Monday, April 7, 2014

April 7, 1987: The Birds Open The Season With A Win At Wrigley

     On April 7, 1987, with 38,240 in the stands on Opening Day at Wrigley Field in Chicago the Cardinals christened the new season with a 9-3 win over the Cubs. There were a handful of heroes in this game which included: Tito Landrum, Ozzie Smith, Jim Lindeman, and John Tudor who all had two RBIs in the contests, along with pitcher Bill Dawley who was virtually untouchable in four innings of relief.

     John Tudor got the call to start the game for the Birds. He had to overcome a rough start after giving up three runs in the first two frames. The early deficit was erased in the third when the Cardinals bats rocked Chicago starter Rick Sutcliffe with a five-run third inning. Sutcliffe opened the inning with a quick out before losing his control. After he walked Ozzie Smith, Tommy Herr singled, then Sutcliffe issued another free pass to Jack Clark to load the bases. Jim Lindeman delivered with a single that scored Smith and Herr. Still trying to hold onto the slim 3-2 lead, Sutcliffe remained wild and issued a free pass to Tony Pena. The wheels were falling off the Cubs bus.

     With the bases loaded and one out it looked like a crooked number would be posted on the Cardinals side of the scoreboard. Sutcliffe was able to get Terry Pendleton to fly out, but then he walked Tito Landrum which tied the ballgame. Next man up was John Tudor, so all Sutcliffe needed to do was set down the Cardinals pitcher to hold onto the tie; Tudor had other ideas. He rapped a single into right to score Lindeman and Landrum and the Birds were up 5-3. Sutcliffe issued one more free pass before being yanked from the ballgame. The Cubs hurler was charged with all 5 runs and he had walked 7 men.

     The results posted by Tudor were far less ominous than those of Sutcliffe, although, it was not the strongest start of his career. After getting 91 pitches out of his starter, Whitey Herzog called on Bill Dawley to pitch the sixth. Dawley was in cruise control right out of the gate as he retired the first nine batters he faced, and only gave up 1 hit as he earned a four-inning save. In the seventh, the Cardinals added four more runs on RBIs by Landrum, Smith, and Herr. It was all Cardinals from there with Dawley mowing down batter after batter.

     After the game Tudor said that the only thing he contributed was the two RBIs in the fifth, and that Dawley was the one who should have recorded the win. Dawley credited pitching coach Mike Roarke with his success for helping him straightening some flaws in his delivery. The win was the first of 95 wins for a team that would go onto win National League Pennant.

Check out the box score here:

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