With another weekend in the books and (as I write this Sunday afternoon) nothing to show for it in regards to labor peace and an actual season, it’s time again to dive into the past to check out a game from this date in the past. We’ve done 1996 and 2004, so this time let’s look at 2007. Overall, it wasn’t much of a year, but my daughter was born in late May that year so it seems just as good a season as any to pick.
On this day in 2007, the Cardinals were hosting the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in interleague play. As we know, this would be the last time the Angels came to St. Louis until last season, when Albert Pujols made his triumphant return. Pujols was on the side of the Redbirds here and though he made an impact, it eventually wouldn’t matter.
First, let’s look at the starting lineups:
|Chone Figgins 3B||1||David Eckstein SS|
|Orlando Cabrera SS||2||Chris Duncan LF|
|Vladimir Guerrero RF||3||Albert Pujols 1B|
|Gary Matthews CF||4||Jim Edmonds CF|
|Casey Kotchman 1B||5||Scott Rolen 3B|
|Garret Anderson LF||6||Juan Encarnacion RF|
|Howie Kendrick 2B||7||Adam Kennedy 2B|
|Mike Napoli C||8||Kelly Stinnett C|
|Bartolo Colon P||9||Kip Wells P|
This was 13 years ago, yet there’s Kendrick, who just became a postseason hero with the Nationals last October, and Colon, who seems to be a folk hero in his own right now. Also you have Hall of Famer Guerrero, to-be Hall of Famer Pujols, and Cardinal Hall of Famers Edmonds and Rolen. Then there is Encarnacion, who tragically had less than three months left in his career, and Duncan, who has left us too soon due to cancer.
Look, you know things are going to be dicey when Kip Wells is your starter. It was a frustrating outing by him (in 2007, even) that spurred me to start this blog. However, Wells was able to keep the Angels off the board in the first and, after Eckstein popped out to start the bottom of the inning, Duncan got the scoring started with a solo home run. Edmonds doubled but Pujols and Rolen struck out around him, keeping the game at 1-0.
With one out in the second, Anderson and Kendrick had back-to-back singles. Not respecting the legend of Bartolo Colon, Tony La Russa intentionally walked Napoli (something he’d do again a few years later in a much more important game) and Colon rapped into a double play.
Amazingly, Yadier Molina was off in this one and, with two out, Stinnett played the unlikely role of offense, smoking a solo homer that brought the lead up to 2-0. I’m not sure what’s more remarkable, that homer or the fact Wells went out in the top of the third and struck out Figgins, Cabrera, and Guerrero. Honestly, it’s a tossup.
The Cardinals had a pattern going. Shut out the Angels in the top half, get a home run in the bottom. That trend continued in the third, when Pujols launched a two-out bomb to push the lead out to three.
Nothing doing for the Angels in the top of the fourth, so that held, but while the Cards did tack onto their lead in the bottom of the frame, they didn’t do it by the longball. Rolen flew out to start the inning but Encarnacion singled, only to be picked off at first with Kennedy batting. Well, he would have been picked off had Colon’s throw not eluded Kotchman. Encarnacion wound up on third, so Los Angeles intentionally walked Kennedy to get to Stinnett. Stinnett was not to be denied, though, and drove in his second run of the game, moving Kennedy to third. It’s hard to tell going by the play-by-play, but my guess is Wells was supposed to put down the squeeze bunt but failed, as Kennedy got picked off a third. Wells then actually singled, turning the lineup over, and the two runners then advanced on a wild pitch, but Eckstein popped out again and the threat was over.
Kip Wells could only walk the tightrope for so long, though, and he slipped off of it in the fifth. He walked Napoli to start the frame and Mike Scioscia figured he better go to the bench, using Reggie Willits to pinch-hit for Colon. Willits singled and a Figgins groundout had runners at second and third with just one out and the heart of the order coming up. Cabrera drew a walk, loading the bases for Guerrero. That went pretty much how you’d expect–Guerrero singled to cut the lead in half. Wells was able to get Matthews looking, but Kotchman followed that up with a single that plated Guerrero. Anderson lined out to Pujols and the Cards still had their lead, 4-3.
Duncan, Pujols, and Edmonds all went down swinging against former Cardinal Darren Oliver and nothing happened in either half of the sixth. In the seventh, the roof caved in.
With Adam Kennedy ending the sixth, Tony La Russa went to the double-switch, putting Tyler Johnson in the seventh spot and Aaron Miles in the ninth. Johnson had nothing on this day. (The next time out was rough as well. Between these two outings, he allowed seven of the 18 runs he was charged with on the season.) Guerrero singled, Matthews hit a ground-rule double, Kotchman singled both of them in and went to second on the throw home, then scored when Anderson singled him in. That was all for Johnson, who left with the Cards trailing 6-4.
Next up was Ryan Franklin and he didn’t fare much better. Back-to-back doubles by Kendrick and Napoli made it 8-4 with a runner on second. Shea Hillenbrand pinch-hit for Hector Carrasco, who had pitched the sixth, and grounded out, but Figgins singled to put runners on the corners and Cabrera hit a sacrifice fly to make it 9-4. Andy Cavazos, who had made his major league debut the night before, relieved Franklin and got Guerrero to strike out swinging, which had to be the highlight of Cavazos’s career (he was sent down in July, returned in September, pitched in a total of 17 games and never returned to the big leagues).
St. Louis tried to rally in the bottom of the seventh against Dustin Moseley. Stinnett was apparently out of hero juice so he flew out, but Miles and Eckstein singled. Duncan flew out, then Pujols singled in Miles. Scioscia went to the bullpen and got Scot Shields, who struck out Edmonds to leave the game at 9-5.
The clubs traded zeros in the eighth, as Cavazos struck out Napoli with runners on second and third to end the most recent Angels’ threat and Shields retired the Cardinals, including pinch-hitter Scott Spiezio, without incident. The Angels tacked on one in the ninth against Kelvin Jimenez, though he had some help. With one out, Figgins singled and stole second. He then tried to steal third and Stinnett’s throw wound up in the outfield, allowing Figgins to come around to score a textbook Whiteyball run. Cabrera and Guerrero grounded out but it was now 10-5.
Francisco Rodriguez, the former phenom closer, came in to get the last three outs. So Taguchi pinch-hit for Stinnett and singled, then stole second. Miles singled him in, making it 10-6. Unfortunately, the top of lineup couldn’t come through as Eckstein popped up to short and Duncan and Pujols struck out.
The loss dropped St. Louis to 26-32, 1/2 game behind the Cubs for second and 5 1/2 games behind the Brewers for the division. The Angels were 5 1/2 games up on the Mariners for the AL West lead, moving to 39-23.