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An effective combination of quality and depth in the starting rotation enabled the 1941 Cardinals to win their first 12 road games. That streak remains the franchise record for most road wins in a row.

howie_kristEight different Cardinals pitchers accounted for those 12 consecutive road wins. Ten of those wins were achieved by starters, including eight complete-game efforts.

Mort Cooper earned three of the dozen road wins. Lon Warneke and Max Lanier had two apiece. Five Cardinals pitchers each got a win during the road streak: Johnny Grodzicki, Sam Nahem, Howie Krist, Hank Gornicki and Ernie White.

The streak was achieved in two parts _ from April 15-17 and from April 26-May 5 _ in five cities. Of the dozen road wins, three were accomplished at Cincinnati against the Reds, two at Chicago against the Cubs, three at New York against the Giants, two at Philadelphia against the Phillies and two at Boston against the Braves.

Sweeping the champs

The 1941 Cardinals opened the season on April 15 at Cincinnati against the defending World Series champion Reds. Ernie Koy, Enos Slaughter and Johnny Mize each hit a home run and the Cardinals won, 7-3. Warneke, who pitched a complete game, yielded 10 hits, but walked none and was helped by a defense that turned three double plays. Boxscore

In the second game of the series on April 16, Cooper pitched a five-hitter and the Cardinals won, 4-2. With the score tied at 2-2 in the ninth, Jimmy Brown hit a two-run, two-out double off Johnny Vander Meer. Boxscore

Another ninth-inning rally enabled the Cardinals to complete the series sweep on April 17. With the Reds ahead 6-5, Slaughter scored from third base with the tying run on a Bob Logan wild pitch. Marty Marion walked and scored the go-ahead run on a triple by Frank “Creepy” Crespi.

In the bottom of the ninth, reliever Hersh Lyons, making his debut in what would be his only big-league appearance, loaded the bases with one out. Lanier replaced him, induced two groundouts without allowing a run to score and was credited with the win in a 7-6 Cardinals triumph. Boxscore

The Sporting News hailed the Cardinals for a “sensational three-in-a-row start in Cincinnati.”

From there, the Cardinals went to St. Louis for a six-game homestand with the Cubs, Pirates and Reds. The Cardinals won three of those games, giving them a 6-3 record as they embarked on a 14-game road trip to six cities.

Rolling along

The journey began on April 26 at Chicago with a 6-2 Cardinals victory over the Cubs. Lanier started and pitched a two-hitter for the win. Mize and Marion each drove in two runs for the Cardinals. Boxscore

The Cardinals completed the two-game series and earned their fifth consecutive road win with an 8-5 victory over the Cubs on April 27. Cooper got the win, even though he yielded four walks and eight hits, including a three-run home run by Bill “Swish” Nicholson. Slaughter had three RBI and the Cardinals compiled 13 hits. Boxscore

After a day off, the Cardinals began a three-game series at the Polo Grounds in New York.

In the opener on April 29, the Giants scored three runs in the first two innings off Bill McGee. Johnny Grodzicki, making his fourth big-league appearance, relieved, pitched six innings and limited the Giants to a run on three hits. He got the win when the Cardinals rallied and prevailed, 5-4. Boxscore

On April 30, Sam Nahem, acquired a year earlier in the trade that sent slugger Joe Medwick to the Dodgers, made his second Cardinals start, pitched eight innings and got the win in a 6-4 Cardinals triumph over the Giants. Slaughter and Mize each hit a home run. Boxscore

The Cardinals extended their road win streak to eight with a 5-0 victory over the Giants on May 1. Warneke pitched the shutout, even though he surrendered nine hits and a walk. The Giants stranded nine. Brown and Marion each hit a two-run home run for the Cardinals. Boxscore

Fine fiber

Warneke’s gem was the start of a dominant stretch for Cardinals pitchers. In the last five road wins of the streak, the Cardinals yielded a total of four runs.

On May 2 at Philadelphia, the Cardinals beat the Phillies, 4-2. Howie Krist, in his first start of the season, pitched a five-hitter for the win. He held the Phillies scoreless for the first eight innings. Boxscore

The Cardinals got their 10th consecutive road win in a most unexpected manner. Hank Gornicki, 30, made his first big-league start and pitched a one-hitter in a 6-0 Cardinals triumph over the Phillies on May 3. Stan Benjamin broke up the no-hit bid with a single in the sixth. Boxscore

Boston was the next stop for the Cardinals.

On May 4,  the Cardinals beat the Braves, 3-1. Cooper got the win, shutting out the Braves over the last six innings. The Cardinals scored all of their runs in the eighth, with Cooper’s brother and batterymate, Walker, contributing one of the RBI. Boxscore

The 12th consecutive road win for the Cardinals was a 5-1 victory over the Braves on May 5. Ernie White, making his first start of the season, pitched a five-hitter. Slaughter hit a two-run home run for St. Louis. Boxscore

In The Sporting News, Dick Farrington wrote, “When a team can win away from the friendly surroundings of its home playgrounds, it is always considered a rather definite sign of class and fiber.”

Second best

On May 6, the road win streak ended at Boston. The Braves scored all of their runs in the fifth off Grodzicki, making his final appearance of the season for St. Louis, and won, 5-4. The Cardinals had 11 hits and received seven walks, but stranded 13. Boxscore

The 1941 Cardinals finished in second place in the National League at 97-56, 2.5 games behind the Dodgers. The Cardinals were 44-32 on the road and 53-24 at home.

Previously: Who is Shelby Miller like? How about Hank Gornicki?

Previously: How Joe Medwick got traded by Cardinals to Dodgers

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One month after being released and having to return to the minor leagues to prove his worth as a pitcher, Ray Burris joined the Cardinals and showed them his bat was as valuable as his arm.

ray_burrisThirty years ago, in May 1986, Burris joined Dizzy Dean of the 1936 Cardinals as the only Redbirds pitchers to produce three RBI or more in consecutive games.

In 2016, Adam Wainwright matched the feats of Dean and Burris. Wainwright had three RBI for the Cardinals in their 11-4 victory over the Diamondbacks on April 27, 2016. Boxscore In the next game in which he batted, May 2, 2016, against the Phillies, Wainwright again had three RBI in a 10-3 Cardinals triumph. Boxscore

Eighty years earlier, Dean drove in three runs for the Cardinals in their 8-5 victory over the Braves on July 26, 1936. Boxscore In the next game in which he batted, July 31, 1936, against the Dodgers, Dean again had three RBI in an 8-6 Cardinals triumph. Boxscore

Like Bob Gibson and Bob Forsch, Dean and Wainwright are considered to be among the best-hitting Cardinals pitchers.

Burris didn’t have that kind of reputation. His performance was most unexpected.

Just hacking

Burris, 35, was released by the Brewers on April 1, 1986. The Cardinals signed him 10 days later and assigned him to Class AAA Louisville. He last had pitched in the minor leagues in 1974.

After producing a 1-1 record and 2.41 ERA in four starts for Louisville, Burris was called up to the Cardinals. “We got him because he can throw strikes,” St. Louis manager Whitey Herzog said to United Press International.

Burris, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound right-hander, was the starting pitcher in his Cardinals debut against the Giants on May 10, 1986, at St. Louis.

In the second inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Burris came to bat in the big leagues for the first time since 1983 when he was in the National League with the Expos. His career batting average was .152.

Facing Giants starter Roger Mason, Burris swung at the first pitch, a ball down and in, and pulled it along the left-field line for a three-run double.

“Because I was having control troubles, I thought he’d be taking,” Mason said to the Sacramento Bee. “I was wrong.”

Burris: “I swing if the ball is in the vicinity of the plate … I guess it’s just hacking.”

Herzog: “I might bat Burris cleanup. It was nice to see that double.”

Burris pitched seven innings, departing to a standing ovation from the Saturday night crowd of 44,795, and got the win in a 6-3 Cardinals victory. Boxscore

“He’s just a crafty guy,” said Giants catcher Bob Brenly. “He takes off a little on a pitch, then puts it back on.”

Dream performance

The next game in which Burris batted was in a start on May 24, 1986, against the Braves at St. Louis.

Just like in his Cardinals debut, Burris batted in the second inning with the bases loaded. Again, he doubled along the left-field line, sending a shot past third baseman Ken Oberkfell for a three-run double off starter David Palmer.

“What I could have done was gotten ahead of him and made him hit my pitch,” Palmer told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Instead, I got behind him and had to come in with one. He hit it where he should have hit it.”

Burris: “It was a flashback. It’s all a dream and I’m glad it’s happening … How can you explain it? I’m no Jack Clark.”

Herzog: “I think my pitchers are leading the team in RBI. Burris is doing the job at the plate.”

In the fifth, Burris produced his fourth RBI of the game, a run-scoring single off Duane Ward.

“The ball just keeps hitting my bat,” Burris said.

Burris pitched six innings and got the win in a 9-5 Cardinals triumph. Boxscore

Fading out

After winning his first two decisions for the Cardinals, Burris lost five of his next seven.

He was 4-5 with a 5.60 ERA in 23 appearances, including 10 starts, when the Cardinals released him on Aug. 27, 1986.

Burris produced a .148 batting mark (4-for-27) for the Cardinals, with three doubles and seven RBI.

Previously: Dizzy Dean’s dazzling RBI season for Cardinals

Previously: How Dizzy Dean did his David Freese impersonation

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Steve Trachsel played a prominent role in two record-setting home run performances by the Cardinals. He was the starter the last time the Cardinals hit seven home runs in a game. Two years later, he yielded the home run to Mark McGwire that broke Roger Maris’ single-season big-league mark.

steve_trachselThe Cardinals’ team record for most home runs in a game is seven. They’ve done that twice.

The first time was May 7, 1940, in the Cardinals’ 18-2 victory over the Dodgers at St. Louis. Joe Medwick, Johnny Mize, Don Padgett, Eddie Lake and Stu Martin each hit a home run off starter Hugh Casey. Mize and Lake also each hit a home run off Max Macon. Boxscore

Fifty-six years later, the Cardinals did it again. On July 12, 1996, Gary Gaetti and Ron Gant each hit two home runs and John Mabry, Ray Lankford and Brian Jordan had one apiece in the Cardinals’ 13-3 victory over the Cubs at Chicago. Boxscore

On April 15, 2016, the Cardinals came close to matching the feat. They hit six home runs in a 14-3 victory over the Reds at St. Louis. Matt Holliday hit two and Aledmys Diaz, Randal Grichuk, Brandon Moss and Matt Adams each hit one. Also, Matt Carpenter hit a ball that was caught by center fielder Billy Hamilton, who reached over the wall to deprive him of a home run. Boxscore

All-star foe

The 1996 performance at Wrigley Field was surprising.

The Cardinals entered the game with the fewest home runs (71) in the National League, according to the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Daily Herald.

Trachsel, the Cubs’ starter, was considered an emerging ace.

Three days earlier, Trachsel had pitched a perfect inning for the NL in the All-Star Game, retiring Sandy Alomar, Cal Ripken and Alex Rodriguez.

Trachsel’s career record against the Cardinals then was 5-1.

“I know how good that young man is,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I wouldn’t have bet a dime we’d hit one (home run), much less seven.”

Redbirds rip

Trachsel yielded four home runs that day. In the third inning, Mabry hit a two-run shot and Gaetti followed with a solo home run. In the fifth, Lankford and Gant hit solo back-to-back shots, knocking Trachsel out of the game.

“They hit high pitches, low pitches, off-speed stuff, fastballs,” Trachsel said to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Said Cubs manager Jim Riggleman: “Even the elite have bad days.”

Rodney Myers relieved Trachsel and gave up the third home run of the fifth inning, a two-run shot by Gaetti, who was playing in his second career game at Wrigley Field.

“We haven’t been hitting like this,” Gaetti said to the Associated Press. “This ballpark is conducive to this, though.”

The sixth and seventh Cardinals home runs were a three-run shot by Jordan off Tanyon Sturtze in the sixth and a solo shot by Gant off Terry Adams in the eighth.

No. 62

Trachsel was the Cubs starter again on Sept. 8, 1998, against the Cardinals at St. Louis. In the fourth inning, McGwire hit his 62nd home run of the season, surpassing Maris’ total of 61 with the 1961 Yankees and linking Trachsel to one of baseball’s treasured records.

Lankford and Gant also hit home runs off Trachsel that day in a 6-3 Cardinals triumph. Boxscore

Trachsel yielded 28 home runs in 28 career starts vs. the Cardinals. Lankford hit four career home runs off Trachsel and McGwire hit three.

Previously: The strange case of Hugh Casey vs. 1940 Cardinals

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Flummoxed by the introduction of a dead baseball, the defending World Series champion Cardinals struggled to score a run at the start of the 1943 season. Desperate, Stan Musial broke the scoreless streak by attempting to steal home.

johnny_vandermeerThe 1943 Cardinals established a major-league record by going scoreless for the first 26 innings of the season.

The record stood for 73 years until the 2016 Padres began the season by failing to score in the first 30 innings. Jon Jay, a former Cardinals outfielder, snapped the Padres’ futility streak with a RBI-single in the fourth inning against the Rockies at Denver on April 8, 2016.

Musial’s mad dash

In 1943, the Cardinals started the season at Cincinnati. The Reds won the opener, 1-0, in 11 innings and also won, 1-0, again the next day in 10 innings.

After going scoreless in the first five innings of Game 3, the Cardinals had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth. Musial broke from third, attempting to steal home, and was trapped in a rundown.

When Musial dashed for the plate, third baseman Bert Haas tossed the ball to catcher Ray Mueller, who dropped it. Musial scored on the error for the Cardinals’ first run of the season. The Cardinals scored again in the eighth and won, 2-1.

Foul ball

After Reds general manager Warren Giles sent a telegram to National League president Ford Frick, complaining about the ball, an official with manufacturer A.G. Spalding admitted the ball produced by the company “did not measure up to specifications in resiliency,” The Sporting News reported.

According to Giles, the Spalding official said that the “rubber cement they were forced to use had affected the rebound of the 1943 baseball adversely.” Tests showed the resiliency of the 1943 balls were 25 percent less than in 1942.

In his book “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story,” Musial explained, “Because rubber was a war-priority item, the Spalding Company … decided to use re-processed rubber or, as it’s more accurately known, balata.”

Irate, Giles fumed to The Sporting News: “Asking big leaguers to play with the sort of a ball with which we are opening the season would be like asking our soldiers, sailors and Marines to win the war with blanks instead of real ammunition.”

Frick instructed NL teams to use leftover 1942 baseballs until Spalding could issue revamped 1943 balls.

Said Cardinals manager Billy Southworth of the dead balls: “It robs the game of the great hitting and great fielding plays which cause baseball to appeal to the public.”

Here is the look at the Cardinals’ first three games of the 1943 season:

Opening duel

In a matchup of aces Johnny Vander Meer of the Reds and Mort Cooper of the Cardinals, Vander Meer prevailed in the 1-0 Reds victory on April 21.

Vander Meer yielded two hits and five walks in 11 innings. Singles by Whitey Kurowski in the first inning and Frank Demaree in the third accounted for the St. Louis hits.

The Cardinals put three runners on base in the first but couldn’t score.

In the 11th, Lonny Frey led off for the Reds with a single against Cooper and advanced to second on Mike McCormick’s sacrifice bunt. Max Marshall drove in Frey with a single.

Cooper pitched 10.1 innings and gave up six hits and two walks. Boxscore

Choke up, fellas

In Game 2 on April 22, Ray Starr held the Cardinals to five hits in 10 innings. The Reds won, 1-0, when Frey scored from third on a Haas single off starter Ernie White with two outs in the 10th.

Musial had tripled with one out in the fourth, but was stranded.

“When I tripled off Ray Starr,” said Musial, “the ball sounded like a nickel rocket.”

Said Southworth to the Cardinals: “You’ll have to choke your bats, fellas, as they used to do in the old days, and bunt more often.” Boxscore

No RBI

In Game 3, on April 24, both of the Cardinals’ runs in their 2-1 victory were unearned.

The first came when Musial escaped the rundown after Mueller dropped the ball.

The second came in the eighth when Musial scored from third on a passed ball by Mueller. Boxscore

With better baseballs, the 1943 Cardinals’ offense came to life. They scored 679 runs (second only to the Dodgers in the NL) and won their second consecutive pennant, posting a 105-49 record.

Previously: How a B-17 nearly clipped Cardinals in World Series

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After becoming the second Cardinals player to hit home runs in four consecutive at-bats, Albert Pujols came close to becoming the first big-league player to achieve the feat in five at-bats in a row.

albert_pujols25Ten years ago, in April 2006, Pujols joined Stan Musial as the only Cardinals to hit home runs in four straight at-bats.

Pujols, 26, a right-handed batter, hit home runs in each of his last three at-bats against the Reds on April 16, 2006, and in his first at-bat against the Pirates on April 17, 2006.

Musial, 41, a left-handed batter, hit a home run in his last at-bat against the Mets on July 7, 1962, and in each of his first three at-bats against the Mets on July 8, 1962.

Pujols was the first player to hit home runs in four consecutive at-bats since the Blue Jays’ Carlos Delgado did it in September 2003. Pujols tied the big-league record held by 34 others.

After hitting his fourth consecutive home run, Pujols nearly hit another in his next at-bat. The blast off Pirates starter Paul Maholm slammed against the wall in right-center at Pittsburgh and Pujols settled for a double.

Three in a row

Pujols’ streak began on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2006.

The Reds led the Cardinals, 4-2, in the fifth inning at St. Louis. With one out, Aaron Miles singled. Pujols followed with a home run off starter Bronson Arroyo that “smacked so hard against the Casino Queen Party Porch it could be heard miles away,” according to Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch.

In the seventh, with the Cardinals ahead, 5-4, two outs, Pujols hit a solo home run off former teammate Rick White.

Entering the bottom of the ninth, the Reds led, 7-6. Jason Marquis, pinch-hitting for fellow pitcher Braden Looper, led off with a single. Pujols stepped in against David Weathers and walloped a walkoff, two-run home run for an 8-7 Cardinals victory. Boxscore

The ball “flew high toward the foul pole in left (and) caused 40,068 to draw a hard breath,” wrote Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch. “Fair or foul? Count it.”

Describing the shot on television, broadcaster Joe Buck said, “How fair can it be? Just enough.”

The ball landed in the third deck and traveled 441 feet.

Hard to describe

“He’s a great hitter, but if you make your pitch you can get a double play,” Weathers said to the Associated Press. “It was just a bad pitch and he hammered it.”

Said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa: “This is one where you’ll be lost for words … I’m at a loss to describe it, man.”

“Indeed,” wrote Miklasz, “there are only so many ways to say that Pujols is the best hitter of his generation.”

Pujols told Strauss, “Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get three more and forget about today.” Check out this video of all three home runs.

Power in Pittsburgh

The next night, April 17, 2006, the Cardinals opened a series at Pittsburgh. In the first inning, So Taguchi singled with one out and Pujols hit a two-run home run to center off Maholm.

Those were the only Cardinals runs in a 2-1 triumph.

Pujols also doubled and walked before ending his on-base streak by flying out in the seventh against Salomon Torres.

Afterward, told by Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch that he had joined Musial as the only Cardinals with home runs in four consecutive at-bats, Pujols said, “That’s awesome, but it was more important we won the game.” Boxscore

Said La Russa: “He’s doing things that put him in the company of the greatest players of all time.”

Previously: Stan Musial still oldest to belt 3 home runs in a game

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In a lineup of heralded run producers, including Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Larry Walker, Reggie Sanders stole the spotlight with a standout RBI performance for the Cardinals in the 2005 National League Division Series.

reggie_sanders2Ten years ago, Sanders had 10 RBI in three games for the Cardinals in their series sweep of the Padres.

Sanders, 37, established a NL Division Series record for most total RBI. Doing it in the minimum three games added to the awesomeness of the achievement.

To put the feat into perspective, consider that when Pujols and David Freese each had nine RBI for the Cardinals in the 2011 NL Championship Series against the Brewers, each did so in six games. When Pujols had nine RBI for St. Louis in the 2004 NL Championship Series versus the Astros, he played seven games.

Sanders had missed 54 games during the 2005 regular season after fracturing his right leg.

In five previous NL Division Series, Sanders had produced five total RBI, including one in 14 at-bats for the Cardinals against the Dodgers in four games in 2004.

Here is a breakdown of his 10-RBI effort against the Padres in the 2005 NL Division Series:

Game 1

Sanders was 2-for-4 with six RBI and a run scored in an 8-5 Cardinals victory on Oct. 4 at St. Louis.

In the third inning, the Cardinals led, 2-0. With the bases loaded and one out, Sanders, facing starter Jake Peavy, singled off the glove of first baseman Mark Sweeney, scoring Edmonds and Pujols.

Two innings later, Sanders again faced Peavy with the bases loaded and one out. With the count 3-and-0, Sanders got the green light to swing and ripped a high pitch for a grand slam over the left field wall, increasing the Cardinals’ lead to 8-0 and knocking Peavy from the game. Video

“You pretty much got to challenge him there and we lost the challenge,” said Padres manager Bruce Bochy to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Boxscore

The grand slam was the third by a Cardinals batter in a postseason game. The others: Ken Boyer in the 1964 World Series against the Yankees and Gary Gaetti in the 1996 NL Championship Series versus the Braves.

“Everything is all about results right now,” Sanders said. “It’s all about getting your ballclub where it needs to be and to continue to go as long as you can.”

Game 2

Sanders was 1-for-4 with two RBI in the Cardinals’ 6-2 victory on Oct. 6 at St. Louis.

In the seventh, with the Cardinals ahead, 4-1, Sanders doubled off reliever Rudy Seanez, scoring Edmonds and Pujols. Boxscore

“For us, it’s all about timing,” Sanders said afterward. “Manufacture runs when you have to manufacture. Really try to put pressure on the pitcher and the defense, no matter what the circumstances are.”

Game 3

The Cardinals completed the sweep with a 7-4 victory at San Diego. Sanders was 1-for-4 with two RBI.

With the Cardinals ahead, 3-0, in the second, Sanders batted with the bases loaded against starter Woody Williams, who had been his St. Louis teammate the year before. Sanders drilled a two-run double, knocking Williams out of the game. Boxscore

For the series, Sanders batted .333 (4-for-12) with two doubles, a home run, a single, a walk and a run scored.

Previously: Cards convinced Larry Walker to join pennant push

 

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