce Sutter, Bob Forsch and Joaquin Andujar, but Steve Mura, John Stuper and Dave LaPoint didn’t seem like the back end of a championship rotation. To make things more interesting, nobody on the Cardinals roster had career years, although Bruce Sutter, George Hendrick and Keith Hernandez were certainly very productive.

If there was a surprise, it was Lonnie Smith. He was just what manager Whitey Herzog needed at the top of the order – a good hitter with speed. A catalyst – the archetype of a Whitey Ball player. He would not be enough though, as the final piece fell into place when David Green, recently obtained in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, went down with an injury. A young speedster named Willie McGee was called up to fill in for Green. As Brock had done in June 1964, McGee turbocharged this lineup and transformation to Herzog’s “running rabbits” was complete.

A huge winning streak at the start of the season gave the Cardinals some separation from their chief competition, the Philadelphia Phillies. The two teams would battle all summer for the NL East championship. Another well timed winning streak in September proved to be too much for the Phils, and the Cardinals cruised to their first division title since the league adopted the format in 1969. Step one complete.

There was another roadblock to the date with Game 7 – the Atlanta Braves. The Braves, behind NL MVP Dale Murphy, won the NL West division on the last game of the season. This would be their second trip to the playoffs and were the slight underdog to Herzog’s Cardinals. But in a short series, anything can happen. And it did.

The original Game 1 was interrupted by rain at a most fortunate time for the Cardinals. Trailing 1-0, the game was just a few outs from being an official game before umpires called it. A do-over. In the second Game 1, Bob Forsch cruised to an easy win, throwing a complete game 3 hit shutout in the 7-0 victory. Game 2 was a nail biter and would go down to the wire. Newcomer Darrell Porter proved to be the hero with an important RBI double in the middle of the game, followed by scoring the tying run a few innings later. Ken Oberkfell would send the huge St. Louis crowd home delirious with a walk off single after some well executed small-ball. The series would briefly move to Atlanta as the Cardinals jumped out to an early lead in the clincher and never looked back. A sweep of the NL West Champs sent the Cardinals to the World Series.

Meet the Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers were the exact opposite of the St. Louis Cardinals. Where the Cardinals were like a military band marching in precision, the Brewers looked like they just rolled out of a bar at closing time. The Cardinals ran, the Brewers slugged. The Cardinals played excellent defense all around the field. The Brewers slugged. What the two teams had in common were their closers – Rollie Fingers and Bruce Sutter, but Fingers would not be available for the World Series due to an injury. It was hoped that he would be able to return some time in the series, but that never happened, and the Brewers played with one less pitcher on their roster.

Herzog’s Cardinals were just supposed to be a speed bump on the Brewers path to immortality. When the Brewers opened the series with a 17 hit 10 run attack, it looked like that might be the way the series would go. Mike Caldwell did to the Cardinals what Bob Forsch had just done to the Braves – a demoralizing 3 hit shutout.

The Brewers jumped out to a quick lead in Game 2, but the intrepid Cardinals kept clawing their way back. An 8th inning run proved to be the difference in the game as the Cards tied the series.

Now, off to Milwaukee.

Thanks Ted

Game 3 was the coming out party for Willie McGee. He was a one man assault on the Brew Crew. Not only did he hit 2 home runs on the day, but he robbed Gorman Thomas of one with a Jim Edmonds like catch well above the center field fence. If that wasn’t enough, he made one of the most amazing diving catches, saving another run and preventing a possible rally. As good as McGee was, Andujar was better. He was throwing darts at the Brewers bats, and other than a couple of McGee gems, they weren’t hitting him. Until ex-Cardinal Ted Simmons comes to the plate in the 7th inning and lines the ball off Andujar’s right leg. Andujar had to be helped off the field and by all reports, was done for the series. The Cardinals held on for the win, but the heart and soul of the team just died. Or so we thought.

The next two games would reinforce that belief. The Brewers would get to Bob Forsch and Dave LaPoint in the next two games and take a 3-2 lead in the series.

Stuperman

Game 6 – the first elimination game. It was a cold and rainy night in St. Louis. The temperatures would quickly drop into the 30s – it was just a brutal night for baseball. Whitey Herzog gave the ball to rookie John Stuper, but all hands were on deck in case there was trouble. Through two long rain delays, Stuper was magnificent. He took a 1 hitter into the 9th inning while his teammates chewed up the Brewers bullpen to the tune of a 13-1 laugher. The young rookie right-hander may have just saved the World World Series.

The Other Other Game 7

To everybody’s surprise, Joaquin Andujar was announced as the Cardinals starting pitcher. Just a few days earlier, he had to be helped off the field. We’d last seen him standing on crutches with a huge bandage wrapping his knee. Now he’s standing in front of a sellout crowd at Busch Stadium in the biggest game of the season. His opponent would be former Cardinal, Pete Vukovich, who looked like he had slept in his uniform. Andujar was elegant, Vukovich unkempt. Andujar threw fastballs. Vukovich threw junk. The differences between these two couldn’t be greater.

Watching Andujar warm up, it was pretty obvious that he wasn’t right. He was landing gently, unable to put all of his weight on his right leg. He would throw across his body awkwardly. None of that seemed to matter though as Andujar, pitching on pure adrenaline, retired the first 9 men he faced. On the other side of the diamond, Vukovich was in trouble all night, throwing high pressure pitch after high pressure pitch. One of these two were about to crumble – we just didn’t know which one.

At first it looked to be Andujar. The second time through the order, the Brewers started a rally. Paul Molitor led off the fourth inning with a sharp single to right field. Robin Yount followed that with a slow ground ball to Ken Oberkfell at third base. Molitor was forced at second, but Yount easily beat the throw at first. Andujar was really struggling at this point in the inning. Cecil Cooper then dribbled a single to right field.

The Turning Point

What happens next will determine the winner of the 1982 World Series. On the Cooper single, the speedy Yount tried to take third base. George Hendrick, a vastly underrated defensive player, comes up firing and throws a strike to Ken Oberkfell. Oberkfell does his part by blocking off third base. The throw beats Yount and Oberfell makes the easy tag for the second out of the inning. If you know anything about Joaquin Andujar, you can guess what happens next. That is exactly the kind of play that can get Andujar back into the game, and it does just that. He throws two more pitches in the inning as Ted Simmons pops out. Brewers rally finished – momentum swing in the Cardinals direction.

As if scripted, the Cardinals would finally break through in the bottom of the fourth inning. Just moments after the run saving throw from Hendrick, the bottom of the order gets to Vukovich. A single by Lonnie Smith gives the Cardinals a 1-0 lead, and the hometown crowd is ecstatic. They fail to extend the inning though as Vukovich toughens.

Ben Oglivie would tie the game in the fifth inning with a long long long leadoff home run. Gorman Thomas nearly left the park with a long fly to the warning track that gave Lonnie Smith all sorts of trouble. Two ground balls end the inning without any further damage. Vukovich follows that with his best inning of the game so far, retiring the Cardinals with very little drama.

Andujar would get himself into a world of trouble in the sixth inning. A leadoff double sets up a disastrous sacrifice bunt that Andujar throws away. That allows Jim Gantner to score easily, plus put Paul Molitor into scoring position. A single and sacrifice fly would give the Brewers a 3-1 lead. It would also get the Cardinals bullpen busy. Andujar would close out the inning without any more trouble. There are now just 12 outs remaining and the Cards had a 2 run deficit.

Vukovich’s flirting with danger would finally get the best of him in the bottom of the inning. A one out single by Ozzie Smith followed by a double by Lonnie Smith set up the Cardinals best scoring opportunity of the game. Lefty Bob McClure replaces Vukovich and gets into trouble of his own. He walks pinch hitter Gene Tenace to load the bases. Mike Ramsey then runs for Tenace, putting good speed on the bases. On his 29th birthday, Keith Hernandez singles, scoring the 2 Smith’s. Silent George Hendrick follows that with a single, scoring Ramsey with what would turn out to be the game winning RBI.

With a slim 4-3 lead, Herzog stays with Andujar for the seventh inning, hoping he can get one more inning out of the right-hander. If so, he can turn the game over to Sutter – the best closer in baseball. Doug Bair and Jim Kaat are warming up, just in case. Andujar strikes out the dangerous Gorman Thomas, but the next batter silences the huge crowd. Roy Howell hits a towering shot to left field that totally fools Lonnie Smith. He breaks the wrong direction, turns the wrong way on the warning track, but somehow leaps at the very last second to catch the ball. Smith did absolutely everything wrong in the making that play, except he made the catch. 50,000+ fans in St. Louis exhaled in unison. A single by Charlie Moore sets up the Brewers last chance. Jim Gantner lines an Andujar pitch up the middle, but the “One Mean Dominican” snags it for a brilliant defensive play. He throws a 90 mile per hour strike to Keith Hernandez for the last out in the inning. Andujar knew he was done for the night, and being Andujar, wanted to go out with a flourish. Gantner takes exception to the showmanship and pleasantries were exchanged. Each of the players indicated that the other was #1 in their heart too, or something like that. Home plate umpire Lee Weyer quickly got in between the two players to prevent any unnecessary escalation.

That was the last we would hear out of the Brewers in the 1982 season. The Cards would tack on two insurance runs later in the 8th inning, but it was now Sutter’s game and he did not disappoint. The bearded one would face just six batters and retire them all with nothing leaving the infield. The only Brewer that put up a fight was Gorman Thomas, the last man Sutter would face. He worked the count full and then fouled off a number of pitches. That’s when Sutter would get the big man to swing at an outside fastball and miss.

The sight of Darrell Porter jumping up, throwing away his catchers mask and running out to hug Bruce Sutter is one of the greatest images in Cardinals history. Game 7 of the 1982 World Series was really one for the ages. An unexpected pitching performance from Joaquin Andujar, who was not even supposed to be available. George Hendrick’s run saving throw, and then a couple of innings later, driving in the winning run. And Bruce Sutter being Bruce Sutter.

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October 13, 1985 – The Inning that sent the Cardinals to the World Series

It had been three years since the Whitey Herzog managed Cardinals shocked the baseball world by beating the seemingly invincible Milwaukee Brewers in the 1982 World Series and St. Louis was once again in the postseason. While those ’82 Cardinals were labeled as the Running Rabbits, they were a balanced lineup compared to what Herzog had to work with in 1985.

Upgrades, Downgrades and Stuff We Don’t Want to Talk About

The once dependable position of catcher turned into a huge liability for the 1985 Cardinals. Injuries and declining offensive production from the hero of 1982, Darrell Porter, gave rookie Tom Nieto an opportunity. He’d been impressive in a pair of call-ups in 1984, showing off a good bat to go along with some stellar defense. He became the number 2 catcher when Glenn Brummer was released at the end of the season, perhaps in fear that he might start stealing bases again. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, neither Nieto’s bat, glove, nor arm showed up for most of 1985, leaving a rather unproductive platoon situation at catcher.

Leaving under somewhat of a black cloud in a trade that ranks among the worst in Cardinals history, the Cardinals had lost one of their stars when Keith Hernandez was traded to the Mets for Neil Allen. A former NL MVP and perennial Gold Glove winner, Hernandez was one of the best at his position, playing exceptional defense to go along with some of the best gap-to-gap hitting in the major leagues. George Hendrick had initially taken over for Hernandez and played well, but started showing signs that his best years were behind him. In the spirit of Branch Rickey’s motto, “Always trade a player a year too soon, rather than a year too late” , Hendrick would be traded to Pittsburgh for a left handed starter named John Tudor – more on him later. Prior to the start of the 1985 season, the Cardinals made a blockbuster deal with the San Francisco Giants, sending four players for the slugging first baseman, Jack Clark. Just as with Orlando Cepeda nearly two decades earlier, Clark had been bitten by the injury bug that caused him to wear out his welcome in San Francisco. And like Cepeda, when healthy he became an offensive juggernaut in St. Louis, driving in runs at a frightening pace. Injuries would interrupt all three seasons Clark was in St. Louis, but in two of them (85, 87) he still managed MVP caliber performances.

A young switch hitting Terry Pendleton was the new third baseman but had yet to match Ken Oberkfell’s offensive production. He would prove his worth many times in 1987, and several more times with the Atlanta Braves, but in 1985, Pendleton was a young man learning how to play in the majors. He played well, but not as well as his predecessor.

A youngster named Andy van Slyke was the new right fielder, and while a defensive star, his offensive numbers were a big step down from the former right fielder, George Hendrick. He would eventually wear out his welcome in St. Louis and be shipped off to Pittsburgh for key piece to the ’87 championship team, catcher Tony Pena.

There were a few notable upgrades though.

If Lonnie Smith had been a catalyst at the top of the 1982 batting order, Vince Coleman was a herd of charging buffalo. Even though he was a light hitter and susceptible to striking out, when he did get on base exciting things happened. And generally very quickly. Coleman’s 110 stolen bases terrorized pitchers and catchers throughout the National League and led to a Cardinals trademark of scoring a first inning run without the benefit of a hit. The top of the lineup featuring Vince Coleman, Willie McGee, Tommy Herr and Jack Clark gave many pitchers in the National League the yips.

The other notable improvement was in the pitching staff, both starters and the bullpen. With two 21 game winners at the top of the rotation, and Danny Cox not far behind with 18 wins, the Cardinals seemed well equipped to play a short series but unlikely to be able to withstand the tests of a long season. What seemed like a liability when the season started, suddenly became one of the most feared bullpens when Todd Worrell was called up just prior to the postseason eligibility deadline. The hard throwing Worrell would complement one of the best lefties in the game, Ken Dayley.

The Cardinals had battled the heavily favored New York Mets all season long. Thanks to the amazing 19-1 turnaround from John Tudor, the Cards outlasted the rivals from New York and won the division by 3 games with an unbelievable record of 101-61. Thanks to the season long fight, this Cardinals team learned how to win – in every way imaginable. That would come in handy as the Cardinals were about to face the biggest adversity of the season, if not the decade.

A Rough Start

In the National League Championship Series, just expanded to a best of seven format, the Cardinals would face the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even though the Cardinals had won 6 more games than the boys from Hollywood, the Dodgers were heavily favored in the series. The Cardinals were supposed to be just a speed bump on the Dodger’s road to the World Series.

As the series opened in Los Angeles, it appeared that the experts might be right. The Dodgers won the first two games rather convincingly. Both Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser seemed to be invincible, and their bullpen didn’t even break a sweat.

The series moved to Busch Stadium and the Cardinals hung on to win game 3. The Cardinals got to Bob Welch early and a combination of Danny Cox, Rick Horton, Todd Worrell and Ken Dayley kept the Dodgers at bay.

This brings us to a Sunday night game on October 13, 1985. Every one of the 53,000 in attendance knew the importance of this game. A win and the series is tied. A loss with as many as two games to be played in Los Angeles would be a very difficult hill to climb. It was now or never time for the Cardinals.

Before the game even started, things took a turn for the worse. No, not worse – the unthinkable. A light rain had started falling and a decision was made to cover the field to keep the infield dry. Vince Coleman failed to notice the automatic tarp rolling onto the field and one of his legs got caught underneath the heavy roll of tarp and machinery. He would suffer a badly bruised leg to go with a chipped bone and would spend the rest of the playoffs on crutches, supporting the team from the dugout.

That hill the Cardinals needed to climb just got a lot higher.

The Rough Inning

When the game finally started, Whitey Herzog would call on John Tudor to turn things around for the Cardinals. Even though he had taken the the loss in Game 1, the lefty had pitched well and there was no reason to think he would not be able to do so again tonight. In the first of a series of questionable managerial decisions from Tommy Lasorda, the Dodgers would counter with former Cardinal and St. Louis native, Jerry Reuss. Reuss had some success in Los Angeles, and while not a top of the rotation guy, he was a solid fourth starter.

Cardinal fans were way more engaged in this game, and it suddenly had less to do with it being the pivotal game in the series. Expectations had been high when Reuss broke in with the the Cardinals in 1970. The tall blonde lefty had been a star in high school and had become an ace at AAA Tulsa. His fortunes with the Cardinals were much different as moments of brilliance were overshadowed by struggles with the strike zone. We had hoped for a second Steve Carlton, but instead got a right handed Mike Torrez. As Reuss enjoyed success with the Pirates and Dodgers, our desire to see the Cardinals beat him increased. Since this was the 17th season for Reuss, there was a lot of pent-up frustration that needed to be released. Throw in a bit of “Win one for the Vincer” and you now have the makings of a huge game.

The Cardinals would erupt in the second inning, one of their most productive in postseason history. After a scoreless first inning, Jack Clark and super sub Cesar Cedeno would lead off the home half of the second inning with singles. Tito Landrum, filling in for the injured Vince Coleman, would single Clark home. The Dodgers made a huge defensive error in letting Pedro Guerrero’s throw go to the plate as it allowed both Cedeno and Landrum to take the extra base. That turned out to be significant when Terry Pendleton grounds out to second base in what would have been an easy double play. The Dodgers only had one play, retiring Pendleton at first, and the Cardinals would score their second run of the inning.

Next up is the light hitting Tom Nieto and he would walk in front of ninth place hitter John Tudor. The Dodgers hoped for an inning ending double play and an end to the rally, but instead dug themselves into a deep deep hole. The Cardinals sensed that this was an opportunity to break the game wide open. Forget the Ozzie Smith “go crazy folks” home run in game five and the three run Jack Clark bomb to win the series in game six, what happened next was the play of the series.

It was not if, but when would Herzog would put on the squeeze play. Aggressive base running is what got the Cardinals this far, and it would have to carry them to the World Series. Everybody in the stadium knew it was coming. The Dodgers were certainly expecting it. Everyone except Reuss. With Landrum running from third, Tudor lays down the bunt and Reuss is unable to field it and everybody was safe. The Cardinals had a three run lead, had been given yet another out, and the Dodgers were clearly rattled. This is when the Cardinals really poured it on, ending the post season career of Jerry Reuss.

In a rare productive out, leadoff hitter Willie McGee would hit an opposite field line drive which would allow Tom Nieto to move up to third base. That turned out to be important as Ozzie Smith followed that with a ground ball deep in the hole at short which scored Nieto. Tommy Herr followed that with a single, scoring Tudor. That would be all for Reuss and the Cardinals fans gave him a sarcastic ovation as he left the field.

Future Cardinal Rick Honeycutt would come in to try to end the rally. Honeycutt was the fifth starter who was sort of an odd man out in a short series. He would face four hitters and fail to retire any of them. Jack Clark would single, Cesar Cedeno would walk, and both Tito Landrum and Terry Pendleton would get their second RBIs of the inning with singles. Both Landrum and Clark were 2-2 in the inning. Tommy Lasorda would go to his third pitcher of the inning, the right hander Bobby Castillo. With a blowout in the making, Castillo was going to be in the game for a long time so that the Dodgers didn’t wear out their bullpen in case they were needed tomorrow afternoon for Game 5. Castillo finally gets the last out by striking out Tom Nieto to end the inning, but not before the Cardinals had a 9-0 lead. With John Tudor pitching, it might as well have been 200-0.

John Tudor did not disappoint as he pitched seven strong innings, allowing just three hits. The lone blemish was a meaningless home run by Bill Madlock to lead off the seventh inning. Tudor would be lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh, saving him for a possible return in game seven, if needed. Rick Horton and Bill Campbell each pitched an inning to seal the 12-2 victory, and the once over-matched Cardinals were beginning to look like National League champions. That would come later with two dramatic late inning home runs, but Cardinal fans knew that with this victory, the series was all but over.

Bob Netherton covers Cardinals history for i70baseball.com and writes at Throatwarbler’s Blog. You may follow Bob on Twitter here or on Facebook here.

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