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Tournament of Champions: Round 1, day 11

sim-ankiel on the mound for the 2000s in an elimination game; cox vs stottlemyre in today's other game 6. full update on the tournament at Cardinal70's tracker page.

Game 6, 1985 v 1996
Game 6, 1885 v 2000

Game 8
(1985 leads, 3 games to 2)

summary by cardsfanunion

It's been a stunning road-and-road series between 1996 and 1985, with each team failing to defend its home turf even once. The '85 Cards were an amazing 54-27 at home, but they were also a stellar 47-34 away from spacious Busch Stadium, so their sweep on the road shouldn't come as a total shock. The bigger surprise, frankly, is the pair of road wins by the 1996 Cards in Games 1 and 2; that team was a game under .500 on the road. Of course, "road" doesn't mean what it usually does in this series . . . . in any case, it's do or die for Mike Shannon's beloved 1996 Cards as Mike Shannon's beloved 1985 Birds try come all the way back from a 2-0 deficit to advance.

Sim-Whitey will turn to Danny Cox to try to close this one out. I know what you are wondering --- and the answer's yes, Darrell Porter will play. He's batting 7th. Sim-Tony counters with Todd Stottlemyre on three days' rest rather than go with Donovan Osborne on regular rest --- curious move, as starting Osborne would neutralize Van Slyke.

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 Andy Van Slyke, rf
John Mabry, 1b Terry Pendleton, 3b
Tom Pagnozzi, c Darrell Porter, c
Luis Alicea, 2b Ozzie Smith, ss
Todd Stottlemyre, p Danny Cox, p

Old Ozzie walks to lead off the top of the first. Sim-Tony, trying to regain the momentum, has Ozzie running --- but Porter will have none of it, and he guns down the 41-year-old shortstop as he tries to steal second. The attempted steal proves important, as Lankford follows with a solo homer to left to grab an early 1-0 lead for the '96 Cards. Gant immediately follows with a triple, and Jordan smokes a liner toward left --- but Pendleton dives and makes a spectacular catch to retire the batter and keep Gant at third. Gaetti strikes out, and the '85 Cards have to be happy to get out of the first down only 1-0.

It stays that way until the top of the fourth, when Mabry doubles to center with one out and scores on Pagnozzi's single to left-center. An inning later Lankford smacks his second solo homer of the game, this one just getting over the wall in right field. It's 3-0 for the '96 Birds, and Stottlemyre is shutting the '85s out on two hits through five innings; looks like we're headed for Game 7. KMOX listeners notice that Shannon seems more agitated than usual; he lambastes Cox for throwing Lankford a fastball while lauding Lankford's ability to turn on a pitch he shouldn't have seen coming. Shannon is nearing a breakdown here. Jack Buck keeps making references to "The Shining."

The bottom of the sixth begins harmlessly enough, with strikeouts of Coleman and McGee. Herr singles with two out, and Stottlemyre takes advantage of his three-run cushion to challenge Clark. The Ripper smokes a line drive to left-center to plate Herr, as the '85 Birds cut the lead to 3-1.

In the top of the seventh, Cox freezes Alicea with a changup on the corner for strike three. Alicea doesn't like the call, and he gets into it with plate umpire Angel Hernandez. Angel is known more for his short fuse than for his umpiring skill, and Alicea apparently utters the magic words, because Hernandez runs him. Alicea will watch the rest of this one from the clubhouse. The rhubarb injects a little interest into what's shaping up as a pretty dull game; the '96 Birds fail to score in the seventh, and all is quiet until the bottom of the eighth.

With just 6 outs left before they're forced to a Game 7, the 1985s send up Cesar Cedeno to pinch-hit for Cox, leading off. Stottlemyre has allowed only six baserunners in seven innings, but the wily Cedeno coaxes a walk to bring the tying run to the plate. Down by two, Sim-Herzog inexplicably has Coleman waste an out and sacrifice Cedeno to second, making it more likely the '85 Birds would lose by 1 run. It's a move only Pete Rose, and others in Vegas, could appreciate. Stottlemyre gets McGee to strike out on a pitch on the outside corner ---- the outside corner of the batters' box, that is --- and the rally appears dead. But Herr singles to center to knock in Cedeno; it's 3-2, and now Clark is up. Gulp. Herr takes off on the first pitch and makes it without a throw, putting Clark v1985 in an eerily familiar situation --- batting late in Game 6 in a 2-out RBI situation, with his team down a run and a base open. It was in just such circumstances that Clark mashed his famous home run off Tom Neidenfuer at Dodger Stadium to clinch to NLCS. Ever knowledgeable about the game's history, Sim-Tony --- like Tommy LaSorda before him --- chooses to pitch to Clark rather than put him on base.

Shannon is in the bag by now, so as Stottlemyre pitches it's Buck on the call. Stop me if you've heard this one before:

Swing and a long one into left field! Adios, goodbye, and maybe that's a winner! A [two]-run homer for Clark, and the [1985] Cardinals lead by the score of [4-3]. And they may go [to the next round] on that one, folks."
Yes, it's another huge homer by Clark, and the '85 Birds have come all the way back from three runs down in this game and two games down in this series (exactly as they did vs the Dodgers) and are now just 3 outs from advancing.

Poor Shannon doesn't know whether to cry or wind his watch.

Ol' Abner is asleep, as the '96 Birds will send Mabry, Pagnozzi, and Clayton (in for Alicea) to the plate in the ninth against Jeff Lahti. Mabry starts the inning off with a liner, but Clark robs him of a hit and the '85 squad is two outs away from advancing. Lahti works both sides of the plate to Pagnozzi, running the count full. On the 3-2 pitch he throws a breaking ball that dives out of the zone...but Pagnozzi swings to strike out, and the '96 Birds are down to their final out.

Clayton strides to the plate. Lahti jams him with a fastball, and it's a pop-up to left. Coleman's under it, and jthis series ends the only way it could have: with a big "THAT'S A WINNER" stamped on the end. With all the Birds, McGees, and Smiths running around Busch, Shannon is reduced to a mound of mush. The '85 Birds are alive and well, and they will advance.

During their four game winning streak, the Birds won with steals (three double steals, and one huge 10th-inning steal by McGee) and homers (the biggest by Clark and Porter). The speed was the great equalizer, as Pagnozzi couldn't stop the running game. I for one loved this series, but I really want to see the '85 team go up against either Matheny or Molina. The thought of Coleman v. Molina is almost too much to hope for.

Thanks for taking the ride, and good luck to the 1985 Cards.


* * * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * * *

Game 6
(1885 leads the series, 3 games to 2)

summary by Zubin

Two days ago I mentioned the craptastic pitching of Mike James and Heath Slocumb in this series. Again those lines are:

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

Through Game 5 the 1885 Browns have outscored the 2000 Cardinals 32-22, but if you replaced the contribution --- if it can be called that -- from this pair, the 2000s would lead 22-19. If there was a way to bench these guys, I would. Unfortunately, for now we have to live with the limits of WhatIfsports.

The new look lineups stay the same for both teams as Rick Ankiel squares off versus Dave Foutz:

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

Both sides tease their fans in the first inning. The Cardinals load the bases with two outs on a Drew walk, a McGwire infield single (his second this round!), and a Lankford walk. Tatis has a chance to give the Cardinals and early lead, but "Scissors" Foutz gets him on the 6-4 FC. The Browns also load the bases: E5, steal, walk, 6-4 FC, lineout, walk. But Tip O'Neill overanxiously swings at an Ankiel curve and bounces to short, an easy play for Reteria.

After that, both pitchers settle in for a bit. In the second Foutz pitches around a Renteria single and stolen base, while Ankiel breezes though the bottom of the Browns order. The Cardinals go in order in the 3rd, and Ankiel also looks to have an easy inning, retiring the first two before facing Sam Barkley. However, the Wheeling, West Virginia native is able to turn on a fastball. The ball is hit high; it is deep; it is gone. The solo blast is the Browns' first hit of the game, and it gives them a 1-0 lead. It's also is the team's 3d home run on the series --- 2 more than the Cardinals have hit. For those of you who don't remember this from the series setup, the 1885 Browns hit just 17 homers all year, 4th-lowest total in franchise history; the 2000 Cards hit 235 dingers, a franchise record.

For a while, it looks like the 1-0 lead just might hold up and send the Cards packing. Foutz only allows 4 hits through 5 innings; Ankiel has only allowed 2 but still trails. In the top of the 6th Big Mac singles with one out. Lankford follows with another single, giving Tatis a chance to redeem his failure in the 1st inning. This time he comes through, hitting the ball on a line to left. It skips past O'Neill and goes to the wall; McGwire and Lankford both score, and the Cardinals are up 2-1.

Ankiel puts the Browns down in order, then pitches around a one-out single in the 7th. In the 8th Tatis comes up with two outs and a man on first base; he lifts a fly ball down the line that looks like it might play for O'Neill. But no --- it barely clears the wall and puts the Cards up 4-1. With Ankiel cruising through 7 --- he's yielded only 3 hits and 1 run --- it doesn't look good for the Browns. Until Mike James enters the game, that is.

Mike James? @#$!

He gets Welsh on a grounder to 2d for the first out and Barkley on a grounder to 3d for the second out. Might he just get out of this without giving up a run? Obese proposition. Comiskey doubles, Robinson singles him home, and the Browns are within 2 --- and the Browns' best hitter, Tip O'Neill, is at the plate. A home run ties it. Tip has already hit one in the series, and James has already given one up. He pitches and O'Neill swings; he hits it hard but on the ground. Renteria gloves it and flips to Vina, and the inning is over.

After an uneventful top of the 9th, Veres comes in to close it out and send the series to Game 7. He gets the first two batters he faces: Latham grounds to short, and Bushong grounds to third. But Foutz, hitting for himself, keeps the game alive with a double, and Gleason gets hit by a pitch; the tying runs are on with 2 out, and Curt Welch represents the potential series-clinching run at the plate. There is good speed on the bases; an XBH ties things up. Veres just needs an out --- any out --- to send the series to Game 7. He delivers, and Welch swings and drives the ball deep to left. Lankford gives chase, but it's over his head --- but it bounces over the wall, a series-saving break for the 2000s. Gleason has to stop at third, enabling the Cardinals to cling to a 1-run lead. Veres now faces Sam Barkley with the tying run just 90 feet away and the winning run in scoring position. Barkely has already hit a home run today; another hit, any hit, probably ends the series. Veres delivers, and Sam swings at the first pitch. It's an infield pop up. Mac settles under it for the easy out. By the barest of margins, the 2000 Cardinals have survived. They will get their Game 7 --- Garrett Stephenson vs Bob Caruthers. Tune back in tomorrow.