Following a win by Dick Hughes in San Francisco, the Cardinals went on to win their next six games, sweeping both Houston and Los Angeles in their home ballparks. One of those wins was costly though as the Cardinals would be without the services of Ray Washburn for the next month.
The winning streak continued when they arrived back at Busch Stadium. Two wins against the Phillies earned them a split in their four game series.
Next up were the San Francisco Giants, one of the teams favored to win the National League pennant. A gutsy performance by Jim Cosman, replacing the injured Ray Washburn, gave the Cardinals an early series lead, but consecutive losses in the next two set up this important game. A win and the two teams split the series. A loss and the Redbirds 1 1/2 game lead in the NL could fall to just 1/2 game.
Why worry ? Bob Gibson will take the mound for the Cardinals. The veteran right hander was 9-5 on the season, with an ERA of 3.01. If he continued pitching like this, and could avoid the injury bug, he was certain to win the NL Cy Young award for 1967.
The Giants would start the game with four consecutive singles by Jim Davenport, Tom Haller, Willie Mays and Jim Ray Hart. Lou Brock would misplay Hart’s single, allowing him to take second base. Willie McCovey would be intentionally walked to set up the double play, but Ollie Brown didn’t cooperate. He singles, driving home Jim Ray Hart, and the Giants lead was now 4-0.
There was still nobody out in the top of the first inning.
Hal Lanier would hit a ball into the gap between Curt Flood and Mike Shannon and the ball would go all the way to the wall for a 2 RBI triple. Tito Fuentes would drive in Lanier with a single, making the score 7-0.
There was stirring in the Cardinals bullpen as Nelson Briles, one of Red Schoendient’s long relievers, starts warming up.
Giants starter, Jim Gibbon, bunts a 2 strike pitch foul for the first out of the inning. Jim Davenport, who started all this trouble with a swinging bunt to start the game, pops out to Julian Javier. A walk to the next batter, Tom Haller, prompts Red to make the long walk to the mound to take Bob Gibson out of the game. So far, Gibson has been charged with 7 earned runs, but there are still two of his base runners out there.
Not for long though as the Giants continued their onslaught against the new Cardinals pitcher. Willie Mays singles and Jim Ray Hart delivers the knockout blow with a three run homer.
Willie McCovey would get the last Giants hit of the inning, a quiet single. Briles finally retired Ollie Brown to end the first inning. 11 runs scored by the Giants, 9 charged to Gibson and the remaining 2 to Briles.
That’s really the end of the story. There was no miraculous comeback, no heroics. Nelson Briles did pitch another 6 innings of solid relief, giving up just one more run in his last inning of work. The Cardinals did manage to score 4 runs, but that wasn’t even enough to raise an eyebrow after the Giants put 11 on the scoreboard before the Cardinals had a chance to bat.
The point of this story is to let Jaime Garcia know that these kinds of games do happen. They even happen to the best of pitchers. While the Cardinals lost this game, they would go on to win the World Series. Bob Gibson would continue to be a great pitcher, and his plaque now rests in Cooperstown with the other great pitchers of the game.
It’s OK, kid. These things happen.