Saturday, August 24, 2013

August 24, 1973: Jose Cruz Leads The Birds To Victory In Cincy

On August 24, 1973, at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Jose Cruz parked one over the wall in the eleventh to propel the Cardinals to a 5-4 win over the Reds. The game was a battle from beginning to end. The Cardinals struck first with a run in the first inning only to have Pete Rose tie it right back up with a homer in the bottom half of the frame. It didn't take long for the Cards to regain the lead. Ted Sizemore knocked a run in with a single in the second, then with the score sat at 2-1 Cardinals until Ted Simmons belted a two run shot in the fifth. With the the score 4-1 in the sixth the Reds struck for two and they were within one run of tying it up. They got that run in the bottom of the ninth when Andy Kosco took the Cardinals starter Alan Foster deep to leadoff the inning. Foster got out of the inning without allowing any more damage which sent the game to extras. Kenny Reitz reached base for the Birds in the tenth but the team failed to bring him into score. Diego Segui took over pitching duties for Foster in the bottom of the tenth and he made things interesting to say the least. Segui walked Dan Driessen to leadoff the inning, Driessen stole second, then advanced to third on a wild pitch. With the winning run just 90 feet away, Segui issued a pair of intentional walks to Tony Perez and Johnny Bench to load the bases with no outs. The strategy worked, Segui struck out Larry Stahl and Andy Kosco, then got Daryl Chaney to flyout to end the threat. In the top of the eleventh, Reds hurler Clay Carroll grabbed two quick outs before Cruz stepped to the plate and went yard to give the Birds the 5-4 advantage. Segui had a much easier time in the bottom of the eleventh as he retired the side in order to secure the win. The Cardinals were making a serious charge toward the pennant as they headed down the stretch in '73 and Cruz was a big part of that charge. He slumped late in the season, and the Cardinals fell just short of winning the N.L. East. Despite that fact the young center fielder led the team with game winning hits that season as he was just beginning to live up to his potential. Cruz did not reach his true potential in the Gateway City. In 1974, the Cardinals sent him to the Houston Astros for cash. They had another up and coming outfielder by the name of Bake McBride who took over in center. Cruz spent the next 13 years in Houston. He went onto bat over .300 five times and collected more than 2,000 hits before his career came to an end after a cup of coffee with the Yankees in 1988.

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