Archive for the ‘Opponents’ Category

In the last 40 years, no National League game has gone more innings than the one played by the Cardinals and Mets on Sept. 11-12, 1974.

bake_mcbride2Beginning at 8:08 p.m. on Sept. 11 and ending at 3:15 a.m. on Sept, 12, the Cardinals beat the Mets, 4-3, in 25 innings at New York’s Shea Stadium. Started before a crowd of 13,460, it ended before about 1,000 spectators, including baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn, his wife and their son.

The Cardinals-Mets marathon remains the longest National League night game in innings played.

In the longest major-league game by innings, the Dodgers and Braves played to a 1-1 tie in 26 innings on May 1, 1920. That National League game was played on a Saturday afternoon at Braves Field in Boston. Boxscore

Only one 25-inning game has been played in the major leagues since the Cardinals-Mets classic in 1974. In an American League game, the White Sox, managed by Tony La Russa, beat the Brewers, 7-6, in 25 innings at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. That game began on a Tuesday night, May 8, 1984, was suspended after 17 innings with the score tied at 3-3 and completed on May 9. Boxscore

With no National League curfew, the Cardinals and Mets played their 25-inning game without a stop in play.

When it ended, Cardinals outfielder Reggie Smith told his teammates, “There’s no way that your wives are going to believe you guys were out playing baseball all night.”

Reitz to the rescue

The Mets had been within an out of winning the game in nine innings.

Behind starter Jerry Koosman, the Mets took a 3-1 lead into the ninth. After Joe Torre struck out, Ted Simmons singled and was replaced by pinch-runner Larry Herndon. When Koosman unleashed a wild pitch while pitching to Bake McBride, Herndon advanced to second.

McBride struck out.

The Cardinals’ last hope was Ken Reitz. He had hit just one home run since July.

Reitz lofted a two-run home run against Koosman, tying the score at 3-3.

Cardinals reliever Claude Osteen, who had a clear view of the home run from his perch in the bullpen, held his hands less than a foot apart when he told United Press International that the ball “went out by about that much.”

Scoreless relief

For the next 15 innings, Cardinals and Mets relievers threw shutouts.

Al Hrabosky, Rich Folkers, Ray Bare, Osteen and Sonny Siebert were the Cardinals relievers who stopped the Mets in extra innings. Osteen pitched 9.1 innings _ the equivalent of a complete-game shutout.

A pair of former Cardinals, Harry Parker and Bob Miller, joined Bob Apodaca and Jerry Cram as the Mets relievers who stopped the Cardinals. Cram pitched eight innings.

They escaped several jams.

_ Torre was out at the plate trying to score on a single by McBride in the 13th.

_ In the 20th, the Cardinals had runners on first and second, no outs, until Smith was picked off at second and the threat fizzled.

_ In the 23rd, the Mets loaded the bases with two outs before Cleon Jones flied out.

_ Both teams loaded the bases with two outs in the 24th but failed to score.

Bake was cooking

Hank Webb, making his first appearance of the season for the Mets, relieved Cram in the 25th inning. The first batter he faced, McBride, got an infield single. Reitz was up next.

Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst gave the hit-and-run sign. Webb, sensing McBride might be running, made a pickoff throw, but it sailed over first baseman John Milner and rolled into foul territory in right field.

“I figured I could get to third,” McBride told the Associated Press. “Then, when I turned second, I said to myself, ‘I’m going all the way.’ “

McBride raced around third without looking toward coach Vern Benson. “He was going too fast to see any sign anyway,” Benson said.

Milner, who had retrieved the ball, fired a throw to catcher Ron Hodges. McBride and the ball arrived at the plate about the same time. Hodges caught the ball, then dropped it before he could attempt a tag.

“I don’t think he would have had me, even if he had held the ball,” McBride said. “He was out in front of the plate and I was past him.”

The run gave the Cardinals a 4-3 lead, but the Mets still had their turn to bat.

Happy ending

Siebert retired the first two batters, Ken Boswell and Felix Millan, on fly outs.

Brock Pemberton, appearing in his second big-league game, pinch-hit for Webb. He singled, prolonging the drama with his first big-league hit. When the ball was removed from the game so that Pemberton would have a keepsake, Mets pitcher Tom Seaver yelled from the dugout, “Don’t give it to him. It’s the last ball we’ve got left.” (Fifteen dozen balls were used in the game, The Sporting News reported.)

Milner, the Mets’ top home run hitter, batted next.

Siebert struck him out, ending the game at 7 hours, 4 minutes. Boxscore

Dizzying stats

The Cardinals used 26 players and the Mets, 24. The Cardinals stranded 20 base runners and the Mets, 25.

Nine players played the entire game. They were McBride, Reitz, Smith, Torre and Ted Sizemore for the Cardinals; Millan, Milner, Wayne Garrett and Dave Schneck for the Mets.

McBride, Reitz and Millan each had four hits in 10 at-bats. Garrett was 0-for-10 with four strikeouts. Lou Brock, the Cardinals’ future Hall of Famer, was 1-for-9 and was caught stealing in his lone attempt.

The home plate umpire, Ed Sudol, also had worked the plate in a 23-inning game between the Mets and Giants in 1964 and a 24-inning game between the Mets and Astros in 1968.

Asked to sum up the long night, Mets pitcher Tug McGraw said, “The only thing I regret now is that all the eating places are closed. I’ll have to go home and make myself a baloney sandwich.”

Previously: Reggie Smith and the Cardinals’ after-hours club

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Tom Lasorda, in his major-league debut, helped Stan Musial achieve a personal best.

tom_lasorda2Sixty years ago, on Aug. 5, 1954, Musial had seven RBI in a game for the first time in his big-league career with the Cardinals.

Facing the Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, Musial hit a pair of three-run home runs _ one each off starter Preacher Roe and Erv Palica _ in consecutive innings.

His seventh RBI came on a sacrifice fly off Lasorda.

Musial, 33, was in the prime of a Hall of Fame playing career. Lasorda, 27, was a big-league rookie who had spent eight seasons in the minor leagues. The left-hander would appear in just 26 games in the majors _ eight with the Dodgers and 18 with the Athletics _ but would be elected to the Hall of Fame as a Dodgers manager.

Dodgers nemesis

After grounding out to shortstop in the first inning, Musial hit the first of his three-run homers in the third against Roe, a left-hander who had debuted with the 1938 Cardinals.

It was Roe who, when asked his approach to pitching to Musial, replied, “I throw him four wide ones, then try to pick him off first base.”

Musial hit .377 (52-for-138) with 12 home runs and 28 RBI against Roe in his career.

In his book “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story” (1964, Doubleday), Musial wrote of Roe, “At Brooklyn, he became an outstanding pitcher, changing speeds and mixing up a well-controlled curve, screwball and, as the man admitted himself later, a spitter. Because I didn’t want him to load up one of those quick-dipping spitters on me, I always tried to keep him from getting two strikes on me.”

An inning after his home run off Roe, Musial crushed the second of his three-run homers, this time against Palica. Musial hit .429 (9-for-21) in his career versus the right-hander.

Rookie reliever

Lasorda relieved Palica in the fifth. The first big-league batter to face him was Red Schoendienst, who singled. The next batter, Bill Sarni, also singled. Lasorda then struck out Joe Cunningham and got Alex Grammas to ground into a double play.

In the sixth, Lasorda walked the leadoff batter, pitcher Brooks Lawrence. After Rip Repulski flied out, Wally Moon doubled, putting runners on second and third.

Musial then hit a fly ball to left. Sandy Amoros caught it, Lawrence tagged and scored, giving Musial his seventh RBI, and the Cardinals led, 10-2.

With those RBI, Musial became the first player in the majors to reach 100 in 1954. It was his seventh season of 100 RBI. His two home runs were Musial’s 29th and 30th of the season.

Paul Waner, the Hall of Fame outfielder, told The Sporting News, “No telling how many homers Stan could make if he weren’t unselfish.”

The Cardinals won, 13-4. Before then, the Dodgers had won 18 of the last 19 against the Cardinals at Ebbets Field. Boxscore

Lasorda pitched three innings in his debut and yielded three runs. Musial would face Lasorda a total of three times in his career. After the sacrifice fly, his other two plate appearances versus Lasorda, both in 1955, resulted in a walk and a strikeout.

In his 22 seasons with the Cardinals, Musial had just one other seven-RBI game. That occurred on June 23, 1961, in a 10-5 Cardinals victory over the Giants at St. Louis. In that game, Musial had a three-run home run off starter Billy O’Dell and a grand slam off Bobby Bolin. Boxscore

Previously: Enduring record: Stan Musial and his 5 home runs in a day

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Dennis Eckersley and Jason Isringhausen, the closers who contributed the most to helping Tony La Russa earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, also played prominent roles in his first win as Cardinals manager.

dennis_eckersley2On April 3, 1996, in La Russa’s second game as St. Louis manager, the Cardinals beat the Mets, 5-3, in New York. Eckersley earned a tension-filled four-out save; Isringhausen was the opposing starter, facing the Cardinals for the first time in his career.

The win was the first of a franchise-record 1,408 for La Russa in 16 years as Cardinals manager.

After successful stints managing the White Sox and Athletics, La Russa would secure his Hall of Fame status with his Cardinals career. He joined another Hall of Famer, Billy Southworth, as the only managers to win two World Series titles with the Cardinals. On July 27, 2014, La Russa and another former Cardinals manager, Joe Torre, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y.

Converted starters

At Oakland, La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan converted a reluctant Eckersley from a starter into a closer. The move transformed Eckersley into a Hall of Fame pitcher. He earned 386 of his 390 saves with La Russa as manager _ 320 in nine years with the Athletics and 66 in two years with the Cardinals.

Isringhausen, who also successfully converted from starter to closer, joined the Cardinals in 2002. Pitching for La Russa and Duncan, Isringhausen compiled a franchise-record 217 saves in seven seasons with the Cardinals and finished his big-league career with 300 saves.

After La Russa left the Athletics to become manager of the 1996 Cardinals, Eckersley was acquired in a trade for pitcher Steve Montgomery and, at 41, became the St. Louis closer.

On April 1, 1996, in La Russa’s debut as Cardinals manager, the Mets overcame a four-run deficit and won, 7-6. Eckersley didn’t appear in that game. Boxscore

Seeking a win

Isringhausen, 23, got the start for the Mets in the season’s second game. He had posted a 9-2 record as a Mets rookie in 1995. A native of Brighton, Ill., near St. Louis, Isringhausen acknowledged that facing the Cardinals was special. “I had more butterflies (than usual),” Isringhausen said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Isringhausen pitched six innings, yielding three runs to the Cardinals. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter, with the Cardinals leading, 3-0. Then, Bernard Gilkey, a former Cardinal, clubbed a three-run home run off starter Todd Stottlemyre in the bottom of the sixth, tying the score at 3-3.

The Cardinals scored a run in the seventh off Robert Person and another run in the eighth against Jerry DiPoto, taking a 5-3 lead. In the bottom of the eighth, the Mets had runners on first and second with two outs when La Russa replaced Stottlemyre with Eckersley.

“No matter how much experience you have, you’re a little uptight when you come into the game,” Eckersley later said to the Post-Dispatch. “I felt very uncomfortable, like I’d never been in a game before.”

Solid swing

The first batter Eckersley faced in his Cardinals debut was Butch Huskey, the Mets’ cleanup batter.

With the count 1-and-2, Eckersley threw a fastball. Huskey swung and launched a drive toward center field. He knew he had made solid contact. “I thought it had a chance to go (over the wall),” Huskey said to the New York Daily News.

Center fielder Ray Lankford raced toward the wall while tracking the path of the ball. “I thought I could tell by the look on (Lankford’s) face that he was going to catch it,” Eckersley said.

The ball carried farther than Eckersley thought. As Lankford neared the 396-foot sign, he leaped, extended his glove and caught the ball, ending the inning and preserving the lead.

“Most definitely, I was robbed,” Huskey told the Post-Dispatch. “The ball jumped off my bat. I thought it was going out.”

In the bottom of the ninth, with the Cardinals still ahead by two, Eckersley retired the first two batters. Then, Jose Vizcaino and Kevin Roberson each singled. Edgardo Alfonzo was up next, representing the potential go-ahead run.

Eckersley struck him out. earning his first National League save and preserving La Russa’s first National League win.

“In this league, it’s hard to get a hit or a save or a win,” La Russa said. “I don’t think there are any ugly ones.” Boxscore

Previously: Cardinals, Hall of Fame link Tony La Russa, Joe Torre

Previously: 2006 was critical to Tony La Russa earning Hall status

Previously: How Sparky Anderson, Tony La Russa differed on cap choice

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Insisting the crime didn’t fit the punishment, Cardinals pitcher Joaquin Andujar threatened to return home to the Dominican Republic rather than pay a $200 fine for an altercation with Giants counterpart Mike Krukow.

joaquin_andujar6Andujar didn’t leave the Cardinals _ instead, he completed a satisfying season in which he led the National League in wins (20) and innings pitched (261.1) _ but the incident and his reaction to it contributed to the legend of the talented, emotional St. Louis starter.

Thirty years ago, on July 17, 1984, the Giants and Cardinals played at St. Louis. In the first inning, Giants batter Manny Trillo was hit by a pitch from Andujar. (The Cardinals right-hander led the National League in most batters hit by pitches in both 1984 and 1985.)

Two innings later, when Andujar batted for the first time in the game, Krukow threw two pitches that brushed back the Cardinals pitcher. After the second delivery, Krukow charged toward Andujar, according to The Sporting News.

Both benches emptied but there was no serious fighting and neither pitcher was ejected.

No surrender

Krukow told The Sporting News that his teammates expected him to answer Andujar’s plunking of Trillo.

“I have to dress next to these guys,” Krukow said. “I couldn’t look them in the eye if I didn’t protect them.”

Said Andujar: “He charged me. What am I supposed to do, run?”

Krukow struck out Andujar and the game remained scoreless through three.

In the fourth, the Giants reached Andujar for three singles, a double and a walk. They swiped two bases in the inning. Andujar uncorked a wild pitch. The Giants scored four times in the fourth and went on to a 7-2 victory. Boxscore

The National League fined Andujar $200 for his role in the incident. Incredulous, Andujar told The Sporting News, “I’m not going to pay that. They’re going to suspend me if I don’t pay. I should go to the Dominican Republic right now. I have enough money. I could live on that. This is lousy.”

Die a Cardinal

Four days before the Andujar-Krukow fracas, Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith suffered a right wrist fracture when hit by a pitch from the Padres’ Ed Whitson. Boxscore

Said Andujar: “Ozzie Smith gets a broken wrist and they don’t throw that pitcher out or fine him. If I broke somebody’s wrist, I’d be suspended for a year.”

A month later, amid speculation he would ask to be traded when his contract expired after the 1984 season, Andujar attempted to squelch such talk. “I like (manager) Whitey Herzog,” Andujar said to The Sporting News. “I want to be here. I don’t want to get traded. I want to die here. I want St. Louis fans to know that. Maybe they will feel better if they know you want to die here.”

Andujar accepted a three-year, $4.5 million deal from the Cardinals after the season. In his book “White Rat: A Life in Baseball” (1987, Harper & Row), Herzog wrote of Andujar in 1984, “If it hadn’t been for Andujar and (Bruce) Sutter, we might have finished in last place … Joaquin was just superb.”

Andujar posted 21 wins for the 1985 Cardinals and helped them win the pennant. But he imploded during Game 7 of the World Series, confronting umpire Don Denkinger, and was traded to the Athletics soon thereafter.

Previously: How Joaquin Andujar made like Babe Ruth for Cardinals

Previously: Joaquin Andujar skipped All-Star Game to barbecue quail

Previously: Given 3 runs, Joaquin Andujar was money in the bank

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With one pitch, Rob Murphy earned redemption, Jason Motte ignited an unusual double play and Randy Choate escaped a bases-loaded jam.

randy_choateMurphy, Motte and Choate are among six Cardinals who threw just one pitch in a game and got a win.

Al Brazle was the first Cardinals pitcher to do so, in 1948, and Choate was the most recent, in 2014. Here’s a look:

AL BRAZLE, July 18, 1948

The Cardinals were playing the Dodgers in the first game of a doubleheader at St. Louis. In the 11th inning, the Dodgers had runners on first and second with one out and the score tied at 3-3. Cardinals manager Eddie Dyer brought in Brazle, a left-hander, to replace Red Munger and face left-handed batter Marv Rackley.

Dodgers manager Burt Shotton countered, sending Bruce Edwards, a right-handed batter, to pinch-hit for Rackley.

Edwards swung at Brazle’s first pitch and grounded into a double play.

When Terry Moore slugged a three-run home run with two outs off Erv Palica in the bottom half of the 11th, the Cardinals had a 6-3 victory and Brazle got the win. Boxscore

ROB MURPHY, June 21, 1994

With two outs, the score tied at 4-4 and Expos runners on first and third in the ninth inning, Cardinals manager Joe Torre lifted Rene Arocha and replaced him with Murphy.

Torre wanted Murphy, a left-handed pitcher, to face Larry Walker, a left-handed batter.

The move took courage and conviction. The night before, Walker belted a home run off Murphy, tying the score. One out later, Murphy gave up a homer to Wil Cordero and took the loss.

This time, Walker swung at Murphy’s first pitch and hit a high chopper along the first-base line.

Murphy pounced off the mound, fielded the ball and made a backhand flip to first in time to retire Walker, who dived across the bag.

“I couldn’t turn and throw the ball,” Murphy told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I had to do the (backhand) option.”

In the bottom of the ninth, Expos closer John Wetteland retired the first two Cardinals batters. Then, Todd Zeile singled, Mark Whiten walked and Bernard Gilkey laced a long single that bounced over the left-field wall, scoring Zeile and giving the Cardinals a 5-4 victory. Murphy got the win. Boxscore

An emotional Murphy, who had gotten into a scuffle with teammate Allen Watson during batting practice, said he was grateful Torre gave him a chance to face Walker a day after yielding the home run to him.

“Joe has been great with me,” Murphy said. “I know that if I have a bad one, he’s going to get me back in there. The same guy (Walker) _ that only gets me more pumped up.”

JULIAN TAVAREZ, Aug. 25, 2004

In the eighth inning at Cincinnati, with the score tied at 4-4, the Reds had one on with two outs. Tavarez relieved Steve Kline and, with his first pitch, got Jason LaRue to ground out.

The Cardinals scored in the ninth when Reggie Sanders, pinch-running for Mike Matheny, scampered home from third on a wild pitch by Joe Valentine.

Jason Isringhausen held the Reds scoreless in the bottom half of the inning, giving Tavarez the win in a 6-5 Cardinals triumph. Boxscore

JASON MOTTE, April 21, 2009

With one pitch, Motte earned his first major-league win.

Carlos Beltran of the Mets was on second base with one out in the eighth and the score tied at 4-4 when Motte relieved Dennys Reyes. Ramon Castro was at the plate. He swung at Motte’s first pitch and flied out to right. Beltran tagged and headed to third.

Right fielder Ryan Ludwick unleashed a throw that nearly arrived ahead of Beltran. Instead, it clanked off the glove of third baseman Joe Thurston and caromed toward the mound. As Thurston pursued the ball, Beltran hesitated slightly, then broke for home plate.

Thurston retrieved the ball and, from the mound, threw home. Beltran didn’t slide and was tagged out by catcher Yadier Molina.

Double play.

“I just threw the ball and looked and saw ‘out,’ ” Thurston told Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch.

Said Beltran to the New York Daily News: “I was running and looking at the ball. I didn’t realize how close I was from home plate … I didn’t react right away. It took time for me to react. If I would have reacted right away, I would have made it.”

The Cardinals scored twice in the bottom half of the inning. Ryan Franklin held the Mets scoreless in the ninth, earning the save in a 6-4 Cardinals victory. Boxscore

KYLE McCLELLAN, Sept. 13, 2011

With the score tied at 4-4 in the eighth, the Pirates had two outs and none on. Ludwick, now with the Pirates, was at the plate. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa wanted a right-hander to face Ludwick. So he lifted left-hander Arthur Rhodes and replaced him with McClellan.

Ludwick swung at McClellan’s first pitch and flied out. The Cardinals scored twice in the ninth. Motte held the Pirates scoreless in the bottom half of the inning, earning the save. McClellan got the win in a 6-4 Cardinals victory. Boxscore

RANDY CHOATE, June 14, 2014

In the seventh inning, the Nationals had the bases loaded with two outs and the score tied at 1-1. Choate relieved Shelby Miller. With one pitch, Choate got Denard Span to ground out. The Cardinals scored three runs in the bottom half of the inning and won, 4-1. Choate got the win. Boxscore

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In his major-league debut, Cardinals reliever John Costello escaped an inherited bases-loaded jam, struck out the side in the next inning and earned the win.

john_costelloTwenty-six years later, on June 16, 2014, Nick Greenwood became the first Cardinals reliever to earn a win in his major-league debut since Costello did so on June 2, 1988, at Philadelphia.

Costello and Greenwood achieved their feats under very different circumstances.

Greenwood, 26, a left-hander, relieved starter Carlos Martinez to begin the fifth inning with the Cardinals leading the Mets, 2-1, at St. Louis. Greenwood held the Mets to a run in 3.1 innings and the Cardinals won, 6-2. Greenwood got the win because Martinez didn’t pitch the necessary five innings for a starter to qualify for a win. Boxscore

Costello, 27, a right-hander, was brought in by manager Whitey Herzog to replace reliever Steve Peters with the score tied at 2-2 in the 13th inning at Philadelphia. The Phillies had the bases loaded and one out.

“I didn’t have much alternative,” Herzog told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Tough spot

The Cardinals had used six pitchers in the game after also using six the night before in a 13-inning victory against the Astros at Houston.

Said Herzog: “That was a hell of a place to put him in.”

After Herzog handed the ball to Costello and left the mound, catcher Tony Pena began a conversation with the newcomer. According to the Post-Dispatch, the talk went like this:

Pena: “What you got?”

Costello: “I’ve got three pitches _ fastball, slider, changeup.”

Then Costello told Pena to forget about the latter two and just call for the fastball.

“When he started laughing,” Costello told United Press International, “that broke the nervousness.”

Costello had another reason to focus on fastballs. He was experiencing stiffness in his right shoulder. “But the adrenaline took over and took the pain away,” Costello told the Post-Dispatch.

The first batter he faced, Chris James, hit a short fly out to right and the runners held. The next batter, Mike Young, flied out to left, ending the threat.

Pressure no problem

In the 14th, Cardinals cleanup hitter Tom Brunansky walked, stole second and scored on a two-out infield single by Pena.

Costello, throwing fastballs only, struck out all three Phillies he faced in the bottom half of the inning (Bill Almon, Danny Clay, Juan Samuel), earning the win in the Cardinals’ 3-2 triumph. Boxscore

“If I can handle that pressure right there, I guess I can handle some more along the line,” Costello said to the Post-Dispatch.

Said Herzog: “He was sneaky (fast), the way they were swinging. We’ll put him back out there.”

Costello, chosen by St. Louis in the 24th round of the 1983 amateur draft, went on to have a spectacular rookie season for the 1988 Cardinals. He was 5-2 with a save and a 1.81 earned run average in 36 games.

In 1989, Costello followed up with a 5-4 record, 3 saves and a 3.32 ERA in 48 games.

On April 23, 1990, the Cardinals traded Costello to the Expos for utility player Rex Hudler. Costello finished his big-league career with the 1991 Padres. In four major-league seasons, Costello was 11-6 with 4 saves and a 2.97 ERA in 119 games.

Previously: How Jose Oquendo became a Cardinals catcher

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