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Tournament of Champions: Round 1, day 3

main conversation today (about the cards' defense) is directly below. just two games today --- Game 2 of the 1887/1996 and 2002/2005 series. the 1888/1987 and 1930/2000 series are off today, with both playing Game 3 tomorrow. if you just want the box scores, see below; full game writeups are after the jump. as always, you can follow the tournament at Cardinal70's tracker page.

Game 2, 1887 v 1996
Game 2, 2002 v 2005

(1887 leads, 1 game to 0)

summary by Zubin

Yesterday's sim match revealed a lot about these two (sim) teams. On the surface it seemed like 1996 wouldn't be able to match 1887's hitting, while 1887 couldn't match 1996's fielding. That seems to be an overestimation on my part --- 1996 didn't have too much problem matching 1887 hit for hit. They went 12 for 36 with three doubles, while 1887 went 10 for 32 with two doubles. Similarly, 1887 acquitted themselves in the field; in fact, the game's biggest defensive play was made by '87's Curt Welsh, while the biggest defensive miscue was made by the normally sure-handed 1996 Tom Pagnozzi. Personally, I would expect the catcher without a glove to have more passed balls. . . . .

While Pag's and Welsh's plays were big. the obvious star of the game was Silver King. He went nine innings for the win and contributed a hit and a run to his own cause. I didn't mention it yesterday, but the hitting superiority of 1887 pitchers may be a factor in this series.

The lineups change just a little for game two. For 1887, right-field switches from one sore-armed pitcher (Bob Caruthers) to another (David Foutz). Jack Boyle gets the start behind the plate, and Nat Hudson takes the mound to try to give Silver King some semblance of rest. For 1996, Ozzie gets the start over Royce Clayton again.

1996 1887
Ozzie Smith, ss Arlie Latham, 3b
Ray Lankford, cf Bill Gleason, ss
Ron Gant, lf Tip O'Neill, lf
Brian Jordan, rf Charlie Comiskey, 1b
Gary Gaetti, 3b Dave Foultz, rf
John Mabry, 1b Curt Welsh, cf
Tom Pagnozzi, c Yank Robinson, 2b
Luis Alicea, 2b Jack Boyle, c
Todd Stottlemyre, p Nat Hudson, p

Today, 1996 scores first. In the second, Curt Welsh lets a Mabry line drive ricochet off his outstretched bare hand (which the sim misidentifies as a glove) for a two-base error. After striking out Pagnozzi, Comiskey signals for Hudson to walk Alicea intentionally and bring up the pitcher. The move backfires as Stottlemyre smokes one to right-center to score Mabs. 1996 is on top 1-0.

Hudson gets into trouble again in the third when singles by Jordan and Gaetti place runners at the corners. He gets Mabry to ground out to first, but the Old Roman has seen enough and pulls Hudson for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the inning. . . . .and brings in yesterday's starter, Silver King. So much for the day off, big guy.

The Browns take the lead in the fifth. After an infield single and a couple of stolen bases by Comiskey, Welsh drives him home with a single to left center. Curt then swipes second and third himself and comes home on a ground out by Boyle. 1887 is up 2-1.

The lead doesn't last long; 1996 comes back in the very next inning. Pagnozzi hits a one-out single to left; Alicea follows with a walk; then La Russa lets Stottlemyre hit for himself and flashes the swing-away sign. The pitcher (who owns the Cards' only RBI so far) comes through again, slapping a single to right-center to drive in Pagnozzi. Ozzie brings Alicea home on a fielder's choice, and 1996 ends the inning back on top, 3-2.

In the seventh the Cardinals blow things wide open. Ron Gant gets his first hit of the series and swipes second. Jordan follows with an RBI single; Gaetti bloops a single to left-center; and Mabry draws a walk to load the bases. That brings up Pagnozzi, who delivers with a single to right-center, driving home 2 and putting runners at the corners for Luis Alicea. He lines out to first, bringing Stottlemyre up in another RBI situation. King is looking for a double play to get him out of the inning without more damage, but Stottlemyre comes through again --- this time with a sac fly to right-center. 1996 is on top 7-2.

That extra run proves crucial, because Stottlemyre tires in the 8th. Three singles and a double chase him, and when Gleason greets TJ Mathews with an RBI single it's suddenly 7-6, with the tying run on first and nobody out --- and the fearsome O'Neill at the plate. Mathews gets him to ground into a force, then strikes out Comiskey. With two outs O'Neill swipes second, putting the tying run into scoring position; that opens a base for Foutz, and La Russa holds up 4 fingers, putting the lead run on base. Questionable decision, to be sure --- but Mathews makes it stand up, getting Welch on a short fly to center.

But the Cardinals aren't through. With nobody on and 2 out in the 9th, they draw a couple of walks and then get huge 2-out RBI hits from Ozzie and Lankford, restoring their cushion to 3. Again, those insurance runs prove significant: Robinson leads off the bottom of the 9th with a base hit off Eckersley, then moves to 2d --- with what would have been the tying run --- on a passed ball. But he moves no further; Eck sets the next 3 down in order to polish off the win. The series is tied, 1 game apiece.


* * * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * * *

Game 2
(2005 leads, 1 game to 0)

summary by lboros

So far in this tournament, the WhatIf algorithm has done a spectacularly bad job of simulating Tony La Russa's bullpen moves --- never more so than in Game 1 of this series, when the '02 team couldn't protect an early 6-run lead. If this were the 2003 version of the team, I'd've believed it. . . . well, it's a free simulator; works for a lot less money than Tony, and does a lot worse job of managing.

Realism at its finest.

Here in Game 2, Woody Williams squares off against Mark Mulder. Ironically enough, the real-life Woody faced these same 2005 Cardinals in the playoffs --- Game 3 of the NLDS --- and got pounded as St. Louis clinched the series. The next year, 2006, poor ol' Woodrow lost the NLDS clincher again to the Cardinals. Maybe the simulated 2002 version of him will fare a little better than the flesh-n-blood guy did.

2002 2005
Fernando Vina, 2b David Eckstein, ss
Edgar Renteria, ss Larry Walker, rf
Albert Pujols, lf Albert Pujols, 1b
Jim Edmonds, cf Jim Edmonds, cf
Scott Rolen, 3b Reggie Sanders, rf
Tino Martinez, 1b Mark Grudzielanek, 2b
JD Drew, rf Abraham Nunez, 3b
Mike Matheney, c Yadier Molina, c
Woody Williams, p Mark Mulder, p

Not much doing in the first couple of frames; couple hit batsmen (one for each side) but no base hits. Mulder gets 3 groundouts in the first and 3 strikeouts in the 2d; in the 3d he ricochets a pitch off Matheny's knee (the pitcher's 2d hbp of the game) and, after a bunt, lets Vina drive him in with a single. In the 4th he yields another RBI hit to a left-handed hitter, this time Tino Martinez; his single scores El Albert from 2d, but Rolen '02 --- trying to advance to 3d on the hit --- gets beat by a nice peg by Edmonds.

Woody departs after 3 shutout innings for some reason --- either because of some injury or (more likely) because his low innings-pitched total in 2002 causes the simulator to assign him a steep fatigue factor. Luther Hackman, who gave up the game-losing hit late in Game 1, appears much earlier today but gets the same result: in his first four batters he yields a walk and three hits, and the score is tied. He then walks Mulder to load the bases with one out, but Sim TLR 2002 --- his hands tied by a short pitching staff --- leaves him in to face Eckstein and Walker. He gets Eck on a pop-up and strikes out Walker, preserving the tie at 2-2. Marrero pinch-hits for him leading off the next frame and bloops a single to right; Renteria's base hit one batter later puts runners at the corners for El Hombre. Mulder gets the best of him, inducing a weak grounder --- a potential inning-ending double-play ball --- but Albert hustles down the line and juuuuust beats the relay from Grudzielanek. The 2002s retake the lead at 3-2.

Mike Timlin, mystifyingly idle during the Game 1 comeback, now comes into the game and records five big outs; he's followed by Dave Veres, who completes the 6th and picks a hazardous path through the 7th: after a one-out walk (Pujols) and single (Edmonds) moves the tying run to 3d with only one out, Veres strikes out Reggie Sanders and then yields a scorcher by Grudzielanek, which Rolen gloves for the 3d out. In the top of the next frame Rolen, like Pujols before him, legs out a grounder to avert a potentially inning-ending DP and enable a run to score; now it's 4-2 for the '02s, and Kline is headed into the game.

The insurance run looms large when Kline gives up singles to Nunez and Molina leading off the 3d. Luna hits into an FC, and Eckstein follows suit, driving in the 3d run of the game. Walker comes up representing the go-ahead run at the plate, but Kline gets him on a weak chopper to 2d. Drew leads off the top of the 9th with a double, but Matheny inexplicably fails to bunt --- maybe he misses a sign, or perhaps he bunts the first couple of pitches foul; or maybe it's just that crazy Sim Tony up to his usual tricks. Whatever the case, the '02s squander the leadoff double, leaving Izzy with no margin for error in the 9th against the heart of the '05 order.

He doesn't need it: Pujols grounds out, Edmonds and Sanders strike out, and the thin lead holds up. It's a 4-3 win for the 2002 team, and a 1-1 series tie.