In a pivotal Game 2 of the 2004 National League Division Series, Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny drove in four runs and coaxed reliever Dan Haren through two scoreless innings for the win against the Dodgers.
Ten years later, in the 2014 National League Division Series, the Cardinals again were matched against the Dodgers. This time, Matheny was the Cardinals’ manager and Haren was a Dodgers starting pitcher.
On Oct. 5, 2004, Matheny contributed a solo home run off reliever Elmer Dessens in the Cardinals’ 8-3 victory over the Dodgers in Game 1 of the best-of-five Division Series at St. Louis.
Cardinals fans rewarded him with an ovation and urged a curtain call. A hesitant Matheny went to the top step of the dugout and acknowledged the sustained applause.
“It’s a huge honor,” Matheny, 34, said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s taken me five years (with the Cardinals) and this is the first year I’ve had one. I didn’t know how to get out there.” Boxscore
Two days later, the Cardinals entered Game 2, knowing a victory would give them control of the series.
In the fifth inning, with the Cardinals ahead, 4-3, Matheny batted against starter Jeff Weaver with the bases loaded and two outs. Matheny stroked a two-run single to center, giving the Cardinals a 6-3 lead and knocking Weaver out of the game.
“He gets fired up,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of Matheny.
Haren, who followed starter Jason Marquis and Cal Eldred, held the Dodgers scoreless in the fifth and sixth, stabilizing the game for St. Louis. It was an impressive effort for a pitcher making his first postseason appearance.
A grateful La Russa called Haren, 24, “a cool dude” and “tough as nails” before adding that Haren’s shutdown of the Dodgers “turned the momentum.”
Said Matheny of Haren: “He came into a tough situation and made pitches right away.”
In the seventh, the Cardinals, looking to stretch their three-run lead, had Reggie Sanders on second and Edgar Renteria on third, with two outs. Though first base was open and pitcher Ray King was on deck, the Dodgers decided to pitch to the Cardinals catcher.
Matheny singled to left off a first-pitch curve from Giovanni Carrera, scoring both runners. The Cardinals won by the same score as the opener, 8-3. Boxscore
“The hit (Matheny) got off Weaver, he hit a good pitch,” said Dodgers manager Jim Tracy. “It was a breaking ball down and away and he got it. In the seventh, that wasn’t a good pitch.”
Wrote Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz: “The Dodgers probably wonder how it is that Matheny became Johnny Bench.”
Matheny became the first Cardinals hitter to produce four RBI in a Division Series game.
“I know that I haven’t put up huge (regular-season) numbers offensively, but I also know what my purpose is on this team,” Matheny said. “First of all, it’s behind the plate _ and I put a whole lot more pressure and expectations on myself back there.”
The Cardinals eliminated the Dodgers with a Game 4 triumph, advancing to the National League Championship Series against the Astros. The Cardinals beat the Astros in four of seven games, winning their first pennant in 17 years and progressing to the World Series against the Red Sox.