Saturday, June 14, 2014

June 14, 1985 - Wild Win at Wrigley

The Cardinals didn't have much luck against the Chicago Cubs in '84.  In fact they were, as sportswriter Rick Hummel put it, "mauled" by Chicago that season - losing 13 of 18 - featuring the excruciating, nationally televised Ryne Sandberg Game - a loss so devastating, it seemed to psychologically end the Cardinals season - and it was only June.

Payback time came just a year later.  In '85, it was the Cardinals doing the mauling - winning 14 of 18 - featuring the wildest win of the season - by far.

Friday, June 14, 1985 - In a game that featured 26 hits, six errors, 12 walks and three wild pitches between the two teams, the Cardinals eventually came away with a wild 11-10 win at Wrigley Field.  For the 36,745 bi-partisan fans watching this contest unfold, it was an E-ticket ride - definitely worth the price of admission.

The Cardinals sent Joaquin Andujar to the mound - a wild Joaquin on this day - escaping a first-inning jam that included three walks and three stolen bases - but no hits or runs allowed.  It was going to be that kind of day.  Weird and unpredictable.

Dick Ruthven got the start for Chicago - and through the first four innings, held the Cardinals scoreless.

In the meantime, the Cubs scored an unearned run in the second-inning, following right fielder Andy Van Slyke's error - then scored two more in the third, on a Jody Davis two-run double - to take a 3-0 lead.

The Redbirds finally got something started in the fifth-inning, thanks in large part to first baseman Leon Durham's error which kept the inning alive for Andujar to help his own cause with a two-run double.  Inspired, the irrepressible Willie McGee later tripled Joaquin home with the tying run - at least for now.

The Cubs answered back in the bottom of the fifth - scoring a run on a pair of hits and a wild pitch, to take a 4-3 lead - at least for now.

The Cardinals took the lead for good in the sixth-inning on a two-run Tom Lawless double, who later scored on another error by Chicago.

The 6-4 Redbird lead grew to a seemingly comfortable 10-4 lead in the seventh-inning - on a Jack Clark RBI single, and later with two runners on, Andy Van Slyke's three-run home run.

The Cubs weren't cooperating.  Against relievers Bill Campbell and Jeff Lahti, they used two hits, two walks and a wild pitch to score three runs - then tacked on another run in the eighth with three successive two-out singles.  It was now 10-8, and starting to get more than a little tense in the Redbird dugout.

In the Cardinals' ninth-inning, what would prove to be the winning run scored on yet another bizarre play.  With two out, Clark drew a base on balls off reliever George Frazier.  With Van Slyke batting, Clark moved to second on a wild pitch.  Van Slyke was then intentionally walked, whereupon he was picked off first - but the throw from Frazier sailed out of Durham's reach - scooting far down the right field line, into foul territory - allowing Clark to lumber all the way around from second to score the 11th run of the game - a run that would be necessary to win this hell ride.

The normally reliable Jeff Lahti quickly retired the first two batters in the ninth, but couldn't quite close it out.  Pinch hitter Richie Hebner's base hit preceded Dave Lopes' two-run home run.  After Ryne Sandberg predictably kept the inning alive with a double - suddenly, the tying run was in scoring position, with Keith Moreland now batting.

Herzog had seen enough.  Bob Forsch replaced Lahti, and induced Moreland to pop one up down the right field line - in foul territory.  With the wind blowing the ball further into foul territory, it seemed destined to sail out of play, into the first couple of rows of seats along the line.  Somehow, Van Slyke, avoiding all sorts of obstacles, running full speed, snatched the ball out of thin air - and kept running with the ball still in his glove, into the relieved Cardinals' dugout.

Andujar managed to escape with his 12th win of the season, against one loss.  Ruthven (3-5) took the loss.

The Redbirds came into town 4.5 games behind the first-place Cubbies.  No doubt infused with a little extra energy after this bizarre marathon, they went on to sweep Chicago out of first place.  Montreal grabbed temporary possession of the top-spot in the NL East - but the Redbirds were fast approaching.

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