Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 5, 1987 - Ozzie Paces Cardinals to Win Over Braves

Sunday, July 5, 1987 - At Fulton County Stadium (Greg Mathews - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  Atlanta Braves (Doyle Alexander - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  29,359

On a personal note, I was with my wife at Desert Samaritan Hospital while this game was being played - awaiting the arrival of our first-born son, Justin Ryan Underwood.

Rookie Greg Mathews pitched one of the best games of his brief major league career, holding the Braves to one run on three hits over 8.2 innings pitched.  His chance at getting the complete game win unraveled in the bottom of the ninth - after issuing a two-out walk to Dale Murphy - Mathews booted a ground ball off the bat of Ted Simmons which should have ended it.  Instead, with runners now on first and second, manager Whitey Herzog took no chances, bringing in Todd Worrell to close out a 4-1 Cardinal win.

Mathews also helped himself out with the bat - getting a key accidental bunt single to help facilitate a two-run seventh-inning rally - the two runs driven in by the Wizard - Ozzie Smith, who was having the best all-round season of his career. 

Prior to the seventh-inning, Ozzie was right in the middle of the Cardinals' first scoring opportunity - in the fourth-inning.  After Vince Coleman led-off the inning with a walk, Ozzie grounded a single into right field, which easily advanced Vincent Van Go to third.  Then Tommy Herr - who had a tough day at the plate today, going 0 for 4 - grounded into the first of two double plays he would generate - but Coleman at least scored on the play, for a quick 1-0 Redbird lead.

Meanwhile, at Desert Samaritan, Justin Ryan was moving around inside his mother, but not quite ready to face the public yet.

Mathews finally lost his shutout with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, when Gary Roenicke hit a solo home run - tying the game at one run apiece.

In the Cardinals' seventh-inning, Curt Ford started a one-out rally with a single to right field - then Tony Pena, who had an absolutely miserable season in '87, drew a base on balls - putting runners on first and second, with Mathews now batting in an obvious sacrifice bunt situation.  He laid down a perfect bunt which Doyle Alexander couldn't quite reach.  The infield hit now loaded the bases for Vince Coleman - but his ground ball to the second baseman didn't get the job done, as Ford was forced out at home.

With two outs in a tie ballgame on the road, the odds for a visiting team to win diminishes after the seventh-inning.  Ozzie got the memo - lining a two-run single to center field, to give the Redbirds a 3-1 lead.

Meanwhile, Justin Ryan has managed to squirm around so much, the umbilical cord has been crimped, cutting off his oxygen.  Time for a C-Section.

After the Braves fail to score in their half of the seventh, Willie McGee's eighth-inning lead-off line-drive single to right field eludes Dale Murphy, allowing Willie to scamper all the way to third on the error.  Terry Pendleton's sacrifice fly to center field concludes the scoring - but not the excitement.

Justin Ryan is skillfully removed from his mother's womb - a little blue in skin-tone, but none the worse for the wear - weighing in at 8 lbs - 3 ozzies.  My original name suggestion of Jack Clark Underwood was rejected by the mother - and it had nothing to do with Jack the Ripper's bad day at the plate today.

Meanwhile, in the bottom of the ninth-inning in Atlanta, Todd Worrell induced pinch hitter Ken Griffey to line one directly at third baseman Terry Pendleton for the final out of the game - a 4-1 winner.

This was the third win in a row for the hot Redbirds - the beginning of a winning streak that would reach nine straight, as St Louis started to take control of the NL East.

However in a couple of months, trouble would be imminent - a badly sprained ankle - sidelining Jack Clark for the rest of the season, and virtually all of the postseason, as well.

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