Friday, May 30, 2014

May 30, 1982 - A Wild Come From Behind (Twice) Extra-Inning Winner

Sunday, May 30, 1982 - This was the rubber game of a three-game series with the San Diego Padres at Busch Stadium II.  The Cardinals worked some magic in the first game on Friday night - a 5-2 win - scoring those five runs on just five hits.  The Padres got some measure of revenge on Saturday, when they broke a 2-2 tie with two runs in the ninth - good for a 4-2 win.  The way some of the Padres sauntered off the field after Saturday's win rankled more than a few of the Cardinals, who vowed to turn the tables on Sunday.  What would happen at the end of this game was almost beyond belief.  For those among the crowd of 32,410 who stuck around until the end; it was a game they'd never forget.

Dave LaPoint got the start for St Louis, and pitched well through eight innings; holding San Diego to just two runs on six hits.  Unfortunately, the Cardinal offense could do nothing with Padres starter Tim Lollar, who blanked the Redbirds on just two hits through the first six innings.  Then, in the seventh-innng, after retiring both George Hendrick and Lonnie Smith on routine ground outs, light-hitting Mike Ramsey doubled down the left field line - only the third hit Lollar had allowed up to this point in the game.

Apparently, Padres manager Dick Williams had seen enough.  He brought in Gary Lucas to pitch to Julio Gonzalez, who struck out to end the threat.  Lucas would then be asked to pitch the eighth and ninth innings for San Diego; normally, a routine assignment.

After St Louis failed to score in the seventh, the Padres put runners on second and third with nobody out in the top of the eighth-inning.  Herzog elected to keep LaPoint in the game, and his starter rewarded him by retiring the next three batters - stranding the runners.  It seemed inconsequential at the time; especially after Lucas retired the Cardinals on just one hit and no runs in the bottom-half of the eighth.

It really seemed inconsequential when the Padres came right back to tack on an insurance run in the ninth inning, off reliever Doug Bair.  With two out and nobody on, Luis Salazar singled, stole second, then came around to score on Jerry Manuel's triple.  Ironically, after an intentional walk put runners on first and third, Gary Lucas was allowed to hit for himself - striking out to end the inning; but the Padres now led 3-0, as Lucas headed back to the mound, anxious to close this one out.

The Cardinals had other ideas.  Keith Hernandez began the ninth-inning rally with a single.  George Hendrick also singled, as Hernandez stopped at second.  The next hitter, Lonnie Smith ripped a double down the left field line, scoring Hernandez, as Hendrick stopped at third.  One run in, still nobody out.  Lucas finally retired a batter - Mike Ramsey - on a ground out to third, as the runners remained at second and third.  The next batter, Julio Gonzalez hit another ground ball to third, but this time, Luis Salazar made an errant throw to first, allowing Hendrick to score, as Smith held up at third; but Gonzalez hustled all the way to second on the error.  After David Green was intentionally walked to load the bases, Tommy Herr pinch hit for Bair - and got the third and final run of the inning home with a sacrifice fly to left.  Ozzie Smith, who had a tough day at the plate, going 0 for 5, grounded out to end the inning.

The Cardinals had tied it, 3-3.  On to one of the wildest tenth innings in Cardinal history.

The Cardinals' relief ace, Bruce Sutter was now pitching.  The first two batters he faced -Wiggins and Richards - both singled - putting runners on first and third.  The next batter, Lefebvre, doubled - scoring Wiggins, as Richards stopped at third.  After Jones was intentionally walked to load the bases (still nobody out), Lezcano hit a ground ball to Ozzie who made a strong throw home to force Richards.  One out.  Salazar hit another ground ball to Ozzie.  His only play was a force out at second.  Two out, but another run in as Lefebvre scored.  Salazar stole second, but the inning ended when Manuel grounded one to Ozzie, who threw to first for the third out.  The Padres were back on top, 5-3, with Gary Lucas heading back to the mound once again, trying to close it out.

Lucas retired the first two hitters - Sanchez on a ground out to second and Hernandez on a line out to center - but trouble lurked ahead.  George Hendrick poked a single to left field and scored when Lonnie Smith smoked a double down the left field line.  Mike Ramsey then delivered the game-tying hit - a single to left as Lonnie crossed home, sending 32,410 - minus a few who left early - into pandemonium.  Lucas, obviously rattled, hit the next batter, Gonzalez, with a pitch - and that signaled the end of his day.  He was still responsible for the base runners - the important one being Ramsey at second, representing the winning run.

Floyd Chiffer was the third and final pitcher for the Padres.  He would face only one batter - Dane Iorg - who wasted no time in lining a single to center field, scoring Ramsey with the improbable game winner.

The winning pitcher - Bruce Sutter (3-1) - was smiling a sheepish grin in the Cardinal clubhouse, as his teammates were needling him about his performance.  His pitching line:  1 IP - 3 H - 2 R - 1 BB - 0 SO

Gary Lucas (0-4) wasn't so happy in the visitor's clubhouse.  He worked three innings, but probably came into the game too early - and he probably stayed in the game too long.  The Cardinals roughed him up for seven hits and six runs, including one very costly unearned run.

In the end, it was by far, the craziest game of the season for the Cardinals - and a very nice one to win.

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