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Tournament of Champions: Round 1, day 12

see today's main discussion, about the milwaukee brewers, in the post just below.

two series ended yesterday, with the 1943s and 1985s advancing; today the 1885 v 2000 series wraps up with Game 7, and the last remaining series (1928 v 1968) might end today. read on after the jump, or just click the boxes.

Game 7, 1885 v 2000
Game 6, 1928 v 1968

Game 7
(series tied, 3 games to 3)

summary by Zubin

Well, 2000 has battled back somewhat impressively over the past 2 days, and the series is knotted at 3-all. However, overall they are being outplayed significantly by the 1885 Browns and are lucky to be playing in a Game 7:

Cardinals 212 26 55 14 0 1 14 .259 .305 .340
Browns 213 35 64 18 2 3 18 .300 .355 .456

Of course, most of that disparitiy falls on the shoulders of just two pitchers who have accounted for only 5 of 53 innings pitched. Let's take away the hits off Mike James and Heath Slocumb and then normalize the numbers back to 53 ip. Here's what we get:

Cardinals 212 26 55 14 0 1 14 .259 .305 .340
Browns 196 23 52 19 2 2 18 .265 .327 .413

Factor in the defense (the Browns have made 6 errors vs the Cards' 2), and the 2000 club's output is equal to if not better than that of the Browns. But this doesn't quite explain the 2000s' power outage. The Cardinals are being outhomered and outslugged with or without James and Slocumb. As I alluded to earlier in the series, the Browns' lack of power (or more specifically their era's lack of power) has become an asset in this series. It's allowed them to keep the ball in the park against the most prolific homerun-hitting team in franchise history. Meanwhile the steroid era that the 2000 Cardinals played in has transformed the 1885 club into decent sluggers. The same line of reasoning might explain why the 2004 club faired so poorly against the weak hitting, pitching strong 1888 club.

For Game 7, the Cardinals' lineup stays the same. The Browns return to their game 1 through 5 lineup; that's not the way Comiskey ordered his batters in real life, but with the series on the line I felt I had to put the Browns' best reasonable lineup together:

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

The Cardinals waste no time getting the scoring started: Back-to-back doubles by Vina and Drew leading off the game make for a quick 1-0 Cardinal lead. But the 2000s' big bats can't keep the inning going. J'Ed grounds out, Mac flies out, and Lankford grounds out to end the inning. The Browns' leadoff hitter also gets a hit in the first. A steal would normally be in order, but since Matheny has cut down 8 of 13 Brownies this series Sim-Comiskey opts for the bunt. It works, and O'Neill is able to sac-fly the runner to 3d, but Barkley can't drive him in and the 1st ends 1-0 Cardinals.

The Browns tie things up in the top of the second. Yank Robinson reaches on an infield single and, after the exchange of base runners on a 3-6 FC, the Browns score on a Doc Bushong double. But the back-and-forth continues the very next half-inning. Vina again reaches base, this time via a single to right, and Drew grounds one past a diving Barkley for another single. J'Ed swings and grounds one sharply into right, scoring Vina as Drew motors to 3d. After Mac falls victim to a Caruthers fastball, Lankford gets the runner in from 3d with a grounder to the right side. The rally ends on a deep drive by Tatis that is caught just short of the track in left-center.

But the Browns come right back. Gleason steps in with one out and crushes a hanging curve deep down the line in left. It's his second homerun of the series (compared to the only 3 he hit in the regular season). The homer seems to rattle Stephenson, who then loses his command. He hits O'Neill in the knee with a pitch and gives up a single to Barkley, putting runners on the corners for Comiskey. Comiskey skies one to center that is deep enough to score O'Neill. It's tied at 3-3.

After the Cardinals go in order in the 4th, the Browns get right back to work. This time it's the bottom of the order that hurts the Cards: Three consecutive singles (Bushong, Caruthers, and Latham) score a run before Stephenson gets the 2, 3 and 4 men in order. The Browns hold their first lead of the game; it's 4-3, and while it's too early in the game to start counting down outs, the innings begin to move past quickly. The Cards go in order in the 5th; then again the 6th; then again in the 7th. But Stephenson is a trooper, retiring the Browns in order in the 5th and 6th and pitching around an error in the 7th. He's keeping the Cardinals close, but they're running out of time. There are only 6 outs left.

Vina starts the Cardinals' half of the 8th with a single, his third hit of the game. The Browns are looking for a double play when Drew grounds it back to Caruthers; he gets Vina at second but Drew beats the throw to first. J. D. then gives the Browns a taste of their own medicine by stealing second. to put himself in scoring position. Edmonds could put the Cards ahead with one swing; instead he grounds the ball to the right side. Barkley dives but can't get it; the ball goes past him into right field. Drew scores, and the Cardinals tie the game. There's only one out and heart of the order is up with an opportunity to put the Cards back in front. . . . but Mac and Lankford fly out, and the inning ends. Still, things look good for the Cardinals. Caruthers hasn't been his best this game and is tiring. The Cardinals pen is deep, and they have a decisive advantage as long as Sim-LaRussa avoids a couple of relievers.

But Sim-Tony never seems to learn. To start the bottom of the 8th, he turns the precious tie over to . . . . . . Mike James.



If you are a Cardinals fan, you have to think positively about this. James is due up fourth in the 9th inning, and the way Caruthers is pitching, it figures James will be lifted then for a pinch hitter. All he has to do is get 3 outs. He quickly gets number 1, Yank Robinson on a grounder to short. Now it's Curt Welch. After two pitches James has Welch in the hole 0-2, with the light-hitting Doc Bushong due up next. All he needs is something close to the plate that will let Welch hit himself out. Mike delivers, and Welch swings at a fastball up in the zone. The ball is high and deep. Edmonds gives chase, but he runs out of room and can only watch the ball sail over the wall.



James retires Bushong and Caruthers to end the inning, but he doesn't exactly get a hero's welcome in the dugout. The Browns are back on top 5-4 and just 3 outs from winning this series. A rejuvenated Caruthers comes on in the bottom of the ninth to face Tatis, Renteria, and Matheny. Tatis gets one skyborne but it's not well hit; Edgar pops it up on the infield for the second out; and Matheny --- who hit the walkoff homer that won the 2000s' first-round series --- bats for himself as Will Clark waits on deck. The Thrill never gets a chance; Matheny grounds it to Barkley, who fields it cleanly and throws on to Comiskey for the final out. The 1885 Browns win the game 5-4 and take the series 4-3. Mike James; Mike James. @#$!

The Browns will be the #1 seed in the round of 16, thanks to their .705 winning percentage, best ever recorded by a professional St. Louis baseball team.


* * * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * * *

Game 6
(1968 leads the series, 3 games to 2)

summary by lboros

El Birdos are sitting pretty --- they can clinch it today, and Gibson's in reserve for Game 7 if that becomes necessary. As in Game 3, Sim-Schoendienst has the option of sending eventual 300-game winner Steve Carlton out to oppose 300-game winner Pete Alexander; once again he demurs, sticking with Ray Washburn. Neither of these pitchers was particularly good the first time they squared off; Ol' Pete allowed 5 runs (and was lucky it wasn't more) in 7 and 2/3, while Washburn gave up 6 runs in 7 innings. The lineups today:

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

Two batters in, the 68s lead it 1-0 as Flood swats one out of the yard against Alexander --- the second game in a row Flood has homered off Ol' Pete in the first. The graybeard continues to live dangerously --- Shannon flies out to the warning track in the second, and Brock hits one 400-plus feet to the centerfield wall in the 3d but it dies in Douthit's glove --- but through 4 innings Alexander has retired 12 out of 13 men faced. The homer by Flood is his only blemish. Better yet, his teammates get the run back for him right away, scoring in their half of the first on a leadoff walk, a basehit, and a groundout by Hafey. Washburn matches Alexander out for out in the 2d through the 4th, facing just one man over the minimum (an error by Javier, which Washburn blithely pitches around).

McCarver shatters the calm in the 5th, leading off with a resounding triple; a pitch later he trots home on Shannon's ground ball, and the '68s are up 2-1. Washburn quells a minor rally in the bottom half to make the lead stick, but in the sixth he gets himself into big trouble with walks to Frisch and Bottomley. Harper's the batter with one out, and he smokes a liner that looks like a game-tying hit. Maxvill has him played perfectly, though, and goes up and makes the grab. High follows with a groundout, and the thin 2-1 lead holds up.

Another walk leading off the 7th (to Jimmie Wilson) gets the El Birdo bullpen going, but the 28s have the bottom of their order up. Maranville bunts the runner over, and Orsatti pinch-hits and skies one to right for the second out as Wilson tags up comes to third. It's an alert play; now an error, a passed ball, a balk, or any of a million other things will get the tying run home. Washburn delivers as Douthit steps in with two outs . . . . . . it's in the dirt. McCarver can't handle it, and the ball skips on back to the screen. Wilson charges home and touches the plate, and the score is 2-2; a gift, but the 28s will gladly take it.

Haid takes over for Ol' Pete in the 8th; just 3 hits and 2 runs in 7 innings for the graybeard today, but he'll take a no-decision. The Birdos scratch out an infield hit but otherwise go quietly in the top of the 8th. Ron Willis comes on to pitch in relief of Ray Washburn (who also went 7 full innings with just 3 hits and 2 runs) and immediately gets into trouble, yielding a bloop double to Frisch leading off. Hafey alertly hits it on the ground to second base, moving the runner over the 3d, and Sim-Schoendienst pulls the infield in with Bottomley at the plate. Willis does his part, inducing a groundball off Sunny Jim's bat; the ball finds a fielder, bouncing directly to Cha Cha at first base. He steps on the bag while Frisch holds at 3d; big out, and there are 2 away. The Birdos pitch around Harper and go right after High, who pops it into center for the 3d out. Big opportunity, but it's still 2-2 after 8.

Syl Johnson and Art Reinhart hold the Birdos in the 9th and the 10th, but Willis gets them out in the 9th and Wayne Granger retires the first 2 in the 10th without incident. Then he gets a little cute with Hafey and walks him; he can't find the zone against Bottomley either, and now there are 2 on and 2 out with the dangerous Harper up. Sim-Schoendienst waves in Hughes, who keeps getting called into tie games --- took the loss in Game 2, got the win in Game 4. He pitches to Harper with men at first and second, and the ball goes up toward right field . . . . can o' corn. Maris grabs it to put an end to that threat.

And so ends Hughes' day; he's lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the 11th. The hitter's Dick Schofield, a switch-hitting middle-infielder in his second tour of duty with the Cardinals. Maxvill is on base ahead of him via a one-out walk; the idea's just to stay out of the double play and give Brock and Flood a chance with two outs. Reinhart delivers, Schofield swings, and the ball soars; that shore ain't no double-play ball. No, it's a double --- Maxvill races around to score, and just like that El Birdos lead it 3-2. Fred Frankhouse relieves and immediately gives up an RBI single to Brock; now it's 4-2. Brock gets tossed out stealing for the second out, but Flood takes a pitch off the arm and Maris takes it the other way and lines a double to the wall, plating Curt. It's 5-2, and apparently Gibson won't have to come to the 68s' rescue after all.

Joe Hoerner comes in to pitch the bottom of the 11th, his long-awaited first appearance in this series. High grounds out, but Wilson coaxes a walk; then Maranville pops a single, and the tying run comes to bat. It's Ray Blades, pinch-hitting --- he of the .395 career on-base average. Hoerner fools him on a couple of pitches and puts him away with a slider; that's nasty. Two away now, and Taylor Douthit comes into the game. Sim-Schoendienst signals for Mel Nelson to pitch to the righty; with Frisch and Hafey due to bat next, the outcome's still not certain. Nelson deals, and Douthit rolls it out to second base; easy play. Javier throws it on to Cepeda, and that's the game and the series. The 1968s take it 4 games to 2.