Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29, 1989: The Secret Weapon Strikes In The Eleventh

     On April 29, 1989, Jose Oquendo came up with the hit of the day, when he connected on a two-out walk off single in the bottom of the eleventh at Busch to give the Cardinals 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. This contest featured great pitching, as well as a game being played under protest, before Oquendo ended it with his clutch hit.

     Fernando Valenzuela started for the Dodgers, while rookie hurler Ken Hill got the call for St. Louis. Valenzuela went seven strong for the L.A. club, while the rookie gave the Birds eight strong innings. Both hurlers scattered 4 hits and walked a man before being pulled. Valenzuela struck out one, and Hill sat down five men via the K. When the game landed in the hands of the bullpens the duel continued.

      In the tenth a commotion ensued that caused the Dodgers to play the game under protest. It all started when the Cardinals were threatening with two men on and no one out in the inning. Whitey Herzog called on Willie McGee to pinch hit. McGee who had been nursing a rib injury still posed a serious threat. The Dodgers pitching coach Ron Perranoski made a quick trip to the mound to talk over the approach that reliever Alejandro Pena would take with McGee. Perranoski came out of the dugout again during the at bat and got booted for arguing.

     While the argument was going on the manager of the L.A. club Tommy Lasorda made a mound visit. Under the rules, it was the second trip to the mound. Pena would be able to finish the pitching to McGee, but then he would have to be replaced. While Lasorda chose to play under protest, the situation did not burn them in the inning. McGee lined out, and Ray Searage relieved Pena. Searage got Tom Pagnozzi (who had pinch hit for Todd Worrell) to hit a pop fly, and the threat had been eliminated.

     Ken Dayley came into pitch for Hill in the ninth. He struck out a man, before allowing a double to Jeff Hamilton. Dayley gave way to Todd Worrell after he put on Eddie Murray on with an intentional walk. Worell set the next two men down in succession, then set the three men he faced in the top of the tenth down in order as well.

     After the proverbial dust seemed to have settled after the tenth inning commotion with the Dodgers, and Worrell was out of the game, the ball was handed to Cris Carpenter who would be the eventual winner. Carpenter was able to retire two men before giving up a single Jeff Hamilton. The hurler shook it off and got Eddie Murray to ground out to set up for the exciting eleventh inning finish.

     With Searage still pitching for the Dodgers,Vince Coleman led the eleventh with a double. Ozzie Smith moved him to third with a sacrifice, before Terry Pendleton was put on intentionally to set up the double play. This ended the day for Searage who handed the ball to Tim Crews in hopes that he could work out of his jam. That proved to be a false hope. Crews loaded the bases by walking Pedro Guerrero. He was able to get Tom Brunansky to fly out, which simply set up for the 2 out late inning heroics Oquendo would later say "You can't be looking for any particular pitch in a situation like that. You just want to see a good ball and hit it." He did exactly that after falling being 0 and 2, Searge dropped one down and in, Oquendo laced a single into right, Coleman came trotting home, and the Redbirds were winners.

     Jose Oquendo enjoyed quite the year in '89. Known as "The Secret Weapon", he had been a super utility player that could do it all. In '89 he became an everyday second baseman who batted .291. He also led all National League second baseman in fielding percentage, putouts, assists, and double plays, as he stood along side the "Wizard of Oz" in the middle infield.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN198904290.shtml

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