The Cardinals would start the day 1/2 game behind the New York Mets with 24 games left to play. Since their turnaround on June 3, the Cardinals had been winning at an amazing .667 clip, winning two of every three games. As well as the Cards were playing, the Mets were keeping pace. And the Cardinals had just lost two of three to the first place Mets, including a spectacular extra inning game on September 11. Time was running out.
This game would be memorable for a number of reasons. These will become apparent as the game unfolds.
This was an afternoon game in Wrigley Field and was being televised on WGN. I went into work early so that I could leave in time to watch it. I was not prepared for what I would see.
The Cubs would start Steve Trout, a big left hander that had some moderate success in the windy city. He was a contact pitcher that didn’t have overpowering stuff or spectacular control. His biggest asset was that he was a lefty. The Cardinals would counter with veteran Bob Forsch who was not having one of his better seasons. He had spent much of the season in the bullpen with the Cardinals trimming down to a four man rotation, but had been put back into a starting slot as a result of the demanding schedule.
The game would actually be over almost as soon as it began as the Cardinals sent nine men to the plate against a shell shocked Steve Trout. But it was the way they attacked that would be a sign of great things to come.
Vince Coleman would lead off the game with a walk. Coleman had been an early season fill in when Willie McGee went on the disabled list. His blinding speed and aggressive playing style kept him in the lineup for the rest of the season, earning him the National League Rookie of the Year. And on this day, the most hated man in Chicago. Quickly, Coleman would steal second. And just as quickly, NL Batting Champ Willie McGee would single easily scoring Coleman. Smelling a little blood, McGee would steal second putting another running in scoring position. Tommy Herr would then draw a walk off of Trout setting up something we had been seeing a lot of – a clutch hit from Cesar Cedeno. McGee scores the second run and both Herr and Cedeno advance when Bob Dernier was unable to make a clean play on Cedeno’s hit. Super sub Tito Landrum grounds out to the right side of the infield allowing Herr to score the third run and Cedeno advancing to third.
Terry Pendleton would strike out for the second out of the inning, but Ozzie Smith would wear down Trout and earn a walk. Two Cardinals had already stolen bases on Trout/Davis, and Smith takes a chance. And for the third time in the inning, a Cardinal has stolen a base. But this would not be the last time in this game. Not by a little bit either.
Trout would intentionally walk catcher Tom Nieto which in retrospect seemed like a dumb thing to do. Bob Forsch was a much better hitter than Nieto, but the move worked out as Forsch grounded out to second base. The running Red Birds had scored three runs on two hits, and neither of them was hit particularly hard.
Bob Dernier, who was victimized in the top of the inning would lead off with a walk. And in a case of what’s good for the goose, swipes second. What the Cubs were unable to do though is follow that move up with any offense. Gary Matthews would ground out to Pendleton who looked Dernier back to second before throwing Matthews out. Ryne Sandberg and cleanup hitter Keith Moreland would both ground out to Ozzie Smith to end the inning.
The second inning would feature more of the same from the running Red Birds. After a Vince Coleman ground out, Willie McGee would draw a rare walk. Tommy Herr would single to right field but would be cut down trying to take second when the throw to third was cut off. And for the second time this afternoon, Cesar Cedeno would come through and single, scoring McGee for a 4-0 lead. That’s all the Cardinals would need, but the entertainment was far from over.
The Cubs would get one of those runs back in the third inning. Shawon Dunston would lead off the inning with a single. He would be forced at second when pinch hitter Billy Hatcher grounded out to Pendleton. Hatcher beat the relay throw to first. Trying a little bit of the Cardinals magic, Hatcher steals second and comes home on a Gary Mathews single. Forsch bears down and retires Ryne Sandberg to prevent a big inning from happening.
A bit of defensive flash happened in the bottom of the fourth. Keith Moreland would lead off with a walk and move to third on a single by Ron “The Penguin” Cey. Ex-Cardinal Leon Durham would fly out to Coleman in left but not deep enough to score Moreland from third. Jody Davis would fly out a bit deeper to right field and the Cubs would challenge Tito Landrum’s throwing arm. A very bad decision as Landrum threw out Moreland ending the inning, and the Cubs rally – the best they would have on this day.
The Cardinals followed up that fine defensive showing with some more running. But from the lower part of the lineup. Andy Van Slyke would bunt his way on and immediately steal second. Terry Pendleton would then single scoring the speedy Van Slyke. And why not ? Pendleton steals second for the 5th stolen base. Ozzie would walk. And then things would go terribly wrong for the Cubs hurler, former Cardinal George Frazier. A wild pitch and passed ball would put runners at second and third with no out. Unfortunately the bottom of the order could not do any damage and that’s where the inning would end.
Meanwhile Forsch was settling into a bit of a groove and there was nothing doing with the Cubs in the bottom of the fifth, and sixth.
The Cardinals sixth inning would play out just like the previous inning. McGee would lead off with another walk and then proceed to steal second. Herr would walk. Cedeno would fly out to center, failing to advance the runners. But there was no need, Jon Perlman (the new Cubs pitcher) would do that with a wild pitch. Andy Van Slyke would fly out scoring McGee easily from third making the score 6-1.
Perlman would settle down and retire the side in order in the seventh. The Cubs would finally get to a tiring Forsch in the bottom of the inning. A one out single and walk prompted Herzog to go to his bullpen, choosing lefty Rick Horton but not before a bit of gamesmanship. Herzog waits for the left handed pinch hitter Richie Hebner to be announced and then goes to Horton. Veteran Gary Woods, who would play his final game in two weeks,bats for Richie Hebner and grounds out to short with the Cardinals taking the easy force at second.
Bob Dernier singles home Jody Davis to make it 6-2 Cardinals. With two men on, stats folks take note of the tying run on deck. This will be important. As would the next move that Whitey Herzog makes – calling on young right hander Todd Worrell. And Todd Worrell comes in and overpowers the Cubs, starting with Gary Matthews, striking him out to end the rally.
The Cardinals go relatively quietly in the eighth. In the Cubs half, Worrell does what all pitchers who have a large lead are taught – challenge hitters. He does just that and Ryne Sandberg leads off with a double. Moreland can’t catch up with Worrell’s hard stuff and pops out to first. Then Worrell strikes out both Ron Cey and Leon Durham, both excellent hitters to end the inning.
More Whitey Ball in the top of the ninth. Thinking that a four run lead may not be sufficient with a rookie trying to get his first save, the Cardinal bats and feet go back to work. Andy Van Slyke leads off with a single. Terry Pendleton follows that with a single. With the Cubs not paying attention to Van Slyke at second, he swipes third and scores on an Ozzie Smith single. Just like Herr in the second inning, Ozzie would be thrown out trying to advance behind the throw to third. The Cubs would intentionally walk Darrel Porter to bring up the pitchers spot and Whitey would stay with the young flamethrower. Worrell would strike out for the second out in the inning. With Pendleton at third, Darrell Porter would get into the fun and steal the eighth base on the day. Coleman would single scoring Pendleton to give the Cardinals a 9-2 lead.
Back to the mound goes a young Todd Worrell challenging the Cubs hitters. And the first man up is Jody Davis, who had been victimized eight times in the game. And perhaps it is a small reward, Davis homers off Worrell. Shawon Dunston singles but that would be the last of the Cubs on this day with Worrell finishing the game with no more damage.
The Cardinals had executed the running game to perfection. Without any serious power in their lineup, they turned singles and walks into extra bases and kept the Cubs from getting comfortable. This game also featured the first major league save from Todd Worrell. A sight that Cards fans would enjoy for several seasons. And the Cardinals had pulled even with the Mets who would go on to lose to Montreal that evening giving the Cards a 1/2 game lead at the end of the day. A lead they would not surrender for the remainder of the 1985 season.
This was a game for the ages.
If you are interested the box score is at http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN198509130.shtml