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it's a matt matt matt matt world

it has been a rough week for the bullpen:

ip h w k era whip
18.1 22 5 13 7.36 1.47

after you went to bed last night the relievers coughed up six runs in the 8th inning, turning a 3-1 st louis deficit into an insurmountable 9-1 spread. it didn't really matter -- the game was never as close as that 3-1 score would suggest, and i doubt the cardinals would have come back in any case. but you hate to see your bullpen, in the span of 7 games, yield two four-run innings and a six-run inning, while coming perilously close on a fourth occasion to pissing away a 4-run lead to the royals.

whatever; these things happen.

tonight the cardinals go against matt morris, the author of 206 starts for the franchise and one of this blog's most esteemed redbirds. it has been 15 years since the team faced an ex who logged this many starts in cardinal red -- last time it happened was 1989, when bob forsch -- after 15 years with st louis -- returned to busch stadium to make a start in an astro uniform. like morris, forsch had a 20-win season early in his career, and he was the staff leader (or co-leader) in wins six times; he ranks 3d on the franchise leaderboard in wins, innings, and strikeouts, 4th in games pitched. in the history of the cardinals, only bob gibson started more games than bob forsch.

he made his first-ever start against the cardinals on may 30, 1989, and shut them out for five innings. but with two out in the sixth, tom brunansky hit a two-run homer to tie the game; jose oquendo followed with a base hit, and forschie was relieved by danny darwin. a few months later, forsch beat the cardinalsdown in the astrodome. and the week after that he made his final major-league start against them -- at busch stadium, fittingly enough. he only lasted an inning and a third -- the 'stros were in 2d place, four games back of the giants, and art howe yanked him after 10 batters, with the astros trailing 3-1. st louis went on to win, 13-5 . . . .

since then, the longest-tenured cardinal pitcher to come back and pitch against them was bob tewksbury, who made 142 starts for the franchise between 1989 and 1994, led the team in wins three consecutive years (92-94), and was an all-star and 3d-place cy younger finisher (1992). he spent 1995 in the american league and so was 20 months removed from the cards when he finally faced them, on june 3 1996 -- la russa's first year in st louis. tewksie threw a complete game but lost, 3-0, to andy benes; the game was over in 2:09, a tewksbury trademark.

danny cox, who started 140 games for st louis between 1983 and 1988 and became known (with some justification) as a big-game pitcher, missed two full seasons after leaving st louis to rehab from an injury. he finally resurfaced with the phillies in 1991 and faced the cardinals for the 1st time on june 25, 1991 at busch. the phils staked him to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first and later tacked on a 5th run, but danny couldn't hold 'em; he yielded a run in the 4th and was driven from the hill in the 5th by a walk, two singles, and a ray lankford triple. joe boever, another ex-cardinal, relieved him and immediately yielded the go-ahead homer to pedro guerrero. st louis ultimately won the slugfest 10-9 with 3 runs in the bottom of the 8th.

john tudor, who made 103 starts for st louis and was the franchise's best pitcher between gibson and carpenter, never pitched against the cardinals during his brief (12 starts) interregnum with the dodgers; he returned to st louis for one last season in 1990.

last season the cardinals faced morris' ex-rotationmate, woody williams, on july 26 and beat him 4-2. but woody pitched for st louis less than half as long as morris did -- not a product of the stl farm system, as matt was, nor quite the vessel of our championship hopes. morris was, briefly, what chris carpenter became -- a real live ace, nearly a match for schilling himself. he wasn't just some guy passing through; he'll always be cardinal.

so for we hopeless nostalgists and sentimentalists, tonight's game is really something special. here's hoping matt pitches great and departs with the score tied 0-0.