Saturday, April 5, 2014

April 5, 1974: The Birds Win a Wild Season Opener

     On April 5, 1974, a single off the bat of Ted Sizemore capped off a 6-5, 10 inning win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium on Opening Day. The Cardinals came into the bottom of the frame trailing 5-4 after Willie Stargell singled in Richie Hebner in the top half of the inning. Hebner had one helluva day as he had hit a pair of home runs off of Bob Gibson earlier in the ballgame, before picking up a double in the tenth that led to the go ahead run. Hebner's day would be spoiled in what turned out to be a wild finish at the ole ballpark.

     Bake McBride opened up the bottom of the 10th with a bunt single off of Dave Guisti. The speedster darted to third when Kenny Reitz picked up a single, then was knocked in by Tim McCarver, who snuck one by second baseman Rennie Stennett to tie the ballgame. Following McCarver's ribbie Jose Cruz came into pinch hit for Al Hrabosky and found his way to first base with a bunt single to load the bases. The bunt single by Cruz ended Guisti's day, and Ramon Hernandez took over pitching duties for the Bucco's. The first man Hernandez had to face was Lou Brock who was hoping to send the fans home happy.

     Unfortunately for Brock, he hit into a bizarre double play that will leave you scratching your head. It started with a liner into right that was trapped by Gene Clines. The baserunners not knowing if it was caught or not held up, and an alert Clines fired the ball to the plate to force Jim Dwyer who had come into run for Reitz. The Pirates catcher Mike Ryan then fired the ball to Hebener at third base to force McCarver, then Hebner threw it to second where Stennett put a tag on McCarver rather than step on the bag. If he would have stepped on the bag it would have been a triple play with Brock standing at first while Cruz was trying to get to second in time to avoid being forced. With the triple play disaster averted Sizemore shot a single into left to give the Birds their first win of the campaign.

Check out the box score here:

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