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Tournament of Champions, Round 2: day 3

the last of our Round 2 series gets started today, with gibson on the mound. rick ankiel also pitches today, facing another hurler (dave foutz) who eventually converted into an outfielder. and wacky jack andujar's pitching as well. the 2004s and 2005s have the day off. summaries after the jump; quick link to the box scores right here; full coverage of the tournament at Cardinal70's tracker page.

Game 1, 1928 v 1968
Game 2, 1996 v 1985
Game 2, 1885 v 2000

Game 1

summary by lboros

The 1968 Cardinals posted the lowest runs-allowed total in franchise history (154 games or more), yielding their opponents just 472 tallies --- fewer than 3 a game. Their team ERA of 2.49 was better than that of every individual pitcher on the 1928 staff, save one --- Hal Haid, who threw only 47 innings. But since 1968 was the so-called Year of the Pitcher, we have to place those numbers into context. The Cards' ERA (park-adjusted) was 16 percent better than average in 1968, an outstanding figure . . . . . but less impressive than the 1928 staff's, which was 18 percent better than average. That team's rotation featured two Hall of Famers (Jesse Haines and Pete Alexander) and the second- and fourth-winningest pitchers in franchise history (Haines and Bill Sherdel, who won 153 games for St. Louis). It was a far more balanced staff than the '68 Cards'; set Gibson and his 258 OPS+ aside, and you're left with a pretty nondescript group of pitchers. Carlton, only 23 years old, was slightly worse than league average in ERA terms; away from pitcher-friendly Busch, he had an unsightly (for that season) 3.68 ERA. Nelson Briles also was worse than league average on the road, and just better than league average overall. In the 4 (if necessary) games Gibson doesn't pitch in this series, the 1928 team figures to hold the advantage in the pitching pairing.

But they better close it out in 6 games. Gibson will pitch the 7th if it comes down to that.

In addition to the two Hall of Famers in their rotation, the 1928 team placed four everyday players in Cooperstown: Chick Hafey, Frank Frisch, Jim Bottomley, and Rabbit Maranville. They finished 2d in the league in scoring and 2d in park-adjusted OPS, and by any measure were a more impressive offensive team than the 1968 club. The '68 Cards finished 8th in the league in homers with just 73, a total worthy of a Whiteyball team; only two players slugged above .400. But that was at least partly a ballpark effect; in road games, those Cardinals led the league in scoring and ranked second in batting average and slugging. The '68 team had a few Famers too (Gibson, Carlton, Brock, Cepeda) and featured a balanced lineup in which all 8 regulars posted an individual OPS+ between 91 and 124.

The '68 team was 10 games out in front by the All-Star break and never saw their lead shrink below 8 games thereafter. Compare that to the test the 1928s weathered. They were a game ahead of the Giants on September 15 and proceeded to go 9-3 over the next two weeks, yet still saw their lead shrink by half a game. It took a sweep of the Dodgers in the schedule's penultimate series to clinch the pennant. The 1928 team ended up with the most wins (95) in franchise history up to that point.

Games 1 and 4 (and, if necessary, 7) will feature one of the best pitching matchups in this whole tournament --- Gibson vs Haines, #1 and #2 (or #2 and #1) on the franchise leaderboard in wins, games, and innings. It's also possible that two 300-game winners (Alexander and Carlton) will square off at some point. 1928 gets the home-field advantage, on account of its slightly better winning percentage (.617 to .599). Here are the Game 1 lineups:

1968 1928
Lou Brock, lf Taylor Douthit, cf
Curt Flood, cf Andy High, 3b
Roger Maris, rf Frank Frisch, 2b
Orlando Cepeda, 1b Jim Bottomley, 1b
Tim McCarver, c Chick Hafey, lf
Mike Shannon, 3b George Harper, rf
Julian Javier, 2b Jimmie Wilson, c
Dal Maxvill, ss Rabbit Maranville, ss
Bob Gibson, p Jesse Haines, p

Lou Brock, a consummate money-game performer, wastes no time putting his stamp on the series: He blasts a triple leading off the game. But then he stands around as Flood and Maris poke weak groundballs to the corners; Cepeda walks with two out, but McCarver flies out to center and the inning ends harmlessly. Leading off again in the 3d he tries to bunt his way on, but Wilson's peg just gets him at first. Flood gets aboard with a basehit and then, with two outs, Cepeda lifts one high and deep to left field. It looks like it'll play, but the ball keeps carrying and juuuust clears the wall. The 68s go up, 2-0. Brock bats again in the 4th with a man on 2d and two outs; again he solves Haines, mashing an RBI double to center. Another two-out RBI hit follows (a single by Flood); it's 4-0 and Gibson's on the mound. Ho-hum.

Like Brock, Gibson doesn't take long to make his presence felt --- quite literally, as he plunks George Harper on the arm in the 2d inning and then stares him down all the way to first base. No easy at-bats for the 28s after that; as they come to bat in the 7th inning they've managed only 3 singles and had just 1 man in scoring position. And now they're down 7-0, after a 3-run rally in the 6th ignited by an infield hit by (who else?) Brock. Lou now only needs a homer to complete the cycle.

Harper leads off the 7th with a hit, his 2d in a row since the HBP; maybe the intimidation factor was overstated. Wilson immediately follows with a hit, but Gibson retires the next two men and looks like he'll hang on to his shutout. Douthit comes up with two out; he's 0 for 3 and hasn't hit it hard all day. He doesn't hit it particularly hard this time either, but his groundball finds a hole and gets through for an RBI hit. Bye bye, shutout. Then Andy High takes a Gibson fastball the other way and places it just inside the foul line; it's a double, 2 more runs are in, and the 28s have a chance to close within 3 with Frisch at the plate. Gibson bears down and gets him on a grounder to first base, and the score remains 7-3.

He sets them down in the 8th and comes up with 2 out in the 9th and a runner on second. Brock's on deck, still a home run shy of his cycle; c'mon Hoot, keep the inning going. And he does --- his double to right knocks in the 68s' eighth run and gives Brock a shot at it. He's got a fresh pitcher to bat against, little-used Carlisle Littlejohn; the pitch comes in, and Brock grounds it to short for the out.

Jimmie Wilson starts the 9th with a double, but he never advances: Gibson closes the door and records a complete-game 9-hitter. Not exactly a dominant performance from the tournament's best pitcher, but a win nonetheless. Briles vs Sherdel in Game 2; see you tomorrow.


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Game 2
(1996 leads, 1 game to 0)

summary by cardsfanunion

A carnival atmosphere at Busch for Game 2. Gussie has arrived via beer wagon, and Stan the Man has thrown out the first pitch, just after playing the National Anthem on his harmonica. On the radio, during pre-game, Mike Shannon looks toward the sky and remarks, "I wish you fans in 1996 could see this moon." Radio listeners around the country nod, and slowly begin to realize that, when you have a series that stretches the limits of the space-time continuum, you want Shannon on the mic.

Sim-Whitey will start one tough Dominican Joaquin Andujar to try to even the series. On August 23, 1985, Andujar became the season's first 20-game winner. He promptly threw a shoe and went 1-5 down the stretch to finish the season 21-12. Sim-Tony counters with lefty Donovan Osborne, who continues his late 1990's experiment in how to be left-handed, throw 93 mph with a devastating slider, and still fail to get hitters out consistently. With the lefty starter, Whitey is forced to bench Andy Van Slyke, who posted a .306 OPS against lefties in 1985. No, that's not a typo.

Lineups are as follows:

1996 1985
Ozzie Smith, ss Vince Coleman, lf
Ray Lankford, cf Willie McGee, cf
Ron Gant, lf Tom Herr, 2b
Brian Jordan, rf Jack Clark, 1b
Gary Gaetti, 3b Tito Landrum, rf
John Mabry, 1b Terry Pendleton, 3b
Tom Pagnozzi, c Brian Harper, c
Luis Alicea, 2b Ozzie Smith, ss
Donovan Osborne, p Joaquin Andujar, p

Sim-Tony is uncharacteristically playing a pretty "normal" lineup. When you consider that Sim-TLR has access to everyone who appeared in a Cardinal uniform in 1996, well, the possibilities are vast enough to paralyze anyone. For Tony, well, there's a decent chance his office will look like the shed in A Beautiful Mind before the series is over.

Both teams go in order in the first. Brian Jordan leads off the top of the 2nd with a single, and Sim-Tony continues his running ways as Jordan swipes second. After Gaetti grounds out, Mabry singles to center, plating Jordan. Pagnozzi follows with what appears to be a bloop hit down the left field line, but Pendleton makes an amazing over-the-shoulder catch to retire the '96 catcher. Alicea pops out, and the '96 Cards have a 1-0 lead early.

The '85 Birds threaten in the bottom of the second after Clark leads off with a double and advances to third on a groundout by Tito Landrum. Sim-Tony brings his infield in for the fifth time in the series, and for the fourth time the move works, as Clark can't score on Pendleton's grounder to old Ozzie.

Not much doing until the top of the 5th. After Pagnozzi strikes out to lead off the inning, Alicea walks. With the infield in at the corners, Osborne tries to sacrifice, but Andujar is able to force Alicea at second. Then the wheels come off for Joaquin. Old Ozzie doubles to center, scoring Osborne. After Brian Harper's second passed ball of the game, Ray Lankford adds to his Busch Stadium-leading all-time total of homers with an opposite-field shot to left. Ricky Horton relieves Andujar, as Sim-Whitey is forced to his pen early the day after a 15-inning affair. Horton threw 2 and a third yesterday, and the fatigue is evident. He walks Gant and gives up a single to Jordan to put runners on the corners. Gaetti singles to left to score Gant, and by the time Mabry flies out to end the fifth, the '96 Birds have a 5-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Osborne is absolutely cruising. After giving up a 2-out single to Coleman in the 3rd, he retires 10 straight heading into the 7th. Shannon remarks that the '85 Cards' "bats have insomnia." By then it's 7-0, thanks to Gant's 2-run homer off the exhausted Horton. Whitey's fellahs finally break up the shutout on a bloop hit by Herr, a groundout, and an RBI single by Pendleton. But the run seems pretty harmless. It's not a very interesting game; on the radio, Shannon has started calling every fly ball as landing in the glove of McGee and every grounder being fielded by Smith. Hey, odds are in his favor.

Cedeno singles to lead off the bottom of the 8th, and with two outs Herr draws a walk. Jack Clark's at the plate, but it's still 7-1 so who cares? Then Clark does what he is paid to do: He blasts a 3-run dinger to left center. That snaps everyone to attention; Osborne's out of the game, and the '85 Cards now trail by just 3.

But they'll have to get them back against Dennis Eckersley in the 9th, and Eck's not having any of it. Pendleton, Harper, and young Ozzie are the batters. Eck puts them down 1-2-3, as the 1996 Cards take a commanding 2-0 series lead with two "road" wins. The '96 Cards are beating the '85 Birds on nearly every level. They've hit more home runs (3-2), stolen more bases (7-4), and made fewer errors (2-0). So far, the '96 Cards have proven they can adapt to a larger ballpark. We'll see if the '85 squad can adapt to the grass and smaller outfields of Busch Stadium 2.2.


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Game 2
(1885 leads, 1 game to 0)

summary by Zubin

You can only see a pairing like this one in a make-believe tournament: pitcher-turned-outfielder Rick Ankiel versus pitcher-turned-outfielder Dave Foutz. According to the online Baseball Library, Chris Von der Ahe bought an entire team (the Bay City, Michigan franchise) to acquire the rights to Foutz. He debuted for St. Louis in 1884, making 25 starts on the mound and another 14 in the outfield. In 1885 (the version who's pitching today), he started 46 games as a pitcher, 15 as a first baseman, and 4 as an outfielder. In 1886 he made 56 starts as a pitcher and 45 as a hitter; and from then on he was more hitter than pitcher. He went to Brooklyn in 1888 and spent four years there as a player/manager. Scroll down past the lineups and you'll find a baseball card of him. Speaking of the lineups:

2000 1885
Fernando Vina, 2b Arlie Latham, 3b
Edgar Renteria, ss Bill Gleason, ss
Jim Edmonds, cf Charlie Comiskey, 1b
Mark McGwire, 1b Tip O'Neill, lf
Ray Lankford, lf Sam Barkley, 2b
Fernando Tatis, 3b Yank Robinson, rf
J.D. Drew, rf Curt Welch, cf
Mike Matheny, c Doc Bushong, c
Rick Ankiel, p Dave Foutz, p

It's not a good sign for the Browns when the first Cardinal batter of the game, Fernando Vina, reaches base. One out later he stands at second, and after an E7 on a Jim Edmonds flyball he is at third with McGwire at the plate. Mac singles, and the Cardinals are quickly up 1-0. Lankford walks to load the bases. The double play is in order, and Tatis rolls a perfect DP ball right to Bill Gleason, but the Browns' shortstop boots it and 2 more runs score. A walk to Drew reloads the bases. However, Matheny finally obliges the Browns by hitting into an inning-ending double play.

After that first-inning debacle, the Browns settle in a bit. Foutz gets the Cardinals in order in the 2nd. In the 3rd he works around a couple of base hits by getting Edmonds on a grounder to short and Mac on a strikeout. Similarly, in the 4th he works around one-out single. In the bottom half of that inning, his teammates' cold bats get hot. Gleason leads off with a single and is bunted to 2nd by Comiskey. Tip O'Neill then smokes a single to score a run. One out later, Yank Robinson brings home another run with a double, and it's a 3-2 ball game. But those two 4th-inning hits are the only ones the Browns will muster all day off of Ankiel. Their bats go cold again, and when Tatis doubles home two runs in the top of the 7th the Cardinals' lead is back up to 3, at 5-2.

In the 8th, with Mike James on in relief, Arlie Latham leads off with a single. Another single gets him to 3rd, and then a Comiskey fly ball gets him home. Sim Tony's weakness for Heath Slocumb, which first surfaced during round 1, returns --- and it produces the usual results. Slocumb allows a Tip O'Neill single to make it a one-run game, and another single by Barkley puts runners at the corners. The Cardinals are looking for a double play, and Yank Robinson seeming obliges when hit hits one to short. Renteria tosses to Vina, but for some reason the throw doesn't go to first; Yank is safe, and O'Neill scores to tie the game.

The Browns have a golden opportunity to win it in the 9th. Doc Bushong leads off with a double. Foutz, still in the game and batting for himself, then lines one hard --- but right at Renteria for the first out. Latham skies one to left to advance Bushong to 3rd, and LaRussa goes again to his bullpen, this time curiously bringing in Alan Benes (who posted a 5.67 ERA that year in relief) with the game on the line. But the move works; Benes gets Gleason, and we move on to extras.

In the Cardinals' 10th, Lankford leads off with a single. Tatis drives one deep, but not deep enough; one out. J.D. Drew reaches on a force, and Matheny keeps the inning going with a single. Will Clark comes off the bench to pinch-hit for Benes, and The Thrill delivers: he knocks the ball down the line, and it drops for a double. Drew and Matheny both score, and the Cardinals take a 7-5 lead.

On comes Dave Veres for the save. With one out he yields a single to O'Neill, but the bottom of the order follows him, and they're easily dispatched. The final's 7-5, Cardinals; the series is knotted at one all.