Sunday, June 8, 2014

This Day in St Louis Cardinals History - June 8, 1982 - A 12-Inning Thriller North of the Border

Tuesday, June 8, 1982 - At Stade Olympique (Olympic Stadium):  Les Cardinals et Les Expos battled each other for 12-innings in tonight's game.  In the end, St Louis squeezed out a 5-4 win - using Whitey Herzog's favorite weapon to manufacture two of the five runs necessary to stave off those pesky Expos.

Bruce Sutter (4-3) - the sixth pitcher Herzog used in this game worked 1.1 innings of shaky relief for the win.

Dave LaPoint started for the Cardinals and was quickly touched for a run in the first, on an Al Oliver RBI single that scored the ever-dangerous lead-off man - Tim Raines.  On his next trip to the plate in the third-inning, Raines extended the Montreal lead to 2-0 with a lead-off home run.

Now, it was the Cardinals' turn to score a couple.  In the fourth-inning, Darrell Porter drew a bases loaded walk with nobody out, off Montreal starter, Steve Rogers.  However, the Redbirds were unable to capitalize on a chance for a big inning after Tommy Herr and Ozzie Smith were retired on infield popups, and pitcher LaPoint looked at a called third strike.  Yikes.

The did manage to push across the tying run in the seventh-inning when light-hitting Mike Ramsey executed a successful squeeze bunt to score Herr from third, as Rogers only had one play - to retire Ramsey at first.

Montreal missed out on a big opportunity to take the lead in the eighth-inning against reliever Steve Mura - who had already pitched a scoreless seventh, but ran into trouble after yielding consecutive singles to Terry Francona and Andre Dawson.

Jim Kaat then replaced Mura to face Oliver, who laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up to second and third.  With first base now open, Gary Carter was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Kaat then induced the next hitter - Warren Cromartie - to ground one back up the middle, which the multiple-Gold Glove-winning pitcher flagged down to force Francona at home.  Kaat's work successfully completed, Herzog then brought Jeff Keener in to face another dangerous hitter - Tim Wallach - who struck out to end the threat.

The game remained tied, 2-2, heading into the eleventh-inning, when Keith Hernandez got things started for St Louis with a lead-off single to center off Expos reliever Jeff Reardon - now in his second inning of work.  After George Hendrick flew out to center field, Dane Iorg lined a single to right, as Hernandez scooted over to third on the hit.  Lonnie Smith then lofted a sacrifice fly to right field to score Hernandez with the go-ahead run.

Alas, Montreal came right back with a run of their own, with Doug Bair now pitching for the Cardinals.  Wallach, who had failed to drive in a run in the eighth, came through this time, with a double that scored Carter to tie the game once again - 3-3.

In the 12th-inning, the Redbirds finally rallied for more than just a single run - and it was a good thing they did.  With veteran southpaw Woody Fryman (2-2) now pitching for the Expos, Ozzie Smith coaxed a walk, advanced to second on a Julio Gonzalez sacrifice bunt, then scored on Willie McGee's triple.  In the dugout, Herzog wondered if the Expos would be expecting another squeeze play, which is of course, exactly what he called.  Ken Oberkfell laid down a perfect bunt to bring McGee in from third, giving the Redbirds a two-run cushion heading into the bottom of the twelfth.

Bruce Sutter, who entered the game to record the last out in the eleventh, ran into trouble with one out in the twelfth, as Francona collected his third single of the game.  Dawson then forced Francona at second on an infield grounder, for the second out.  With Al Oliver batting, Sutter threw a 58 foot split-fingered wild-pitch, allowing Dawson to move up to second.  Oliver made things interesting with a base hit that scored his teammate, bringing Gary Carter to the plate, representing the potential winning run.

Tonight, Sutter won the battle with Carter, on an infield popup which Ozzie gloved for the final out of this low-scoring marathon.  It wasn't easy, as the Cardinals used six pitchers in finally securing the win.

When all was said and done, the Cardinals' offense consisted of a bases loaded walk, two squeeze play bunts, a sacrifice fly and an RBI triple.  Not exactly conventional means of scoring runs, but the '82 Cardinals were hardly a conventional team.

But it worked on this night - and many more nights throughout the summer and into the fall for Whitey Herzog's Runnin' Redbirds - well on their way to a ninth World Series championship in franchise history.

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