Friday, September 5, 2014

September 5, 2001 - Woody Williams Nearly Perfect in Blankng Padres

Wednesday, September 5, 2001 - At Qualcomm Stadium (Woody Williams - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  San Diego Padres (Kevin Jarvis - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  19,075

 Woody Williams shut out his former team - the San Diego Padres - on two hits, as the Cardinals completed a three-game sweep of San Diego, with a 2-0 win - featuring solo home runs from Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols.

Williams was the big story tonight, however - flirting with a perfect game until D'Angelo Jiminez led-off the seventh-inning with a base hit to center field - but when he tried to stretch it into a double, he was nailed at second on a strong throw by Jim Edmonds.

Williams - who struck out six and walked none - surrendered just one other hit in the game - a ninth-inning lead-off single by Ben Davis.  After pinch hitter Tony Gwynn was retired on a fly ball to right field, Woody induced another pinch hitter - Wiki Gonzalez - into grounding one sharply to Pujols - a defensive replacement for McGwire at first base - who fired a strike to Edgar Renteria, covering the bag at second.  Renteria's return throw to Pujols completed the 3-6-3 double play - and just like that - the game was over.

Cardinal pitching had dominated this series - limiting the Padres to just one run on ten hits in three games.  In pitching a compete-game shutout, Woody Williams faced the minimum - 27 batters.  There probably aren't more than a handful of pitchers in franchise history that have managed  this feat.

Williams - who came over to the Cardinals in a trade for Ray Lankford on August 2 - pitched brilliantly in eleven starts for his new team - winning seven with just one loss.  Without his late season contributions, it's doubtful the Redbirds would have qualified for postseason play.  With this victory, the Cardinals (76-63) were in third place in the NL Central - six games behind the Houston Astros.  The two teams would finish the 2001 season with identical 93-69 records - but the tiebreaker went to the Astros - winning nine of sixteen games in head-to-head competition with the Cardinals.

Of course, the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Cardinals in a five-game NLDS - before ultimately beating the Yankees in a classic seven-game World Series.

Nevertheless, 2001 was still a successful season for St Louis - and with the emergence of NL Rookie of the Year - Albert Pujols - the Cardinals would become the most successful franchise of the current millennium - even after Pujols' departure following the 2011 world championship season.

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