Pascual Perez played a significant role in the 1982 Cardinals’ bid to win the National League pennant and reach the World Series.
Perez was the losing pitcher for the Braves against the Cardinals in Game 1 of the 1982 NL Championship Series and he pitched in long relief during Game 3 when St. Louis completed a sweep of the best-of-five playoff.
At the time, Perez, 25, was regarded one of the most promising talents in the major leagues. Thirty years later, the baseball community mourns Perez, 55, a murder victim during a robbery Nov. 1, 2012, in his native Dominican Republic.
Perez was supposed to start Game 2 of the 1982 NL Championship Series. Braves knuckleball specialist Phil Niekro was matched against Joaquin Andujar in Game 1. Niekro was baffling the Cardinals while protecting a 1-0 lead entering the bottom of the fifth inning at St. Louis.
After Niekro retired the leadoff batter and closed within two outs of completing the five innings needed to declare an official game, it began to rain. Umpires halted play. More than two hours later, the game was postponed. Though most agreed the fifth inning likely could have been completed before the rain worsened, Braves manager Joe Torre supported the umpires’ decision, telling The Sporting News, “I don’t think a team should play 162 games and then lose a playoff game in five innings … We don’t want to come in here and steal a game.”
Niekro offered to pitch again in the rescheduled Game 1 on Oct. 7, but Torre instead chose Perez.
Traded by the Pirates to the Braves on June 30, 1982, Perez posted a 4-4 record in helping Atlanta win the NL West Division championship.
For five innings in rescheduled Game 1, it appeared Torre had made the correct choice. Perez pitched effectively, but his counterpart, Bob Forsch, was better. The Cardinals led 1-0 entering the bottom of the sixth. Lonnie Smith started the inning by hitting a grounder to first baseman Chris Chambliss. Perez hustled off the mound to take the toss from Chambliss, but he fumbled the ball and Smith streaked across the bag, credited with an infield single.
Singles by Keith Hernandez and George Hendrick followed, the latter scoring Smith and knocking Perez from the game. The Cardinals scored five times in the inning and went on to a 7-0 victory behind Forsch’s three-hitter. During the regular season, Forsch had yielded 19 hits and 10 runs in 10.2 innings pitched against the Braves.
“We misplayed Smith’s groundball and they got a broken-bat hit (by Hendrick) and I think that just kind of set them off,” Braves catcher Bruce Benedict said to the Associated Press. Boxscore
The Cardinals rallied to win Game 2 in St. Louis (Niekro started, but closer Gene Garber took the loss) and headed to Atlanta for Game 3. The Cardinals struck for four runs off starter Rick Camp. Perez relieved in the second, pitched 3.2 innings (yielding a run and three hits) but couldn’t stop St. Louis from sweeping into the World Series with a 6-2 victory. Boxscore
In an 11-year big-league career, including stints with the Pirates, Braves and Expos, Perez posted a 7-6 record and 2.33 ERA in 16 regular-season starts versus St. Louis.