Friday, October 11, 2013

Recalling the 1985 NLCS Between Cardinals and Dodgers

The stage is set for the 2013 NLCS.  It matches two of the most successful National League franchises in MLB history, but surprisingly, this is the only second time that they faced off in the NLCS.  The first time was the memorable 1985 series.
1985 was the first year that the LCS went from a best of five series to a best of seven.  Los Angeles had the home field advantage in the series and took a 2-0 series lead.  They were lead by their two aces, Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hersisher and some timely hitting which included the hot bat of Bill Madlock.

In game 3, St Louis bounced back as Danny Cox outdueled Bob Welch in route to a 4-2 victory.  But before Game 4, the NLCS became quite interesting.  It was a rainy day and the automated tarp had to be used, but unfortunately for St Louis, their star rookie outfielder Vince Coleman was nearby.  He got caught underneath the tarp and ended up with a broken ankle.  How would the Cardinals respond with the loss of their leadoff and 100 stolen baseman?  With no problem actually, St Louis routed Los Angeles, 12-2.

The series tied at two apiece now, Los Angeles was still very confident. Manager Tom Lasorda declared "if they can beat Valenzuela and Hersisher, then we're not as good as we thought."  The game was 2-2 deadlock as the game headed into the bottom of the ninth.  Switching hitting and defensive wizard, Ozzie Smith came up to bat against righty Tom Niedenfuer.  Smith, with no career home runs on the left side, became a hero:

The series moved back to L.A. for game six.  The Dodgers took a 5-4 in the ninth, St. Louis had runners on 2nd and 3rd and righty Jack Clark up to bat.  Lasorda opted to let Niedenfuer pitch to the power hitting Clark, who he struck out in the seventh. This time, Clark hit a shot over the left field wall and made St Louis pennant winners.
Ozzie Smith was named MVP of the series and St. Louis went on to face Kansas City Royals in the World Series.  Kansas City won the "I-70 Series" in seven games.

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