Archive for the ‘Opponents’ Category

In their two matchups against one another, Randy Johnson, as expected, pitched like a Hall of Famer, but Jose Jimenez unexpectedly was better.

Twenty years ago, on June 25, 1999, Jimenez pitched a no-hitter for the Cardinals, beating Johnson and the Diamondbacks, 1-0, at Phoenix.

Two weeks later, on July 5, 1999, Jimenez pitched a two-hitter, beating Johnson and the Diamondbacks, 1-0, at St. Louis.

The outcomes were surprising because the Diamondbacks led the National League in runs scored in 1999 and Jimenez was battered by nearly every other opponent.

Prized prospect

Jimenez, a right-hander from the Dominican Republic, signed as an amateur free agent with the Cardinals in October 1991 when he was 18. He spent his first three seasons as a professional in the Dominican Summer League before the Cardinals brought him to the United States in 1995 to pitch in their minor-league system.

His breakout season in the minors occurred with Class AA Arkansas in 1998 when he was 15-6 in 26 starts. Jimenez credited Arkansas pitching coach Rich Folkers, a former Cardinals reliever, with helping him develop an effective sinker, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The Cardinals rewarded Jimenez by bringing him to the big leagues in September 1998. After making his major-league debut in relief against the Reds, Jimenez made three starts and was the winning pitcher in each, beating the Pirates and Brewers on the road and the Expos at home.

With his 3-0 record and 2.95 ERA in four appearances for the 1998 Cardinals, Jimenez was regarded a special prospect. When the Cardinals tried to acquire second baseman Fernando Vina from the Brewers after the 1998 season, they were told they’d have to give up Jimenez and pitcher Manny Aybar, according to the Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals declined.

Mix and match

Jimenez, 25, opened the 1999 season as a Cardinals starter, but the success he experienced in 1998 didn’t carry over.

He entered his June start at Phoenix with a 3-7 record and 6.69 ERA. Matched against Johnson, the left-hander who was at the peak of his Hall of Fame career, the game figured to be lopsided in favor of the Diamondbacks.

The Diamondbacks led the National League in hitting at .287 coming into the game.

Relying on a mix of pitches, Jimenez was in command from the start.

“I was throwing very well,” he said to the Arizona Republic. “I was hitting my spots. I’ve been working on my mechanics, my sinker.”

Said Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez: “His fastball was moving really well. His changeup was effective. He was nasty.”

Jimenez yielded a one-out walk to Steve Finley in the second, but the next batter grounded into a double play. In the third, Jimenez hit Andy Fox with a pitch, but retired the next two batters to end the inning.

“All his pitches were working to all parts of the plate,” said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

Dueling shutouts

In the sixth, Fox hit a drive to right-center, but right fielder Eric Davis reached down, snared the sinking liner and held onto the ball as he rolled onto the ground.

The Diamondbacks got their last baserunner in the seventh when Gonzalez drew a one-out walk, but Jimenez coaxed the next batter to ground into a double play.

“His ball was moving all over the place,” Johnson said. “He was in control. He made a lot of our hitters frustrated.”

Johnson was tough on the Cardinals as well. He retired the first nine batters in a row before Joe McEwing led off the fourth with a double. The Cardinals got doubles from Edgar Renteria in the fifth and David Howard in the sixth, but couldn’t score.

In the ninth, with the game scoreless, Johnson issued one-out walks to Darren Bragg and Mark McGwire. After Davis struck out, Thomas Howard hit a broken-bat single to left, scoring Bragg.

Flying high

In the bottom of the ninth, Fox led off and struck out. David Dellucci, a left-handed batter, stepped in for Johnson and looped a liner toward right-center.

“I thought it would drop in,” Dellucci said.

Davis darted toward the ball, caught it near his shoe tops, tumbled and held on for the out.

“I know he’s a good outfielder,” said Dellucci, a teammate of Davis in 1997 with the Orioles. “Anybody else, it might have been in there.”

Jimenez completed the no-hitter by getting Tony Womack to ground out to second. [Boxscore and video of last out]

“This is something special,” Jimenez said. “I feel great. I feel like I want to fly.”

The no-hitter was the first by a Cardinal since Bob Forsch accomplished the feat against the Expos on Sept. 26, 1983.

Jimenez struck out eight. Johnson, who yielded five hits and two walks, struck out 14. Video of entire game

Snake bit

Jimenez got one more win for the Cardinals. When the Diamondbacks came to St. Louis, he retired the first 13 batters in order before Finley doubled with one out in the fifth. The only other hit Jimenez allowed was a single by Fox leading off the sixth.

Once again, Thomas Howard drove in the lone run. His single against Johnson scored McGwire from second with two outs in the fourth.

Jimenez walked one and struck out nine. Johnson gave up four hits and four walks, striking out 12. Boxscore

Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan said Jimenez “was relaxed and let it all flow. When he has pitched good, that’s the way he has looked.”

Jimenez never found the groove again with the Cardinals. He finished the 1999 season with a 5-14 record and 5.85 ERA. He was 2-0 versus the Diamondbacks and 3-14 against everyone else.

On Nov. 16, 1999, the Cardinals traded three pitchers _ Jimenez, Aybar and Rich Croushore _ and infielder Brent Butler to the Rockies for pitchers Darryl Kile, Dave Veres and Luther Hackman.

The Rockies made Jimenez a reliever and in four seasons with them he was 15-23 with 102 saves and a 4.13 ERA. He had 41 saves for the 2002 Rockies.

Jimenez became a free agent after the 2003 season, signed with the Indians and finished his big-league career with them in 2004.

In seven big-league seasons, Jimenez was 24-44 with 110 saves and a 4.92 ERA.

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Phillies manager Frank Lucchesi staged a sit-in at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis to protest an umpire’s call favorable to the Cardinals.

Lucchesi, who managed the Phillies (1970-72), Rangers (1975-77) and Cubs (1987), died on June 8, 2019, at 92.

After managing in the minor leagues for 19 years, Lucchesi (pronounced Lou-Kay-See) got his first chance in the majors with the 1970 Phillies, a team in a rebuilding phase.

Lucchesi was promoted from the minors “for one reason: Win back the hearts and minds of fans who abandoned the Phillies in droves,” Philadelphia columnist Bill Conlin wrote.

After a 10-9 record in April, the 1970 Phillies were 10-18 in May.

In seeking help for his team from a higher power, “I even lit a candle in church in Pittsburgh, and it blew out,” Lucchesi said to Sports Illustrated.

Dividing line

On June 27, 1970, the Phillies entered their Saturday afternoon game at St. Louis with a 31-37 record and were in fifth place in the six-team National League East.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, with the score tied at 8-8, Jim Beauchamp, starting in center field in place of injured Jose Cardenal, led off and lined a drive to deep right-center against Joe Hoerner, a former Cardinal.

As the ball reached the wall at the 386-foot mark, “two fans reached out and one of them touched the ball, which fell to the ground,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The Phillies thought Beauchamp’s hit should be declared a ground-rule double because of fan interference, but second-base umpire Tony Venzon signaled a home run, giving the Cardinals a 9-8 lead.

Luchessi ran out of the dugout to argue with Venzon and was joined by six other Phillies, who circled the umpire near second base. Venzon explained to them the ball hit above the yellow line at the top of the wall and therefore was a home run.

The Phillies disagreed, saying the fan touched the ball as it hit the wall below the yellow line.

Call stands

According to the Inquirer, a television replay supported the Phillies’ argument, and Cardinals broadcasters “said they thought the ball hit the arm of a fan reaching downward from the first row of the bleachers,” the Philadelphia Daily News reported.

“He reached below the yellow line,” said Phillies right fielder Byron Browne, a former Cardinal.

Said Phillies shortstop Larry Bowa: “There was no way that could be a home run.”

The Phillies claimed Venzon hadn’t run into the outfield to get a close look at the play. Lucchesi asked him to consult with the other umpires.

“Tony, getting it right is the most important thing,” Lucchesi said to him.

Venzon replied, “No, that’s it.”

“What got me so hot at Venzon was him refusing to ask the umpires for help,” Lucchesi said.

Temper tantrum

Outraged, Lucchesi “kicked clouds of dirt and gestured wildly,” the Philadelphia Daily News reported. According to the Inquirer, “a wild argument continued for several minutes,” and Lucchesi was ejected.

Lucchesi said he wanted to run out to the outfield wall and ask the fan to show Venzon where he touched the ball, “but I got so hot at jawing with Venzon I forgot what I really was going to do.”

Instead, Lucchesi plopped down on the second-base bag. Venzon ordered him to leave the field, but Lucchesi refused to budge.

“When I sat down on the base, I told him I was staying put until he asked his buddies,” Lucchesi said.

“He knew he was wrong and he didn’t hustle on the play.”

Magic word

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, “Park police were ready to remove Frank off the base.”

Phillies coach George Myatt arrived, looked Lucchesi in the eye and said, “Luke.”

The word got Lucchesi’s attention and he got up and left the field.

Myatt rescued Lucchesi with a pre-arranged code.

“I know myself well enough to know that when I get that hot, I’m not responsible,” Lucchesi said to the Philadelphia Daily News. “I reach a point where I don’t realize what I’m doing. Before the season, I gave the coaches a code word to holler at me in case I blew my top.”

The code word was “Luke,” a shortened variation of Lucchesi.

“”When I hear that, I know I’m going to get myself in trouble,” Lucchesi said.

The Cardinals held on for a 9-8 victory. Boxscore

The next day Lucchesi learned what kind of trouble he’d gotten into. He was fined $150 by National League president Chub Feeney, who said in a telegram, “Any repetition of this type of action will merit a suspension.”

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On a sultry Sunday in St. Louis, Bill Buckner handled the high heat of Al Hrabosky.

Buckner, 69, died May 27, 2019. He played 22 seasons in the major leagues, primarily as a first baseman, and was a premier hitter, winning a National League batting title in 1980 and generating a career total of 2,715 hits. A left-handed batter with a .289 career average, Buckner never struck out more than 39 times in a season.

Though widely known for an error at first base in the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series that enabled the Mets to score the winning run against the Red Sox, Buckner played his first 16 seasons in the National League, with the Dodgers and Cubs, and produced 172 hits in 173 career games against the Cardinals.

Perhaps his most prominent at-bat versus the Cardinals came on July 3, 1977, against Hrabosky, the left-handed reliever known as the “Mad Hungarian.”

Pitchers prevail

The game between the Cubs and Cardinals was played on what the Chicago Tribune described as a “hot, humid Mississippi River afternoon” on the steamy artifical turf surface at Busch Memorial Stadium.

Starting pitchers Rick Reuschel of the Cubs and Eric Rasmussen of the Cardinals were in top form.

The game was scoreless when Reuschel was forced to depart with two outs in the seventh inning because of a blister on his pitching hand. Bruce Sutter relieved, walked the first batter he faced, Ken Reitz, loading the bases, and struck out Jerry Mumphrey to end the threat.

In the eighth, Sutter, batting with one out and the bases empty, singled against Rasmussen for his first major-league hit.

“Now that I’ve got my hitting stroke down, anything can happen,” Sutter said.

After Ivan De Jesus popped out to first baseman Keith Hernandez for the second out, Greg Gross singled to right, advancing Sutter to third. According to the Chicago Tribune, Sutter barely beat Reitz’s tag at third and was jolted so hard “the spikes were knocked out of his shoes.”

With Buckner up next, Cardinals manager Vern Rapp called for Hrabosky to relieve Rasmussen.

Fastball hitter

Before delivering a pitch to Buckner, Hrabosky went into his “Mad Hungarian” routine, turning his back on the batter and doing a self-psyching meditation before pounding the ball into his mitt and whirling around to face his foe.

Herman Franks, in his first season as Cubs manager, said to the Associated Press, “I’d never seen that ‘Mad Russian’ act before. That’s got to be embarrasing when it doesn’t work.”

After Hrabosky got ahead on the count, 1-and-2, catcher Ted Simmons went to the mound and urged him to throw a pitch down and away to Buckner, hoping he’d chase it and strike out, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Instead, the ball bounced to the plate and Simmons blocked it to keep Sutter from scoring from third.

Buckner looked for a fastball on the next pitch, got it and lined it into the right-field seats for a three-run home run. The Cubs added a run in the ninth against Rawly Eastwick and won, 4-0. Boxscore

The home run was Buckner’s second of the season.

“Most of my homers this season have gone foul,” he said, “but I was ready for this fastball and got it just right.”

Buckner’s two best seasons against the Cardinals were in 1980 and 1983 with the Cubs. In 1980, he batted .313 versus the Cardinals, with 21 hits in 17 games, and in 1983 his batting average against them was .359, with 28 hits in 18 games.

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An encounter with St. Louis Cardinals defensive back Jimmy Hill put Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr out of action.

Starr, who led the Packers to five NFL championships and twice was named winner of the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award, died on May 26, 2019, at 85. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Starr played in 10 postseason games and the Packers won nine of those.

On Oct. 20, 1963, the Packers played the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis and Starr started at quarterback for the 44th consecutive game.

In the third quarter, Starr was flushed out of the pocket by the Cardinals’ pass rush and took off running. After a gain of 15 yards, Starr was headed out of bounds when Hill swung a forearm into him. The force of the blow knocked both Starr and Hill off their feet.

As Starr fell, he used his right hand to try to soften the impact with the ground and a bone snapped. He suffered a hairline fracture to his throwing hand.

Entangled with Hill on the ground, Starr kicked his leg and struck Hill in the mouth. Hill punched Starr in the face.

“I know he didn’t mean it and I know I shouldn’t have hit him,” Hill said to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Hill was ejected by the officiating crew and Starr, unable to continue, was replaced by a former Cardinal, John Roach.

“I apologized to him after the game and we shook hands, but it still makes me feel badly,” Hill said. “It was a refex action, I guess.”

Said a dazed Starr: “I don’t remember what happened out there.”

According to the book “Bart Starr: America’s Quarterback,” when Starr leaned down to retrieve his helmet, he couldn’t lift it. “That’s when I realized my hand was hurt,” he said.

Using a ground game to gain 225 yards rushing, the Packers (5-1) went on to a 30-7 victory over the Cardinals (4-2). The Packers’ top rushers were Elijah Pitts (77 yards), Jim Taylor (63 yards and two touchdowns) and Tom Moore (60 yards and a touchdown). Game stats

Starr was sidelined for four games and the Packers were 3-1 in his absence. He returned for the last four games of the season and though the Packers were 3-0-1 in those games, they finished in second place, behind the Chicago Bears, in the West Division. They missed the playoffs despite an 11-2-1 mark.

Two decades later, Starr was part of a group trying to bring a NFL expansion team, the Phoenix Firebirds, to Arizona, but the effort ended when Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill moved his franchise from St. Louis to Phoenix for the 1988 season.

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Allen Watson, a Cardinals pitcher struggling to get outs, and Orestes Destrade, a Marlins batter struggling to get hits, took out their frustrations on each other.

Twenty-five years ago, on May 22, 1994, Watson hit Destrade with a pitch, triggering a fight on the field at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami.

Watson and Destrade were ejected and each received a suspension _ Watson for eight games and Destrade for four. Cardinals outfielder Bernard Gilkey and Marlins pitcher Luis Aquino also got ejected for instigating another fight and Gilkey got a four-game suspension for inadvertently making contact with umpire Charlie Reliford.

Bruised feelings

Watson entered the Sunday afternoon start with a 6.70 ERA for the season and Destrade came in batting .210.

In the first inning, Destrade hit a two-run double against Watson. In the second, Watson yielded a solo home run to Rich Renteria and two-run home runs to Carl Everett and Jeff Conine, giving the Marlins a 7-2 lead. Everett’s home run was his first in the major leagues.

After Conine delivered the Marlins’ third home run of the inning, Destrade stepped to the plate and Watson’s first pitch hit him in the back.

“Obviously, it was intentional,” Destrade said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Said Watson: “I was trying to throw inside and it ran too much and hit him.”

Sticks and stones

Destrade charged toward Watson, who removed his glove and flung it hard in self-defense. The mitt struck Destrade, knocking the eyeglasses off his face. Columnist Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch said Watson displayed “his best location of the day” with his glove toss.

“I knew he was going to charge, so I wasn’t going to stand there and get my head kicked in,” Watson said.

Destrade grabbed Watson in a headlock and landed a punch to the face.

“I fight with my fists,” Destrade said to the Palm Beach Post. “I didn’t throw my helmet at him. He has to take his medicine.”

As both benches emptied, Watson and Destrade grappled until separated by teammates.

“Basically, he’s a wimpy, little gutless college boy,” Destrade said. “He was trying to make up for stinking. What he did isn’t being an athlete. It’s being a wimp.”

Replied Watson, “A wimp? I was calling for him to come out. I charged at him, too. I didn’t back down. That’s not being a wimp.”

Redbirds rally

Rich Rodriguez relieved Watson and pitched 3.2 scoreless innings. As Rodriguez was returning to the dugout after an inning, a fan threw a cup of beer at him and Rodriguez hurled his glove at the guy.

“It wasn’t an Anheuser-Busch product,” Rodriguez said. “That’s what got me upset.”

The Cardinals scored four in the sixth to get within a run at 7-6. The Marlins responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning against John Habyan to go up 9-6.

Rob Murphy held the Marlins scoreless in the seventh and eighth, keeping the Cardinals in the game.

In the ninth, the Cardinals had two outs and none on against Marlins closer Jeremy Hernandez, who had nine saves and a 1.42 ERA on the season.

After Jose Oquendo walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch, Mark Whiten drove him in with a double, making the score 9-7. Ray Lankford’s single scored Whiten and got the Cardinals within one at 9-8. After Luis Alicea singled for his fifth hit of the game, Gregg Jefferies doubled down the right-field line, plating Lankford and Alicea for a 10-9 Cardinals lead.

“I had nothing on any of my pitches,” Hernandez said. “I probably should have told the coaches I felt terrible.”

In the bottom of the ninth, Mike Perez struck out Kurt Abbott, hit Bret Barberie with a pitch and got Dave Magadan to ground into a game-ending double play. Boxscore

Destrade played two more games for the Marlins, got released and never played in the big leagues again.

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Like a couple of grand chess masters, managers Joe Torre of the Cardinals and Jim Leyland of the Pirates engaged in a series of maneuvers designed to outwit the other. Torre won, and the result was as unusual as it was satisfying.

Twenty-five years ago, on May 17, 1994, Torre utilized six pitchers to achieve a shutout against the Pirates at Pittsburgh.

The Cardinals tied a National League record for most pitchers used in a shutout. The American League record at the time was seven.

Since then, the American League Indians established a record by using nine pitchers in a shutout against the Tigers on Sept. 17, 2016, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Boxscore The previous record of eight had been done five times, MLB.com reported.

Tom terrific

The Cardinals-Pirates game was played on a 40-degree Tuesday night at Three Rivers Stadium. The starting pitchers were left-handers Tom Urbani for the Cardinals and Zane Smith for the Pirates.

Urbani entered the start with a season record of 0-3 and a 5.04 ERA. The Cardinals wanted to send him to the minor leagues, but balked when left-hander Rheal Cormier injured his shoulder.

Both starters worked fast and the first seven innings were played in less than 90 minutes. The Cardinals scored a run in the sixth and another in the seventh and led 2-0.

The Pirates’ lone hit against Urbani was a single by Carlos Garcia leading off the fourth.

“I set up hitters and I got them out the way I wanted to get them out,” Urbani said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Torre observed, “Even when he didn’t hit his spots, he had enough on the ball where they didn’t get good wood on it.”

Mix and match

In the eighth, the Pirates had two on via walks with two outs when Torre lifted Urbani and brought in right-hander John Habyan to face Lance Parrish. Leyland countered by using Dave Clark, a left-handed hitter, to bat for Parrish and Habyan walked him, loading the bases.

Torre called for left-hander Rob Murphy to pitch to Orlando Merced, a switch-hitter, but again Leyland countered and switched to right-handed batter Don Slaught. Murphy got Slaught to hit a grounder to shortstop Ozzie Smith, who threw to second baseman Jose Oquendo for the inning-ending force on Clark.

In the ninth, Torre used three pitchers to get three outs.

Garcia led off with a single against Mike Perez. After Jay Bell popped out to second, left-hander Rich Rodriguez came in to face the former Cardinal, Andy Van Slyke.

A left-handed batter, Van Slyke turned on a Rodriguez fastball and hit it high and far. Van Slyke’s drive had home run distance but landed a few feet foul down the right-field line.

“I was able to get away with a pitch,” Rodriguez said. “I had new life and once I did I figured I’d better make something happen.”

Rodriguez switched to sliders and struck out Van Slyke.

Playing the percentages, Torre brought in right-hander Rene Arocha to face right-handed Brian Hunter and got him to fly out to shallow left, ending the game.

Urbani pitched 7.2 innings, limiting the Pirates to one hit and four walks, and earned his second career win in the big leagues. Boxscore

In using Habyan, Murphy, Perez, Rodriguez and Arocha to complete the shutout, Torre emptied his bullpen.

“I didn’t have any left,” Torre said to the Associated Press. “(Arocha) was the last I had.”

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