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Joining a starting rotation that featured future Hall of Famers Jesse Haines and Grover Cleveland Alexander, rookie Fred Frankhouse strung together a September winning streak that nearly lifted the Cardinals to a second consecutive National League pennant.

fred_frankhouseFrankhouse, 23, won each of his first five starts after being promoted from the minor leagues to the Cardinals in September 1927.

In April 2015, Michael Wacha became the first Cardinals pitcher 23 or younger to win each of his first four starts in a season since Frankhouse.

Stretch run

Frankhouse, 5 feet 11 and 175 pounds, was the ace of the Cardinals’ minor-league Houston affiliate in the Texas League in 1927. The right-hander with the sidearm delivery was 21-9 with a 3.24 ERA in 261 innings for Houston.

The defending World Series champion Cardinals, in a four-way race with the Pirates, Giants and Cubs for the 1927 pennant, called up Frankhouse and gave him a start in his big-league debut in the opener of a doubleheader against Chicago on Sept. 7 at St. Louis. The Cardinals started the day in third place, 2.5 games behind the Pirates, 1.5 behind the Giants and a half-game ahead of the Cubs.

Using a sweeping curve, Frankhouse held the Cubs to two runs in seven innings before being relieved by Haines. A 24-game winner in 1927, Haines, making his second and last relief appearance of the season, shut out the Cubs over the final two innings, earning the save and preserving the win for Frankhouse in a 6-2 Cardinals victory. Frankhouse also contributed two hits in three at-bats. Boxscore

Four days later, on Sept. 11, Frankhouse got his second start. He responded with a four-hit shutout, pitching the Cardinals to a 5-0 victory over the Dodgers at St. Louis. The game finished in 1:48. Left fielder Harvey Hendrick got three of the Dodgers’ hits (two singles and a double). The win lifted the Cardinals into a second-place tie with the Giants, two games behind the Pirates. Boxscore

On a roll

Cardinals manager Bob O’Farrell started Frankhouse for the third time on Sept. 15 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Giants at St. Louis. The Giants had five future Hall of Famers in the No. 2 through No. 5 spots in the batting order: Freddie Lindstrom, Edd Roush, Rogers Hornsby, Bill Terry and Travis Jackson.

Frankhouse yielded five runs, but got the win and his second consecutive complete game in an 8-5 Cardinals victory. The game was called after the top of the eighth because of darkness. Frankhouse retired another future Hall of Famer, Mel Ott, with a runner on base to end the game. The Cardinals, who had lost the opener, closed the day still tied with the Giants for second place, but 4.5 behind the Pirates. Boxscore

The Pirates, featuring a lineup with Pie Traynor and brothers Paul and Lloyd Waner, were distancing themselves from the Cardinals and Giants, winning 11 in a row from Sept. 9 through Sept. 17.

On Sept. 19, Frankhouse made his fourth start and pitched his third consecutive complete game, a 12-5 Cardinals victory over the Phillies at St. Louis. Backed by five RBI from his catcher, Frank Snyder, Frankhouse improved his record to 4-0, even though he yielded nine hits and walked five. The Cardinals trailed the Pirates by four with 10 to play. Boxscore

Five days later, on Sept. 24, the Giants beat the Pirates. The Cardinals, behind a fourth consecutive complete game by Frankhouse, defeated the Braves, 4-3, at St. Louis. With Frankhouse improving to 5-0, the Cardinals were within two of the Pirates. Boxscore

NL staple

St. Louis won five of its last six _ the lone loss was by Frankhouse, a 3-2 setback at Cincinnati against the Reds _ and finished the season in second place at 92-61, 1.5 behind the champion Pirates (94-60). The Giants (92-62) finished third, a half-game behind the Cardinals, and the Cubs ended up fourth at 85-68.

In six starts for the 1927 Cardinals, Frankhouse was 5-1 with a 2.70 ERA. The Sporting News called him a “sensational flash.” He pitched a total of 311 innings that season, including 50 for the Cardinals.

Frankhouse was 3-2 in 21 games for the NL champion 1928 Cardinals and 7-2 in 30 games for the 1929 Cardinals. After a rough start to the 1930 season (2-3 with a 7.32 ERA in eight games), Frankhouse and pitcher Bill Sherdel were shipped to the Braves for pitcher Burleigh Grimes on June 16. In four years with the Cardinals, Frankhouse was 17-8 with a 4.05 ERA.

The trade was significant for the Cardinals. Grimes helped them win consecutive pennants and a World Series title. Grimes was 13-6 for St. Louis in 1930 and 17-9 in 1931. He also earned two wins against the Athletics in the 1931 World Series, including the decisive Game 7.

Frankhouse pitched seven years with the Braves (63-61) and three years with the Dodgers (26-28). In 13 big-league seasons, his overall record was 106-97 with a 3.92 ERA.

He died on Aug. 17, 1989, at 85.

Previously: Cardinals home opener links Michael Wacha, Jerry Reuss

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Unwilling to bend on principle, Cardinals general manager Dal Maxvill reluctantly traded a slugger he wanted to keep. In a stroke of good fortune, he got in exchange a closer who would rank among the franchise’s all-time best.

lee_smith3Twenty-five years ago, on May 4, 1990, the Cardinals sent right fielder Tom Brunansky to the Red Sox for reliever Lee Smith.

It was one of Maxvill’s best trades during his tenure (1985-94) as Cardinals general manager.

Anatomy of a deal

Maxvill didn’t want to trade Brunansky.

Brunansky wasn’t seeking a trade.

Yet, when Brunansky demanded a no-trade clause as a condition for waiving free agency and re-signing with the Cardinals, Maxvill wouldn’t budge. He called Red Sox general manager Lou Gorman and quickly arranged the trade.

According to the Associated Press, the deal “climaxed several weeks of talks” between the Cardinals and Red Sox.

Maxvill, though, insisted the Cardinals never discussed with the Red Sox a trade of Brunansky for Smith until Maxvill called Gorman the afternoon of May 4 “despite Gorman’s public posturing that the deal had almost been made in early April,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

“I haven’t been looking to trade him,” Maxvill said. “We wanted to keep Brunansky.”

Seeking security

The Cardinals had acquired Brunansky from the Twins for second baseman Tommy Herr on April 22, 1988, five months after Minnesota had prevailed in a seven-game World Series with St. Louis.

Early in the 1990 season, the Cardinals approached Brunansky about a three-year contract. Brunansky, like Smith, was eligible to become a free agent after the 1990 season. In the contract the Cardinals inherited from the Twins in 1988, Brunansky had a limited no-trade clause. Brunansky wanted a no-trade provision in any new contract.

“We tried to work around this somehow, but it just couldn’t be done,” Maxvill said.

Said Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog: “We tried to negotiate a little bit with (Brunansky), but he wanted a no-trade contract and we don’t have those in St. Louis.”

Brunansky explained “my wife and I wanted to settle down and buy a house here,” but couldn’t commit to that without the no-trade clause.

“The no-trade was the whole thing,” said Brunansky. “We never got to the point of talking money. For me to stay here, I would need some kind of security. I wasn’t going to sign here for three years, buy a house and everything and keep hearing trade rumors. It was a big issue for me and, of course, it was a big issue for the ball club.”

Motivated to act

The Red Sox were eager to deal because they needed a right fielder to replace Dwight Evans, who was restricted to designated hitter duties because of back problems.

The Cardinals needed an established closer to replace Todd Worrell, who was recuperating from elbow surgery. The Cardinals had opened the 1990 season with Scott Terry as the closer.

Smith, 32, became available when the Red Sox signed free-agent closer Jeff Reardon.

Brunansky, 29, was deemed expendable because reserve Milt Thompson could step in as Cardinals right fielder.

The Cardinals also had talked with the White Sox about closer Bobby Thigpen, according to the Post-Dispatch. The Red Sox, though, were motivated to act fast.

“They called us. It’s as simple as that,” Red Sox manager Joe Morgan said to the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram and Gazette. “Nobody would give us the kind of pitcher we wanted, so we went with the right-handed power.”

Reunited with Roarke

Brunansky hit 43 home runs in three years with the Cardinals, but only 11 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. “He’ll hit homers in Fenway (Park),” said Red Sox catcher Tony Pena, a former Cardinal. “St. Louis was a tough park for him to hit in.”

Said Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs: “He’s the stick we need in the middle of the lineup.”

Smith had posted a 2-1 record with four saves, a 1.88 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 14.1 innings for the 1990 Red Sox. In joining the Cardinals, Smith was reunited with coach Mike Roarke, who had been his coach as a rookie with the 1980 Cubs.

Said Smith: “I’m really pleased. Something had to be done. With the two closers we had, it wasn’t fair to either one of us. I’ve always been a Whitey Herzog fan and the way he uses pitchers. And I like pitching in Busch Stadium.”

Lee Smith joined a Cardinals roster that included pitcher Bryn Smith and shortstop Ozzie Smith. “We might as well try to get Lonnie (Smith of the Braves) and Zane (Smith of the Pirates),” said Ozzie Smith.

Brunansky played four years with the Red Sox and hit 56 home runs.

Lee Smith played four years with the Cardinals and earned 160 saves while posting a 2.90 ERA. Only Jason Isringhausen (217) has more saves as a Cardinal.

Previously: Why Cardinals traded Tommy Herr to Twins in 1988

Previously: Cardinals years among best for Hall candidate Lee Smith

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In a showdown of two master showmen, Dizzy Dean upstaged Babe Ruth.

babe_dizzyEighty years ago, Ruth, 40, entered his final big-league season with the 1935 Braves. The fading home run king had gone to the National League after 21 years (1914-34) in the American League with the Red Sox and Yankees.

Dean, 25, was the colorful Cardinals ace and reigning NL strikeout king who had earned 30 wins the year before and pitched St. Louis to the 1934 World Series championship.

They faced one another for the first time in a regular-season game on May 5, 1935, at Boston.

Seeking a strikeout

In the book “Diz,” Dean biographer Robert Gregory wrote, “He had been looking forward to his first league showdown with Babe Ruth and telling everybody he’d have no choice in the matter. He would have to strike him out.”

Ruth and Dean greeted each other cordially before the game and took part in a newspaper-sponsored promotion with local youth players.

Then, it was show time.

“Babe was watching me pretty closely while I was warming up before the game,” Dean said in the book “Ol’ Diz” by Vince Staten. “He had that old eagle eye of his on every move I made.”

In his first at-bat, Ruth walked.

When Ruth came to the plate for the second time, Dean upped the ante. “I figured that if I didn’t steal the show he would,” Dean said.

Play deep

As Ruth took his practice cuts, Dean smiled at him and turned toward his outfielders.

“He motioned them to play farther back,” wrote Gregory. “They retreated a few steps, but Diz shook his head, no, no, that’s not deep enough, and kept waving his glove until they were almost at the walls.”

Then, Dean went to work on Ruth. He got the count to 1-and-2. On his fourth delivery, Dean unleashed his best fastball. Ruth took a mighty swing and missed. Dean had his strikeout of the Bambino.

“Babe almost broke his back going for that steaming third fastball,” according to the Associated Press.

In his third at-bat, Ruth grounded out.

Basking on the stage set for him, Dean slugged a home run that sailed over Ruth’s head before clearing the left-field wall. He earned the shutout in a 7-0 Cardinals victory. Boxscore

Encore performance

Two weeks later, on May 19 at St. Louis, Ruth and Dean had a rematch. Again, Dean prevailed. Ruth was 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Dean pitched another complete game and drove in two runs, leading St. Louis to a 7-3 victory. Boxscore

In five games against the Cardinals in 1935, Ruth batted .071 (1-for-14) with a single, three walks and five strikeouts. With his overall average at .181 in 28 games that season, Ruth retired at the end of May.

In his prime, Ruth faced the Cardinals in two World Series. He hit .300 (6-for-20) with 4 home runs and 11 walks in the seven-game 1926 World Series. In the 1928 World Series, Ruth hit .625 (10-for-16) with 3 home runs and 3 doubles in four games.

Previously: Stan Musial: ‘Babe Ruth was the greatest who ever played’

Previously: Pennant clincher: How Dizzy Dean got 2 shutouts in 3 days

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In the last classic pitchers duel at Busch Stadium II, Mark Mulder gave the best performance of his Cardinals career, tossing 10 shutout innings and beating Roger Clemens and the Astros.

mark_mulder2Ten years ago, on April 23, 2005, in the Cardinals’ final season at the ballpark that had been their home since 1966, Mulder pitched a masterpiece in a 1-0 St. Louis victory.

Mulder, a left-hander, threw an efficient 101 pitches and faced 33 batters, three more than the minimum for 10 innings. He induced 17 ground outs. Each of the Astros’ five hits was a single.

Clemens, 42, winner of seven Cy Young awards, was as good as expected, holding the Cardinals scoreless on four hits in seven innings before being relieved by Chad Qualls.

Mulder, 27, making his fourth Cardinals start after coming to St. Louis from the Athletics in a December 2004 trade, was better.

In a ballpark that had been the site of gems by Cardinals pitchers such as Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Bob Forsch, Joaquin Andujar and John Tudor, Mulder’s performance ranked among the best. It was the last 1-0 game played at Busch Stadium II.

“Somewhere, Bob Gibson was smiling,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz wrote. “This was Gibby’s kind of hardball.”

Throwing strikes

Mulder became:

_ The first Cardinals starter to pitch an extra-inning shutout win since John Tudor did so on Sept. 11, 1985, in a 1-0 St. Louis victory over the Mets.

_ The first Cardinals starter to go 10 innings since Jose DeLeon went 11 against the Reds in a 2-0 Cincinnati victory on Aug. 30, 1989.

_ The first Cardinals starter to go 10 innings and win since Greg Mathews did so against the Mets in a 3-1 St. Louis victory on Aug. 16, 1986.

_ The first major-league starter to pitch a 10-inning shutout win since Roy Halladay of the Blue Jays did so against the Tigers in a 1-0 Toronto victory on Sept. 6, 2003.

“Any time it’s a 0-0 game or 1-0 game or 1-1, I love that,” Mulder told Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch. “It makes me focus … I’m throwing strike one. I’m getting ahead. It’s enabling me to do a lot more things as far as working both sides of the plate.”

Said Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan: “He’s really changed his delivery, which has allowed him to repeat pitches better.”

Dodging trouble

In the fourth inning, Mulder escaped serious injury. Mike Lamb’s bat shattered when he hit a ground ball to second. The barrel of the bat struck Mulder on the ankle and he doubled over in pain. “It hit me right in a spot where it made my whole foot go numb,” Mulder said to MLB.com.

Feeling quickly returned to the ankle, though, and Mulder was able to continue.

Before sending Mulder to pitch the 10th, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa consulted with the pitcher. “He said he was OK to go,” La Russa said.

After setting down the Astros in the top half of the extra inning, Mulder was scheduled to lead off the bottom of the 10th. La Russa sent Reggie Sanders to hit for Mulder against Qualls. Sanders produced an infield single. “It was a swinging bunt that feels just as good as a ringing line drive,” Sanders told the Associated Press.

Walker walkoff

On a hit-and-run, David Eckstein grounded out, with Sanders advancing to second.

Up next for St. Louis was Larry Walker. Astros manager Phil Garner replaced Qualls with Brad Lidge. Walker lined a hit into the right-center gap, scoring Sanders with the lone run. Boxscore

“It was a fastball, down and away, and he reached for it,” Lidge said. “I’m not upset about the pitch at all.”

Said Walker: “To put the ball in play off (Lidge) is tough to do … He’s got phenomenal stuff.”

The victory gave La Russa 2,125 career wins as a major-league manager, moving him into a tie for fifth place with Hall of Famer Joe McCarthy. “You win with great organizations and great players,” La Russa said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have had both.”

Previously: Dan Haren proved more durable than Mark Mulder

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Seventy-five years ago, with water filling the dugouts and lapping at the feet of spectators in the box seats, the Cardinals and Reds raced to complete a game at Cincinnati before flooding made conditions unplayable.

crosley_fieldCompleting nine innings in 1:56, the Reds beat the Cardinals, 6-1, on April 22, 1940, at Crosley Field.

The night before, the Ohio River reached the 55-foot stage. Reds officials knew Crosley Field, located near Mill Creek, started flooding when the river got to 57 feet, or five feet above normal flood stage, International News Service reported.

It was expected the river stage would reach 57 feet in late afternoon or early evening on April 22. The Reds moved up the starting time of their game with the Cardinals that afternoon by an hour, from 3 p.m. to 2 p.m.

At game time, however, water stood a foot deep in both dugouts _ even deeper in nearby parking lots _ and a crowd of 5,197 “had to puddle-jump their way into the park,” the Associated Press reported.

Patrons seated in field-level box seats behind third base “pulled their feet higher and higher” as the game progressed and water continued to rise.

The players sat on benches in foul territory because the water in the dugouts eventually reached three feet deep, according to the book “Cardinals Journal” by John Snyder.

The game matched starting pitchers Bucky Walters, a 27-game winner in 1939 when he earned the National League Most Valuable Player Award, for the Reds against Bill McGee.

Cincinnati, the defending National League champions, broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the fifth against McGee. The Reds added three more in the seventh off Clyde Shoun.

Walters drove in three runs and pitched eight scoreless innings before the Cardinals struck for a run in the ninth. By then, water was seeping onto the field. Boxscore

The Cardinals were supposed to play the Reds again on April 23 and April 24, but both games were postponed. By then, the Ohio River had reached 58 feet and water covered the Crosley Field outfield. Another foot would put home plate under water.

Previously: Ray Sadecki: Wild, nearly unhittable in 1st Cardinals win

Previously: How Cardinals rookie Dick Hughes struck out 13 _ and lost

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(Updated April 11, 2015)

In 2005, Jason Marquis used his bat and arm against the Reds to jump-start a Cardinals club that had lost three of its first five games. On April 12, 2005, Marquis hit a three-run triple and held the Reds to a run in 6.1 innings, carrying the Cardinals to a 5-1 victory at St. Louis.

jason_marquisTen years later, Marquis joined the Reds, looking to jump-start his career against the Cardinals. In his first big-league appearance since 2013, Marquis, 36, started for the Reds against the Cardinals on April 10, 2015, at Cincinnati. He pitched six innings, allowed three runs and struck out seven in the Reds’ 5-4 victory. Marquis also had a single in two at-bats. Boxscore

‘Our best hitter’

In 2005, after consecutive losses at home to the Phillies, the defending National League champion Cardinals were seeking a spark as they entered a two-game series versus the Reds.

In the second inning, with the Reds ahead, 1-0, the Cardinals loaded the bases with none out against Aaron Harang.

Yadier Molina popped out to shortstop, bringing Marquis to the plate.

According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jim Edmonds, the base runner on third, turned to third baseman Joe Randa and said, “We got one advantage here: Our best hitter is at the plate right now.”

A right-handed pitcher who batted left-handed, Marquis had hit .292 (21-for-72) for the 2004 Cardinals.

Nice stroke

Fighting back after falling behind 0-and-2, Marquis worked the count full.

The next pitch was high and Marquis pulled it sharply on the ground past first baseman Sean Casey and into the right-field corner for his first big-league triple, giving the Cardinals a 3-1 lead. Boxscore

The triple was the first by a Cardinals pitcher since Jason Isringhausen hit one off Joe Beimel of the Pirates on July 26, 2003.

“He really has a nice stroke,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of Marquis. “The ball jumps off his bat. He loves to hit, so he takes those at-bats real seriously.”

Said Harang to The Cincinnati Post: “In that situation … I’ve got to put something around the zone. I just left it up a little bit and he turned on it.”

Silver Slugger

Marquis’ performance sparked the Cardinals, who won 11 of their next 13. He batted .310 (27-for-87) for the 2005 Cardinals and earned The Sporting News NL Silver Slugger Award as the top-hitting pitcher. Marquis also posted 13 wins for a Cardinals club that won 100 on their way to a division championship.

“My goal is to help myself win as many games outside of being on the mound, whether bunting, fielding or hitting,” Marquis said. “I take pride in what I do.”

In three years (2004-06) with the Cardinals, Marquis had a 42-37 record and batted .262.

Previously: Revisiting the deal that made Adam Wainwright a Cardinal

Previously: Cardinals players tried making Greg Maddux a teammate

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