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Tournament of Champions, Round 4: day 6

you know the drill by now . . . .

Game 4, 1926 v 1968
Game 4, 1934 v 1964
Game 5, 1982 v 1985
Game 5, 1946 v 2006

Game 4
(1934 leads, 2 games to 1)

summary by Zubin

I'm not sure what got into the Gas House Gang yesterday, but I think it suffices to say they were not all that impressed with Bob Gibson. Despite yesterday's blowout, it has been a good series as the first two games were decided by one run each. We will see if Dean and Simmons keep things close today. Here are the lineups:

1934 1964
Pepper Martin, 3b Curt Flood, cf
Jack Rothrock, rf Lou Brock, lf
Frank Frisch, 2b Bill White, 1b
Joe Medwick, lf Ken Boyer, 3b
Ripper Collins, 1b Dick Groat, ss
Bill Delancey, c Tim McCarver, c
Ernie Orsatti, cf Mike Shannon, rf
Leo Durocher, ss Julian Javier, 2b
Dizzy Dean, p Curt Simmons, p

It just looks like 1934 may pick up where they left off yesterday. Pepper Martin singles to lead off the game and promptly swipes 2d. It's a golden RBI opportunity for the Gas House Gang's 2, 3 and 4 men, but none can get the big hit and the frame closes scoreless. The 1964s have their own threat in the first on a pair of two-out singles by Bill White and Ken Boyer, but Diz gets Groat to ground out to end the inning.

Both pitchers settle in after the first. Simmons goes through the 1934 order without event in the second inning, pitches around another Martin single in the third, throws a perfect fourth, and pitches around another hit in the fifth. Dean retires eight 1964 batters in a row before he gives up a single in the fourth. He pitches around that mistake, but in the fifth the 1964s finally break through against him. A Javier single, Simmons sacrifice, and Flood single manufacture a run before Diz gets Brock and White to end the inning.

But the Gas House Gang comes right back. Rothrock gets it all started with a double, and Frisch moves him to third with a hard single. Ducky follows with another single to tie the game; Collins adds yet another to put 1934 on top 2-1. A Bill Delancey sac fly chases Simmons from the game, and Ron Taylor comes in to pitch to Ernie Orsatti. 1934's centerfielder strokes another single to right to plate the fourth run of the frame. After Leo Durocher is hit by a pitch, Dizzy Dean caps the rally with another single to make the score 5-1.

And with Dean on the mound, it's a safe bet the lead will hold. He allows only a walk in the sixth, then rolls through the seventh and eighth. He opens the ninth looking for the complete game victory. Dick Groat flies out for out number one --- the eighth man Dean has retired in a row. McCarver walks to break the skein, and Shannon hits a solid single. It's apparent that Diz is tired, but the '64s still need another baserunner just to have a chance; Sim-Frisch leaves him in, hoping for a double play to end the game. Julian Javier nearly obliges with a grounder to Leo Durocher, but Javier beats the relay to first and the 1964s still have life. Sim-Frisch lets Diz have a crack at one last batter, Johnny Lewis (pinch hitting for Barney Schulz). Diz sort of jams him, but the ball still gets over the infield and lands in shallow left for a bloop single. McCarver scores; it is a 5-2 ball game, and the tying run comes to the plate after all. But he won't face Dean; Sim-Frisch relieves his Hall of Fame pitcher with another, Jesse Haines. Jesse gets ahead of Flood and induces a ground ball that looks like it should end the game --- but somehow the ball makes it through the left side. Javier scores. The score is now 5-3, the tying runs are aboard, and 1964's best hitter, Lou Brock, is at the dish. Haines pitches and Lou swings. The crowd hears the crack of the bat and goes wild watching the majestic 3-run bomb. Brock trots around the bases and jumps into the crowd of teammates waiting at home plate. It's a walkoff homer, a 6-5 win, and a dead-even series --- two games apiece.

Haines takes the loss, but it is Dizzy Dean who really has hard luck today. He takes a 4-run lead into the ninth, only to betrayed by some bad luck and a leaky bullpen. The series continues tomorrow when 1934's Bill Walker takes on 1964's Ray Sadecki. See you then.


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Game 5
(1946 leads, 3 games to 1)

summary by Brock 20

Facing elimination, the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals send their staff ace, Game 1 victor Chris Carpenter, to the mound. Carp was scary good in Game 1; eight innings, one earned run, only seven base runners. Unfortunately for him, two variables are working against him. First, the team's hitting looks like they just made the transition from tee ball to coach pitch. Check out this gory triple-slash line through the first four games: .200/.238/.280. Sheesh . . . . The second thing working against Carp is that he will be dueling Harry "The Cat" Brecheen, who was nearly as good in Game 2 as Carp was in Game 1: eight innings, three earned runs, six hits and no walks. His main problem came in the first inning, when he surrendered two runs on a double by Enc.

Standard lineup for the 1946 team. Sim Tony starts Edmonds in centerfield despite the presence of the southpaw Brecheen on the mound:

1946 2006
Red Schoendienst, 2b David Eckstein, ss
Terry Moore, cf So Taguchi, lf
Stan Musial, 1b Albert Pujols, 1b
Enos Slaughter, rf Scott Rolen, 3b
Whitey Kurowski, 3b Jim Edmonds, cf
Joe Garagiola, c Juan Encarnacion, rf
Harry Walker, lf Ronnie Belliard, 2b
Marty Marion, ss Yadier Molina, c
Harry Brecheen, p Chris Carpenter, p

Carp's 12-6 curveball is dropping hard in the early going. He gets Red to pound the ball into the ground, a slow roller that Pujols fields cleanly and tags him out. Moore bites on the same curveball, but unlike Red he cannot get it into play. Strikeout number one for Carp. Musial grounds out to second and the inning is over.

After warming up, Brecheen immediately walks Eckstein, a good sign for the 2006 squad. In the one game they won, the Cards put the leadoff runner on in five of the nine innings. After Taguchi hits into a force, Pujols walks to put runners at first and second with one out. Rolen is late on a pitch and weakly flies out to second. Edmonds, late as well, cannot catch up to a fastball for strike three. After one, no score.

Slaughter continues his monster series with a leadoff double that falls between So and Jed. Whitey K. pounds a double to the same place, and Slaughter scores easily. Carpenter strands Kurowski in scoring position, but he trails 1-0. The '06 offense, still struggling, goes in order in the second and third, but Carpenter keeps his mates in the game --- even pitching out of a jam of his own creation in the fourth, when he starts the inning with walks to Slaughter and Whitey.

The 2006 lineup finally gets a hit, its first of the game, in the bottom inning --- Albert leads off with a single. Then Rolen hits a ball hard and deep. On the warning track, close enough to the wall where the fans in the first three row of the bleachers cannot see him, Walker makes the catch. Perhaps feeling the pressure, Edmonds chases a ball out of the zone. Edmonds has only played against right-handers so far in this series, and in those appearances he has been ineffective; he's not doing much against today's left-hander either. Enc, who has been the sole offensive bright spot for the squad, grounds out to short for the third out. it's 1-0 for the Greatest Generation after four.

In the bottom of the fifth, Belliard leads off with a single to right. Molina pops out, and Carp bunts the runner over to second. 2006 desperately needs an RBI hit; Eck doesn't provide it, but he does keep the inning going by poking one weakly to short and beating the throw by a hair. Runners at the corners, two outs. So pokes one through nearly the same place; the ball rolls into left, and Belliard comes home easily. They haven't hit the ball hard, but the score is tied --- and Pujols is up with a chance to put the Bracket Busters ahead. But he grounds a ball to short, Marion flips to Red for the force, and the score stays 1-1.

Nothing happens in the sixth; for the second straight start, Carp is nails. But the '46s threaten him in the top of the seventh. Garagiola, Walker, and Marion all hit singles, loading the bases with nobody out. Sim Dyer calls back Brecheen and sends up Del Rice. The collective stomachs of the 2006 team sink as Cork Wilks warms up in the pen. Rice tips the ball into the ground to Pujols, who charges and fires to Molina for the force at the plate. On the next batter, déjà vu all over again, this time with Red poking the ball to Pujols. Two outs now, and the score is still tied; Carpenter just won't let his team lose. With the bases loaded and Musial on deck, Carp goes right after Terry Moore. . . . . Moore brings the faithful to their feet. It's high, it's deep . . . it's gone. A grand slam to left. Garagiola scores, Walker scores, Marion scores. All three men wait to greet the hero at home. A valiant effort by Carp, but they finally get to him.

Since this isn't Fox, there's no recycled American Idol contestant to sing "God Bless America." I hate that song. Bending the space time continuum, we will bring back Ray Charles to do "America the Beautiful." On a side note, weirdest moment in World Series singing history: 1989 in San Francisco, the Grateful Dead did the national anthem.

Cork Wilks has been Dyer's go-to reliever in this series. He's appeared in three of the four games. In Game 1, he surrendered one hit, a solo home run to Pujols, in one inning of work. In the other two appearances, he gave up only one hit total. Two holds, a .66 WHIP, and a 3.00 ERA. He continues his effective ways today, getting Belliard, Molina, and Looper in order, all on fly outs. That's now a .5 WHIP for Cork. The Bracket Busters are running out of outs and, apparently, pixie dust.

The Greatest Generation tacks on a run in the 8th and another in the 9th to carry a 7-1 lead into the final half-inning. With that big a lead, Sim Dyer doesn't go with Burkhart, his closer. Instead he opts for Max Lanier. Enc jumps on his first pitch and hits a sky-high double to left center, and Belliard follows with a single to left, putting runners at the corners with no outs. The Bracket Busters won't go down without a fight. But then Yadi grounds into a 5-4-3 DP; rally killer. Enc scores, but the sacks are cleared and there are now two outs. Sim Tony goes to Dunc to pinch-hit for the pitcher. He grounds out to second, and the game is over.

The Greatest Generation takes the series 4 games to 1. This series was really a tale of two different teams. Setting aside the pitching duel masterpieces by Pollet and Carp in the first game, in Games Two through Five, the 2006 Cardinals batted .197/.243/.265, while the 1946 team went .346/.410/.628. Here's an incredible stat: every 1946 starter hit a home run except for Red. Slaughter, Whitey K., and Joey G. each had two home runs. Throw in bench star Erv Dusak's blast, and that is a total of 12 home runs. And the team added 13 doubles.

Combine that level of offense with the stinginess of the pitchers, and the Bracket Busters never had a chance. The worst, WORST outing for a 1946 starter was Brecheen's Game 2 start, when he went eight innings and surrendered three runs, on six hits and no walks. Only Murry Dickson didn't have a quality start, coming up one inning short. But hey, he threw five scoreless with two hits and two walks. So, take solace in that Murry.

While writing up these summaries, it struck me how many of the 2006 Champions are gone just one year later. Belliard, Eckstein, Rolen, So, and Edmonds are all on other teams. Suppan and Weaver are both gone as well. Enc is facing the end of his career. I'm excited about the future of the Cardinals, and I believe that there are many exciting talented kids that we can look forward to cheering for. But it is difficult to leave behind those Bracket Busters, the surprising team that deleviered St. Louis its first World Series in twenty four years.


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Game 4
(1926 leads, 2 games to 1)

summary by lboros

Aside from his three Game 7s, Bob Gibson didn't start many "must-win" games in his career. Well, there was this one against the Phillies in the last week of the '64 regular season; a loss would have left the Cards 2 back with 5 to play; instead Hoot tossed 8 innings of 1-run ball, and the Cards won to pull into a tie for first --- the first day all season they'd stood atop the standings. And there was this one 10 years later, against the Expos on the last day of the regular slate. The Cards entered the day tied for first place with the Bucs; Pittsburgh won, and Hoot carried a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the 8th. He got the first two men out. Then Willie Davis singled and stole second, and Mike Jorgensen came up and hit it out of the yard. The Cards lost, 3-2, and missed the playoffs . . . . I can remember walking to school the next day and talking about it to the cop at the crosswalk. "That stupid Gibson," he said --- as if he were talking about Jason Marquis or somebody.

All of this is prelude to the observation that Sim-Gibson darn well better win today, or his team will be toast. They haven't hit at all in this series, and they probably won't --- the '26 staff is too good. So El Birdos' best chance is to get 3 wins behind Gibson v1968 (he of the 1.12 ERA) and steal either Game 5 or Game 6. Bill Sherdel draws the assignment opposite Gibby. Lineups:

1968 1926
Lou Brock, lf Taylor Douthit, cf
Julian Javier, 2b Billy Southworth, rf
Curt Flood, cf Rogers Hornsby, 2b
Orlando Cepeda, 1b Jim Bottomley, 1b
Mike Shannon, 3b Les Bell, 3b
Tim McCarver, c Chick Hafey, lf
Dick Simpson, c Bob O'Farrell, c
Dal Maxvill, ss Tommy Thevenow, ss
Bob Gibson, p Bill Sherdel, p

Every once in a while, ol' Red used to shake up the order like this vs a left-hander; Javier and Flood both killed southpaws (career splits of .299 / .338 / .418 for Hoolie and .314 / .365 / .432 for Curt). Since the team hasn't hit in this series, what's to lose? Doesn't pay off in the first, though; Javier does reach on an error, but Flood promptly GIDPs to end the inning. Gibson goes out and serves notice that he's in a bad mood by drilling the leadoff man, Douthit; then gets a GIDP off the bat of Southworth and retires Hornsby. In the 3d inning the surprise starter in right, Dick Simpson, makes Sim-Schoendienst look smart by blasting one over the wall in center field, 422 feet away --- prob'y all Gibson will need. Boy, he's intense today. When a couple groundballs trickle through for base hits against him in the 3d, putting runners at the corners with only one out, he blows high heat right at Southworth and Hornsby and gets them both on easy pop ups.

Those are the only hits against Hoot until the bottom of the 5th, when another couple of seeing-eye hits and a stolen base come together to produce a run for 1926. The tie doesn't last long, though; Cha-Cha leads off the top of the 6th with a double, moves to 3d on Shannon's ground out, and scores on a double by McCarver. Tim hustles around two hitters later on a two-out single by Maxvill, and El Birdos are back out in front 3-1.

Gibson's not letting go of this lead. Shannon boots one behind him in the 6th? Nothing doing; Gibby pitches around the gaffe. Simpson drops a flyball leading off the 8th? Bah; Gibson pitches around that one too. Through 8 innings he's allowed just 1 run on 6 hits, but after Maxvill leads off the 9th with a single Sim-Red calls Gibby back from the on-deck circle. Maris pinch-hits; no CG for Gibson, who's not happy about it. Maris draws a walk, though, which makes the move look pretty good; and it looks even better when Brock follows with a base hit to left. Maxvill gets a late jump off of 2d, though, and Hafey's throw is waiting at the plate when Dal comes charging in. Never make the first out of the inning at home, they say; Maxvill does it anyway. But it's still 3-1, Birdos, and the threat is hardly over. Maris takes 3d on the throw, and Brock swipes second a few pitches later. Then Javier, 1 for 3 on the day with a walk, justifies his elevated spot in the order with a two-run double to left. 5-1 for El Birdos now, and the game nearly out of reach. The other lefty killer, Flood, follows with his second hit of the day, an RBI single to make it 6-1 and close the scoring.

Ron Willis closes it out in the 9th, and the series is tied back up. 13 hits for El Birdos today, a healthy output. They're still in this thing.


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Game 5
(series tied, 2 games each)

summary by cardsfanunion

The series is knotted at two games apiece as the '82 Birds will host their final home game in this early 80's showdown. The pitching matchup in this all-important game will feature experience vs. rookiedom: The '85ers turn to veteran Bob Forsch to try to gain a lead heading back (or forward) home, while the '82 squad gives the ball to rookie John Stuper. Stuper started 21 games for the Birds in '82. While he posted a respectable 3.36 ERA, his WHIP was 1.405.

Stuper and fellow rookie (and Game 3 starter) Dave LaPoint combined to start 41 games for the Cards that year. The fifth starter was Steve Mura, who was in his fifth season as a major-league pitcher but had never started more than 23 games before 1982. Had spring training been covered in 1982 as it is now, well, the radio would have been alive with calls to sign more pitchers, and somewhere, 2-year-old Brian McKenna would have thrown his oatmeal against a wall. Somehow, seeing LaPoint and Stuper come through and help the team win a championship gives me hope for the 08 Birds . . . . until I remember we don't have Andujar or Bob Forsch. Yet --- both are unsigned.

The lineups:

1985 1982
Vince Coleman, lf Lonnie Smith, lf
Willie McGee, cf Tom Herr, 2b
Tom Herr, 2b Keith Hernandez, 1b
Jack Clark, 1b George Hendrick, rf
Andy Van Slyke, rf Darrell Porter, c
Terry Pendleton, 3b Willie McGee, cf
Darrell Porter, c Ken Oberkfell, 3b
Ozzie Smith, ss Ozzie Smith, ss
Bob Forsch, p John Stuper, p

The first inning is uneventful, save for a Coleman steal of second. In the top of the second, the rookie hurler runs into the trouble. Van Slyke walks to lead off the inning and promptly steals second. Pendleton follows with a single to score Slick and give the '85 Birds a 1-0 lead. Young Porter is struggling to keep the '85 Birds from running, as Pendleton steals second. Old Porter walks, and Ozzie follows with a single to score Pendleton. Forsch advances Porter to third on a fielder's choice. With runners at the corners, Coleman strikes out. With two outs, Willie comes up with a huge single to score Porter, and it's 3-0 '85ers. The rookie, clearly rattled, walks Herr to load the bases and then walks Clark to force in a run and make it 4-0. Van Slyke bats for the second time in the inning but grounds out to end the frame.

The third passes quietly. In the top of the fourth, Coleman leads off with a single and steals second; young Porter is just getting abused at this point. McGee grounds to first to advance Coleman to third, and Herr smokes a single to score Coleman and make the score 5-0. After Clark walks, Stuper is removed in favor of John Martin. He walks Van Slyke (that's 6 walks already in this game), but Pendleton pops out and Porter lines out to end the frame with no further damage.

In the bottom of the fourth, the 82nds try to mount a comeback. Lonnie grounds out, then Herr walks and steals on old Porter, proving that old Porter can't throw either. Hernandez rips a double (cuz, I'm Keith Hernandez) to plate Herr and make it 5-1. Good chance to close the gap further with a man on second and the heart of the order at bat, but neither Hendrick nor young Porter can sustain the rally, and the inning ends with the score 5-1.

The top of the fifth starts harmlessly enough, as Ozzie and Forsch are retired to start the frame. Coleman follows with a two-out single and steals second. The steal chases Martin in favor of rookie Andy Rincon. He walks McGee, and Herr bloops a single to left to score Coleman as McGee takes third. Herr steals second, as fans of the '82 Birds start to call for Porter to "hit the cutoff man." With two on and two out, Jack the Ripper smokes a double to center to score two and blow this baby open, 8-1. An inning later, Herr drives in McGee with a single to make it 9-1. Yawn.

Forsch cruises through the sixth, giving up only the one run on 2 hits. He departs in favor of Rick Horton, who only retires one of the four men he faces. Bill Campbell comes on to finish that frame, and Ken Dayley closes things out. The '82s make it respectable (sort of), but there was simply too much Clark, too many Herr RBIs, and six steals to propel the '85 Birds. They win it 9-4 to takek a 3-2 lead as the series shifts back to the future.