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Tournament of Champions, Round 2: day 5

four games on the slate today, including another thrilling walkoff win and a couple of no-hit bids. get caught up on the whole tournament to date at Cardinal70's tracker page.

Game 4, 1888 v 2004
Game 4, 1943 v 2005
Game 3, 1985 v 1996
Game 3, 1885 v 2000

Game 4
(1888 leads, 3 games to 0)

summary by Zubin

The 2004 Cardinals are 11 for 93 so far in this series, for a team batting average of .118. They have scored 2 runs in 3 games. This is painfully reminiscent of the 2004 World Series, when the same team went 13 for 91 (.143) in the last 3 games while scoring a total of 3 runs. Thanks a lot for bringing those memories back, WhatIf sports.

At least they won't have to face Silver King, who has 2-hit them twice, in Game 4. Elton Chamberlain gets the ball instead, while the Cards stake all on Matt Morris's sore shoulder. The lineups:

1888 2004
Arlie Latham, 3b Tony Womack, 2b
Yank Robinson, 2b Larry Walker, rf
Tip O'Neill, lf Albert Pujols, 1b
Charlie Comiskey, 1b Jim Edmonds, cf
Tommy McCarthy, cf Scott Rolen, 3b
Harry Lyons, rf Reggie Sanders, lf
Jocko Milligan, c Edgar Renteria, ss
Bill White, ss Mike Matheny, c
Elton Chamberlain, p Matt Morris, p

Morris retires the first man up; it's 2-0 before he gets another out. Robinson singles to right, O'Neill follows with a walk, Comiskey singles to bring home Robinson, and Tommy McCarthy singles to score O'Neill. Morris retires Lyons on a shallow fly, but then he walks Jocko Milligan to load the bases. The Cardinals can scarcely afford to fall any further behind; not the way they are hitting. But with light-hitting shortstop Bill White at the plate, sim-Tony sticks with MattyMo. His faith is misplaced; White singles to score Comiskey and McCarthy. Then Chamberlain, the pitcher, bats with a 4-0 lead and a chance to break the game wide open. He swings and grounds one past a diving Tony Womack, scoring Milligan to make it 5-0. Sim LaRussa has finally seen enough and brings Cal Eldred on to pitch. Arlie Latham, batting for the second time in the inning and one of the only two Browns to make an out, gets in on the fun with a base hit between Pujols and Womack. White races around to score, and the Browns are up 6-0. Game over; series over.

Those who stick around have a chance to get in on some history: Through five innings, Elton Chamberlain allows only one baserunner, who reaches on an error in the 2d. He gets 15 outs on just 48 pitches but then --- in one of those moves only the WhatIf programming team comprehends --- gets pulled from the game in favor of Ed Knouff, with the Browns leading 7-0. He can't continue the spell; Womack singles with one out, the Cardinals' first hit since the 6th inning of Game 3. In between, they made 26 outs without a hit --- one out shy of a virtual no-hitter. Larry Walker comes to the plate next and rips a double to right center, scoring Womack and Kline (who was aboard on an error) to pull the Birds within 5. Pujols follows with a flyball deep to center, but Tommy McCarthy is under it and hauls it in. Edmonds skies one to right center; McCarthy and Lyons give chase but can only watch as it hops over the wall for a ground-rule double. Walker scores and it's 7-3. Then Scotty comes up and rolls one through the left side to scores J'Ed; it's 7-4. You don't suppose . . . . ? Ed Knouff finally stops the bleeding, getting Sanders on a grounder to 3d, but the fans of '04 at least have had a few things to cheer about.

The Browns get a run back in the 7th, but Walker's solo homerun makes it 8-5 in the 8th. That's still the score when the Cards come to bat in the bottom of the 9th, on the verge of a sweep every bit as thorough as the one they suffered in real life.

Sanders leads off with a single to left center, but Renteria pops out to third. Comiskey relieves the tiring Knouff with Nat Hudson, who closed out the 4-1 win in Game 2. Matheny greets him with a single to bring the tying run to the plate; Sim LaRussa calls on Ray Lankford to pinch hit. Ray steps up and smokes a liner into right-center; Sanders scores, but the lead-footed Matheny has to stop at third. Now the tying run is at second base with only 1 out, and the top of the order is up; they couldn't actually pull this off, could they? Womack swings and bloops a ball to right, too shallow to score a run if it's caught . . . . but it's not gonna be caught! It falls in front of the charging Lyons; Matheny scores, and Lankford crosses the plate right behind him. Just like that it's a tie ball game, 8-8.

No. Way.

Walker strides to the plate with a chance to win it. He works the count full, then swings and hits it on the ground to the right side. Robinson fields it and tosses to White, who relays it to Comiskey at first. The double play ends the inning, but the series --- improbably --- continues.

Izzy sets the Browns down in order in the top half. In the bottom half Albert gets things started with a single. Edmonds then reaches on a 2-base error to make it second and third with nobody out. With the infield in, Rolen just needs something in the air to win it . . . . he grounds out to short and the runners hold. That brings up Sanders, still looking for a simple fly ball . . . . he goes down on strikes. Will they never win another game? Renteria steps in, and he swings and grounds one up the middle . . . . . it gets through! Hallelujah. Albert scores, the Cardinals win 9-8 in 10 innings, and you'd think the '04s had won the whole tournament, so joyous is the celebration in the middle of the diamond. The Browns still lead the series 3-1, but the 2004s have finally remembered how to swing the bat. Game 5 comes your way tomorrow.


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Game 4
(2005 leads, 2 games to 1)

summary by lboros

Today's 1943 pitcher is Howie Krist, who went 34-10 for St. Louis between 1941 and 1943. That includes a 10-0 mark in 1941, one of the best single-season W-L marks in baseball history: only two pitchers won more games without a loss in a single year, Tom Zachary (12-0 in 1929) and Dennis Lamp (11-0 in 1985). It was a total fluke: Krist posted a 4.03 ERA that season, which was 6 percent worse than league average, and a good number of the decisions must have come in relief (he only made 8 starts, vs 29 relief appearances). By 1943 he was a much better pitcher, primarily a starter --- he threw the 3d-most innings on that 106-win team. But despite pitching for 2 pennant winners, he only got to face one batter in the 1942-43 World Series --- Joe Gordon, who got an RBI single off him in the 8th inning of Game 3 of the '43 classic.

The 2005s counter with Jeff Suppan, who turned in a creditable Game 4 start in Round 1 and picked up the win. The rest of the lineups:

1943 2005
Lou Klein, 2b David Eckstein, ss
Harry Walker, cf Larry Walker, rf
Stan Musial, rf Albert Pujols, 1b
Walker Cooper, c Jim Edmonds, cf
Whitey Kurowski, 3b Reggie Sanders, lf
Ray Sanders, rf Abraham Nunez, 3b
Danny Litwhiler, lf Mark Grudzielanek, 2b
Marty Marion, ss Yadier Molina, c
Howie Krist, p Jeff Suppan, p

The 1943s draw first blood, scoring on a two-out RBI single by Klein in the 3d. They score again in the 4th when Musial doubles and moves to 3d on a groundout. With the infield in, Eckstein makes a diving stop of Kurowski's grounder, holds the runner and get the out at first --- a run-saving play. But Suppan flings one back to the screen on the next batter, and Stan the Man trots home for a 2-0 lead.

Krist lasts just 4 innings, but they're outstanding --- he doesn't yield a single hit. Howie Pollet relieves for the second day in a row and is just as effective today as yesterday; he extends the no-hitter into the 6th inning, when Edmonds doubles with 2 outs. By then it's 4-0 for the wartime team, with Harry Walker's two-run double in the 5th padding the lead. Walker doubles again in the 7th to plate another run and chase Suppan from the game; he immediately scores on Musial's single off Brad Thompson, making it 6-0 for the 1943s.

The '05 Cardinals' bats have been almost as feeble as the 2004s' --- only 6 hits in Games 1 and 3 of this series, and just 1 hit through 7 innings of Game 4. In the 8th they finally bunch 4 base knocks together, but they only net a couple of runs. They keep it going in the 9th --- these are the PlayaHardNines, after all --- and when the first three men reach to bring the top of the order up, they look poised for a second-straight come-from-behind 9th-inning win. Eckstein pops to right for the first out; Murry Dickson comes on and gets Walker on a force, which brings in a run but moves the '43s to within a single out of victory. Pujols can tie it with a swing of the bat, but he won't get the chance; Dickson walks him. Now Edmonds steps in as the potential winning run; a home run would send 'em home deliriously happy. Dickson wheels and deals, Jimmy rips . . . . .it's a bouncer to first. Ray Sanders puts it away and the game is over; no 9th-inning heroics today. The series is knotted at 2 games apiece, with Carpenter and Cooper set to lock horns again tomorrow.


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Game 3
(1996 leads, 2 games to 0)

summary by cardsfanunion

And the scene shifts to Busch Stadium 2.2 as the 1996 squad will try to expand on their stunning 2-0 series lead over the '85 Birds. Fans of the 1985 Birds are wondering how the Football Cardinals are able to play at Busch now that the stands appear unmovable. Fans of the '96 Cards don't have the heart to tell them the answer.

Prior to the game, Tim McCarver mentions that only one team has ever lost the first two games of a seven-game series at home and gone on to win it --- the 1985 Royals, who beat the 1985 Cards in the World Series. TV viewers are then treated to McCarver's head being impacted by a fast-moving baseball. McCarver passes out, and there is much rejoicing. In a completely unrelated story, Bob Gibson threw out tonight's first pitch

Sim-Whitey, desperate for a win, will start Danny Cox and his amazing changeup. Sim-Tony will start Todd Stottlemyre and his uncanny ability to get beaned by comeback liners. But the real story from the pregame is the inclusion of Darrell Porter for the first time by Sim-Whitey. Both Brian Harper and Tom Nieto had failed to control the 1996 Cardinal running game, but they made up for that by batting a combined .111 for the series.

The lineups are as follows:

1985 1996
Vince Coleman, lf Ozzie Smith, ss
Willie McGee, cf Ray Lankford, cf
Tom Herr, 2b Ron Gant, lf
Jack Clark, 1b Brian Jordan, rf
Andy Van Slyke, rf Gary Gaetti, 3b
Terry Pendleton, 3b John Mabry, 1b
Darrell Porter, c Tom Pagnozzi, c
Ozzie Smith, ss Luis Alicea, 2b
Danny Cox, p Todd Stottlemyre, p

Stottlemyre retires the '85 Birds in order to open the game. In the bottom of the first, old Ozzie singles, Lankford walks, and both score on Gant's bloop double, as the 1996 Cards strike early in Game 3. After Jordan strikes out, Gaetti bats with one out and Gant on second. Gaetti hits a sharp grounder to the hole between short and third; young Ozzie makes a spectacular diving stop, springs to his feet, and reminds the '96 Cards fans how he could throw before his rotator cuff severed. Gaetti is out by 10 feet. The '96 squad leads 2-0 after one inning, but it could have been worse.

Both teams go quietly in the second and third. In the top of the fourth, young Willie leads off with a triple and scores on Herr's groundout to cut the lead to 2-1. But the '96 Cards get the run back almost immediately when Gaetti leads off the bottom of the fourth with a double and scores an out later on Pagnozzi's double. Pagnozzi is stranded when Alicea k's and Stottlemyre grounds out. The fourth inning ends with the score 3-1.

Trailing 2-0 in the series and down 3-1 in Game 3, the '85 Birds' backs, as they say, are against the wall --- which is much closer to home here in 1996. But they don't panic. Pendleton leads off the top of the fifth with a single, bringing Darrell Porter to the plate for the second time this series. Porter responds with a shot just over the centerfield wall --- a harmless flyout in 1985 Busch, but a homer in the 1996 dimensions. That's Sim-Whitey's genius for you, on full display. The shot ties the game at 3, and the '85 Birds have life.

In the bottom of the fifth old Smith walks, and Lankford hits a potential double-play ball. But old Ozzie slides hard into young Ozzie to break up the twin killing. (Shannon looks at the field, sees only two Ozzies, and grabs another Bud.) Lankford steals second, as the '96 Birds continue to run on the '85 Cardinals three-headed monster at catcher. But he's stranded as Cox strikes out Gant and coaxes a groundout by Jordan to short.

In the sixth Clark gets a one-out single off of Stottlemyre, but he's stranded when Pendleton K's and Porter pops out. In the bottom of the frame Pagnozzi hits a double with two out and no one on, and Sim-TLR sends Mark Sweeney out to pinch hit for Stottlemyre. Todd finishes the night with a quality start, having given up 3 runs on 7 hits. Sweeney strikes out to end the sixth, and we remain tied at 3.

In the top of the seventh, TJ Matthews makes his third appearance of the series for the '96 Birds. Sim-Tony is playing this series by the book, as Matthews actually led the Cards in appearances that season with 67. Matthews shows signs of fatigue initially, as he gives up a screaming line-drive out to young Ozzie to start the inning. He then surrenders a single to Cox, as Sim-Whitey opts not to go to a pinch hitter in the seventh inning of this tie-game (????). Coleman smokes a single to put two on for MVP McGee, who promptly strikes out swinging. Matthews bears down and gets Herr to ground out to old Ozzie for the third out. If the '85s lose this game, that missed opportunity will come back to haunt them.

Cox looks tired as he starts the 7th --- so tired that old Ozzie corks one to deep centerfield off him. It's caught just shy of the wall by young McGee. Lankford follows with a single, and Gant walks as the '96 Birds are threatening with one out. Sim-Whitey shows faith in Cox and leaves him in to face Jordan. The move pays off, as Jordan flies weakly to center, and Gaetti grounds out to first on a little cue-shot to Clark.

The '85 Cards go in order in the 8th, and Sim-Whitey opts for Bill "Soup" Campbell to pitch the bottom of the inning. After retiring the first two batters, Soup walks Alicea to bring up the pitcher's spot. Sim-Tony opts for old-man McGee to pinch-hit; he flies out to young Willie. McCarver wakes up to say that ball was both hit and caught by McGee. McCarver is immediately silenced by the bat of Deion Sanders, who was in town today to play in the Rams/49ers matchup.

Sim-Tony brings in the Fossil, Tony Fossas, to start the ninth. He's greeted by Darrell Porter, who lines a double into right center. Porter is clearly playing as if he's got something to prove in this game. Young Ozzie, inexplicably not bunting here, is unable to advance Porter to third, as he grounds out to Gaetti. Cesar Cedeno pinch-hits for Campbell and flies out to Jordan in right. Porter tags at second and moves to third on an aggressive baserunning play. Normally you never risk the third out of an inning at third, but Coleman, always a threat to reach on an infield single, is on deck, and Porter's aggressive move makes sense. Coleman has a shot at giving the '85 Birds the lead in the ninth, but his grounder is fielded by Mabry and the '85ers miss another opportunity.

In comes Ken Dayley to pitch the 9th. Old Ozzie tries but fails to bunt his way on, and Lankford Ks. With two out Gant skies one into shallow left. Coleman comes on, Smith and Pendleton go out, but somehow, despite all the '85 Cards' speed, the ball falls in for a double. Brian Jordan bats with a chance to win it. He grounds one sharply to the left side, but young Ozzie does what young Ozzie does best. He gets the fleet Jordan at first to retire the side.

Sim-Tony sends Rick Honeycutt to the hill for the 10th to face young Willie. Questionable move, considering that McGee hit 7 of his 10 homers righthanded, in roughly half as many at-bats as he had lefthanded. Honeycutt keeps him in the yard but doesn't keep him off base; McGee singles and then --- as happened countless times late in close games in 1985 --- swipes second base. It's the first stolen base of the night for the '85 Birds, and it's a big one. Speed never goes into a slump.

Herr is up, and again it's an obvious bunting situation --- move the man over the 3rd with one out and try to get him home from there. But for the second consecutive inning, sim-Whitey eschews the bunt and lets his hitter swing away. Herr redeems the move, spanking a single to left. Gant's throw is up the line, McGee is safe, and Herr advances to second on the throw. Herr's aggressive baserunning is big, as Clark singles home Herr, and the '85 Birds lead it 5-3.

Lahti comes on to close it out and pitches around an HBP to seal the win. Shannon's elated that the 1985 squad has shown signs of life. At the same time, he can't fathom why Sim-Tony didn't use Eckersley in a tie game with a chance to put the '85 Birds down 3-0. Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm, mmmm, mmmm. At this point, there's a 20 percent chance that Mike's large intestine will leap up and throttle his brain in an effort to end this suffering.

It's a series again.


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Game 3
(series tied, 1 game each)

summary by Zubin

As yet I haven't said too much about the 1885 Browns. They have an important place in Cardinal history. For while they are seeded as a mere pennant winner in this tournament, a case could be made that were our first World Champions.

1885 was Charlie Comiskey's first full year as captain / manager and his first chance to implement his highly successful strategies. Most of his formula would become quite familiar to St Louis baseball fans: baserunning, fielding and superb pitching. The Browns ran away with the pennant beating the Reds by 16 games and earning the right to play the Chicago White Stockings (Cubs) in a best-of-seven "United States Championship." The series is generally reported as a 3-3-1 tie; however the second game was in dispute. That game ended in a forfeit when the Browns walked off in protest over the umpiring. The New York Times of October 16, 1885, reported the following:

Sullivan's umpiring was very unsatisfactory to the home club, he making several very bad decisions against them. In the sixth inning play was suspended for some time by a "kick" over one of his decisions in giving Kelly safe when he was clearly out. Later on, after a ball which hit outside the foul line, but rolled inside before it reached first, had been declared foul, it was given safe, letting in a run, and Comiskey called his men off the field.
Initially Al Spalding, the Chicago manager, agreed not to count the game, but when the series ended in what would have been a 3-2-1 St. Louis victory Spalding reneged on the promise. Since the prize money was locked in escrow, Chris Von der Ahe (the Browns' owner and president) was forced to agree to Spalding's demand of a tie. That disputed Championship did set the stage for the best 19th-century World Series in 1886. Perhaps more important, to a large extent the disputed Championship helped create a St. Louis-Chicago baseball rivalry that lives on today.

Today's game takes us back to Busch Stadium. Bob Caruthers, the game 1 winner returns to face Garrett Stephenson.

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

Both sides go down in order in the first, and the game quickly settles into a pitchers' duel. Each side is working on a 1-hitter through the fourth.

In the fifth Sam Barkley leads off with a bunt attempt down the line. Tatis charges gloves and with a quick exchange makes the throw to first ahead of the runner. But the ump calls Barkley safe. In perhaps the most realistic projection of a manager so far in the tourney, Sim-Tony races from the dugout and is furious. The ump and Tony exchange some word and then the ump signals for Tony's ejection. The episode seems to rattle Stephenson, because the next Brown reaches on a single to left center and an out later the weak hitting Doc Bushong pushes the first run across the plate with a ground-rule double. Bob Caruthers comes to the plate with a chance to help himself and he does, stroking a single to left-center. Yank and Doc score to make it 3-0. The Cardinals' sim-coaches have seen enough and pull Stephenson. Matt Morris comes on in relief to get the top of the order to end the threat.

In the sixth the Cardinals mount a comeback. Vina is plunked in the head to lead off the inning and Renteria then gets a gift double to left on O'Neill's nonchalant fielding. That puts runners at 2d and 3d for Edmonds, who grounds one to the right side past the diving Barkley. Vina and Renteria score to make it 3-2. That's still the score an inning later when Will the Thrill steps up with one out, pinch-hitting for Morris. He smokes a single to right, setting things up for the top of the order --- but Vina can only manage a shallow fly to center, and Renteria can only ground one to Comiskey. The base hit goes for naught.

Edmonds and McGwire are the first two hitters of the 8th. Caruthers is still in there, plugging away. Anticipation is high, but the Brownie hurler gets Edmonds on strike three looking and retires McGwire on a shallow fly ball to right field; borrr-ing. Lankford, a home-run threat himself, steps in but he can't get it out of the infield, and very suddenly the Cards are down to their last 3 outs in the game.

They expend them quickly --- three up, three down in the bottom of the 9th, and that's the ballgame. The Browns win it 3-2 behind Caruthers' complete-game 6-hitter --- his second CG win of the series. He also drives in the decisive 2 runs and is the player of the game. The 2000s lead it 2 games to 1 heading into tomorrow's Game 4.