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Tournament of Champions, Round 4: day 2

all 4 series in action --- and all three of the winningest pitchers in franchise history (gibson, haines, and bob forsch) are starting today, plus dizzy dean (#6 in wins) and harry brecheen (#7) to boot. not a bad slate.

summaries are after the jump, and as always all of the results are available at Cardinal70's tournament tracker page.

Game 1, 1926 v 1968
Game 1, 1934 v 1964
Game 2, 1982 v 1985
Game 2, 1946 v 2006

Game 1

summary by Zubin

I was looking back at the tournament results over the past round and I couldn't help but notice that seven of the last eight series (from the round of 16) ended in an upset --- at least according to the teams' seedings, which are based on win percentage. Now, I do realize that is a bit misleading, as in three of those series the lower seed was probably as good as, if not better than the lower seed: the 1968 v. 1888 series was probably a pretty even match, likewise for 1931 v. 1985; 1934 should have been favored over 1886. Still, that means in four series there were some pretty monumental upsets: 2006 over 1885 in 4, 1926 over 1943 in 6, 1982 over 1942 in 7, and 1964 over 1944 in 7.

In this series, 1934 is the favorite, at least according to seeding. The Gas House Gang had a .621 win percentage, good for an 11th seed. The 1964 club had a .574 win percentage, putting them as a 14 seed. I wanted to see how legitimate of a favorite the 1934 club is, so I decided to break down the roster. The results were a bit surprising to me:

1964 1934 Comments
C Tim McCarver Bill Delancey There is nothing wrong with McCarver, but Delancey is probably the best hitting catcher in the tourney.
1B Bill White Ripper Collins Bill White had a fine season, but Rip Collins had one of the better (and most underappreciated) seasons by a first baseman in Cardinal history.
2B Julian Javier Frankie Frisch A big obvious edge to Frisch.
3B Ken Boyer Pepper Martin A big obvious edge to Boyer.
SS Dick Groat Leo Durocher A big obvious edge to Groat.
LF Lou Brock Joe Medwick This one surprised me. Brock's .348/.387/.527 line easily tops Medwick's .319/.343/.529, especially when adjusted across eras.
CF Curt Flood Ernie Orsatti This one is pretty even, but I'd give Flood a small edge.
RF Mike Shannon Jack Rothrock Shannon gets a slight edge for his power.

I really expected 1934's starting eight to be better overall than 1964, but it seems pretty close, with the 1964s having an edge. However, the starting pitching seems as if it should heavily favor the 1934 team, whose 3 starters (Dean I, Dean II, and Bill Walker) all had ERA+s over 123 --- only Gibson's (ERA+ of 127) was in that range for the 1964s. And Gibson won't even pitch until Game 3 of this series, because he started in Game 7 of the previous round and has only had a couple days off to rest his arm. This might be the deciding factor in the series, but in a seven-game set, who knows? Anything can happen.

Lineups for today's sim-match are below.

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
Julian Javier, 2b Ernie Orsatti, cf
Mike Shannon, rf Leo Durocher, ss
Curt Simmons, p Dizzy Dean, p

Both pitchers retire the side in order in the first inning. In the second inning, 1964 gets the game's and series' first baserunner in the form of Ken Boyer on a line drive single. Unfortunately Groat, McCarver, and Shannon can't move him over. The 1934s get their leadoff man on the second as well when Joe Medwick grounds one past Dick Groat. After a pop up off the bat of Rip Collins, Bill Delancey hits a bloop single to put runners at the corners. Ernie Orsatti then gets a hold of a Curt Simmons fastball and hits it well enough and deep enough to left to plate Medwick on the sac fly. It's the first run Simmons has allowed in the whole tournament, and it puts the 1934s ahead 1-0.

And it looks like they may cough it up in short order, as the very next inning begins with an E-7 off the bat of Javier. Simmons executes a perfect sac bunt to put him in scoring position for Flood and Brock, but Ol' Diz smartly pitches both men up in the strike zone and the results are a shallow fly to center and a deep (but well short of the wall) fly to left center. Just like that, Dean pitches his team out of trouble. But he pitches himself back into trouble in the fourth, walking White and Boyer to lead off the inning. But he recaptures his command just in time: Groat flies out to center, McCarver flies out to left, and Moon Man Shannon fans three straight pitches to end the threat.

The 1964s get their leadoff man aboard again in the 5th --- Javier, this time on a clean single into left. Simmons attempts another sacrifice, but this time the 1934 defense cuts down the lead runner. Base runners are exchanged on Flood's 6-4 FC before Lou Brock goes down on strikes to end the frame.

For the 3rd consecutive start, Simmons is twirling a gem. After the second-inning run he doesn't allow another runner into scoring position until the 5th, and he strands him. In the 7th he gives up a couple of singles but squelches that threat as well. When Johnny Lewis pinch-hits for him leading off the 8th, with the 1934s still clinging to the 1-0 lead, Simmons has a tournament ERA of 0.43 --- 1 run in 21 innings pitched.

Impressive indeed, but not as good as Dizzy Dean on this day. He retires the last 15 men in a row and cruises to a complete-game shutout and a 1-0 victory. Dean faces just 32 batters, allowing a pair of hits (both singles) and a pair of walks. It is probably the second-best overall performance by a pitcher in the tourney, only behind Silver King's Round 3, Game 3 masterpiece. For that, Dizzy Dean is the player of the game.

Game 2 happens tomorrow. See you then.


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Game 1

summary by lboros

This matchup is virtually a replay of the play-in round series between the '68 team and the 1928s. Half the games in that close, 6-game set ended on the winning team's final at-bat, including the final game (which took 11 innings). The 1926 team had the same 4 starting pitchers as 1928 (Haines, Rhem, Sherdel, and Alexander), but half the everyday lineup changed in that short interval --- the teams diverged at 2b (Hornsby v Frisch), ss (Thevenow vs Maranville), 3b (Les Bell v Watie Holm), and rf (Southworth / Blades vs Harper / Roettger). The '26 offense was ever-so-slightly better --- it finished first in the league in runs scored (the '28 team was 2d) and had a 109 OPS+ (vs 108 for the '28 team).

Both offenses outshine El Birdos' (which had an OPS+ of 101 and finished 4th in the league in runs scored). But surprisingly, the 1926 staff was also slightly better --- relative to league --- than the 1968 staff (118 ERA+ vs 116). The '26s will have the better starting pitcher in every game that Bob Gibson does not pitch --- they'd best win all 4 of those.

As in the '68 v '28 play-in series, Gibson will match up with Jesse Haines --- the franchise's two winningest pitchers locking horns. Game 1 lineups:

1926 1968
Taylor Douthit, cf Lou Brock, lf
Billy Southworth, rf Curt Flood, cf
Rogers Hornsby, 2b Roger Maris, rf
Jim Bottomley, 1b Orlando Cepeda, 1b
Les Bell, 3b Tim McCarver, c
Ray Blades, lf Mike Shannon, 3b
Bob O'Farrell, c Julian Javier, 2b
Tommy Thevenow, ss Dal Maxvill, ss
Jesse Haines, p Bob Gibson, p

El Birdos draw first blood: Brock yanks a double into the gap leading off the bottom of the first, then scores on Maris's single for a 1-0 lead. That may be all Gibson needs; after yielding a scratch single in the first to Hornsby and a walk in the second to O'Farrell, he begins to flatten the '26 lineup, steamroller-like. Doubles by Maris and McCarver plate another run in the 4th, and Shannon singles home McCarver to make it 3-0. Might as well be 30-0, the way Hoot's throwing. Come the seventh inning, he still hasn't allowed a man into scoring position. It finally happens in that inning, when Blades and O'Farrell reach with two outs to bring the tying run to the plate. But that batter is Thevenow, the only hitter in the 1926 lineup with an OPS+ below 100. His is wayyyy below ---- it's 59. Musta been some kind of a fielder, though, because he finished 4th in the MVP balloting that year. For some reason, his teammate O'Farrell won the award despite not leading the league (nor even his team) in any batting category. I don't really understand that. In fact, the whole MVP list makes no sense to me. Long time ago. . . . . .

Thevenow doesn't exactly scare Gibson, who blows high heat past him and then sits him down on a slider. End of rally. But the '26s launch another right away in the top of the 8th: Flowers (pinch-hitting for Haines) singles leading off, Douthit hits another, and the tying run is at the plate again --- carried this time by good hitters. Southworth hits into an FC, putting men at first and third with one out for Hornsby. He hit only .317 in 1926, the first time in the decade he'd hit below .370. He also managed just 11 homers, or 28 fewer than he'd hit the previous year. He's 1 for 3 in this game, but Gibson comes right after him, firing darts --- Hornsby goes down swinging for the 2d out. Now Bottomley's up, his team's leader in homers (19) and RBIs (120). Gibson throws a slider and gets Sunny Jim to hit it on the ground; Javier gobbles it up and throws him out, ending the threat. Two Hall of Fame hitters in a key spot, two outs; looks like it's Gibson's day.

And indeed it is: he sets `em down in order in the 9th to complete the shutout, a 5-hitter. It's the first real glimpse we've seen of Gibson's dominance in this tournament; coming into today's action he was 2-2 with a 2.75 ERA. The whitewashing lowers his tournament ERA to 2.20, which is more like it. Another hot 1968 pitcher, Ray Washburn, goes tomorrow for the '68s, facing Pete Alexander.


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Game 2
(2006 leads, 1 game to 0)

summary by Brock 20

In Game 1, the 2006 Champions, our Bracket Busters, took the game behind an eight-inning gem from Carp and a .481 OBP from the offense. Today, Sim Tony pitches Jeff Suppan, while Harry Brecheen takes the mound for the Greatest Generation. Let's see what happens. Same lineups as yesterday:

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

Preston Wilson gets things going with a groundball single to right center with one out in the first. Pujols hits a shallow fly ball, but the minute he hits it the visiting fans all gasp. (Seriously, does this annoy anyone else at games?) The ball falls softly into Harry Walker's glove, and there are two away. Brecheen extends the inning by walking Rolen, putting runners at first and second for Juan. He rips a liner to right field that falls in for a double. Preston and Rolen jog home and, just like yesterday, the '06s jump off to a 2-0 lead after half an inning.

Suppan starts for the visiting Cardinals. To me, nobody better represents the underdog, quiet nature of the 2006 team than Suppan. He has never been the flashy player, he quietly goes from team to team, taking the ball every fifth day and posting above-average outings, setting his team up to win. In 2006, his only real blip of attention came when he appeared in campaign videos opposing a high-profile ballot initiative just days before the World Series. That became a non-issue when Tony revealed that Suppan had sought advance permission from his manager, his teammates, and the Cardinal organization. Whether you agree or disagree with his politics, you have to respect the guy for handling it that way.

Back to baseball. The first inning is classic Soup: bend, don't break. He retires Red and then surrenders a single to Terry Moore; Stan stares at a called strike three and then Enos ropes one to right field, sending Moore around to third. With runners at the corners with two outs, Soup gets Whitey K. swinging and the threat is done.

The Bracket Busters are up to their ways in the second. So hits a line drive single and then steals second. Yadi flies out to left-center, and So barely beats the throw to third to advance on the sac fly. The effort is wasted, though as Soup grounds out and Eck flies out to end the inning. Too bad they couldn't get the run home, because in the bottom of the second Harry Walker hits a towering fly ball to center that clears the wall for a solo home run. The lead is down to one.

After a leadoff groundout in the bottom of the third, Musial and Slaughter both drop hits into right field, right in front of Juan. Musial gets a single, Enos gets a double. The simulation is finding fault with Juan's fielding ability, which many of us pointed out during the past couple of years. With runners at second and third, Whitey K. cranks a double to centerfield, and both Hall of Famers come home to score as the 1946 team takes its first lead of the series. Garagiola extends that lead to 4-2 with a bloop a single in front of Juan, driving Whitey in. It goes from bad to worse as So misplays a ball, enabling Walker to reach on the error. But Supps gets out of it when Marion flies out to shallow right and Brecheen grounds into a 4-6 force out.

Brecheen's on a roll, retiring the side in order from the third through sixth innings. But Suppan mostly keeps pace, retiring 10 of 11 men at one point. Schoendienst breaks the string with two out and nobody on in the sixth inning, smacking an opposite-field single. That is followed by a walk to Terry Moore, and suddenly the '46s have a runner in scoring position for Stan Musial. He squeaks a groundball up the middle, and Red motors home. The next batter, Slaughter, does the same, and Moore scores. Seeing enough, Sim Tony pulls Soup, replacing him with Looper. Looper gives up a long fly ball to Whitey that falls into Preston's glove on the warning track. The pair of two-out RBI extend the lead to 6-2.

After Juan grounds out and Yadi strikes out, So finally ends The Cat's consecutive-out streak at 16 with a double. The appreciative crowd applauds the effort. So's double puts him in scoring position for Yadi. Brecheen throws a pitch that sails over Garagiola, advancing So to third. Yadi puts a charge into one, but the park holds it. It's still 6-2 after seven.

Wilson makes it 6-3 in the top of the eighth with a two-out solo home run, and Pujols gives another pitch a ride on the next at-bat, but it falls short of the wall and into Walker's glove. The '46 team gets the run right back in the bottom half on a two-out double by Musial and a bloop single over Eck's head by Slaughter. So when the workhorse of the '46 bullpen, Ted Wilks, comes out for the ninth inning, he has a four-run lead to work with. Wilks continues his outstanding tournament performance, putting the 2006 team down 1-2-3. That evens up the series; the final is 7-3, and the two teams head to Busch III tied up at a game apiece.


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Game 2
(1982 leads, 1 game to 0)

summary by cardsfanunion

The '82 Birds lead the series 1-0, and they'll turn to Bob Forsch to try to extend their lead. The 32-year-old Forsch went 15-9 for the champs and hosted the most important team party of the season. After the Birds lost Game 5 to fall down 3-2 in the World Series against Milwaukee, Bruce Sutter decided the team needed to have a party. So the future Hall of Famer wandered back and forth on the plane and told everyone there was to be a party at the Forsches'. Forsch hated the idea, as he was the losing pitcher of Game 5, and didn't want to be blamed if the team was flat two nights later in Game 6. However, Sutter invited the team, so what could Bob do? He had the party. Apparently it was a rousing success, as the '82 Birds blew the Brewers out of Busch 13-1 in Game 6 and went on win the Series a night later. Given that Forsch was 0-2 in the series, the party was his biggest contribution to winning the series.

Forsch will face Joaquin Andujar, who went 21-12 in 1985 but wore down toward the end of the '85 season. He wore down with good reason, as he threw a career high 269.2 innings during the regular season. It was his fourth consecutive 220+ inning season, and the third time in four years he threw more than 260 innings. Though he was only 32, he would only pitch three more seasons, and he started more than 20 games only once more. He was cooked during that four-year stretch.

Lineups are as follows:

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

After a quiet top of the first, Forsch starts the bottom of the frame by hitting Coleman with a pitch. Coleman turns the HBP into a double by swiping second. Clearly rattled, Forsch balks Coleman to third. McGee singles and continues the merry-go-round by stealing second. Herr singles to plate McGee. Clark follows with a seeing-eye single to left, and Herr moves to third. He then scores on Van Slyke's fielders choice. Older Whitey keeps the pressure on as Van Slyke steals second. Forsch dodges further damage when Pendleton lines out and Porter grounds out to first. But it's 3-0 in favor of the 85ers after one.

The 82s threaten in the top of the second when Porter leads off with a single. McGee and Smith walk after an Oberkfell pop out, and they're loaded with one out for Forsch. Forsch, who was drafted as a third baseman, is actually a decent hitter (he won two Silver Sluggers in his career, in 1980 and 1987). He had an off-year (for him) in 1982, batting .205 with only 3 RBI. He smokes a liner here, but it's snared by Clark --- tough break. Lonnie flies out to end the threat.

McGee leads off the bottom of th third for the '85 Birds with his second single of the game. Herr grounds into a fielder's choice, but then swipes second and is there an out later when Van Slyke drills one deep to left center. It's high, it's tall, it's barely over the wall for a 2-run homer. The '85 Birds lead this one 5-0 after three. They threaten to extend the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Porter leads off with a double. Ozzie and Andujar go quietly, though, which brings up Vince Coleman. Coleman had one home run in all of 1985, an inside-the-park job off Len Barker of the Braves at Busch II. But on this night in sim-land, Coleman smokes one over the wall in left (an opposite-field homer?? from Vince Coleman???) to give the '85 Birds a 7-0 lead. That homer chases Forsch (party at Bob's house after the game?), who gives way to John Martin.

The '82 Birds get on the board in the fifth with back-to-back doubles by Hernandez and Hendrick, and Gene Tenace adds a pinch-hit homer --- but not until the ninth inning. Andujar goes the distance for the 1985s, giving up two runs on 8 hits, and the '85 edition of the Running Redbirds live up to their name by swiping four bases. The '82 Birds attempted only one steal, and that was in the top of the first when Lonnie was caught by the '85 version of Porter.

The series shifts to 1982, all tied at 1 game apiece.