Sunday, February 19, 2017

Joe Torre Suddenly Explodes! : Tuesday, July 29th, 1969


SF 1, CHI 0  W-Marichal 11-9 L-Jenkins 12-7  Marichal 2-hitter. 

HOU 4, NY 0  W-Dierker 11-9 L-Seaver 9-9  HR-Dierker(1)  Dierker 1-hitter.

ATL 3, PHI 1 (10inns)  W-P.Niekro 12-8 L-Wise 7-9  HR-H.Aaron(34) Cepeda(14) Callison(15)

LA 3, PIT 2  W-Mikkelsen 7-2 L-Gibbon 3-4  S-Drysdale(1)

STL 5, SD 3  W-Gibson 14-3 L-Kirby 2-12  S-Hoerner(11)  HR-Torre(8)  Torre 4 rbi.

CIN 12, MON 4  W-A.Jackson 3-0 L-Jaster 6-8  S-Granger(14)

Crews rush to extinguish Joe Torre.
Fire engines roared onto the field At Busch Stadium on Tuesday to put out Joe Torre, who has suddenly exploded. Like the rest of the Cardinals, Joe had a nice April. But then in May, he sucked until near the end of the month, did the same thing in June, and again in July. The boo birds were really on him as he struggled to raise his July average to the Mendoza Line. But then, like saviors on horseback, the San Di-awful Padres arrived, and Torre knocked in 9 runs in two games!  Bob Gibson was the beneficiary on Tuesday, as Torre socked a three run blast in the 1st inning. Few gave the Pods a chance after that, and the resurgent Redbirds built a 5-0 lead going into the 9th. But for the second straight day, Jose Arcia and the Friars avoided being shut out, and this time even threatened to steal the win! With two out, pinch hitter Walt Hriniak singled. Ivan Murrell singled as well. Then Arcia knocked a triple to score them both. Ollie Brown drew a walk and suddenly the tying run was at the plate in the form of Nate Colbert, who had reached base 4 times already. Nate The Great bounced one to Mike Shannon at third, who swatted at it, kicked it, and finally broke down in tears as Arcia scored on the miscue to make it 5-3 with two on and Ed Spiezio due up. Red Schoendienst removed Gibson in favor of Joel Hoerner and is expected to recover from the beating the affable Gibby delivered within a week or two. Meanwhile, Hoerner fanned the silly Mr. Spiezio to end the game as the Cardinals gained on every team in their division.

But can he drive the team bus?
Larry Dierker does it all!  At Shea Stadium, he one-hit the Mets, allowing only a 6th inning single by Ken Boswell. It looked like Jimmy Wynn had a chance to grab that dying quail, but he couldn't quite make the play, and that ended up being the only safety for the New Yorkers, whose bats have gone slent again. But wait! There's more! Dierker added a two-run homer just for fun! Then he placed mints on everyone's pillows at the team hotel, and piloted a tug boat in New York harbor. Is there anything Larry can't do? By the way, the Spacemen are now on a 20-4 run, matching the Cardinals incredible season-opening tear. Who saw this coming when they were 31-50 and going no place?

More than a glove man!
Juan Marichal and the aforementioned Mister Dierker have been in some weird sort of lockstep for some time now; when one wins, so does the other. Marichal stopped the Cubs on just a pair of singles--by Kessinger and Hundley--and Hundley was so overcome with emotion that he will miss the next few games. Hal Lanier singled in Willie McCovey with the only tally.

"Hit THIS, you fuckers!"
The Dodgers are reminding me more and more of my 1979 World Champion Twins. They don't have a masher, but they have a whole group of guys who crank out singles, doubles, and triples with regularity. They don't often run up the score, but they always seem to score a few. They are the kings of the low-scoring one-run win. In other words, they are really becoming annoying again. Add to that, the entire team is in the full bloom of glowing health, and so your Impartial Goddess wishes accident and mayhem on all of them, as she smiles serenely. This time, they fell behind Pittsburgh 2-0, and lost Don Sutton in the second inning due to a blister (he won't miss any time). Alan Foster and Al McBean held the fort while the Dodgers chipped away. Then it was time for Jim Brewer, but *he* crumpled in a heap after being struck with a line drive. Like Sutton, he will "BRB" as they say in computer-land, but for this game that left only Pete Mikkelsen, who put down his golf clubs and rushed to the mound. With the score tied and a runner on base in the top of the 9th, and nobody left in the Dodger bullpen, Dodgers skipper Walter Alston opted to hit for Mikkelsen anyway, and of course, they got the run across for a 3-2 lead. But who to bring in to preserve the 1-run margin in the bottom of the 9th? Why, Don Drysdale, of course! It was his first relief appearance since 1965. It all came back to him as he retired the side in order for his first save in 4 years. Wait til they hear about it at the bank! Jane will faint dead away!
Jim Brewer leaves the mound under his own steam.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Pods & Pirates Go 18 Innings: Sunday & Monday, July 27th & 28th, 1969

Scores, July 27th

LA 4, CHI 2  W-Moeller 10-6 L-Selma 5-12  S-Mikkelsen(13)  HR-Santo(15)

CIN 6, NY 2  W-Fisher 9-9 L-McAndrew 6-11  S-Granger(13)  

SD 6, PIT 5 (18inns)  W-Kelley 4-2 L-Moose 2-5

STL 7, SF 3  W-Grant 7-6 L-Bolin 9-10  HR-Bonds(18) Brock(4)

MON 4, ATL 3  W-Wegener 8-7 L-Doyle 5-3  S-Face(12)  HR-Staub(23) H.Aaron 2(33)

HOU 3, PHI 2  W-Griffin 7-10 L-J.Johnson 4-16  S-Gladding(8)  HR-Allen(18) Rojas(3)

Score, July 28th

STL 10, SD 1  W-Washburn 7-11 L-Roberts 3-10  Torre 5 rbi.

The clearly crazed Dick Kelley.
After defeating the preposterous Padres in the first 3 of a 4 game set at Forbes Field, the Buccos threw their arms around the Friars and caroled, "We want you to stay forEVERrrrrr!" Well, they nearly did. As they had done the day before, the Holy Men got off to a quick lead, but of course, because they are the Padres, they let it slip away and trailed 5-4 going into the 8th. That's when Pittsburgh's ugly fielding kicked in, and the Pods tied the game on an unearned run off of Chuck Hartenstein. Who could have known then that the Padres would pull ten innings of scoreless relief out of their ears?! (Or someplace.) On and on the game went, with Frank "Double" Reberger tossing 2, Jack Baldschun doing the same, and lefty Dick Kelley contributing the last six. At last, in the top of the 18th inning, the mythical magical Jose Arcia ripped a three-bagger and came home on a sac fly by Chris Cannizzaro, the human spelling bee. In the bottom of the 18th, the Pirates put runners at the corners with two out, but Kelley whiffed Freddie Patek to finally end the festivities.  The Padres exhausted their bench, and the Pirates emptied their bullpen. It was the longest game of the season so far.

Someone got his autograph! No one knows why.
At St. Louis, the same two players who homered on Saturday--Bonds and Brock--homered again on Sunday. Both flyhawks are in the running for player of the month, along with Hank Aaron (June's winner) and Rusty Staub. But the interesting thing, besides the return to form of the Cardinals, was the S.F. catching situation. Until Dick Dietz got injured recently, they had made it all year with none of their 3 backstops ever getting so much as a split end. Then Dietz went down, followed by Bob "Hi, Bob!" Barton on Saturday. On Sunday, Jack Hiatt managed to get injured running the bases where there is no protection for the last catcher, (as there is on my Orsino board) and utility infielder Don Mason had to strap on the gear. All of this mayhem necessitated the call-up (and creation, by your multi-talented Goddess!) of 4th-string catcher John Harrell. In actuality, Harrell played in 2 games, going 3-for-6, all singles, and walking twice. And so his card is crazy-good for getting to first base with, even though I toned it down just a little. Harrell is so obscure that my 1969 Sporting News Baseball Register doesn't even have a photo of him, though it does list him. All they could think of to say about him was what junior college he attended. His moment has arrived! He will catch one game and then sit back down when Dietz returns on Wednesday. 

"Must...lose. MUST...lose...."
Jerry Johnson of the Phillies, whose main claim to fame is making me type "J.Johnson" and "D.Johnson" all the time, because you never know, Jerry might hit 20 homers and Deron might star as a starting pitcher! Or not. But anyway, he seemingly cast aside his losing ways for a while on Sunday, stopping the Astros on one hit through six innings. However, in the space of three batters in the 7th, the Spacemen plated 3 and won the game, hanging yet another loss on hapless old Jer'. Don't look now, but the Astros are just 4 games under .500 after going on a 19-4 run, and have crept to within 10 and a half games of the top. Miracle Astros, anyone?

Babe Ruth? Ty Cobb? Clint Hartung? NO, it's Ray "Hit Machine" Washburn!
And finally, the Cardinals, rounding back into April form when they went 19-4, stomped on the Padres on Monday, just to remind them that they stink. Nate Colbert's 2-out rbi single in the 9th ruined Washburn's bid for a shutout, but everyone was still rolling with laughter over Johnny Podres giving up 5 runs in the 8th after retiring the first two batters and facing Ray "the free strikeout" Washburn, who managed to single, igniting a seemingly endless rally.  The Redbirds have opened up a 3 and a half game lead again in the east. 

620 games down, 352 to go, 16 games left in July.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Roy Loses Face: Saturday, July 26th, 1969


LA 3, CHI 2  W-Osteen 10-6 L-Hands 14-5  S-Mikkelsen(12)  HR-Banks(7)

NY 3, CIN 1  W-Gentry 11-5 L-Culver 8-5

PIT 6, SD 3  W-Dal Canton 5-4 L-Baldschun 3-2  HR-Alley(6)

STL 4, SF 3  W-Briles 8-9 L-Linzy 5-4  HR-Bonds(17) Brock(3)  Shannon 2-out GW single.

ATL 10, MON 8  W-Raymond 3-2 L-Face 2-5  S-Upshaw(20)  HR-Jones(12) H.Aaron(31)

HOU 5, PHI 4  W-D.Wilson 8-9 L-Fryman 6-10  HR-D.Johnson(13)GS 

He remembers his pitching debut at old Jurassic Park, but can't remember what he had for breakfast this morning.
It was a wild one at Atlanta, where the Expos tallied twice in the top of the first, only to see kid starter Steve Renko cough up a 4-spot in the bottom of the first. The infant hurler settled down, though, and actually had a chance at his first big league win later in the game when the Expos forged ahead, pummeling Pat Jarvis. Ex-Brave Mack Jones went yard against his old pals for the second straight day, a 3-run shot that saw Montreal take an 8-6 lead into the bottom of the 8th.  Enter ancient relief specialist Elroy Face to try to shut down the largely right handed Braves batting order for the last two innings. Nothing doing. Bob "Hi, Bob!" Didier singled, took second on a wild pitch by a confused Mister Face, who thought the lunch tray had arrived and turned the ball loose in his haste to get at the tater tots and pudding, then scored on a single by the recently rejuvenated Gil Garrido to make it 8-7. Garrido reports that his smashed skull has healed nicely. Mike Lum stepped up to hit for Claude "Frenchy" Raymond, and promptly doubled into the right field corner, with Garrido cautiously stopping at third. Pods cast-off Tony Gonzales batted next, and doubled them both in for a 9-8 Braves lead. Hank Aaron capped the scoring with an rbi single, making it four large against Face, who wanted to go watch "Family Feud" anyway. Cecil Upshaw came on in the 9th to dispose of the demoralized Expos, and that was that.

"Watch me deposit this pitch in the seats!"
At Pittsburgh, the Padres had the audacity to take a 3-0 lead against the Buccos by the end of the second inning, and dreams of victory danced in the noggin of Pods starter Al "Losing Pitcher" Santorini. Of course, he allowed the Pirates to tie it up before departing after 6. There it stayed until the bottom of the 8th when Jack "Baldy" Baldschun yielded a 3-run homer to the freshly whole Gene Alley, who told reporters that his spleen makes a fine door stopper and who really needed it anyway? Bruce Dal Canton stayed in the game to polish off the terrible Friars, who dropped their 70th game of the campaign.  

Meds kicking in yet, Dave? Ah yes, I see that they are!
Frank Linzy, who had been extremely effective in May, June, and most of July, gave up a walk-off hit to the Cardinals for the second day in a row, delighting the St. Louis fans as Mike Shannon's 2-out single did the trick on Saturday. It was Shannon's third walk-off hit of the season, and moved the Redbirds 2 games up on the Cubs in the east. The good ship Cardinal seems to have righted itself at last. However, Dave Ricketts pulled a muscle, or some shit like that, while trying to leg out a single, and will be relegated to pinch hitting duty for the next 4 contests. With Tim McCarver still sidelined for one more game, that means Joe Torre must don the tools of ignorance and give over first base to whomever the Red Schoendienst can convince to take the field. There's grizzled veteran Bill White, who can field but not hit, or Joe Hague, who can't really do anything, or maybe somebody else lying around somewhere; we'll see. 

"Oops! My bad! Aw shucks! My fault...."
Finally, Deron Johnson cruelly victimized Don "Western Union Candygram" Wilson with a grand slam in the top of the first inning at the Harris County Domed Stadium. Up 4-0, the Phils were giddy with success, but of course, they managed to commit 3 errors leading to 3 unearned runs and blow the game, 5-4.  Frequent loser Jerry Johnson was passed over in the rotation in favor of Woody Fryman, who made 2 of the miscues himself in order to insure defeat. Just to cap it all off for the Failing Phils, Tony Taylor and Ricardo Joseph both bit the dust and had to be carried away in extra-strength trash bags. Quaker skipper Bob Skinner, who will be fired a week from now, vowed to find replacements. "But what difference will it really make?" he opined with a shrug. 
He was born old.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Pinson Walk-Off Hero: Friday, July 25th, 1969


LA 4, CHI 3 (11inns)  W-Mikkelsen 6-2 L-Regan 5-4  HR-Kosco(11) Santo(14)

CIN 2, NY 1  W-Maloney 13-6 L-Koosman 10-8  HR-Kranepool(7)

PIT 5, SD 4  W-Dal Canton 4-4 L-J.Niekro 8-8  S-Gibbon(9)  HR-Colbert(8)

STL 4, SF 3 (10inns)  W-Hoerner 7-6 L-Linzy 5-3  HR-Hiatt(3)  Pinson 1-out GW single.

MON 8, ATL 1  W-Robertson 8-10 L-Reed 10-6  HR-Jones(11) Carty(16) 

PHI 5, HOU 3  W-Jackson 11-7 L-LeMaster 11-10  HR-Hisle(7)

Occasionally useful and doubles as a card table!
With the retirement of Roger Maris following the 1968 season, the Cardinals found themselves in need of a right fielder, and so coughed up Wayne Granger and Bobby Tolan to the Reds in exchange for grizzled veteran Vada Pinson. Way back on April 10th, when Vada smacked a pair of 3-run bombs in a game against Pittsburgh, the deal looked great, but Pinson has done little since, even spending time on the DL with a wrist injury. But on Friday, he felt like a kid again, wearing a hat with a propeller on it, short pants, and a big smile as he smacked a walk-off single in the 10th inning against the visiting Giants. Jack Hiatt, given the nod behind the plate by Giants skipper Clyde King, responded with 3 hits, including a two-out game-tying safety in the top of the ninth. But it was all for nought, as Joel Hoerner interrupted eating his Christmas pie long enough to toss one inning and scavenge the victory, putting the Redbirds once again alone on the top perch in the east. 

"You better stay away from him; he'll rip your lungs out, Jim!"
Having squeaked out a 3-2 win against Tom Seaver on Thursday, the Reds managed to put together a 2-0 advantage over the Mets on Friday. Jim Maloney, hopeful of getting his first whitewash of the season, retired the first two Mets in the 9th, but Ed Kranepool ruined everything with a solo bomb. However, Jim got Rod Gaspar for the third out and the Reds count themselves lucky to have beaten the Mets' one-two punch on consecutive days. 

It's another long drive!
The Pirates were cruising with a 3-1 lead over absurd San Diego, when the silly Gary Ross came on from the Pods' bullpen and promptly coughed up two runs to make it 5-1. Easy win, right? Not the way Joe "Loofa-Face" Gibbon has been serving up taters lately. He gave up a two-run bomb to Nate Colbert with nobody out in the ninth, but then held on, despite a John Sipin triple, to get the save 5-4 for 2 innings of sloppy work. Reader William rushed onto the field to express his disdain for the save rules, before he was removed by security. 

Bill Sudakis, celebrated in song by Miss Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce.
Ron Santo got the Bleacher Bums all excited with a 2-run, game-tying blast in the bottom of the 8th at Wrigley, erasing the advantage the Dodgers had established in the 1st inning with a homer by Andy "The Human Bulk Store" Kosco. It was all for nothing, however, as Bill Sudakis ripped an rbi double off of Phil Regan in the 11th, scoring one run and trying for a second, only to see the runner gunned down at the plate. Nevertheless, it was enough, as former Dodger Paul Popovich blew his chance for revenge in the bottom of the 11th, and made the final out instead. "We regret nothing" opined the Dodger brass, lighting up victory cigars. 

Finally, Mack Jones, a native of Atlanta and a long time Brave, punished his former team by smoking one into the stands against them. It was all part of a Canadian onslaught on the southern city as the Expos prevailed, 8-1. The only Braves run came on a 2nd-inning homer by, of all people, yesterday's Fail Champ, Rico Carty. Rico now has 16 homers, but just 39 rbi. He also added a double as Phil Niekro quietly seethed in the dugout, remembering Rico's ineptitude yesterday. Meanwhile, today's starter, Ron Reed, just didn't have it, and is considering a career in the NBA.
He leads the Pistons in earned run average!


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Phil Niekro's Night Of Near Immortality: Thursday, July 24th, 1969


CHI 4, LA 3 (14inns)  W-Abernathy 3-7 L-Foster 4-2  Banks 1-out walk-off single.

CIN 3, NY 2  W-Merritt 7-11 L-Seaver 9-8  S-Granger(12)  HR-Perez(16) Clendenon(18) Grote(5)

PIT 4, SD 3 (10inns)  W-Gibbon 3-3 L-Reberger 4-8  Stargell walk-off single.

SF 2, STL 1  W-Marichal 10-9 L-Gibson 13-3  HR-Pinson(6) 

ATL 1, MON 0 (12inns)  W-P.Niekro 11-8 L-Face 2-4  HR-Francona(4)ph walk-off.  P. Niekro 1-hitter.

HOU 4, PHI 0  W-Dierker 10-9 L-Wise 7-8  HR-Wynn(15)

He is resurgent.
In Chicago, the Cubs took a 3-0 lead into the 9th, only to see Fergie Jenkins get roughed up and the Dodgers tie the game. Never fear, Mister Cub is here, finally hitting in July the way he hadn't done all season before that. This time he stroked a walk-off single. The Cubs had 19 hits, 18 of them singles, as they pecked the Tinseltown nine to death. 

A Cards fan is riveted by the controversy over Red's decision to start Gibby!
The win enabled the baby bears to once again tie the Cardinals for the top spot in the east, because the Cards lost at home to the Giants. Vada Pinson knocked his 6th homer to stake Bob Gibson to a 1-0 lead which he held until the 8th, when he began to tire. Skipper Red Schoendienst was questioned for starting Gibson, who got the nod in Tuesday's all-star game and tossed two frames, but the ever-affable Gibby said he was good to go and the Redhead sent him out there. He got Marichal leading off the 8th, but then walked Bobby Bonds. Ron Hunt executed a perfect hit and run, putting runners at the corners. Mays singled in the tying run and McCovey singled in the lead run; that's how it ended, 2-1 with Marichal getting the "W."

Loofa-faced? You decide.
Despite being called a "Fascist Loofa-Faced Shit-Gibbon" by Pods skipper Gomez, Pirates lefty Joe Gibbon garnered the win when Willie Stargell singled home the winner in extras against the downtrodden Friars. 

Donn Clendenon hit just his second homer as a Met, and Jerry Grote made it back-to-back blasts when he went yard, too. Grote has just 5 dingers all year, but 3 of them have come against Cincinnati, all 3 at Shea. Still, the Mets did what the Mets do when Tom Seaver is on the mound--they fell just short. 

He just kept mowing 'em down.
The game of the day was, without doubt, the Expos-Braves contest at Atlanta. Phil Niekro knuckled the baby Canadians' noggins in a noogie they'll never forget. He held them hitless inning after inning, but his teammates couldn't push across a run themselves against the suddenly fearsome Larry Jaster. The teepee dwellers put runners on second and third with one out in both the 4th and 6th innings, but Rico Carty and Bob Aspromonte couldn't get them in either time. Knucksie pitched 9 no-hit frames, then 10, then 11! Still, the score stayed 0-0. Leading off the top of the 12th, the storied utility man Jose Herrera, a 5 foot 8 inch Astros cast-off, lined a single to ruin Phil's shot at glory. Damn! Niekro shrugged it off and retired the next three batters, though. In the bottom of the 12th, Bob "Hi, Bob!" Tillman made the first out, and then Tito Francona stepped up to hit for Niekro as the delirious Atlanta fans demanded a curtain call. Phil obliged them by waving his cap from the top step of the dugout. Then Roy Face delivered, and Francona sent it far into the right field stands for a walk-off pinch-hit homer to give Niekro the win and the shutout, but no no-hitter. "The win is all that matters," opined a smiling Knucksie, even as he held Carty's dumb-ass head underwater in the whirlpool.
Clutch fail. Twice. Way to go, "Beeg Mon."