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Tournament of Champions, Round 2: day 7

gibson, kile, and bob forsch are among today's starting pitchers. box scores here; summaries after the jump.

Game 5, 1885 v 2000
Game 4, 1928 v 1968
Game 5, 1985 v 1996

Game 4
(1928 leads, 2 games to 1)

summary by lboros

Another matchup between the two winningest pitchers in franchise history; Gibson won the first, though not with as much ease as we might have expected.

Here’s a quick look at Jesse Haines, who had one of the strangest Hall of Fame careers you’ll ever find. He appeared in only 1 big-league game before the age of 26, lost 20 games as a rookie and went 8-19 a few years after that. Through age 31 --- ie, through the 1925 season --- he had a career won-loss mark of 83-87 and a pedestrian 3.66 ERA --- right around league average.

But over next 6 years the Cardinals would win 4 pennants, and Haines was a big reason why. He went 95-43 in those 6 years, with a cumulative ERA+ of 122. He was a stellar postseason performer, winning 2 games in the ’26 Series and posting a career October ERA of 1.67 in 32.1 innings. He was still a key member of the team in 1934, leading the bullpen corps with 90 innings pitched. When Haines joined the team in 1920, his teammates were deadball-era St. Louis stars such as Bill Doak and Austin McHenry. By the time he retired at age 43, the first of the Cards’ wartime stars (Terry Moore) was already in the lineup. More than any other player, he was present at the birth of the St. Louis tradition; he alone played on each of the first 5 pennant winners in franchise history.

For today’s game, Sim-Gabby Street makes a lineup decision you’d never make in real life --- he benches Taylor Douthit in favor of Wally Roettger. Douthit led the 1928 team in games, at-bats, hits, and walks, and anchored the outfield defense; he was a mainstay on two pennant winners and one world champion. Meanwhile Roettger was a mere rookie and part-time player in 1928, but he outhit Douthit by 50 points that year and outslugged him by 100, and against Bob Gibson v 1968 you need every edge you can get. Since it’s a sim, nobody’s feelings are gonna get hurt. All the same, unless this works out really well I imagine Douthit will be back out there for Game 7 (if it’s necessary).

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

Both hurlers pitch around errors in the opening frame. In the second Gibson comes up with 2 on and 1 out but can’t help himself, bouncing into a DP instead. In the 3d Roettger, the surprise starter, lines a base hit with one out and then moves into scoring position on McCarver’s passed ball. Frisch and Hafey both tag long, deep flyballs to left-center, but they die in Busch’s vast 386-foot power alleys. It’s still scoreless until the bottom of the 3d, when Flood doubles with one out and scores on Maris’s single. Cepeda sends Roger over the 3d with a base hit, but Haines contains the damage by getting McCarver on a weak fly and striking out Shannon.

Brock drives a second run home in the 4th before the 1928s finally get through to Gibson. Wally Roettger, the surprise starter in left field, drives it home on a one-out single in the top of the 5th. The hit leaves runners at first and second for Frisch, with Hafey and Sunny Jim to follow --- all the makings of a big inning. But Gibson puts an end to it with one pitch, a wicked slider that Frisch beats into the ground for a 4-6-3 double play. Good thing, too, because Hafey leads off the next inning with a double, then comes around to score the tying run on George Harper’s single. As in Game 1, Gibson is very tough but hardly untouchable; the ’28s have a real shot to beat him.

His mates give him another lead in the bottom of the 6th; Maxvill walks with one out, Gibby bunts him to second, and Brock follows with his second RBI double of the game. But again the ’28s claw back: Maranville draws a walk leading off the 7th inning, and Ernie Orsatti (pinch-hitting for Haines) singles him over the 3d with nobody out. Gibson needs a couple of strikeouts, but as fans glance down at their scorecards they make a surprising discovery: Hoot hasn’t fanned a single batter all day. He doesn’t fan Roettger either; Wally grounds into a forceout, which gets Rabbit home with the tying run. It’s 3-3.

Hal Haid comes on in relief and throws a perfect 7th for the 1928 team; Syl Johnson pitches around a two-out error in the 8th to keep the game tied; and Art Reinhart makes his first appearance in the series and holds the ’68s off the board in the 9th. By now Gibson is gone; Ron Willis takes over for him in the 9th, and Wayne Granger enters the fray as it heads into extras. He gets off to a shaky start --- Hafey singles, and Bottomley hits a screaming line drive right at Cepeda. Then Harper backs Maris onto the warning track in right field, and Granger nails High in the back to move the go-ahead run into scoring position. Granger steadies himself in time to get Wilson on a bouncer to third, and the Cards come up with a chance to win it in the 10th.

Shannon gives them a chance to do just that, leading off with a double and moving to 3d on Javier’s flyball to deep center. Maxvill is due up, and Schoendienst weighs his options; his best pinch-hitters, Bobby Tolan and Johnny Edwards, both bat left-handed and hence aren’t logical options vs the left-handed Reinhart. His right-handed bats include Phil Gagliano, Ron Davis, and Dick Schofield (a switch-hitter). But Maxvill’s actually a better choice than any of them --- he posted a surprisingly good OPS+ of 91 in 1968, finishing second on the team in on-base percentage and leading the Cardinals in walks. And vs left-handed pitching, Maxie was flat-out dangerous in 1968, with a .325 / .409 / .430 line in 117 at-bats. So he stays in; the infield and outfield move in, Reinhart pitches to Maxvill, and Dal promptly strikes out. Schofield follows with a walk, batting for Granger, but Brock hits the ball down to second to end the threat. Still 3-3.

Schoendienst goes to Dick Hughes, the Game 2 loser, for the 3d straight game. So far in the series this guy has pitched to 4 hitters and gotten just one of them out --- the other three got a walk, a double, and a homer --- but he redeems himself with a perfect inning, preserving the tie. That brings Bill Doak into the game for the 1928s --- a totally unforeseeable development, since Doak pitched for Brooklyn that year. A Cardinal for 11 years (1913-23), Doak won 143 games for the franchise but was dumped in 1924; the WhatIf simulator apparently missed that memo. Doak performs as would befit a nonroster player --- with indifference. He gives up a double to Flood and a single to Maris and loses the game, 4-3, without getting anyone out. The win goes to Dick Hughes, making up for his L in Game 2; the series is knotted 2-all.


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Game 5
(series tied, 2 games each)

summary by cardsfanunion

Who says the 1985 Cards were a product of their stadium? The ’85 Birds have gone 2-0 on the road against the 1996 Cardinals to even this series at 2-2.

Momentum is only as strong as today’s starting pitcher, and the 1996 Cards will have the edge in that category today, sending ace Andy Benes to the hill. Sim-Whitey has elected not to bring Andujar back on three days rest and opts for Bob Forsch. I have to say that Forsch is one of my favorite Cards from that era; not only did he win 20 games for a pretty mediocre Cards team in 1977, he also threw two no-hitters. He played the game the way Gibson taught it --- the way it ought to be played. He’s also the answer to a great trivia question: Who is the only pitcher to pinch-run for Lou Brock? Yup . . . . Forsch. If you haven’t read Forsch’s book; well, get it. EVERY Cards fan should read it.

Sim-Whitey will continue to start Darrell Porter at catcher. Why Sim-Whitey felt the need to go with Tom Nieto and his .281 slugging percentage in Game 1 is beyond me, but the benching seemed to light a fire under Porter, who is hitting .375 with two doubles and a homer in two games. He’s also held the ’96 Cards to one steal in two games, vs. 7 in the first two games.

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
Bob Forsch, p Andy Benes, p

In the top of the first McGee strokes a one-out single to right and promptly steals second. After Herr strikes out Clark grounds a single to left, and McGee scores to give an early lead to the 1985 squad. Darrell Porter extends the lead in the top of the second with a solo shot to left field that would have been out of any Cardinal stadium in any era. Says Shannon, "He tried to sneak a fastball by Porter, and right now, that’s like trying to sneak the sun past a rooster." The ’85 Birds lead 2-0 after the top of the second.

All is quiet until the fourth --- eerily quiet, as Forsch allows only a walk to Alicea (who is erased on a double play) during his first trip through the lineup. But with one out in the fourth, Lankford shoots one down the right-field line for a double. Gant follows with a single, and the ’96 Birds are on the board; it’s 2-1. An inning later, Pagnozzi answers his catching counterpart’s homer with a leadoff shot to deep center, and this baby is tied.

But not for long. Herr leads off the top of the sixth with a single, and after a Clark strikeout, Van Slyke takes a fastball to deep right center for a two-run homer to put the ’85 Cards back on top, 4-2. And there’s more: Pendleton singles, Porter walks, and Sim-Whitey, sensing he has the upper hand, turns up the heat and sends both runners on a double steal. It works; for the second time in the series, Porter is part of a successful double steal. Young Ozzie follows with a bloop double to give the 1985 Birds a commanding 6-2 lead in the sixth. Sim-Tony goes to his pen, and ’96 Cards fans begin to feel that uneasy sensation that things are spinning out of their control.

Forsch departs for a pinch-hitter, giving way to Bill Campbell and Ken Dayler. They toss 3 innings of shutout ball, not allowing a runner past first base, and by the time Neil Allen comes on for the last three outs it’s 7-2, courtesy of an RBI double by Clark in the top of the 9th. Gaetti gets that run back right away, greeting Allen with a solo homer to cut the lead to 7-3. After a Mabry pop-out, Pagnozzi reaches on a double to chase Allen. Ricky Horton comes in and makes quick work of Alicea and Sweeney to end it.

Up in the booth, Shannon says the momentum in the series "has shifted 360 degrees."

So far this series, the home team has lost all 5 games. The ’85 squad is 3-0 with Darrell Porter in the lineup; he’s hitting .363 with two homers. The ’85 Birds have begun to show their true side; they stole 5 bases in Game 5 (including two double steals) and were not caught once. The Heat is On the 96ers, as the series shifts back to Busch Stadium ca. 1985.


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Game 5
(1885 leads the series, 3 games to 1)

summary by Zubin

I have altered the lineups of both clubs significantly. For the Browns I have changed the lineup to match (as close as possible) that of the 1885 "United States Championship" Game 7 reported in this New York Times article. This lineup seems pretty bizarre to me: Who ever heard of batting your best hitter (O’Neill) in front of your worst (Latham) at #6 and #7 in the order? But in the interest of having realistic lineups, I’ll stick with this order for the next couple of games or series. If it doesn’t seem to be working, I’ll put things back to the way they were before.

For the Cardinals, my only change was to flip-flop Renteria and Drew in the #2 / #7 slots. That puts three lefties at the top of the order to face the all right-handed Browns pitching staff. Bob Caruthers, who has already won two games this series, is on the hill for 1885. Darryl Kile takes the mound for 2000:

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

The Cardinals’ new-look lineup seems to have an immediate effect. All three lefties reach: Vina bloops a single, Drew lines a ball to right for a double, and Edmonds skies one to center for a two-run double. Big Mac follows with a single, and it’s 3-0 Cardinals before the Caruthers can record his first out. An error by Latham allows Tatis to reach, and Renteria then singles to produce a 4-0 Cardinal lead.

Both pitchers pitch around a couple of baserunners in the second, and the game heads to the third with the 2000s ahead 4-0. Welch strokes a single to right with one out, and Commey walks with two out to bring up Yank Robinson. He works the count to 2-2, then grounds one past a diving Fernando Vina; Barkley comes around to score and it’s a 4-1 ballgame. Runners are now at the corners for the Browns’ best hitter, O’Neill. But with the weak-hitting Latham on deck, Kile plays it smart: he doesn’t throw a pitch over the plate and gets an overly agressive O’Neill to chase one out of the zone. The result is a harmless popup to end the inning.

That lone run seems to settle Caruthers down; he sets the Cardinals down in the order in the 3rd and pitches around a Vina single in the 4th, keeping it close until his teammates can get to Kile. They do so in the 5th. Again it’s Welch who gets things started, doubling with one out; then he steals third and trots home on Barkley’s single to right-center. Comiskey doubles and Robinson singles, and all of a sudden the game is knotted at 4-all.

Almost as suddenly, it’s un-knotted in the bottom of the 5th: McGwire gets drilled by a pitch leading off, then lumbers all the way around to score on Lankford’s double. After a Fernando Tatis pop out, Reteria skies one to left. It should be an easy out, but O’Neill drops the ball; Lankford comes around to score, and Renteria trots into 2d standing up. Matheny flies out for the second out, and Sim-Tony opts to lift Kile for a pinch-hitter, Will Clark. It’s a sound call in my opinion, as Kile hasn’t pitched especially well (9 hits and 4 runs in 5 innings) and the Cardinals have a chance to break it open. Sim-Comiskey, always playing one run at a time, counters with the IBB to Clark. The move pays off when Vina grounds to 3d to end the frame.

For the second day in a row Sim-Tony opts for Mike James, and for the second day in a row he immediately pitches himself into trouble. Perhaps in retaliation of Mac’s beaning, he drills the first batter he sees (Doc Bushong) in the arm. An FC and a botched pickoff attempt later, the runner is at second for Bill Gleason. He swings at a high fastball; Lankford races back to the track and to the wall, but to no avail. The home run is estimated at 350 feet, just clearing the wall in left. The game is again tied, this time at 6-6. Curt Welch follows with a single, his third hit of the game, and Sim-Tony has had enough of James. But he brings in Slocumb, who hasn’t pitched much better than James this series. Welch helps the Cardinals by getting himself caught stealing, clearing the bases with two outs; it looks like the Cardinals may escape the inning with the tie intact. No such luck: a double and two walks by Slocumb load the bases for O’Neill. So far this game the Cardinals’ hurlers have simply pitched around him, preferring to deal with Latham, but with the sacks jammed Slocumb has no choice but to give the slugger something to hit. And hit he does: It’s a base-clearing double that puts the Browns up for the first time this game, 9-6. A furious Sim-Tony pulls Slocumb. Mike Timlin comes on to finally record the third out.

Sim-Tony’s middle-relief choices have been questionable to say the least. James and Slocumb’s lines are:

James 2.1 7 7 30.00 .467
Slocumb 1.2 8 6 45.00 .533

For the record, Mike Matheny has retired more Browns (8, via caught stealing) than either of these two pitchers.

Luckily for 2000, Caruthers doesn’t have his good stuff today, and there’s nary reliever in the Browns’ bullpen, so the Cardinals have a decent shot at more runs. A couple of singles and a double play net them one in the 6th, but they still trail by 2 and are now just 9 outs from elimination. In the 7th the Browns go in order for only the second time in the game, but the first two Cardinals go quietly in the bottom half; 7 outs to go. Matheny gets hit by a pitch to bring the tying run to the plate, and Sim-Tony calls out Eric Davis, who has barely played at all in the tournament. Davis skies the ball to left out of the reach of O’Neill. It should score even the lead-footed Matheny, but the Cardinals catch a bad break: The ball one-hops the wall, and Matheny has to stop at third. That brings up Vina, who failed to hit the ball hard in a key spot in the 5th. He doesn’t get good wood on the ball this time either, popping it to shallow right. Robinson goes back on the ball, but it keeps drifting, drifting . . . . it’s over his head. Matheny and Davis, running on contact with 2 outs, both score, and it’s a brand-new ball game at 9-all.

Matty Mo sets the Browns down in order in the 8th, and the Cardinals continue to work on the obviously weary Caruthers in the bottom half. With one out McGwire singles, and Tatis keeps the inning going with a two-out single to left. Edgar Renteria is up with a chance to put the Cards back into the lead, and he delivers: His flyball to left sails well out of O’Neill’s range and gets to the wall. McGwire and Tatis both come around, and the Cards go back up 11-9.

Veres strikes out two of three he faces in the top of the ninth to slam the door shut, and the Cardinals survive for at least one more day. Vina is the player of the game, going 4 for 5 and driving in the game-winning run. The series now stands at 3-2 Browns; it’ll resume in two days in the 1880s version of Sportman’s Park. See you then.