Friday, May 28, 1982 - The San Diego Padres were in town for the first game of a three-game weekend series at Busch Stadium II. Juan Eichelberger would pitch a complete game for San Diego, limiting the Cardinals to just five hits and a pair of walks. Bob Forsch was on the mound for St Louis, allowed the Padres seven hits, including a home run, and also issued a pair of walks. He failed to strike out a single batter and failed to go the distance. Naturally, he won the game with a little relief help from Bruce Sutter.
The Cardinals parlayed the five hits, two walks, some shoddy Padres defense and their no-so-secret weapon - team speed - into a relatively easy 5-2 win. It seemed Willie McGee was in scoring position continuously, but in reality, it was only three times - and the rookie scored each time, displaying the remarkable speed that would fit in so nicely with the Redbird offensive approach throughout the '80's.
In the first-inning, a one-out McGee triple plus a Lonnie Smith ground out to the shortstop put the first run on the board for St Louis. Then after Willie singled to lead off the fourth-inning, he advanced all the way to third base on a ground ball by Lonnie Smith which was booted by the first baseman. He then scored the unearned run on a Keith Hernandez sacrifice fly. Finally, in the eighth-inning, McGee coaxed a one-out walk, immediately stole second, then scored for the third time on Lonnie Smith's single to left field. Not a bad night.
The Cards scored their other two runs in the seventh-inning when McGee's turn in the batting order didn't come up. This time it was Keith Hernandez getting into scoring position with a lead-off double; he then advanced to third on a fielder's choice and came home on a David Green base hit to center. Later in the inning, Ken Oberkfell came home from third on one of Whitey Herzog's favorite weapons - the squeeze play.
Every hit, plus one of the walks the Cardinals had in this game either came around to score or drove in a run. Talk about offensive efficiency! It was on display tonight for those 31,733 fans to enjoy in just a little over two hours.
Forsch (6-1) went 7.2 innings, allowed seven hits (including a solo home run), walked two, didn't strike out anybody, but only gave up two runs - with a little help from Bruce Sutter - who finished up the remaining 1.1 innings in the game, allowing just one hit, no walks, and believe it or, no strikeouts.
Just another night at the old ballpark for a team that fooled everybody en route to a World Series title in 1982.
Friday, May 29, 1987 - The Houston Astros were paying a visit to St Louis for a three-game weekend series with the Cardinals, as their ace, Mike Scott was all set to go for game one. Rookie Joe Magrane got the start for St Louis, as a huge crowd of 48,423 jammed into Busch Stadium II to see how their Redbirds would fare against the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner.
Houston got on the board first, with two second-inning runs, thanks to a Kevin Bass lead-off home run and an RBI ground out by pitcher Scott - scoring Ashby - to help his own cause. That 2-0 lead remained intact until the Cardinals came to bat in the fifth-inning. With one out, Ozzie Smith drew a base on balls, immediately stole second, and advanced to third when the shortstop forgot to catch the ball. Tommy Herr then brought Ozzie home with a base hit to left. Scott was able to escape any further scoring in the inning, but for some reason, didn't return to the mound for the next inning. The new Astros pitcher would be the corpulent Aurelio Lopez.
In the meantime, Magrane was removed from the game after working just four innings, allowing just those two runs in the second-inning. Lee Tunnell would work the next two hit-less and scoreless innings, while the Redbirds were going to work on Lopez in the sixth. His job, of course, was to preserve that 2-1 lead for Mike Scott. After two straight doubles by Clark and McGee, Ford singled in McGee, stole second with Lindeman batting, then advanced to third when Lindeman grounded out - for the first out Lopez was able to get in his disastrous 0.1 inning of work.
Out of the Astros bullpen came the zany Larry Anderson - a fun-loving practical joker - who managed to escape any further damage. But the Cardinals now led, 3-2. The beneficiary of this sudden lead change was reliever Tunnell, who stood to be the winning pitcher if the Redbirds could keep the lead.
Anderson, the practical joker who pitched brilliantly to minimize the damage in the sixth, got lit up for five runs in the seventh, which was no fun at all to him; but the Cardinals were having a blast. The key hits for the Cardinals were McGee's two-run single, and pinch hitter Tony Pena's bases loaded triple, as St Louis put this game on ice. Ricky Horton worked the final two hit-less and scoreless innings to preserve the 8-2 victory.
This was a tale of two bullpens - one did the job, the other was a joke - at least tonight.