Monday, June 8, 2015

June 8, 1987: Coleman Runs Wild Against Philly

     On June 8, 1987, Vince Coleman got on base four times with two singles, a triple and a walk. The speedster made the most of it by stealing four bags and scoring three runs, as he helped lift the Cardinals to a 12-8 win over the Phillies at Veteran's Stadium in Philadelphia.

     The Birds got to work quickly scoring seven runs in the first three innings off of Philly's starter Don Carman who walked nine men and gave up a long ball to Jack Clark in the third, which put the Redbirds up 5-0. The Phillies plated a couple of runs in the bottom of the third, but that was followed by a four run fourth for the Cardinals. Coleman tripled to lead that inning off, then Carman walked Ozzie Smith. Then Carman walked to the showers before he even could get an out in the inning. That was followed by an implosion of sorts for Philadelphia reliever Tom Hume who walked three men, with the last one coming with the bases loaded before he made use of the showers. The Cardinals scored another run in the inning that ended with them up 9-2.

     Those three runs the Phillies scored were scored against starter Tim Conroy, who only lasted three and a third before handing the ball over to reliever Ricky Horton after a two out triple narrowed the lead to 9-3. The Cardinals got that run back in the fifth, which started with Coleman singling, stealing second and third, before Tommy Herr knocked him in with a sac fly to left. It was 10-3 and it looked like this one was all Cardinals.

     The Phillies got something going in the seventh, after Von Hayes led things off with a single. He moved over to third on an error, then scored  on a sac fly by Lance Parrish. If those Phillies were going down, they were going down with a fight. The problem for them was the Cardinals kept fighting as well. A pair of eighth inning RBI singles by Terry Pendleton and Jose Oquendo looked to be the one that nailed this thing shut. The lead was 12-4 at that point. However, the Phillies kept swinging the stick, as they tried to battle back.

     Horton got into trouble in the bottom of the eighth, surrendering back-to-back singles, a triple, and a walk, which led to two of the three runs he was charged with. Horton was able to come up with a double play following the triple, with the runner being retired at home in the process. That was big because the next batter, Chris James parked one in the seats to make it 12-7. Whitey left Ricky on the bump long enough to watch him walk Von Hayes, then Horton got to test out the showers at The Vet. Pat Perry took over for him, got the last out of the frame, then made the ninth interesting by giving up a one out walk to Glenn Wilson. Perry then threw two wild pitches that led to Wilson moving all the way to third. Moments later he scored on a groundout. Perry needed one more out to put this one to bed and he got it when Rick Shu flied out to Oquendo in right, which sent the rest of the Cardinals toward the lockeroom with smiles on their face.

     The team was on fire. They were off to their best start in 20 years after the contest, as they sat at 34-20. The skipper was surprised to learn that was the case because he felt like they were having to score too many runs to win all those ballgames. He was concerned with Conroy's performance, and as it turned out Conroy's day on a major league diamond ended eight days later. He had a surgery the year before and never seemed to recover from it. With that said, the team was built to win and win they did. They held first place from from May 22nd until the final day of the season. On July 10th the club had a 10 game lead in the standing, but they would have to fight to win that pennant, as they lead shrank to as little as one game before they took the N.L. East by three games over the Mets.

     Coleman was instrumental in helping them win that title, as he stole 109 bags. The base burglar was making a name for himself, topping the 100 stolen base mark three years in a row. That season would be the last season he topped 100 stolen bases, but he did lead the National League in stolen bases over the next three seasons. Coleman spent his first six seasons with the Redbirds. He stole 217 of his 346 stolen bases over the course of that time. A part of two pennant winners, Coleman suffered a freak injury in '85 that eliminated him from the playoffs, then when the club returned to the Fall Class during that '87 campaign he stole six bags, but struck out 10 times, and hit just .143 as Minnesota celebrated as champions. Coleman was granted free agency at the end of the 1990 season, then spent time with the Mets, Royals, Reds, and Tigers. While he wore different uniform, ole Vince will always be a Cardinal. Those three seasons that began a career that spanned 13 seasons were something else, as he flew from bag to bag bewildering his opponent, while making the fans in St. Louis jump out of their seats.

Check out the box score here:

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