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Tournament of Champions: Semifinals Day 1

apologies for the long delay in getting this round begun; i'll try to expedite. we're down to 4 teams --- 1926, 1946, 1964, and 1985; kudos to you if you picked this final 4 (i doubt a single person did). Bob Gibson and John Tudor face each other today in one semifinal; Musial and Hornsby go toe-to-toe in the other.

the summaries are after the jump; you can review every round, every game, at Cardinal70's tourney tracker page.

Game 1

summary by lboros

Somehow, Bob Gibson and John Tudor have avoided one another throughout this tournament; here in the semifinals, they finally collide. Tudor has the edge in this particular matchup, as Gibson v1964 didn’t come close to the standards of Gibson ’65 through ’72. He did set new career highs that year in wins, innings, complete games, and strikeouts, but as of 1964 Gibby still had never won 20 games in a season, nor led the league in any major category.

Both of these teams could put runs on the board ---- the ’64 squad finished 2d in the league in runs and 1/2/2 in the slash-line categories, while 1985 finished 1st in scoring and 1/1/6 in the slash lines. The ’64 team finished 7th in the league in walks, while the ’85 team finished first ---- and who knows how many of those free-passers ended up on 2d base after a steal. Pitchingwise, there’s no comparison --- the ’64 team finished 7th in a 10-team league in runs allowed, whereas the ’85 team finished 2d in a 12-team league. That ought to make Whitey’s guys the favorites in the series; let’s play the thing off. Game 1 lineups:

1964 1985
Curt Flood, cf Vince Coleman, lf
Lou Brock, lf Willie McGee, cf
Dick Groat, ss Tom Herr, 2b
Ken Boyer, 3b Jack Clark, 1b
Bill White, 1b Andy Van Slyke, rf
Mike Shannon, rf Darrell Porter, c
Julian Javier, 2b Terry Pendleton, 3b
Tim McCarver, c Ozzie Smith, ss
Bob Gibson, p John Tudor, p

The first three batters of the series all reach base --- three singles, putting the ’64s ahead 1-0 with men on first-third, nobody out, and Boyer at-bat. Then Tudor gets that changeup of his going; he gets Boyer out in front of a pitch and induces a shallow pop, then fans White and Shannon to put an abrupt end to the rally; that could have been a lot worse. The Whiteyballers get it right back in the bottom half on a single/steal by McGee and an RBI hit by Herr. Tudor helps his own cause in the 2d, singling Pendleton over to 3d with two outs to bring up Vince Coleman; he comes through with an RBI hit to put the ’85s ahead 2-1.

Both these pitchers have their hands full today; Tudor gives up at least one base runner in each of the first 6 innings, while Gibson allows 10 hits over the same span. But he strands two men in the 2d, another pair in the 3d, another pair in the 4th. In the top of the 5th his teammates pull even, as Flood and Brock stroke singles leading off the frame and Boyer drives a run home with a ground ball. Gibson goes back out and (what else) strands two men, getting Ozzie on an opposite-field flyout with Van Slyke (walk) and Pendleton (single) on the bases.

In the 6th, still clinging to a 2-2 tie, Hoot gets into his worst jam of the game: Tudor leads off with a single (his 2d of the game), moves to 2d on a bunt, and trots over to third on a soft single by McGee. Herr walks to load ’em up for Jack Clark with one out. You wonder what Clark could have done in the steroid/HGH era; he was constantly hurt, topping 140 games played only 6 times in his career (and 2 of those years came in the AL, where he DH’d). Clark also had to play in the old configuration of Busch II, with 386-foot power alleys and a 414-foot centerfield fence; put him in the cozier post-’96 alignment and he’d have whacked 40 HRs per annum. He doesn’t have enough AB to qualify for the franchise’s all-time leaderboards, but if he did he’d rank 6th in team history in OBP, 9th in slugging, and 4th in homers per at-bat (16.6), behind McGwire (7.9), Pujols (14.4), and Edmonds (15.1) --- and that’s without better chemistry or reasonably proportioned fences.

All he needs here is a flyball; Gibson gets ahead, then freezes him on a slider that nicks the outside corner for strike 3. Two down. Van Slyke ensues with a shallow flyball, and the inning ends. It has taken Gibson 98 pitches to get through 6 innings and 14 baserunners, but he holds the line --- his team is still tied. Whitey’s boys have got to be frustrated at their inability to finish Gibson off; 12 men left on base through 6 innings? They should be ahead by 3 or 4 runs; instead they’re still tied.

Gibson departs for a pinch-hitter in the 7th. Tudor sets ‘em down in order that inning, but he gives up singles to Groat and Boyer leading off the 8th inning. White chops one down to Clark at first base; he glances quickly at 3d as Groat feints, then turns to 2d to initiate a 3-6-3 double play. Groat takes off as Clark pivots, timing his departure perfectly; by the time Ozzie takes the toss at 2d, he’s got no play at the plate. They double-up the slow-footed White, but Groat taps the dish with the go-ahead run; not very sexy, but it’ll serve. They’re feeling good in the ’64 dugout; on the other side of the field, they’re really feeling the sting of all those LOBs.

Cesar Cedeno pinch-hits for Tudor leading off the bottom of the 8th. He gets hold of a Ron Taylor pitch and launches it over the boards in left field; tie game, just like that. Then Coleman hits a single and, after a pitching change (enter Mike Cuellar), steals second. McGee pops one over Groat’s head and well in front of Shannon, and Coleman (running all the way) cruises around to score. Redemption! It’s 4-3 for Whitey’s boys, and they’re only 3 outs from a win.

Jeff Lahti comes on to nail it down. He gets McCarver on a deep flyball to the opposite field; Bob Skinner fans, pinch-hitting for Cuellar, and it’s all up to Flood. Lahti fires, and Curt chops it to Ozzie, who throws him out by a step. Not an artful win for the 1985s, but it’s better than a maddening loss: they take a 1-0 lead in the series.


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Game 1

summary by lboros

The years between 1926 and 1946 are a single long dynasty. In that 21-year period (inclusive), the Cards won 9 pennants and 6 World Series; they finished either 1st or 2d in the National League 15 times in those 21 years. The franchise has never, and probably will never, equal that long run of excellence. When it ended, it ended hard; the Cards wouldn’t win another pennant for 18 years.

The ’46 team is clearly superior here; they led their league in both runs scored and runs allowed, while the ’26 team was a middling 4th in runs allowed (they, too, led the league in scoring). The ’26 team, though, had 5 Hall of Famers (Hornsby, Bottomley, Hafey, Haines, and Alexander), vs just 3 for the 1946 team (Musial, Schoendienst, Slaughter). The 1946 team has the home-field advantage; here comes Game 1.

1926 1946
Taylor Douthit, cf Red Schoendienst, 2b
Ray Blades, rf Terry Moore, cf
Rogers Hornsby, 2b Stan Musial, 1b
Jim Bottomley, 1b Enos Slaughter, rf
Les Bell, 3b Whitey Kurowski, 3b
Chick Hafey, lf Joe Garagiola, c
Bob O’Farrell, c Harry Walker, lf
Tommy Thevenow, ss Marty Marion, ss
Flint Rhem, p Harry Brecheen, p

The ’26s start off fast --- Blades doubles and Hornsby singles to make it 1-0, and then Bell comes up with two on (Bottomley having reached on an infield hit) and scorches a line drive over Moore’s head in center field. He turns to play it off the fence, but the ball keeps rising and soars right over the wall --- 3-run shot, and a 4-run lead for 1926 after just 5 hitters. They extend it to 6-0 in the second inning on 3 singles, a bunt, and an RBI groundout. Of the first 11 hitters to bat for 1926, 7 get base hits.

The ’46 Cards mount a rally in the bottom of the 2d, putting runners at 2d and 3d with one out. But Marion whiffs and Brecheen, batting for himself despite the shaky start, grounds out to end the threat. Brecheen stays in the game long enough to throw another 4 shutout innings; a bit late for that, though, isn’t it? Rhem gives up 2 hits in an inning only once through the first 7 innings and takes a 4-hit shutout into the 8th. The top of the order is up, 1946’s last chance to make a game of it. Blades obliges, dropping a flyball off Schoendienst’s bat to let the leadoff man aboard; Musial and Slaughter follow with 1-out singles to load ’em up for Kurowski. A longball would shorten that gap in a hurry, but Kurowski beats it into the ground instead; double play, 4-6-3, and the shutout stays intact.

It’s still 6-0 with two outs, nobody on, in the 9th inning. Then Marion bloops a single to left-center, and Erv Dusak (pinch-hitting) bloops a double to the exact same spot ---- Marion scores to spoil the shutout. The game ends 6-1, pretty uncompetitive and (frankly) uninteresting contest. Hornsby’s boys jump out to a 1-0 lead.