play ball, take 2

well, jeff francis was pleased w/ the rainout anyway.

troy tulowitzki was happy too. he tells the rocky mtn news he was initially frustrated when schumaker robbed him of extra bases in the first inning yesterday, but with the game having been rained out he’s now happy that schu made the grab --- because you hate to lose a double in a rainout.

yesterday’s cancellation ain’t nothing compared to the non-opener the cardinals played back in 1965, launching the defense of their first world title in 18 years. cubs vs cards at wrigley --- no lights at the ballpark. gibson on the mound against his ex-teammate larry jackson, who was coming off a 24-win season and a 2d-place cy young finish. the visiting cardinals drove jackson from the mound in the top of the first with 5 runs --- the last 3 of which were pure gifts (bases-loaded walk, followed by two-run error). but the cubs came back with pairs in the 2d and the 3d; the cards added 2 in the 4th, but the cubs got ‘em right back in the bottom half (and drove gibson from the game). tracy stallard, making his st louis debut, threw 4.1 innings of shutout relief and reached the 9th inning with a 9-6 lead. he got the first two men out, then gave up a walk and single ahead of ernie banks. red schoendienst, managing his first big-league game, went to barney schultz; he gave up a game-tying 3-run clout to banks, and the game went into extras.

cards took the lead in the 11th on an rbi single by brock; schultz went back out in the 11th and blew this lead as well on a single, passed ball, groundout, and double. he then hit the showers; steve carlton came in, making his major-league debut, and walked george altman; he then yielded to bob purkey (making his st louis debut), who got out of the inning with the 10-10 tie intact.

at which point they called the game on account of darkness.

all the stats counted in that case, because it was a regulation game (ie, more than 5 innings) with no winner. nowadays, i believe they’d declare it a suspended game (rather than a tie) and resume it the next day. that season opener lasted 4 hours and 19 minutes, yet both teams came back the next day with 0-0 records and 162 games left on the slate. that was red schoendienst’s first big-league managerial decision --- a tie. i never knew till just now.

i stumbled across that game while looking for the last instance in which the cardinals opened against a starting pitcher who’d spent the previous year on their roster (as they’ll do today, vs kip wells). it so happens they’ve never done it --- or at least, never since 1956, which is as far back as retrosheet’s box scores go. the closest they came was in 1960, when they faced the giants and sam jones --- but sam had already spent a full season removed from the birds-on-bat by then. there also was a game (1988) when the winning pitcher in relief was a member of the previous year's bullpen, but that doesn't count. not even close. today may very well be a franchise first.

the cards will be opening up with a pitcher who’s making his first start in a st louis uniform, kyle lohse. that has happened on rare occasions, most recently in 2000 when newly acquired darryl kile pitched on opening day. he threw 6 innings of 2-hit, 1-run ball and got the win (the first of 20 that year). andy benes pitched his first game for the cards on opening day 1996 --- left the mound with a 6-3 lead but watched the bullpen blow it and took a no-decision. that was tony la russa’s first game as a cardinal manager.

and just the year before that --- the first game for rookie g.m. walter jocketty --- the opening-day starter was a just-reacquired pitcher, ken hill, beginning his 2d tour of duty in st louis. he pitched 4 rocky innings and got no decision.

back to darryl kile for a second. until wells (7-17 last year) makes his start for colorado today, kile stands as the last major-league pitcher to start an opening-day game the year after he lost 17 or more games --- and he did it for the rockies. darryl went 13-17 in 1998, then opened the colorado’s 1999 slate with a win over the padres. the last 17-game loser to start the following year’s opening day for a team other than the rockies? fernando valenzuela. he went 12-17 in 1984 but pitched well (3.03 era) and was just the victim of poor support. he opened the 1985 campaign with 7 innings of 2-run ball (both runs unearned) but took another loss, 2-1 to nolan ryan. . . . . .

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