ST. LOUIS—Lester reporting again, with Buzz Gip and the others somewhere in the stands. Seeing that two out of my five and maybe six favorite teams are starting a series today, I figured I might take the time to offer up a little numerology about my Cubs and my Cards.
They’ve been calling this one of the great baseball rivalries for some time, but from what I’ve seen, it isn’t much more than two neighbors complaining about each other’s barbeque smoke. The Red Sox and Yanks, the Giants and Dodgers, now those are flat-out death matches, with tidal waves of history to drown themselves in. But Cubs and Cards? Heck, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are closer cities distance-wise than those two, and they even met for the league championship four times, so how come that isn’t a big rivalry?
Thank god I have my PDBR with me. The Pocket Digital Baseball Reference can access historical facts in seconds, and here’s a few to munch on:
—Through 2009, the Cards have won 1,038 meetings, the Cubs 1,082, but they’re separated by a mere 53 runs, 9,291-9,238 in favor of St. Louis.
—When the Cards finished first and the Cubs seven and a half behind in 2009, it was only the fourth time the two teams finished 1 and 2 in the standings, and the first time since 1945.
Still not a lot of evidence supporting any kind of heated rivalry. But then I find the series results from 1903-1913, the first eleven years the Cubs were actually called the Cubs. It is astonishing:
’03-Cubs win series 16-4
’04-Cubs win series 15-7
’05-Cubs win series 17-5
’06-Cubs win series 15-6
’07-Cubs win series 16-6
’08-Cubs win series 19-3
’09-Cubs win series 15-7
’10-Cubs win series 15-7
’11-Cubs win series 16-6
’12-Cubs win series 15-7
’13-Cubs win series 16-6
That’s a 175-64 record for the Cubs against the Cards, a .732 winning percentage. My hunch could be wrong, but do you think this may have made these players and fans a little testy with each other?
Oh darn. The Cards take the field in front of me, John Denny stalking to the mound, and I’m not really sure who to root for yet…
GAME OF THE DAY
The Cards have been a speedy and scrappy bunch, usually done in by their pitching, but lucky for them my punchless Cubs are on hand to make it easier.
Oh, is that all we are? Speedy and scrappy? How about the homers Simmons and McBride have been hitting, and the eight triples already by Templeton?
You get a single, stolen base and run-scoring single for a 1-0 lead in the 1st, so zip it, Mr. Scrappy. A Buckner double and Biitner single tie it in the 4th, and Krukow is getting out of one jam after another—
And we take the lead again in the 6th on a single, ground out, balk, and another single…which I guess you can call scrappy, but hell, I’ll take it!
Yeah? Take this. Mitterwald singles in the 7th, pinch-hitter Joe Wallis doubles, and when lefty Buddy Schultz comes on—
He’s been confused…
He’s been awful! Morales pinch-hits a single and we’re tied again. And here’s Willie Hernandez…
He’s as bad as Schultz, you know. What’s the matter, afraid to use Sutter?
Can’t overuse him. It wouldn’t be fair—
What do you know about fair?
I said zip it. And here’s Buckner with a leadoff single in the 8th. Murcer steps in and bombs one! Deep to right…
And it’s gone! Sorry Buddy, and hit the showers please.
4-2 , last of the 9th. Sutter’s in but his forkball ain’t dirty enough. Freed pinch-hits a single and Brock gets hit, knocked out for eight games! Why I oughta…
Screw you! Hernandez tripped Buckner when he crossed the first base bag in the last inning, and he’s out for a week himself!
Templeton singles! It’s 4-3, Cards on first and third–
Like we’re scared? Sit back and watch Mr. Sutter as he WHIFFS Hernandez…WHIFFS Simmons…and WHIFFS Cruz for the BALLGAME!!
Oh…Buzz is here. Guess we have to go. Ha ha. That was exciting.
CHI 000 100 120 – 4 11 1
STL 100 001 001 – 3 10 0
W-Hernandez L-Schultz SV-Sutter
HR: Murcer GWRBI: Murcer
PIRATES 3-10-2, at EXPOS 2-7-0 (13 innings)
Almost. That’s all I can say. Stanhouse worms out of about seven jams and it’s 1-1 in the 6th when Carter takes Kison out of Olympic Stadium. But “Full-Pack” can’t keep it together, gives up a single and two walks in the 8th before Kerrigan comes on and Ott ties the game with a sac fly. The Expos get guys in scoring position the next three innings but can’t score any of them, and Ott finally rolls a 5 on a 1-6 homer chance off McEnaney in the 13th to put the THIRTEENTH straight Bucs win in the toaster.
W-Kison L-McEnaney HRS: Ott, Carter GWRBI-Ott
REDS 5-10-0, at PHILLIES 3-13-0
Seaver throws maybe the worst complete game of his life, putting fourteen runners aboard but somehow surviving, mainly because Bench and Driessen are able to go yard at key moments.
W-Seaver L-McGraw HRS: Bench, Driessen GWRBI-Driessen
ASTROS 2-9-0, at DODGERS 1-4-0
Joe Niekro, whaddya know? Cruz with a double, triple and single to beat Sutton for the first time.
W-Niekro L-Sutton HR: Baker GWRBI-Cruz
at DODGERS 7-9-1, ASTROS 2-6-0
Dan Larson isn’t that good. Three solo Dodger taters in the first three innings do him in, and Pentz and Dixon add fuel to the L.A. brush fire.
W-Sosa L-Larson HRS: Cey, Monday, Garvey GWRBI-Cey
RED SOX 8-9-0, at YANKEES 4-11-3
Very bizarre game, and indicative of the problems in the Bronx. Yaz belts 3-run homer off Catfish in the 1st, Nettles matches him with 3-run poke off Paxton the same inning. Randolph then throws away grounder to begin the 2nd, Burleson triples in the go-ahead run, and the New York offense falls asleep for the next seven innings while the Sox score three in the 7th with the help of two more Yankee errors, one by Nettles (!). And this comes a day after New York destroys Tiant. No consistency to speak of.
W-Paxton L-Hunter HRS: Yaz, Nettles GWRBI-Burleson
at WHITE SOX 5-10-1, ROYALS 4-10-2 (10 innings)
The Royals bullpen is out of plasma, and with Splittorff not himself, Gura and Mingori are called in and can’t do the job. Chicago battles back from 3-0 with four in the 6th to take the lead, then after Mayberry ties the game with a single in the 8th, Zisk leads the 10th with a triple and Soderholm singles him in. Even worse for K.C., Brett gets injured for three games, and will be replaced by the immortal Cookie Rojas.
W-Dal Canton L-Gura HR: Cowens GWRBI-Soderholm
ORIOLES 4-9-1, at INDIANS 3-6-1
Their bullpen also shot, Tippy Martinez is forced to relieve Rudy May, but goes nearly three innings and escapes a bases loaded mess in the 8th to get the monster save. Once again, Baltimore gets the most out of practically nothing—they’re the anti-Yankees—and move to within a game and a half of first.
W-May L-Bibby V-T. Martinez GWRBI-L. May
RANGERS 4-9-0, at TWINS 2-11-1
Geez Louise. The Minnesota Pumpkins fall to 0-7 in their home yard, in another deja vu of their opening week. Scads of runners left on base, they hit into three killer DPs, and Larry Hisle goes 0-for-5 in clutch situations. Of course Gaylord Perry has something to do with this, but still…
W-Perry L-Zahn HRS: Wills, Ellis GWRBI-Campaneris
American League through Saturday, May 10
National League through Saturday, May 10