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Tournament of Champions: Round 4, day 9

You'll definitely want to read the summary for this exciting Game 7 --- the last game of the quarterfinals. The 1926, 1946, and 1985 teams have already advanced. Zubin's writeup is after the jump: Curt Simmons vs Dizzy Dean.

Game 7
(series tied, 3 games each)

Well the series all boils down to this game. Dizzy Dean takes on Curt Simmons. Both of them have been studs so far in the tournament. Let’s see how their game logs stack up:

Game 1 v 1886 --- 7.0 5 1 1 0 2 0 1.29
Game 4 v 1886 W 9.0 6 2 2 2 3 0 2.00
Game 1 v 1964 W 9.0 2 0 0 2 9 0 0.00
Game 4 v 1964 --- 8.2 7 4 4 2 3 0 4.15
TOTAL 2-0 33.2 20 7 7 6 17 0 1.87

Game 2 v 1944 W 7.0 4 0 0 3 2 0 0.00
Game 5 v 1944 W 7.0 3 0 0 1 3 0 0.00
Game 1 v 1934 L 7.0 7 1 1 1 3 0 1.29
Game 4 v 1934 --- 5.2 7 4 4 0 2 0 6.35
TOTAL 2-1 26.2 21 5 5 5 10 0 1.69

Considering that Simmons’ opponent in round 3, 1944, was tougher than that of Dizzy Dean (1886), overall Simmons has been the superior hurler. Then again if you look at their performance in this series, which would seems to be more applicable, Dean (1-0, 2.03) beats out Simmons (0-1, 3.57). Either way, there is a good chance we should be set for another pitcher’s duel. Let’s just hope for an exciting ending. Lineups don’t change from yesterday:

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

A capacity crowd of 34,000+ watch both pitchers get around 2-out singles in the first. Dean gets Boyer on a grounder to render a Bill White single inconsequential, and Curt Simmons gives similar treatment to Ducky Medwick to make a Frisch single moot. Mike Shannon, who has been swinging a hot bat the last two games (with 2 home runs), singles with 2 out in the second. Again Diz pitches around his mistake, this time getting Javier on a deep fly. Another 1964 batter reaches in the fourth, this time Ken Boyer on a walk, but Dick Groat helps out the Gas House defense by hitting into a 6-4-3. For the sake of convenient math it seems, the ‘64s get their fifth base runner of the game in the fifth inning on a Curt Simmons single. And again Dizzy pitches around the hit, fanning Flood to end the inning. The sixth brings more of the same: Bill White singles with one out but Boyer hits into a 5-4 FC and Dick Groat can barely get the ball out of the infield.

Meanwhile, Curt Simmons is absolutely dominating the 1934 order. After Frisch’s first inning single, he mows down the next eight in order before allowing a walk (Frisch reaches base again) in the 4th, but neither Medwick nor Collins can capitalize on the RBI opportunity. The Gas Housers go in order again in the 5th. Then, in the 6th, the Gang finally gets a man into scoring position. A pair of seeing-eye singles by Rothrock and Frisch put runners on the corners for Ducky Medwick. It’s a terrific RBI opportunity for the man who had such a great World Series against Detroit in 1934 that he had to be removed from Tiger Stadium in Game 7 for his own safety. He can’t find that old magic against Curt Simmons though; he flies to center to end the threat.

Dean’s whip continues at a 1.00 clip in the seventh. With two outs he makes a mistake to Javier, who sends a hanging curve on one-hop over the wall in left center for a ground rule double. Sim-Keane is no fool. Knowing that this maybe his only shot against Dean, he pulls a dominating Simmons after only 72 pitches. He goes 6.0 innings allowing just 3 hits and a walk with no runs. Pinch-hitter Johnny Lewis faces Dean, but Ol’ Diz cranks up the high heat to overmatch his opponent. Three pitches, three swings, and the inning’s over. That’s a wrap on the day for Simmons. He can’t be the winner or loser.

Ron Taylor comes in to pitch the seventh, and he picks up just where Simmons left off: Collins, Delancey and Orsatti go down 1-2-3. Dizzy Dean then returns the favor getting Flood, Brock and White in order for his first perfect frame of the day. The game heads to the bottom of the eighth still scoreless. However, Leo Durocher opens the frame with a fly ball than falls into the gap in left-center; he cruises into second with a double. Sim-Frisch then has a tough decision to make. He can pinch hit for Diz, but if he does, he’ll have to trust his bullpen to pitch the ninth. On the other hand, he could have Dizzy bunt the runner over and hope for a hit from Martin or Rothrock. But Diz is already over 100 pitches and may not be effective anyway in the ninth. In the end, Frisch plays it by the book. He orders Haines to start throwing in the ‘pen and calls for pinch hitter Burgess Whitehead. Unfortunately, Burgess can’t make contact and goes down swinging on only four pitches; the RBI opportunity is left for Pepper Martin or Jack Rothrock anyway. The Wild Hoss of the Osage gives it his best shot with a fly to left-center; if it gets down, its trouble --- but the ball hangs up a little, and Flood cruises under it for the second out. It is then up to Jack Rothrock. The switch-hitting Rothrock, who was kind of a super utility man for the Red Sox in the late ‘20s, easily had his best year in 1934, putting up a .284/.336/.399 line with 11 homers. This is his biggest at-bat of the sim; he swings and skies one into left center. Brock and Flood both give chase, but the ball gets down between them. Durocher races home with the go-ahead run as Rothrock motors into 2d with a stand-up double. The big crowd and their team can taste victory. And after change of pitchers (Mike Cuellar in for Ron Taylor) and a Frisch fly out to end the inning, the game heads to the ninth.

Jesse "Pop" Haines walks to the mound to try to close this game out. It has been a rough series so far for Haines (0-2, 2 blown saves, 6.78 era), but apparently Sim-Frisch believes in the man he helped get into the hall of fame. Pop floats a knuckler over the plate and Boyer chops at it. The ball bounces to Ripper who collects the unassisted putout. A couple of more knuckleballs induce another grounder, this one to 3d, but Martin slaps the ball away with his glove, and Dick Groat is aboard on the E5. That brings up McCarver. Maybe it’s his experience catching ’64 knuckleball pitchers, or maybe it’s just luck, but Tim gets a hold of another Haines knuckle ball and lines it into right. Jack Rothrock is on the move, but the ball is just out of reach. Dick Groat advances to third ahead of McCarver on a standup double. The tying run is now 90 feet away, and the potential winning run is 180 feet away. Up to the plate steps the Moon Man, Mike Shannon. As I mentioned earlier, Shannon had a great couple of games (two home runs in two days) and already has a hit today. At the same time, Haines has been vulnerable to the longball this series, allowing a couple to Lou (a 3-run walk-off bomb in Game 4 and a solo shot in Game 5). So it sounds like a good time to change relievers, but Sim-Frisch sticks with his man Haines. Mike works the count full; the big crowd wants a strikeout; the visitors want a hit --- any hit --- to score the tying run. Jesse pitches and Mike swings. With the crack of the bat the big crowd instantly goes silent. Jack Rothrock and Ernie Orsatti don’t even bother to chase this one as the ball clears the fence in right-center by 15 feet. Mike trots around the bases and is greeted by a jubilant Dick Groat and Tim McCarver at home. The 0-1 deficit is now a 3-1 lead, and the ‘64s are still batting with only one out. James Mooney comes in to replace Haines and the trouble continues. Ernie Orsatti, perhaps still thinking of the home run, misplays an easy fly ball, and Javier reaches on the E9. After an exchange of base runners on a botched sacrifice attempt, Curt Flood singles to keep the rally alive. That brings ‘64’s best hitter, Lou Brock, to the plate. But this time James Mooney gets the best of Brock, getting him on a swinging strike 3.

The Gas House Gang now hopes for a dramatic come from behind victory as their best hitters, their 3, 4 and 5 men, face a very hittable Mike Cuellar (.288 opponent average) in the ninth. However, Mike knows Sim-Keane will keep him on a short leash, so he pitches carefully, giving the 1934 sluggers a steady diet of screwballs and changeups and not giving in with a fastball in the zone. The results are a grounder to short off Medwick’s bat, a Rip Collins infield pop up, and a Bill Delancey grounder to third. As Bill White squeezes Boyer’s throw for the final out of the game, the 1964 players come pouring out on the field. They win the series 4-3 on a dramatic come-from-behind homerun by Mike Shannon. It is his third home run in three days, and it earns him player of the game as well as the series MVP.

In a few days, 1964 will take on the Running Redbirds of 1985. It should be a good series --- any series where Lou Brock is only the 4th most prolific base stealer has to be exciting. I’ll enjoy that series and 1946 v. 1926 with the rest of you. Thanks again to Larry for letting me do this. And to everyone else at VEB thank you for the participation and interest. I’ll see you in the stands.