St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelpha Friday night.
The Cardinals would start the game 1 1/2 games out of first place. With an eye on the Montreal-Pittsburgh score, they took the field against the 3rd place Phillies. The Phillies were far from done in the NL East race, so this was going to be a game. Long before this game is decided, Pittsburgh would lose to Montreal, so the winner of this game would move up a game in the standings.
The Cardinals would send young hard throwing right hander Lynn McGlothen to the mound. The Phils would counter with Jim Lonborg. The Cardinals remember the tall right hander as he one hit them in the 1967 World Series – quite possibly the best World Series pitching performance in history. And yes, that includes Don Larsen’s perfect game.
Both starters would get off to a rough start. Lonborg would load the bases in the top of the first with two walks and a hit batter. Simmons would ground into a rally killing double play, scoring Lou Brock. Brock would triple off Lonborg in the third and score on a Reggie Smith single. Lonborg would settle in after that, not allowing another run through the 8th inning
McGlothen would run into trouble in the second, allowing two runs on a series of singles. McGlothen would match Longborg for his 8 innings of work. Both hurlers would be lifted for pinch hitters and neither would figure in the decision.
Gene Garber would take over for Lonborg in the 9th inning. Most known as the pitcher that ended Pete Rose’s 44 game hitting streak with a strikeout, Garber was a blast to watch. A side armer, Garber would turn his back completely to the batter, rotating to face second base. He would then spin back around with the pitch coming from a side arm position. Right handed batters had a lot to watch while trying to locate the ball, in all that motion. In an era before the closer, Garber would record 218 saves.
Garber wasn’t particularly sharp in the early going. He would pitch 3 innings, allowing 2 hits and a scary 4 walks. The Cardinals had more than their fair share of chances, but could not manage a run against Garber.
Mike Garman, who was effective in the marathon two days earlier, went 2 innings and was very sharp. He allowed one hit while walking only one batter.
The Phillies best chance to win the game would come in the bottom of the 11th. Sonny Seibert, winner of the extra inning marathon, would allow two runners, but Rich Folkers would get him out of the jam with the game still tied at 2. Although he struggled in New York, Folkers was sharp tonight.
Phillies reliever Ron Schueler would battle Folkers until the bottom of the 13th inning when Ray Bare would come in for the Cardinals. Bare would throw three innings of nearly perfect baseball. The only base runner was a 2 out error by Cardinals shortstop Jerry Davanon
The Cardinals managed to load the bases against Phillies reliever Larry Christenson in the top of the 14th inning, but Mac Scarce would come in and then Cards hits suddenly got scarce.
The game would remain tied until the Cardinals broke through against Jesus Hernaiz in the top of the 17th inning. Hernaiz faced three batters without retiring any of them. Singles by Ted Simmons, Keith Hernandez and Bake McBride gave the Cards a 3-2 lead, but they weren’t done. By any means. Eddie Watt would replace the ineffective Hernaiz. He would face three batters himself, only retiring one – Jerry Davanon with a sacrifice fly after walking in a run. Tom Underwood would be the next hurler, and his fate would be similar to the previous two. Brock would sacrifice another run home and Ted Sizemore would single home the last run. The Cardinals ended the 17th inning with a 7-2 lead. They would need it as the Phillies would not go quietly.
Alan Foster would try to protect the lead for Ray Bare. It didn’t start off as he planned. Mike Schmidt would triple and Willie Montanez would single him home. Montanez was the player the Phillies chose when Curt Flood refused to report after being traded. Montanez was developing into a very good player, one that the Cardinals wished were wearing Cardinal Red. Just as quickly as the rally started, it would end. Greg Luzinski would fly out and veteran outfielder Bill Robinson would line into a game ending double play. The Cardinals would win this 17 inning monster and pull within 1/2 game of the Pirates. Two days after playing in the longest game in major league history, they play another marathon.
The Cardinals would actually get the lead in the NL East over the next few games. Unfortunately for Cardinals Nation, the Pirates would play just a bit better than the Redbird and win the division on the last day of the season. In that stretch the Cardinals would go 2-4 against the Pirates, with three of those games going extra innings. The Cardinals had their chances.
1974 was an exciting season for the Cardinals, their last one until the strike shortened season in 1981. These three wins, in the middle of a late pennant race, may have been the most exciting games in the 1970s. Fans certainly got their money’s worth.