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Tournament of Champions, Round 3: day 6

houstoncardinal's spring training primer is directly below. today's news: matt clement won't be ready to go on opening day. . . . .

two of the series this round are already over in 4 games --- 2006 over the 1885s and 1946 over El Birdos of 1967. another one stands 3-0 (1942 over 1982) and could end today; the last series stands 2-1 for the 1968s, and gibson pitches today in game 4.

Game 4, 1888 v 1968
Game 4, 1942 v 1982

Game 4
(1942 leads, 3 games to 0)

summary by Pujols Shot Ya

Heading into this matchup, starting pitching was 1942's biggest strength and, after Andujar, 1982's biggest weakness. After three games, the numbers bear that out. '42 has teed off on the '82 staff, with a team batting line of .327/.358/.538. Leading the way has been Stan the Man. So far he's 5 for 10 with a double, a triple, and a home run (.500/.583/1.100). On the other side, the '42 staff has pitched well (3.33 ERA), holding the '82 hitters to an aggregate line of .222/.319/.303. '82 is showing good plate discipline, but that's about it. The catching platoon of Darrell Porter and Gene Tenace has a combined line of .417/.533/.583, but nobody else on Whitey's roster has really distinguished himself.

So the numbers look dominating for 1942, and with a 3-0 lead, they've been dominating indeed. At the beginning of this series, I predicted 1942 would win in 5 games. With Mort Cooper scheduled to go today in Game 4, we may not even make it that far. Mort's ERA+ of 194 in 1942 is the third best in Cardinals history. Gibson's 1968 (258) and Silver King's 1888 (197) are the only better seasons in that regard. In Game 1 of this series Cooper pitched all nine innings, giving up two runs. If 1982 wants to get to a Game 5, they'll probably have to do better than that.

Andujar will get another shot to beat down the '42 squad that roughed him up in Game 1. He's the perfect starter for a lost-cause assignment such as this one: First of all, he's One Tough Domincan, so an 0-3 deficit doesn't scare him; and second, his favorite word is "Youneverknow." Win today, play again tomorrow --- youneverknow, right? Sim-Whitey plugs Porter and McGee back into the lineup and keeps the struggling Tommy Herr (1 for 12) in the 8 hole. Sim-Southworth moves Musial back to left field and restores Hopp to the lineup after a one-day hiats. Here are your lineups:

1942 1982
Jimmy Brown, 2b Lonnie Smith, lf
Terry Moore, cf Ozzie Smith, ss
Enos Slaughter, rf Keith Hernandez, 1b
Stan Musial, lf George Hendrick, rf
Walker Cooper, c Darrell Porter, c
Johnny Hopp, 1b Willie McGee, cf
Whitey Kurowski, 3b Ken Oberkfell, 3b
Marty Marion, ss Tom Herr, 2b
Mort Cooper, p Joaquin Andujar, p

Right off the bat, Brown greets Andujar with a single into right-center. Terry Moore bunts him over to second. Enos steps up and smacks one to deep right, but this isn't Sportsman's, so Hendrick has room to track it down for the out; Moore advances to third after the catch. With Musial up and two outs, Sim-Whitey smartly chooses to put him on first. Walker Cooper grounds out to Herr, and Andujar gets out of the inning with no damage.

In the bottom of the first, Mort Cooper runs into trouble as well. Lonnie Smith starts the game with a walk and immediately steals second. Ozzie follows up with a single into right, scoring Lonnie. Keith Hernandez then bounces one into right-center to put runners on the corners. Hendrick pops up for the first out of the inning, but Porter rips another hit into right-center to score Ozzie from third. After a McGee strike out, Oberkfell dumps a little flare into right that scores Hernandez. Herr strikes out on a ball out of the zone to end the inning, but the '82 squad showed a little life, sending eight men to the plate and scoring three.

After the first inning, both pitchers settle down. Neither allows another hit until the fifth. In the top of that frame, Andujar walks Hopp, who gets nailed by Porter trying to steal second (Porter's 2nd CS of the game). Andujar then walks Kurowski. Undaunted by the two apprehrended base thiefs, Sim-Southworth flashes the steal sign again with Marion at bat, and Kurowski gets in just under the tag. Marion then lines one into the right field corner for a double, scoring Kurowski. Cooper swings away and hits one back through the box and on into center, but with McGee playing shallow Marion has to hold at third. The next batter, Jimmy Brown, hits a fly ball to left. It's not too deep, but Marion is tagging. Lonnie makes the catch and throws home, but it's not in time. Marion scores. Moore follows up with a groundball single to left field, moving the tying run down to second with two outs for Slaughter. But Andujar bears down and gets him to fly out to right to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 5th, Lonnie Smith reaches with one out on an error by Kurowski. He steals second again (his fourth steal in four chances this series) and advances to third on a fly-out by Ozzie. Hernandez strands him there, though, grounding out to first. It seems like an important chance; the '82s have done nothing since their 3-run outburst in the first, and it doesn't seem likely that those runs are going to stand up the whole game.

Andujar gets back on track in the 6th, retiring the side in order. In the bottom of the frame Hendrick leads off with a single, but he's erased on a Porter double-play ball. Too bad, because McGee picks up a single of his own immediately after the DP --- the first time since the 1st inning that Whitey's boys have managed two hits in an inning. It's a good base-stealing situation, but Cooper holds Willie close and doesn't let him get a jump, then retires Oberkfell on a groundout to end the inning.

Kurowski leads off the top of the seventh with a single. Marion forces him at 2d, and Mort Cooper bunts Slats over into scoring position. Brown walks, and 1942 has the tying and potential series-clinching runners at first and second with two outs. Andujar doesn't back down; he goes right after Moore, who launches an opposite field blast to right. It looks like big trouble off the bat, but Hendrick coasts back and gloves it in deep right for the third out of the inning. Big, big out --- it means Slaughter and Musial will lead off the 8th instead of possibly coming up in the middle of a rally.

Sutter starts getting loose down in the pen as the 8th inning begins. Andujar's close to 100 pitches (not that pitch counts meant all that much back in 1982), and his first one to Slaughter's not good --- Enos rips a screaming line drive. But it's right at Herr, and Tommy snares it for the first out. Musial chases a bad pitch for strike three, and Walker Cooper hits a shallow fly ball to McGee; 1982 is three outs from making that 1st-inning rally stand up.

They go in order in their half of the 8th, and Sim-Whitey shows faith in Sutter, the goat of Game 2. Entrusted with a one-run lead in that seesaw affair, Engine 42 only managed one out before giving up a two-run walk-off home run to Slaughter. He's facing the 6-7-8 hitters this time, though, and he looks locked in. Hopp pops weakly into center for the first out. Sutter jumps ahead of Kurowski 0 and 2, then gets him on a harmless grounder to first. The '42 team's last hope, Marty Marion, pops one up to third base for the third out. Buck makes it official --- "That's a winner!" --- and the '82 champs have salvaged a game.

They did it against Mort Cooper, no less. It still doesn't look good for them, but they've roughed up Game 5 starter Johnny Beazley once already. Don't count them out just yet. Youneverknow.


* * * * * * * * * *

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Game 4
(1968 leads, 2 game to 1)

summary by lboros

The margins are always so thin in a 7-game series. After winning the first two games, El Birdos seemed to be in command; but after losing Game 3, they face what almost amounts to a must-win contest in today's Game 4. If they lose it, they'll have to beat Silver King --- who has held them to 9 hits in 20 innings so far in this series --- at least once more. They beat him in Game 1 thanks to 6 errors by the Browns; they're not likely to get a gift such as that one again. Moreover, today's game is the only one of the series in which Gibson will face a non-Silver King opponent. Losing it wouldn't augur well for their fortunes.

The Browns oppose Gibson with Elton "Icebox" Chamberlain today. He began the 1888 season with Louisville and was purchased by the Browns in September as a stretch-drive reinforcement --- not unlike many late-season acquisitions here in the 21st century. Chamberlain was ambidextrous, and one day in May 1888 (while still with Louisville) he threw the last two innings of a game with his left (ie, opposite) hand. They were both scoreless innings. In 1889 he won 34 games for the Browns, forming a potent 1-2 punch atop the rotation with Silver King. He was also a pretty good hitter --- whacked 9 homers in 1000 career at-bats. The full lineups:

1888 1968
Arlie Latham, 3b Lou Brock, lf
Yank Robinson, 2b Curt Flood, cf
Tip O'Neill, lf Roger Maris, rf
Charlie Comiskey, 1b Orlando Cepeda, 1b
Tim McCarthy, rf Tim McCarver, c
Ed Herr, ss Mike Shannon, 3b
Harry Lyons, cf Julian Javier, 2b
Jocko Milligan, c Dal Maxvill, ss
Elton Chamberlain, p Bob Gibson, p

That's Icebox over there on the right, by the way --- throwing with his right hand.

Gibson retires them 1-2-3 in the top of the first, and Brock gets El Birdos off to a fast start in the bottom of the inning with an infield hit and a stolen base. He moves up the 3d on Flood's groundout to the right side, but Maris whiffs against Silver King --- a rare breach of fundamentals for Roger. Cepeda strikes out too, chasing a bad pitch, and nothing comes of the promising start. They threaten again with one out in the 3d when Gibson reaches on an error and Brock singles him to second. But Chamberlain bears down again, getting Flood on a K and Maris on a short fly.

The Browns' first attempt at a rally comes in the 4th, but they run themselves out of it: both Robinson and Comiskey single, but both are caught trying to steal. In the 5th they threaten again, courtesy of two 1-out errors by El Birdos. Gibson, fuming, breaks off a slider to Jocko Milligan and induces a 4-6-3 double play to get out of the inning. Back in the dugout, he reminds his teammates that scoring a run is a prerequisite to winning the game --- and they haven't scored in 14 innings, not since the 8th inning of Game 2. Chamberlain is gone by now, replaced by Ed Knouff, but the Cards aren't faring much better against him. They put another man in scoring position in the 5th: Maxvill singles leading off, and Gibson bunts him down to 2d for the top of the order. Brock hits it sharply to 2d, but Robinson fields it cleanly and throws him out; Flood hits it right on the nose but right to Latham, and the Cards are denied once again.

For the second straight game, the 0-0 tie drags on into the late innings. Gibson pitches around a couple of walks in the 7th, but the strain of pitching with no support is starting to wear on him. In the 8th the Browns get a leadoff hit, a sacrifice, and another single; a strong throw home from Flood holds the runner at 3d. With Yank Robinson at the plate, Gibson takes matters into his own hands and blows him away with high heat for the 2d out. Tip O'Neill steps in, 2 for 13 in the series so far. He pokes a Gibson slider and hits a soft roller, but the ball finds a hole; it's through, a run scores, and the Browns take a 1-0 lead. Comiskey follows with another single, making it 2-0; the way El Birdos are swinging the bat, that lead looks fairly insurmountable.

The scoreless stretch stands at 18 innings heading into the bottom of the 9th. Cepeda leads off against Nat Hudson and chops one down to 3d; Latham fields it, but his throw is in the dirt and Comiskey can't dig it out. A ray of hope. McCarver drops a single into right-center, sending Cha-Cha to 3d; hold on, folks. Shannon hits into a force, scoring Cepeda --- finally, a run! --- and Javier immediately singles him to 2d base. The winning runs are aboard, and Dal Maxvill's at bat; he had a good year in 1968 and is as good a hitter as anybody who's available on the bench, so Sim-Red leaves him in. Dal bounces it to short for a forceout; two down now, men at the corners, and the pitcher's spot at-bat. Sim-Red opts for Dick Simpson, a curious choice. Simpson hit for pretty good power but always had a very low average; El Birdos simply need a base hit here. Simpson's also a right-handed hitter; I would have gone with Edwards or Tolan to gain the platoon advantage.

Simpson pops out.

That's the ballgame --- the Browns win it 2-1 and even the series. With Silver King pitching two of the last 3 games, it looks pretty good for them. El Birdos, meanwhile, are lucky to be tied 2-2. They've scored only 7 earned runs in 4 games heading into tomorrow's game against Silver King.