Wednesday, June 4, 2014

It's Walk-Off Wednesday! This Day in St Louis Cardinals History - JUNE 4

Four out of five of the games featured for June 4 were walk-off winners for the Cardinals.  The other was a 10-inning shutout winner on the road.  We'll start with that one.

1980 - At Shea Stadium:  41-year old Cards southpaw Jim Kaat (1-4) scatters seven hits in a 10-inning complete-game shutout - beating the New York Mets by a score of 1-0  (It's not a walk-off win, but it's still special).

 Mets starter Pat Zachary allowed just two hits in seven innings of shutout pitching.  Neil Allen worked the final three innings, allowing just one hit - but it was a big one -  a Ken Reitz tenth-inning home run - to give Kaat all the run support he'd need today.

For Kaat, this is his first shutout since 1978, and it would prove to be the last one of his long and illustrious career.

With this win, St Louis (18-29) is still residing in the NL East cellar, but (slightly) better days lay ahead for the Redbirds.

1984 - At Busch Stadium II:  Ken Oberkfell's one-out single in the bottom of the eleventh-inning scores Andy Van Slyke from second base to give the Cardinals a 4-3 walk-off win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Bruce Sutter (2-3) worked three scoreless innings to get the win.  Al Holland (4-3) was tagged with the loss.

John Stuper started the game for St Louis, and was charged for two runs in six innings - after giving up a lead-off single in the seventh, Neil Allen relieved him - then managed to turn a 3-1 Cardinal lead into a 3-3 tie with 0.2 of an ineffective inning pitched.  Allen allowed the inherited runner (Stuper's) - plus one his his own - to score, by coughing up two hits in this stint - thus making this dramatic walk-off win a reality.

The other reality:  Stuper had to settle for a no-decision.

Meanwhile, George Hendrick's two-run third-inning single off Phillies starter Steve Carlton staked the Cardinals to an early 2-0 lead, while Tommy Herr drove in another run in the fifth-inning.

Carlton left after six innings, allowing those three runs, but he was taken off the hook for the loss when the Phillies rallied to tie it in the seventh.

1990 - At Busch Stadium II:  It's deja vu all over again, as the Cardinals beat the Phillies in eleven innings.  The final score:  St Louis 3 - Philadelphia 2.

The Cardinals scored two first-inning runs off Phillies starter Terry Mulholland, on a Pedro Guerrero two-run double (scoring Smith and McGee).  That was all the scoring for St Louis off Mulholland in his six innings of work.  In fact, that was all the scoring for St Louis off three relievers through the next four innings.

The Phillies scored an unearned run off Cardinals starter John Tudor in the third-inning after left fielder Vince Coleman misplayed a ball that should have retired the side with no runs scored.  Tudor worked 6.2 innings, and allowed just that one unearned run.  He was relieved by Ken Dayley who also gave up a run in just 0.2 innings, but it could have been worse.

In that crucial eighth-inning, after Philadelphia had already scored one run to tie the game, 2-2, they still had the bases loaded with no outs.  But Lee Smith retired the next three hitters - Thon, Daulton, and Ready - on three consecutive foul pop ups - the first on the first base side, the second on the third base side, and the third right behind the catcher.  Quite a trick!  It also took the wind out of the Phillies' sails, for sure.

After Smith worked his eighth-inning magic, Ricky Horton pitched the next two scoreless innings - then Frank DiPino (2-0) became the pitcher of record after working a scoreless eleventh-inning.

That set the stage for the the game winning rally off Phillies reliever Marvin Freeman (0-1).  With the bases loaded (Vince Coleman on third) and one out, Terry Pendleton dropped one safely into right field to finally win it for St Louis - who somehow managed to finish last in the NL East this season, despite this thrilling walk-off win.

1994 - At Busch Stadium II:  Ray Lankford's lead-off home run in the bottom of the ninth snapped a 1-1 tie, to give the Cardinals a walk-off win over the San Francisco Giants.

Both starting pitchers - John Burkett (7 IP) for the Giants and Vincente Palacios (8 IP) for the Cardinals - allowed just one run apiece.  San Francisco scored their run in the very first-inning, on a Matt Williams RBI double.  St Louis tied the game in the second-inning when Ray Lankford singled Todd Zeile in from second base.

Rene Arocha (3-3) pitched a perfect ninth-inning in relief of Palacios.  Michael Jackson (3-2) made it through the eighth-inning unscathed, but the ninth was a different story:  One batter, one game-winning home run.  Just beat it.  This somehow reminds me of a joke that I heard in the early '80's:  What do Michael Jackson and the San Francisco Giants have in common?  They both wear gloves on their left hands for no apparent reason.  Bada bing.

2011 - At Busch Stadium III:  It was the Albert Pujols Show on this nationally televised game between the Cardinals and Cubs.  The game ended with Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija (3-2) mysteriously serving up a nice fat pitch to Pujols with two-out and nobody on base in the 12th-inning, which was hit deep to left field for the game winning walk-off home run.  Final score:  St Louis 5 - Chicago 4

Before that dramatic ending, Pujols was still in the thick of anything the Cardinals did, offensively.  In the fourth-inning, with Ryan Theriot on base, Albert launched his first home run of the game off Cubs starter Randy Wells, staking the Cardinals to a 2-0 lead.

Kyle Lohse started the game for the Redbirds, and pitched well until the Cubs mauled him for four runs in the sixth-inning.  Carlos Pena's two-run home run started the scoring; Campana and Fukudome each added an RBI for the Cubs, who now led 4-2.  Lohse didn't make it through the inning.  With two out, Motte replaced him, escaping further damage.  Lohse had been pounded for eleven hits, but only four runs.  The next five Cardinal relievers - Motte, Miller, Batista, Salas, and Sanchez - would allow just one more hit over the final 6.1 innings of this marathon.

Chicago's two-run lead was short-lived.  With two out and Theriot on first, it was Pujols again coming through with a big hit - this time, an RBI double.  With that blow, Wells was removed from the game.  Strangely enough, like Lohse, Wells also pitched precisely 5.2 innings, but only allowed three hits.  The result was still the same, however - 4 runs for the opposition.  That fourth run scored when the new pitcher - Sean Marshall -  was greeted by Lance Berkman's RBI single to tie the game, 4-4.

The last Cardinal pitcher used in this game - Eduardo Sanchez (2-1) - worked two perfect innings, striking out two batters.

The Cubs would use four more pitchers as the game progressed until the fateful twelfth-inning.  Samardzija retired the first two batters in the frame, giving him a golden opportunity to pitch around Pujols.  He chose to go after him - he paid the price.  And the Cardinals got a win they had to have to reach the postseason.

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