Saturday, September 27, 2014

September 27, 1982 - Finally! A Division-Clinching Win in Montreal

Monday, September 27, 1982 - At Olympic Stadium (Dave LaPoint - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  Montreal Expos (Bill Gullickson - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  20,175

For the first time since the advent of division play in 1969 - the Cardinals clinched their first ever NL East title - beating the Montreal Expos by a score of 4-2.  All four Cardinal runs came in the first-inning - the final three coming across on Willie McGee's exhilerating two-out-three-run inside-the-park home run.

That was the extent of the Redbird offense tonight - but it was good enough - as Dave LaPoint (9-3) put in 5.2 solid innings - allowing just one run, before reliever Doug Bair took over the mound duties for the next five outs.  Bair's only mistake was a two-out seventh-inning pitch Tim Wallach walloped for a home run, to cut the deficit to 4-2.

But that was as close as they could get.  Bruce Sutter got the final five outs (one strikeout) to record his 36th save of the season.

Montreal starter Bill Gullickson (12-13) - after that shaky four-run first-inning, settled down over the next five innings to keep St Louis in check - but the damage had already been done.

It seemed fitting that the Cardinals would wrap up their first-ever division championship against the team that burned them on Opening Day '69 - to begin twelve seasons of near misses and otherwise ineffective play for a franchise that normally prides itself on excellence.

As defending National League champions, the '69 Cardinals opened the new season with a shocking 8-7 loss to the expansion Montreal Expos.  Now, thirteen years later, they'd finally come full circle.

The best was yet to come, as this underdog team would have the audacity to beat the powerful Milwaukee Brewers in a classic seven game World Series.

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