Saturday, June 28, 2014

June 28, 2005- Sanders' 2-Run 1st-Inning HR Enough to Beat Reds

Tuesday, June 28, 2005 - At Busch Stadium II (Mark Mulder - Starting Pitcher) - Opposition:  Cincinnati Reds (Brandon Clausen - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  38,640

In this game, the Cardinals only had two hits that were meaningful - but one of them was a first-inning two-run home run off the bat of cleanup hitter Reggie Sanders.  The other was the two-out single by Albert Pujols which preceded that two-run blast.

The Reds, on the other hand, could only score one first-inning run - then spent the rest of the game squandering their scoring opportunities until the bitter end - when Jason Isringhausen struck out Jacob Cruz -  with a runner in scoring position - to save the 2-1 win for Mark Mulder (9-5).

Meanwhile, the Cardinal lineup could only muster two more hits for the entire game after the first inning - but the damage had been done.

After Mulder's shaky three-hit / one run  first-inning, the Cardinal lefty settled down to throw zeroes through the next five innings - escaping a thee hit mess in the third-inning, which was greatly aided by a 5-4-3 double play - and another in the sixth-inning, when he induced Jason LaRue to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play with runners on the corners.

By the time the seventh-inning rolled around, with a pitch count that was already over 100 - when Mulder issued a one-out walk to Encarnacion, manager Tony LaRussa brought in reliever Brad Thompson - who got the second out of the inning.

However, Rich Aurilia's infield hit moved the tying run into scoring position, prompting another pitching change - Ray King - to face the dangerous left-handed hitting Sean Casey - who already had two hits in the game and was looking for a third.

Behind the plate was a rookie catcher with a penchant for picking runners off base - Yadier Molina.  With a one ball - one strike count on Casey, Yadi caught Aurilia wandering too far off the bag - nailing the stunned base runner with a snap throw that would become legendary over the years.

Sean Casey - the perpetually-talking first baseman whose RBI opportunity had suddenly vanished in the blink of an eye - was speechless, although his mouth was agape.

In the end, the Cardinals had beaten the Reds by letting the Reds beat themselves.  Cincinnati had twice as many hits (8 to 4), twice as many walks (4 to 2), but half the runs (1 to 2).  But that's baseball.

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