Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30, 1985 - 11-Inning Walk-Off Winner Completes 3-Game Sweep of Mets

Sunday, June 30, 1985 - At Busch Stadium II (Danny Cox - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  New York Mets (Dwight Gooden - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  47,425

It took eleven innings, but the Cardinals completed a three-game sweep of the New York Mets, with a 2-1 walk-off win - a game that was filled with missed scoring opportunities on both sides.

Both starting pitchers - Cox and Gooden - certainly pitched well enough to win.  Cox scattered nine hits in nine innings of work - allowing just one unearned eighth-inning run.  Gooden's only mistake was pitching to Jack Clark - with two out and no runners on - in the seventh-inning - a pitch that Jack the Ripper slashed over the left field wall for a temporary 1-0 St Louis lead.

The Mets scored their lone run in the eighth-inning, when Wally Backman singled - then advanced all the way to third when Terry Pendleton kicked the ball halfway to Kirkwood.  Danny Heep's sacrifice fly scored the unearned run which tied the game at one run apiece - a game that was destined for overtime.

Prior to all that excitement, both teams blew scoring opportunities in the very first inning.

The first two batters Cox faced - Wally Backman and Danny Heep - both singled.  Keith Hernandez then grounded one to first baseman Jack Clark, whose only play was a force out at second - leaving runners on the corners with one out.  Gary Carter then bounced one right back to Cox as Backman immediately broke for home.  Cox decided to get the sure out at the plate, rather than risk trying for the double play.  That decision was rewarded when he struck out Darryl Strawberry to end the threat.

In the bottom of the first, Vince Coleman singled - then with Willie McGee batting, stole second.  He then took third on Willie's sacrifice bunt - but Tommy Herr failed to get him in after his foul popup was an easy play for third baseman Howard Johnson.  Then, with Clark batting, Coleman tried to score on a pitch that squirted away from Carter - but not far enough, as an alert Johnson trailed Coleman down the line while Carter retrieved the ball - then took the throw at the plate to nail Vincent Van Go - who didn't go fast enough this time.

More questionable base running plagued the Redbirds in the fifth-inning.  With one out, Andy Van Slyke doubled but was an easy out trying to advance to third on a Pendleton grounder to the shortstop.  With Pendleton now on first base, Ozzie Smith singled him over to third - but was promptly picked off by an alert Carter - to end another non-scoring Cardinal inning.

The Mets returned the "wasted opportunity favor" when George Foster led-off the seventh-inning with a single, then moved up to second on a Tom Nieto passed ball.  However, the next three batters couldn't move him off second.

The eleventh-inning was a Met disaster.  With Ricky Horton pitching for St Louis, Carter and Strawberry both singled, putting runners on first and second.  Exit Horton.  Enter Jeff Lahti, whose first order of business was to deal with Foster - who grounded one to Ozzie deep in the hole - whose only play was a force out of Carter at third.  The next batter - Johnson - failed to advance the runners, as he flew out to McGee in center.

When the venerable Rusty Staub was announced as a pinch hitter, manager Whitey Herzog took no chances - bringing in lefty reliever Ken Dayley to close out the inning.  He did, by striking out Staub - and in the process, put himself in line to get the win.

With Jesse Orosco now pitching for New York, pinch-hitter Ivan de Jesus - now batting for Ken Dayley - lined a one-out double down the left field line.  As luck would have it, Vince Coleman delivered the game winning hit - a single to center field, scoring the fleet-footed de Jesus with the winning run.  Dayley (2-0) retired the only batter he faced to get the win.  Danny Cox, who retired 27 - got the no decision.  But it was a job well done.  And the Cardinals were now on a roll.

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