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The Cardinals-Rockies rivalry, known for its high-scoring games, began, improbably, with a shutout.

rene_arochaThe Rockies, a National League expansion team, faced the Cardinals for the first time on April 20, 1993, at St. Louis. The Cardinals won, 5-0, on a combined shutout by Rene Arocha and Omar Olivares.

There was a strong Cardinals connection to the first Rockies team that faced St. Louis. Don Baylor, the Rockies’ manager, had been the hitting coach on manager Joe Torre’s staff with the 1992 Cardinals. Rockies first baseman Andres Galarraga and starting pitcher Bryn Smith had played for the 1992 Cardinals. Center fielder Alex Cole had been in the Cardinals’ minor-league system.

Galarraga, who broke his wrist in the Cardinals’ second game in 1992 and finished with a .243 batting average and 39 RBI, signed with the Rockies as a free agent. He entered the Rockies’ first game against the Cardinals with a .422 batting mark and 14 RBI after 11 games.

Before facing the Cardinals, Galarraga told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I’ve always been able to hit, even since I was a little boy in Venezuela. After the injury, I tried too hard when I came back. It got worse. I was swinging at bad pitches.”

Said Baylor: “He’s hitting the ball to right field more. That’s what he has to do to be successful.”

The starting lineups in the first Rockies-Cardinals game:

ROCKIES

1. Eric Young, second base

2. Alex Cole, center field

3. Dante Bichette, right field

4. Andres Galarraga, first base

5. Charlie Hayes, third base

6. Jerald Clark, left field

7. Joe Girardi, catcher

8. Freddie Benavides, shortstop

9. Bryn Smith, pitcher

CARDINALS

1. Geronimo Pena, second base

2. Ozzie Smith, shortstop

3. Gregg Jefferies, first base

4. Ray Lankford, center field

5. Mark Whiten, right field

6. Todd Zeile, third base

7. Brian Jordan, right field

8. Hector Villanueva, catcher

9. Rene Arocha, pitcher

On a chilly Tuesday night before 30,516 at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals scored three in the first and two in the fourth against Smith.

Arocha, a rookie, was cruising through 5.2 innings until a line drive by Bichette struck the pitcher’s gloved hand, fracturing a finger. Olivares relieved and retired the 10 batters he faced. So dominant were Arocha and Olivares that Cardinals outfielders handled just one fly out. Boxscore

The win was the only one Arocha earned against the Rockies in four big-league seasons. The Cardinals won seven of 12 games against the expansion Rockies.

Previously: Revisiting the Gregg Jefferies deal: Cardinals’ good gamble

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