Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20, 1982 - "That's a World Series Winner!"

Wednesday, October 20, 1982 - World Series - Game 7 at Busch Stadium II vs Milwaukee Brewers -  Starting Pitchers:  Joaquin Andujar vs Pete Vuckovich - Attendance:  53,723

For the first time since 1968, the Cardinals were playing host to a seventh and deciding game of the World Series - but this time, the home team won - coming from behind for a 6-3 World Series winner - the ninth in franchise history.

It was a rematch of Game Three starters - Joaquin Andujar and Pete Vuckovich - and once again, Andujar came away with a victory - allowing three runs (two earned runs) in seven innings of work.  Bruce Sutter pitched two perfect innings of relief for his third postseason save - striking out Gorman Thomas on a full-count ten-pitch at bat to finally end it.

After a scoreless first three innings of play, Game Three hero Willie McGee started a fourth-inning rally with a base hit to center off Brewers ace Pete Vuckovich, who was probably relieved Willie didn't hit another home run this time around.  Tommy Herr followed with a single to right, as McGee easily advanced to third.

Vuckovich then retired Ozzie Smith on a pop fly to second baseman Ganter, as the runners remained on the corners.  However, Lonnie Smith drove in McGee with an infield single to shortstop Yount, as Herr took second.

Vuckovich managed to avoid further damage by retiring Ken Oberkfell on an infield grounder and getting a frustrated Keith Hernandez to chase strike three - stranding Herr at third base.

It didn't take the Brewers long to answer back, as Ben Oglivie hit a fifth-inning lead-off home run to tie the game at one run apiece.  Andujar was able to regroup after that blast to retire the next three batters in  order.

However, he ran into serious trouble in the sixth, which was only exasperated by his own fielding miscue which led to an unearned run crossing the plate.  Jim Gantner started the inning with a lead-off double in the right center field gap.  Next up - Paul Molitor - may have caught Andujar off guard with a bunt down the third base line, designed to move the runner up to third.  However, after fielding it, Andujar threw wildly past first base, allowing Gantner to score as Molitor took second.

Robin Yount followed that up with an infield hit which second baseman Herr had no play on.  Runners were now on first and third - still nobody out.  This appeared on the verge of getting out of hand.  However, Andujar escaped total disaster, although Yount did score the second run of the inning on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Cecil Cooper.   Next up - Ted Simmons - who smacked a line drive off Andujar's knee in Game Three, grounded one to Hernandez, resulting in a force out at second this time around.  Likewise, Oglivie, who homered in his last at bat, grounded into a force out to end the threat - and keep it a 3-1 Milwaukee lead.

With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Ozzie Smith singled - then Lonnie Smith doubled him over to third base.  With that, Brewers manager Harvey Kuenn went to the bullpen - bringing in lefty reliever Bob McClure to pitch to Oberkfell with two runners in scoring position.  Whitey Herzog then countered with pinch hitter Gene Tenace - a World Series hero a decade earlier with Oakland.  With first base open, McClure didn't give Tenace anything good to hit - and Tenace patiently drew a base on balls - bringing Keith Hernandez to the plate, with redemption on his mind.

With pinch runner Mike Ramsey replacing Tenace at first base, the stage was set for a classic Fall Classic bit of drama.  Two San Francisco Bay Area high school rivals - McClure and Hernandez - were meeting once again in the Main Event - with the world championship on the line - and for the first time in World Series history, two "Smiths" scored on the same base hit - a single to center, as this game was now tied, 3-3.

With pinch runner Mike Ramsey perched on third, George Hendrick brought him in with a base hit in the hole between first and second - to give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead.

An inspired Andujar protected that lead with a scoreless seventh-inning, with Bruce Sutter waiting in the wings to finish this one up.  After Milwaukee failed to score in the eighth, St Louis tacked on a couple of insurance runs in the bottom half, to put this one on ice.

Facing reliever Moose Haas, Lonnie Smith led-off the eighth-inning with a ground rule double down the right field line - but Mike Ramsey's sacrifice bunt attempt failed - fouling off strike three.  After Hernandez was intentionally walked, Hendrick was retired on a fly ball to center.

Lefty Mike Caldwell - who dominated the Cardinals in Game One's 10-0 blowout - was then brought in to face Darrell Porter - but the strategy backfired - as Porter got the RBI single to right field, which in all likelihood was the deciding factor in the World Series MVP voting.  Steve Braun followed that up with a base hit to center - scoring Hernandez with the sixth and final run of the game.

With Sutter looking to close this one out quickly, Ted Simmons obliged with a ground ball right back to the mound - for out number one.  Next up - Oglivie - grounded out to second for out number two.

Out number three wouldn't be so easy.  Gorman Thomas worked the count full - fouling off pitch after pitch after pitch after pitch - but finally, on the tenth pitch of the at bat, Thomas took a home run cut on non-split-fingered fastball - and came up empty.

That was a World Series winner - ironically, the only one the Cardinals managed to come away with during Herzog's tenure as manager.

The next time St Louis made it to the World Series - in 1985 - a couple of former teammates - Lonnie Smith and Dane Iorg - would be playing for the eventual world champion Kansas City Royals.  Twenty-nine years later, KC has returned - but a second I-70 Fall Classic will have to wait awhile.

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