Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 30, 2006 - 3-Run 8th-Inning Rally Puts Cardinals in Postseason

Saturday, September 30, 2006 - At Busch Stadium III (Jeff Suppan - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  Milwaukee Brewers (Ben Sheets - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  44,294

The difference between the Cardinals winning the NL Central and advancing into the postseason and losing the division title - and going home early - really boiled down to the three-run eighth-inning rally the eventual World Series champions put together in this game - to turn a 2-0 deficit into a crucial 3-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

That was a close call, fans.  Of course, any season that hinges on one or two games between postseason glory or postseason tee times - can be identified by reviewing the events in one key inning, or one key at bat.  In this particular case, a couple of managerial decisions on the part of Tony LaRussa late in this game impacted the long term benefits Cardinal fans would ultimately enjoy - namely, a tenth world championship trophy for this storied franchise.

First things first.  Prior to this game, the Cardinals had won just eleven times in September - losing sixteen times.  On September 28, their once comfortable NL Central lead had dwindled to an alarming one-half game over the defending National League champion Houston Astros.

After a much-needed win on Friday night, coupled with a Houston loss in Atlanta, the lead was back to a game and a half as the Cardinals and Brewers prepared to do battle on this beautiful Saturday afternoon in St Louis.

Both starting pitchers - Jeff Suppan and Ben Sheets - were on top of their games today - neither allowing a single run to cross the plate through the first six innings.

But then in the top of the seventh-inning, the Brewers rallied.  With one out, back-to-back singles by Geoff Jenkins and Corey Hart suddenly had runners on first and second.  After David Bell lined out to Preston Wilson in left field, Mike Rivera walked to load the bases.

Brewers nanager Ned Yost, trying to capitalize on this scoring opportunity, inserted pinch hitter Jeff Cirillo in to bat for Ben Sheets.  It was a good move, as Cirillo lined a single to center, scoring Jenkins and Hart, to give Milwaukee a 2-0 lead.

Although they were now behind by a couple of runs, the Cardinals were probably glad to get Sheets out of there.  Although he'd given up seven hits in six innings of work, Sheets had also fanned seven - including striking out the side in the sixth.

Reliever Jose Capella pitched an uneventful bottom of the seventh for Milwaukee, but the eighth-inning would be quite a different story.  Albert Pujols started the fun with a lead-off single to right.  After Wilson struck out, Scott Rolen doubled down the left field line - advancing Pujols to third.

Yost went to his bullpen again - bringing in lefty reliever Brian Shouse to face Jim Edmonds - instead, LaRussa sent pinch hitter Juan Encarnacion to bat - who received an intentional walk to load the bases.

Yost went to the bullpen again, bringing in Francisco Cordero to face Ronnie Belliard - who lined out to left field for the second out.  It was getting late - not only in this game - but the for the entire season - which seemed to be slipping away into non-postseason hell at this point - especially with Cordero now pitching for Milwaukee.  Acquired on July 28 from the Texas Rangers for some young outfielder by the name of Nelson Cruz - Cordero had been nothing short of sensational - posting a 1.69 ERA in twenty-four innings - and on the verge of wrapping this one up.

Due up was Yadier Molina - who wasn't much of a hitter early in his career.  LaRussa knew it was now or never for his fading team - sending in the future postseason cult hero - Scott Spiezio - up to bat for Yadi - and he delivered the biggest hit of his career - at least up to this point - a bases-clearing triple deep to right field.  Suddenly, the Cardinals had climbed out of the abyss - taking a 3-2 lead heading into the ninth-inning.

Tyler Johnson - who had worked a scoreless eighth-inning for St Louis - would be in line for the win (2-4) if a young Adam Wainwright could pitch a scoreless ninth to earn his third major league save.

Waino walked one and struck out one to close this one out.  The Cardinals had come-from-behind to win a game they absolutely needed to win - especially since Houston had also won today to remain just a game and a half behind St Louis.

As fate would have it, the Astros would lose again on Sunday, October 1 - and so would the Cardinals - to remain a game and a half in front of Houston - with just one game left on the schedule - a game that was previously rained-out.  Thanks to the mathematical impossibility of St Louis blowing that lead, the Redbirds didn't have to worry about playing Game 162.

St Louis finished the regular season at 83-78 - five games above .500 - but it was good enough to win the NL Central - so it was good enough to sneak into the postseason.  After eliminating the over-whelming favorites in the NLDS - the San Diego Padres - three games to one - the Cardinals advanced to the NLCS to face the over-whelming favorite New York Mets - who were beaten, four games to three.

On to the World Series, to play the extremely overwhelmingly favored Detroit Tigers - who even had home-field advantage going for them.  The only thing they didn't have going for them were a whole lot of wins.  St Louis crushed them - four games to one - much to the shock and dismay of practically everyone outside of Cardinal Nation.

The Cardinals' postseason record:  11-5 - six games above .500 - marking the first time in history a team had ever gone higher above .500 in the postseason than they had in the regular season.  The cover of Sports Illustrated - capturing the essence of this upset - displayed a photo of a jubilant World Series MVP David Eckstein on the cover - arms extended high over his head - with the appropriate caption:  "Get Over It" - but I don't think a lot of bitter fans from other championship-deprived franchises really have gotten over it.

Come to think of it, the outcome of the 2011 World Series seemed to have surprised and disappointed the disgruntled masses once again.  Of course, heading into the 2014 postseason, the Cardinals are huge underdogs again.  In fact, odds-makers have given the wild card Pittsburgh Pirates a better shot of winning the World Series.  Go figure.

Of course, that's just the way the Cardinals seem to prefer it - playing the role of the underdog.

Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29, 1964 - Cards Grab Share of First-Place with Win Over Phillies

Tuesday, September 29, 1964 - At Busch Stadium I (Ray Sadecki - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  Philadelphia Phillies (Dennis Bennett - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  27,433

In the second game of a three-game series, the Cardinals finally grabbed a share of first-place in the tight National League pennant race with a 4-2 win over the reeling Philadelphia Phillies - who had fallen into third-place - a game and a half behind the Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds - who were beaten tonight at home by the Pittsburgh Pirates, by a 2-0 score.

The Pirates were no doubt in a foul mood when they arrived in Cincinnati - after losing five straight at home to the Cardinals.  The rare five-game series sweep catapulted the Redbirds into second-place as the season moved into the final week of the season.  After '64, the only other time St Louis has swept a five-game series was in 1982 - when they victimized the New York Mets in another September postseason drive - which also happened to coincide with a world championship season.

This particular game marked the Redbirds' seventh straight win - sending the Phillies to their ninth straight loss.  St Louis would get the series sweep the following night to cap off the worst ten days in Philadelphia Phillies' history - which began with a disastrous 0-7 home-stand (September 21 - 27) and continued with this three-game series sweep at the hands of the Cardinals (September 28 - 30).

The Cardinals wasted little time in taking command of this game - scoring a first-inning run on an RBI double by Dick Groat - then tacking on two more runs in the second-inning on three hits - and in the process, chased Phillies starter Dennis Bennett (12-14) out of the game after just 1.1 innings of work.  The Philadelphia bullpen (five relievers) did a credible job, aside from a sixth-inning solo home run off the bat of Bill White which John Boozer allowed in his thee-inning stint.

Cardinal starter Ray Sadecki limited the Phillies to a pair of runs in 6.2 innings pitched - both scoring on a pinch hit bases loaded single by Gus Triandos.

After Sadecki found himself in a two-out seventh-inning jam - runners on first and third with Dick Allen coming up to bat - manager Johnny Keane went to the bullpen - bringing in Barney Schultz - who not only got out of this jam - finished off the Phillies in the eighth and ninth-innings - allowing no hits, just one walk, while striking out two.

Sadecki (20-10) got the win, as Schultz bagged his 13th save of the season.

The season was winding down to the final weekend.  A wild finish was definitely in order.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September 28, 2011 - Carpenter's 2-Hit Shutout Punches Wild Cards' Ticket to Postseason Party

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - At Minute Maid Park (Chris Carpenter - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  Houston Astros (Brett Meyers - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  24,358

The Cardinals completed their most improbable quest for postseason play since 1964, with an 8-0 win over the Houston Astros.  Chris Carpenter had his most dominant outing of the season - a complete game two-hit shutout, which also included eleven strikeouts and just one base on balls.  Clearly, he was primed for postseason play.

The Cardinals took command of this game from the outset - scoring five first-inning runs on seven hits.  The Redbirds tacked on another third-inning run when Carpenter got into the act with an RBI single to score David Freese - who also scored a fifth-inning run (his third of the game) on Skip Schumaker's second RBI of the game - on a run-scoring ground out.

Allen Craig added a ninth-inning solo home run to round out the scoring - for the game - and the regular season for the National League's most dominant offensive attack.

With Carpenter anchoring the starting rotation and a vastly improved bullpen, this team seemed to have all the pieces required to go all the way.  And of course, they did.

In the meantime, after this game concluded, St Louis now held a one-half game advantage over the Braves for the coveted wild card berth in the National League.  The game between the Braves and Phillies - which began an hour before this one - was still in progress - tied at three runs apiece.

As the Cardinal players gathered in the visitor's clubhouse to watch the conclusion of that game - the Phillies scored a thirteenth-inning run to take the lead.  When Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman grounded into a season-ending 3-6-3 double-play - one hour and fifteen minutes after their win in Game 162 - the Cardinals were in - and the first of four wild champagne celebrations had begun.

Three years later, the Cardinals clinched their second straight NL Central title after Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto avenged last season's embarrassing wild card loss to the Pirates - and at least for a day - was not the most despised opposing player in Cardinal Nation.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

September 27, 1982 - Finally! A Division-Clinching Win in Montreal

Monday, September 27, 1982 - At Olympic Stadium (Dave LaPoint - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  Montreal Expos (Bill Gullickson - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  20,175

For the first time since the advent of division play in 1969 - the Cardinals clinched their first ever NL East title - beating the Montreal Expos by a score of 4-2.  All four Cardinal runs came in the first-inning - the final three coming across on Willie McGee's exhilerating two-out-three-run inside-the-park home run.

That was the extent of the Redbird offense tonight - but it was good enough - as Dave LaPoint (9-3) put in 5.2 solid innings - allowing just one run, before reliever Doug Bair took over the mound duties for the next five outs.  Bair's only mistake was a two-out seventh-inning pitch Tim Wallach walloped for a home run, to cut the deficit to 4-2.

But that was as close as they could get.  Bruce Sutter got the final five outs (one strikeout) to record his 36th save of the season.

Montreal starter Bill Gullickson (12-13) - after that shaky four-run first-inning, settled down over the next five innings to keep St Louis in check - but the damage had already been done.

It seemed fitting that the Cardinals would wrap up their first-ever division championship against the team that burned them on Opening Day '69 - to begin twelve seasons of near misses and otherwise ineffective play for a franchise that normally prides itself on excellence.

As defending National League champions, the '69 Cardinals opened the new season with a shocking 8-7 loss to the expansion Montreal Expos.  Now, thirteen years later, they'd finally come full circle.

The best was yet to come, as this underdog team would have the audacity to beat the powerful Milwaukee Brewers in a classic seven game World Series.

Friday, September 26, 2014

September 26, 1985 - Tudor Blanks Phillies, 5-0 - Notches 20th Win

Thursday, September 26, 1985 - At Busch Stadium II (John Tudor - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  Philadelphia Phillies (Kevin Gross - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  23,598

The Cardinals completed a perfect 7-0 home-stand with a 5-0 win over the Phillies, as John Tudor went the distance - allowing just four hits to notch his twentieth win of the season.  Most importantly, the Cardinals (97-56) maintained their four game lead over the New York Mets (93-60) - as their ace - Dwight Gooden - tossed a shutout of his own - blanking the Cubs at Wrigley Field by a 3-0 score.

Tudor, who didn't walk a batter, had little trouble keeping the Phillies off the bases - aside from right fielder Glenn Wilson, who was three for three (two singles and a double).  The only other hit Tudor surrendered to anyone not named Glenn didn't happen until the ninth-inning - when third baseman Rick Schu singled.  By that time, the Redbirds had already built-up a 5-0 lead - scoring in a variety of ways - just not hitting any home runs.

Their first run came in the second-inning when Terry Pendleton - batting with Andy Van Slyke on first and Darrell Porter on third - grounded into a 6-4-3 double play while Porter scored.

Porter started a two-out fourth-inning rally with a base on balls.  Then, with Van Slyke batting, Porter surprised everyone by stealing second.  Van Slyke also drew a free pass, then both runners scored on Pendleton's triple.

Strangely enough, the fastest man in baseball - Vince Coleman also grounded into a 6-4-3 double play in the fifth-inning, with John Tudor on first and Ozzie Smith on second.  Ozzie advanced to third on the play, and scored when Willie McGee singled.  After Phillies starter Kevin Gross (14-12) retired the side, his night was over after five innings - allowing four runs on four hits and three walks.

In the sixth, with goofball Larry Andersen working in relief, Porter started another rally by getting hit with a pitch - although Van Slyke forced him at second on a ground ball to first baseman Mike Schmidt.  With Pendleton batting, Van Slyke decided the best way to atone for failing to advance Porter was to steal second - just like Porter.  Pendleton then singled him over to third, which gave the Cards the chance to execute a double steal while Ozzie was taking his turn at bat.  It worked to perfection - as Pendleton swiped second, Van Slyke made a mad dash for home - and made it, easily.

A double play, a two-run triple, a two-out single and a steal of home - that's a typical Cardinal run-scoring formula for manufacturing runs.

Tonight, with Tudor's performance, that second-inning double play grounder was all the run support needed to put this one in the "win" column.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

September 25, 1974 - One For The Ages: Come-From-Behind 13-Inning Walk-Off Win Over Pirates

Wednesday, September 25, 1974 - At Busch Stadium II (Bob Forsch - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  Pittsburgh Pirates (Ken Brett - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  41,345

The Cardinals had dropped the first two games of a three-game series with the Pirates - to fall into second-place in the NL East race - now one-half game behind Pittsburgh.  Fighting for their postseason lives, they pulled off this amazing double-comeback to regain a slim one-half game advantage over a superior Pirates team - with six games left to play.  Had the Cardinals managed to win the division title that season, this game would have gained prominence in its historic significance.  As it stands, a whole generation of Cardinal fans have grown up unaware of one of the wildest games ever played.  And the good guys even won.

              1   2   3    4   5   6    7   8   9   10  11     R    H   E
Pirates  5   0   0    0   1   2    0   0   1    0    3      12   16   3     LP:  Jim Minshall (0-1)
Cards    0   0   6    0   3   0    0   0   0    0   4       13   17   1    WP:  Mike Garman (7-2)

The Cardinals pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat tonight, with a one-of-kind come-from-behind extra-inning walk-off win over the Pirates.  In thirteen-innings, the final score:  St Louis 13 - Pittsburgh 12.  What made this game especially unique was the fact that the Pirates had taken a 12-9 lead after their turn at bat in the top half of the thirteenth, only to have the Cardinals score four runs in the bottom half.  The walk-off blow was a simple little sacrifice fly off the bat of pinch hitter Jim Dwyer that scored pinch runner Larry Herndon from third base.

What made this game even more unique is the fact that the Pirates immediately broke on top with a five-run first-inning - knocking starting pitcher Bob Forsch out of the game after retiring just one batter:  0.1 IP - 3 H - 5 R - 2 BB - 0 SO - 1 HR (That home run was a three-run bomb by Manny Sanguillen, after the Pirates had already pushed two runs across the board.)

With Forsch making an untimely early exit, manager Red Schoendienst brought Rich Folkers in from the bullpen to escape the first-inning with no further damage.  Folkers then pitched a scoreless second-inning before being removed for a pinch hitter - as the Cards tried to get something going in the bottom of the second - to no avail.

However, the top of the order would be getting something started as the Cardinals took their hacks in the third-inning - still trailing, 5-0.

Lou Brock started the rally off Pirates starter Ken Brett (George's older brother) with an infield single in the shortstop - third base hole.  Ted Sizemore advanced Brock to third with a single to left field - then Reggie Smith drove in the first run of the game for St Louis with a single to center.

Ted Simmons and Joe Torre followed with run-scoring singles - to make it a 5-3 game - before Bake McBride's grounder right back to Brett resulted in a force out at third base.  With that, manager Danny Murtaugh brought in the first of six relievers he would use - Larry Demery - who inherited runners on first and second - as Ken Reitz stepped into the batter's box.

Reitz tied the game with a double down the left field line - then came in to score when pinch hitter Jose Cruz (batting for Mike Tyson) put the Cardinals in front, 6-5 - with a base hit to right field.

As the crowd was going wild, Schoendienst decided this would be a good time to execute the hit and run play.  With Cruz bolting off first base, Claude Osteen - a pretty good hitting pitcher - hit a soft line drive to the shortstop which was quickly turned into an inning-ending double play.

Still, not a bad inning:  Six runs on seven hits.  The Cardinals had a 6-5 lead - but that lead was short-lived.

Osteen, who had temporarily restored order in the third and fourth innings, couldn't get anybody out in the fifth.  Richie Hebner led-off with a single - followed by Al Oliver's run-scoring double to tie the game, 6-6.  After intentionally walking Willie Stargell, Osteen's night was over (2 IP - 2 H - 1 R - 2 BB - 1 SO) - Al Hrabosky's weird night was just beginning.

The Mad Hungarian came into this tie game to face Dave Parker with two on and nobody out.  Force out at second.  With runners on first and third and one out, Hrabosky retired Sanguillen on a short fly ball to right - not deep enough to score the runner from third.  He then got Ed Kirkpatrick on a called third strike - as the crowd went wild.  Pittsburgh had tied the game, but Hrabosky had stolen the momentum.

Ted Simmons greeted Pirates reliever John Morlan with a base hit to right to start the bottom of the fifth for the Redbirds.  Morlan then plunked Joe Torre with a pitch - putting runners on first and second.  With Bake McBride batting, Morlan uncorked a wild pitch - advancing the runners to second and third.  McBride's sacrifice fly to left field scored Simmons - to restore the one-run lead for the Cardinals.  The next batter - Ken Reitz - gave the Cardinals a three-run lead with a bomb deep to left.

The Pirates countered with two runs in the sixth, as the Bad Mad Hungarian reared its ugly head for the first time.  After striking out Frank Taveras, Hrabosky immediately gave up a base hit to pinch hitter Ken Macha - followed by a double to Rennie Stennett.

With runners on second and third, Hrabosky retired Richie Hebner on a short fly ball to right field, for the second out - but Al Oliver brought in both runners with a single to left field.  Hrabosky avoided further damage by retiring Stargell - but the Cardinal lead was down to one run:  9-8.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh relievers Ramon Hernandez and Dave Guisti were throwing zeroes at the Redbirds, while Hrabosky regrouped to pitch a scoreless seventh and a scoreless eighth, as the crowd kept their fingers crossed heading into the ninth-inning.

The crowd roared when The Hungarian struck out Stargell to open the ninth.  But things went bad again when Parker was hit by a pitch.  Next up - Sanguillen - lined a single to center field, which McBride misplayed - allowing Parker to score all the way from first, as Sanguillen cruised into second.  Hrabosky avoided any further damage - but the game would be heading into extra innings - tied, 9-9.

Incredibly, Hrabosky was still hanging in there, to start work in eleventh-inning.  Pinch hitter Art Howe reached on an infield single down the third base line.  Pinch running for Howe - Miguel Dilone - advanced to third on Stargell's single to right field.  Hrabosky dramatically struck out Parker for the first out - but Sanguillen gave Pittsburgh the lead with a base hit to left - then Kirkpatrick added a pair of insurance runs with a ringing double to right field.

By this time, Schoendienst finally decided to bring in a fresh arm out of the bullpen - Mike Garman - who retired the two batters he faced - Popovich and Zisk - to avoid further disaster.

Hrabosky - at times brilliant, at times brutal - had this pitching line:  6.1 IP - 10 H - 6 R - 5 ER - 0 BB - 9 SO -  Obviously, he was throwing strikes - at times, quite successfully.  Obviously, the Pirates were a free-swinging bunch - refusing to take a base on balls, getting lots of hits while striking out like major league ballplayers of the future - lots of times.

Little did anyone suspect that Mike Garman's brief 0.2 IP stint would earn him a win - but it did.

On the mound for Pittsburgh to start the bottom of the thirteenth - Juan Jimenez - would face three batters and all three batters reached base.  Sizemore singled, Smith walked and Simmons stirred the crowd into a frenzy with an RBI double.

Rookie reliever Jim Minshall entered this game with the Pirates clinging to a two-run lead, with the tying runs in scoring position and nobody out.  Good luck, kid.

The first batter - Joe Torre - grounded one to second baseman Rennie Stennett - who booted it - badly - allowing both runners to score as the slow-footed Torre rambled into second - representing the winning run.  Pinch runner Larry Herndon replaced the future managerial Hall of Famer at second base - waiting for someone to drive him in.

Next up - Bake McBride - laid down a perfect bunt - advancing Herndon to third as he beat the throw to first.  Reitz - who had a big night - tried to end it in dramatic fashion, but chased a high fastball - striking out instead.

That gave pinch hitter Jim Dwyer a chance to become a hero - and he did - with a fly ball deep enough to left field to easily score Herndon from third.  This wild three hour and forty-one minute walk-off win put the Cards back on top in the NL East race - one half game in front of the Pirates.

Unfortunately, Hollywood endings weren't written for the Redbirds in 1974.  With six games to be played, they won three of them - but one of the games on the schedule - a rain-out - was unnecessary - as Pittsburgh had already clinched the division title in their final game.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 24, 1964 - Gibson & Sadecki Dominate Pirates in Doubleheader Sweep

Thursday, September 24, 1964 - At Forbes Field (Bob Gibson - Game One Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  Pittsburgh Pirates (Wilbur Wood - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  2,842

The Cardinals began this five-game series with the Pirates by doing exactly what they needed to do - win both ends of this doubleheader.  Bob Gibson went the distance in the first game - scattering nine hits while striking out eleven in a 4-2 Cardinal win.  The only mistake that cost him was a seventh-inning two-run home run off the bat of Donn Clendenon, after the Redbirds had already scored the first four runs of the ballgame.

The Cardinals started the game with back-to-back singles by Curt Flood and Lou Brock.  After Dick Groat was retired on grounder to the first baseman - unassisted - both runners moved up a base.

Cleanup hitter Ken Boyer was intentionally walked to load the bases - with Bill White up next - hoping to get a big hit.  Instead, Wood balked in a run (Flood), as Boyer and Brock were now perched on second and third - then White stuck out.

Then, with Julian Javier batting, Brock wandered a bit too far off the third base bag, was picked off by catcher Orlando McFarlane, and was subsequently tagged out after a brief rundown (C - 3B - C - SS) - to end the inning.

Naturally, Javier led-off the second-inning with a single that probably would have scored two runs an inning earlier.  Mike Shannon followed with a ground out to the third baseman, as Javier advanced to second.  Then with Bob Uecker batting, Wood uncorked a wild pitch, enabling Javier to take third.

With first base open, and the pitcher due up, Uecker walked.  Of course, this particular pitcher was a pretty good hitter (.206 career vs Uecker's .200) - and Gibson helped his own cause with a run-scoring sacrifice fly to center field, to give himself a 2-0 lead.

The Cardinals tacked on two more runs in the fifth.  Flood opened with a single to center field, but was forced out at second on Brock's grounder to the shortstop.  Groat then came up with the big hit - a double down the left field line - advancing Brock to third.

Boyer received his second intentional walk of the game to load the bases for Bill White - who drove in Brock and Groat with a single to right field, as Boyer advanced to third.  After Javier walked to once again load the bases, manager Danny Murtaugh brought in reliever Don Schwall to pitch to Mike Shannon - ending Wilbur Wood's shaky outing (4.1 IP - 6 H - 4 R - 6 BB - 1 SO).  Who would have thought - seven years later, pitching for the Chicago White Sox he would begin a string of five straight seasons of starting over 40 games each year?  You never know...

Who would have thought - the Cardinals would have two runners picked off third base in the same game?  But that's what happened as Shannon was at bat.  This time, it was Boyer wandering a bit too far off third, as McFarlane bagged another victim.  Shannon was then retired on a fly ball to center - which may have scored the run from third - but 50 years later, we just don't know these things.

What we do know is Clendenon's two-run home run off Gibson would conclude the scoring in game one - good enough for a much-needed win.

Game Two Starting Pitchers:  Ray Sadecki vs Tom Butters

Sadecki pitched one of the finest games of his career - a complete game five hit shutout.  He walked just one batter while striking out ten - that's 21 strikeouts in one day, folks.

The first two runs the Cardinals put on the board came via the long ball.  Brock hit a solo home run in the third-inning, then Shannon smacked one in the fifth-inning.  Those were the only runs Butters allowed in his eight innings of work.  The Cards then tacked on a couple of ninth-inning insurance runs - both charged to Don Schwall, who gave up a lead-off single to Shannon, then struck out Sadecki before Flood singled to right - advancing Shannon to second.

With that, reliever Frank Bork entered the game to pitch to Brock - who forced Flood at second on a grounder to second baseman Bill Mazeroski, as Shannon advanced to third.  At that point, Pirates' pitching achieved the rare "daily double" - two run-scoring balks.  This one - with White batting - scored Shannon, as Brock moved into scoring position - and White took advantage of the opportunity with a run-scoring double, to make it a 4-0 game.

The third pitcher in the inning - Tommie Sisk - then struck out Boyer to end the inning.

Sadecki finished 'em off in style - striking out Clendenon, Freese and Stargell to nail this one down.

At the end of the day, the Cardinals were now 3.5 games behind the first-place Phillies - who were beaten at home by the Milwaukee Braves, by a final score of 5-3.  The Reds were a half game in front of St Louis - just three games behind Philadelphia.

St Louis had just nine more games to play - Cincinnati had ten more - and Philadelphia still had the ordeal of playing eight more games.

The way the season played out was truly mind-boggling.