Tuesday, April 22, 2014

7 Crazy April Games in St Louis Cardinals History

April 2, 2013 - After an Opening Night loss in Arizona the night before, the Cardinals earned their first win of the new season by overpowering the Diamondbacks, 6-1.  Jaime Garcia allowed just one earned run in 5.2 innings, but a high pitch count (thanks to four walks and four strikeouts) hastened his relatively early exit.  The bullpen pitched scoreless relief, while the offense bashed three home runs - a two-run bomb by Matt Holliday, another two-run shot by Jon Jay, and a solo blast by Pete Kozma to dead centerfield.  Although the Cardinals shortstop was now on an 81 home run pace with 160 games to be played, this would prove to be the only home run he'd actually hit all season; which of course, explains why the front office nabbed free agent Jhonny Peralta as a replacement.  Barely a month after this start, Garcia would be shut down for the rest of the season with shoulder problems; and those problems still linger, causing much concern for the young lefty's future.

April 3, 2011 - After dropping the first two games of the new season at home against the San Diego Padres, Jaime Garcia got St Louis in the win column with a brilliant complete game four-hit shutout of the Pads   The offense only mustered two runs for the Cardinals, but it was (one) more than enough on this particular night.  Albert Pujols, playing his final season in St Louis, was hitless in four ABs as Cardinal Nation watched in horror.  His early season woes would be the most talked about slump in franchise history; but it would all be forgotten by October - a postseason filled with rally squirrels, courageous pitching and superhuman offensive fireworks; including some from the soon-to-be-departed Pujols.

April 4, 2008 - The Cardinals held on for a 5-4 victory over the visiting Washington Nationals, as starting pitcher Braden Looper (6 IP - 5 hits - 1 earned run) got the win, despite some fairly atrocious relief in the seventh-inning which allowed the Nats to score three times to make it a nerve-racking finish.  Manager Tony LaRussa first used relievers Springer (faced three batters, retired none), then Villone (faced one batter, retired none), before order was restored with McClellan, Franklin, and Isringhausen, who nailed down the save.  The hitting hero was former pitcher-turned outfielder, Rick Ankiel whose two-run home run proved to be the difference in the game.

April 5, 2006 - At Philadelphia, the visiting Redbirds started newly-acquired-soon-to-be- permanently-disabled Mark Mulder, who lasted seven innings (3 earned runs) for a no decision.  Home runs by Albert Pujols and Skip Schumaker accounted for two of the three runs the Redbirds tallied through eight innings of play.  With the score tied 3-3 in the top of the ninth-inning, Albert Pujols drew a one-out walk, stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher, but was thrown out at home on Scott Rolen's ground ball to shortstop Jimmy Rollins.  With Rolen reaching first base on the fielder's choice, Skip Schumaker then coaxed a walk to put runners on first and second.  Yadier Molina then delivered the game-winning hit with a line drive to left field.  Reliever Brad Thompson was the beneficiary of this tie-breaking run, and got the win.

April 6, 1982 - Newly acquired shortstop Ozzie Smith made his Cardinal debut on Opening Night in Houston, as the Redbirds pounded out 18 hits to crush the Astros, 14-3.  Houston starter Nolan Ryan only made it through three innings, allowing six earned runs on eight hits.  Ozzie collected two hits and 2 RBI in five trips to the plate, while catcher Darrel Porter hit the lone home run for St Louis; but this was a team that seldom relied on the long ball as an offensive weapon that year.  Cards' starter Bob Forsch breezed through this one (8 IP - 3 earned runs) to get the win.

April 7, 1987 - This was Opening Day for the Cardinals as they squared off against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, with John Tudor getting the start for St Louis against Rick Sutcliffe.  Tudor was not sharp early on, as Chicago grabbed a quick 3-0 lead after two innings; however, the Cardinals knocked Sutcliffe out of the game in the third-inning, after plating five runs to take a lead they would not relinquish.  Sutcliffe's final pitching line:  2.2 IP - 4 hits - 5 runs - 7 BB - 0 SO.  Coming in to relieve Sutcliffe in that disastrous third-inning for the Cubs was future Hall of Famer, Greg Maddux, who worked 3.1 innings of solid relief, allowing no runs on just two hits.  Tudor settled down after that shaky start, but was removed from the game after working just enough to qualify for the win - 5 IP - 8 hits - 3 runs - 3 BB - 2 SO.  Reliever Bill Dawley pitched the final four innings for St Louis, allowing just one hit and no runs, walking nobody, while striking out three, to earn a somewhat dubious save.  He was the beneficiary of a four-run seventh-inning which put the game on ice for the Redbirds, who would be heading to their third World Series in six seasons; but this would essentially be the end of the magical era of St Louis Cardinals baseball known as Whitey Ball; just prior to the All Star break in 1990, Herzog abruptly announced his resignation, as the team was heading for an unprecedented last place finish in the NL East.

April 8, 2000 - In a game that somewhat typified the Steroids Era, the Cardinals outslugged the visiting Milwaukee Brewers, 10-8.  Starting pitcher Daryl Kile allowed four earned runs in 5.1 innings of work, but left with the lead. and the bullpen managed to keep the Brewers at bay, although it took five different relievers to hang on:  Slocumb, Mohler, Thompson, Orosco, and Veres - who got the save.  The hitting star was Redbirds' third baseman Fernando Tatis, who went 3 for 4 with 4 RBI; while slugger Mark McGwire, playing in his last injury-plagued season with St Louis, hit his first home run of the year - a solo shot.  The Cardinals would easily win the NL Central that season, but would fall to the New York Mets in the NLCS.  However, with the addition of Jim Edmonds to patrol centerfield for St Louis, this was clearly a team on the rise; the following year, the Albert Pujols Era would begin, and eleven years later, the franchise would have two more World Championships to its credit; with a future that appears brighter than ever, even after Albert became an Angel.

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