29 October 2014


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- They have been looking at pictures of that 1985 miracle team adorning the clubhouse walls since the day they joined the Kansas City Royals organization.
They see George Brett around the ballpark, and Frank White in town. They hear about Hal McRae and Bret Saberhagen. And umpire Don Denkinger, too.

Now, these Royals have a chance to file that glorious past into a time vault, and make their own history, in a style that would make their predecessors proud.
They are playing Game 7 of the World Series Wednesday night against the San Francisco Giants at Kauffman Stadium.

Winner take all.

Yep, just like 1985.

They made sure that of that Tuesday night, derailing that cable car parade in the Bay, with a 10-0 rout over the Giants that wasn't even as close as the score indicated. 

It was over that quickly.

The Royals jumped all over Giants starter Jake Peavy, scoring seven runs in the second inning, sending him to the showers after recording just four outs, and leaving fans scrambling to find their nearest ticket broker.

This wasn't a game.  It was a validation.
The Royals just aren't going away, turning this World Series into an absolute thrill ride, with enough curves, turns, ups and downs, for another generation to remember.

"It's special,'' Royals manager Ned Yost says. "Secretly, you'd like to win it to it in four or five, but when this started, I was really hoping we'd play seven, for the thrill of it, the experience of it.''  Yet, Yost says, he knew as early as Monday there would be a Game 7.  There was no doubt in his mind.  He was convinced his team would win.
"I've never been so convicted about a game in my life, seriously,'' Yost said. "I've never felt more strongly about us winning a ballgame in my life than I did (Monday) on 
is game. I don't know why, it's just the confidence I have in these guys. 
"I just felt that we were going to win this game, and get to Game 7, and see where that takes us.  "We feel good about our chances.''

It's been a wild ride for these two teams. They had to win an elimination game as a wild-card entrant just to get into this dance. Now, one will be hoisting the World Series championship trophy.
The Royals certainly haven't proven they're not afraid of anyone not named Madison Bumgarner. 

Considering that he just threw 117 pitches in Game 5, Giants manager Bruce Bochy reiterated, that he will not be starting the game. He likely won't be available to pitch more than two, perhaps three innings of relief.

"He's going to be on two days' rest,'' Bochy said. "He just threw a complete game. You know, this guy is human. I mean, you can't push him that much. He'll be available if we need him, but to start him, I think that's asking a lot.''

If the Giants are going to capture their third World Series title in five years, and win their 10th consecutive postseason series, they'll need a few more pitchers to chip in besides Bumgarner.

While Bumgarner is 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA in his two starts, the rest of the Giants' rotation is 0-3 in this Series with a 9.82 ERA, surrendering 28 baserunners in 14 2/3 innings.

The Giants will be sending out Tim Hudson for the deciding game. The Royals are going with Jeremy Guthrie. It's a rematch of Game 3, when neither pitcher got out of the sixth inning. It will be the oldest Game 7 pitching starting matchup in World Series history, according to ESPN, with Hudson, 39, and Guthrie, 35, combining for 74 years, 14 postseason starts, and two victories.  The truth is that the designation of a starting pitcher is nothing but a formality.

"We'll start Jeremy Guthrie,'' Yost says, "and be backed up with everybody we got.''  Ditto for the Giants.

Mike Moustakas reacts after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning in Game 6.(Photo: Peter Aiken, Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports)  "This is something that as a kid growing up,'' Hudson says, "you think about it. As a big-league player, you think about it and you often wonder if you are ever going to have the opportunity to do it.

"Sixteen years in the big leagues, I finally have that chance. I mean, I'm really, really excited about it. I can't wait to get out there and have fun.''  It's no different than Guthrie, who says his mind races back to 1991, and Game 7, with the Minnesota Twins.  "My memories of a Game 7 probably go back to Jack Morris, '91,'' Guthrie says. "I remember that game, I was 12 years old. So certainly, could appreciate the effort that he gave, and the magnitude of that game, to be able to pitch like he did and win the World Series.''

Morris pitched 10 shutout innings against the Atlanta Braves in perhaps the greatest pitching performance in World Series history, winning the title for the Minnesota Twins.  The truth is that either manager would settle for five, even four shutout innings in this game. They've each got plenty of rested bullpens, with the Royals' late-inning triumvirate of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland all fresh. Holland, in fact, hasn't pitched in five days.

"All our big guns are fresh,'' Yost says, "and ready to go.''  There really is no prohibitive favorite, considering how evenly matched these two teams have been this Series when Bumgarner's not on the mound, but if history holds true, the Royals could be holding all of the cards.  The last World Series team to win Game 7 on the road was the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates against the Baltimore Orioles.  The home team has won nine consecutive Game 7s.  If you go back to the last 15 times a home team forced a Game 7 in the World Series or the League Championship Series, 14 of them came away with the title.

The only exception was the 2006 New York Mets.  And the Giants have never won a World Series Game 7 in their history, losing in 2002, 1962, 1924 and 1912.  "Tell these guys they are going against the odds,'' Bochy says. "They've done that before. I think a lot of people had us getting beat in the first and second round.

"This clubs is so resilient, so tough. They're so tough. They'll put this behind them.''  The Giants, after all, did win Game 7 of the 2012 National League Championship Series, after being down 3-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals.

"It's nice to know that you've done it,'' Bochy says. "You've come back against the odds, and you can do it again.''  Yet, with the way the Royals clobbered the Giants, with Peavy recording the second-shortest postseason outing from a Giants starter in 90 years, the Royals believe this is '85 all over again.

"I loved the clubhouse today,'' Royals left fielder Alex Gordon said. "Came in, and it felt like a regular-season game. I was really proud of how we handled ourselves.  "With all of this, the cameras, everyone watching, only us playing ... "Obviously there's going to be some emotions and ups and downs, but we've handled ourselves great.''

Certainly, the suspense of this Series is terrific, but there sure have been some ugly games, with five of the six games decided by five or more runs.  This one was another clunker, resurrecting memories of 2001 when the Arizona Diamondbacks returned home to beat the New York Yankees, 15-2, in Game 6, and winning Game 7 off closer Mariano Rivera, 3-2.

The St. Louis Civil Court Building with the the present Federal Courthouse on the left

The old St. Louis Civil Courts building stands tall,
with the Eagleton Federal building behind to the left
(the present home to the 8th Cir.).  

The Civil Courts building is unique,
with a Greco/Roman temple, an Egyptian pyramid,
and topped by seraphim.

The Old Eighth Circuit Courthouse in St. Louis ca. 1936

13 October 2014

Cardinals even NLCS on Wong's walk-off blast Homer one of four hit by Cards, who rallied after losing Yadi to injury By Jenifer Langosch

ST. LOUIS -- The labor-intensive ways that limited the Cardinals' offense during the regular season have given way to an October long-ball attack, which, after carrying the Cards past the Dodgers, sent them soaring to San Francisco with a home split secured with a come-from-behind, 5-4 win over the Giants in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday.
On a night when the Cardinals watched their early advantage at Busch Stadium evaporate, their leader (Yadier Molina) hobble off the field with an oblique injury, and the Giants, down to their final strike, tie the game on aTrevor Rosenthal wild pitch, the club answered with another footnote for the history books. With the fourth walk-off home run in Cardinals postseason history, Kolten Wong nailed shut the Cardinals' 35th one-run win of the year with just their second four-homer game of the season.
"To do this at this stage, it's unbelievable," Wong said, after having his jersey shredded by mobbing teammates. "I've never dreamed of this. To be here and do something like that is incredible."
No NL team hit fewer home runs during the regular season. Now, no club this postseason has hit more.
This was about as close to a must-win game as it could have been for the Cardinals, too, as they could hardly afford to drop two games at home before heading to AT&T Park for the next three. It has been 29 years since a club (coincidentally, the Cardinals) climbed out of an 0-2 NLCS hole. But another dose of late-inning offense kept that from being the chore again.
"That was a really emotional game for a lot of reasons," Matt Carpenter said. "The ups and downs consisted of losing leads, getting leads and losing key players. I mean, there was a lot of things that happened that could have made this group quit or feel deflated, but we did a really good job of continually playing and trying to have good at-bats and finding a way to win. This was a big win for us."
Four of the Cardinals' five runs -- and now 17 of their 23 runs this postseason -- in Game 2 came via the home run ball, including the game-tying shot by pinch-hitter Oscar Taveras in the seventh, what was poised to be the game-winning clout by Matt Adams an inning later and then a walk-off blast by Wong to lead off the ninth. And long before the Cardinals became the first team in postseason history to homer in the seventh, eighth and ninth, Carpenter connected for his fourth homer of the postseason.
Carpenter's blast was part of some early scoring that built Lance Lynn a two-run lead. But he couldn't hold it, and shortly after Lynn exited a tie game, the Cardinals endured another blow -- Molina, unable to run to first after hitting a ground ball in the sixth, had to be escorted off the field. He was diagnosed with a left oblique strain and replaced behind the plate by Tony Cruz.
"A little quieter than I was hopeful for," manager Mike Matheny said of the mood in the minutes after Molina's exit. "These guys, they care about each other, and that's part of why we see the resiliency that we see."
They needed a final bit of resiliency in the ninth, which featured the usual drama from Rosenthal. With two on, two out and a full count to Joe Panik, Rosenthal bounced a fastball that deflected far enough away from Cruz to allow pinch-runner Matt Duffy to score the tying run from second. Seth Manessextinguished a bases-loaded mess to set up Wong's second game-winning hit of the postseason.
"It's not all about me. It's about this team," Rosenthal said. "Walking off this mound, I felt like we had a good chance with Seth coming in and the lineup. Guys were going to battle, and we were going to win that game."
Early show of powerCarpenter added another notch to his terrific postseason, blasting his fourth home run of the month to give the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead. With it, Carpenter has hit half as many homers in six playoff games (24 at-bats) as he did in the 162-game regular season (595 at-bats).
Taveras and Adams followed that up with their own impact swings. Taveras, who has yet to start this postseason, became the first Cardinals pinch-hitter to deliver a game-tying blast in the postseason. Adams joined Brian Jordan (1996) as the only Cardinals to hit a pair of go-ahead homers in the seventh inning or later in a single postseason. It was Adams' late homer in Game 4 of the NL Division Series that sunk Clayton Kershaw.
"You know, throughout the season, people were worried about our power," Adams said. "But we knew inside the clubhouse that we didn't lose any power. We just have to go up there and have good at-bats, and we know the home runs will come."
Molina strains obliqueMolina, considered by many to be the Cardinals' most irreplaceable player, may just have to be replaced for the rest of this postseason series. Molina suffered a left oblique strain on a swing that produced a double play in the sixth inning. Molina never took a step toward first base, but instead remained hunched over at home plate until visited by a trainer.
While oblique injuries often tend to linger, the Cardinals are fortunate that they don't have to immediately replace Molina on the roster. Their earlier decision to carry two backup catchers -- Cruz and A.J. Pierzynski -- gives the Cardinals flexibility to hold off on removing Molina from the NLCS roster. Doing so would preclude the Cardinals from also playing Molina in the World Series, should they advance.
"We don't know much more about it right now," Matheny said of the severity. "He's out getting some looks right now from the doctors. But it didn't look real good."
Giants pull even with wild pitchUnable to get a final strike call on three borderline pitches to Panik, Rosenthal uncorked a 99-mph fastball that spiked in front of home plate and landed Rosenthal his first career postseason blown save. Duffy, running on the pitch, scored easily from second to tie the game as it took Cruz too long to track the ricochet. Rosenthal had faced 308 hitters during the regular season and thrown only one wild pitch.
"Trevor throws hard, we all know that," Cruz said. "The ball bounced pretty far out there. I was trying to do whatever I could to keep it in front. I know I got a glove on it, and I was just trying to find it after that."
Rosenthal worked himself into that ninth-inning mess by allowing consecutive one-out singles. After the walk to Panik, Rosenthal also walked Buster Posey. His night ended there.
Maness puts out fireThe pitcher nicknamed "groundball guy" induced one of the biggest of his career on Sunday to help the Cardinals escape the ninth with the game tied. Summoned into Rosenthal's bases-loaded mess with two out, Maness fell behind four-hole hitter Pablo Sandovalbefore inducing a comeback on the fifth pitch of the at-bat.
"I got behind 2-0 and was going to make him hit my best pitch, the sinker," Maness said. "He fouled a couple off. Luckily, I made a decent pitch and I was able to get it right back to me."
It was just another day's work for Maness, who led the NL with 65 inherited runners during the regular season.
Hawaiian hero, part IISix days after declaring his NLDS home run the biggest of his career, Wong trumped it. Hoping to jump-start a ninth-inning rally by getting on base, Wong did even better. Lining a pitch from Sergio Romo just over the wall in right, Wong delivered the seventh walk-off hit in Cardinals postseason history.
"You can't take anything away from them," Romo said. "Is it a shock? We tend to not give up home runs, I guess. It is what it is. But for them to come out swinging the way they did, it's only up for them. I can only speak for myself. I've got to execute."
Wong is the fourth second baseman in Major League history with a postseason walk-off homer, joining Jeff Kent (2004), Alfonso Soriano (2001) and Bill Mazeroski (1960).
Randal GrichukQuestioned pregame about his decision to stick with Grichuk as his right fielder instead of favoring the left-on-right matchup that Taveras would have provided, Matheny said defensive consideration leaned toward sticking with Grichuk. Turns out, the move would provide immediate payoff.
With a runner on first and one out, Grichuk tracked down Posey's drive to right-center to rob the catcher of an extra-base hit and keep the Giants from taking an early lead. Grichuk later contributed offensively, too, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead with his RBI single in the fourth. Grichuk was 2-for-20 coming into that at-bat, which was preceded by the Giants intentionally walking Wong to load the bases.
"I saw them put up the four and knew they were going to intentionally walk him," Grichuk said. "I went up there and told myself, 'That's a mistake on their part. Hopefully I'll come up with a hit.' And I did."
• The Cardinals' three previous postseason walk-off homers were hit by Ozzie Smith (Game 4, 1985 NLCS), Jim Edmonds (Game 6, 2004 NLCS) and David Freese (Game 6, 2011 World Series).
• Before Sunday, the Cardinals had four four-homer games in franchise postseason history. The others included Game 2 of the 2012 NLDS (vs. Washington), Game 3 of the 2011 World Series (vs. Texas), Game 2 of the 2004 NLCS (vs. Houston), and Game 1 of the 2004 NLDS (vs. Los Angeles).
• This marked the first time in franchise history that the Cardinals had won Game 2 of an NLCS in which they lost Game 1 at home.
• From the seventh inning on this postseason, the Cardinals are hitting .394 with seven home runs.
• The Cardinals, with 11 home runs in six postseason games, have already equaled their total from the month of May (27 games).
With his one-out single in the second, Molina became the all-time postseason hits leader for the Cardinals, with 89. He had moved into a tie with Albert Pujols atop that franchise leaderboard in Game 1. Sitting third on the list is Edmonds, with 61 hits.
Molina, 32, is participating in his eighth postseason, all of which have come with St. Louis. Before him, no Cardinals catcher had ever appeared in the playoffs in more than three seasons. He is 5-for-21 through six games in this postseason, though his status is questionable for the rest of the series.
After a day off for both teams, the NLCS will pick back up with Game 3 from AT&T Park in San Francisco on Tuesday (3 p.m. CT on FOX Sports 1). John Lackey will get the ball for the Cardinals against Giants starter Tim Hudson.

Tribute to Stan by Bob Costas