The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers 3-2 in Game 1 of the 2011 World Series, and it was a solid game. Tightly played. A few clutch hits and good defensive plays. Ron Washington doing Ron Washington things. And then the most memorable moment, Tim McCarver forgetting how many letters are in the word “strike” (hint: the answer isn’t five).
Alright, that’s quite enough of that.
While everyone else rehashes what we just saw, let’s instead take a look back to a year ago this same day. Back when Mays Field hosted their first NLCS game in eight years, and Matt Cain’s hair was fro-ish enough to land him a supporting role in a Judd Apatow movie.
The San Francisco Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies 3-0 that Tuesday afternoon. I left work and went to a mediocre sports bar off Market Street (is there any other kind?) to watch the last five or six innings. My boss either didn’t notice or didn’t say anything. It didn’t matter then, and it matters even less now. Here are a few things from that game that stick out:
— Edgar Renteria led off.
— Aaron Rowand started in CF, batting 8th. He had a double and two strikeouts against Cole Hamels. He saw 10 pitches in the game. He also scored the third run on a Chase Utley throwing error.
— Andres Torres was in the doghouse on this day. He hit a comebacker in his only at-bat in the 7th inning after coming in as a defensive replacement. It would be his last hitless game in the 2010 postseason. In his last eight playoff games, Torres’ line looked like this: .406/.441/.625 clip. Sigh…
— Javier Lopez pitched as well as a LOOGY could in a full inning of relief. Chase Utley hit an infield pop fly that was caught by Freddy Sanchez. Placido Polanco grounded out to Juan Uribe. Ryan Howard struck out, and looked bad doing it.
— Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff drove in a run apiece on consecutive singles.
— Brian Wilson followed up his 1.1 inning, 4 strikeout performance while saving Game 1 by striking out Jayson Werth, allowing a single to Jimmy Rollins and getting Raul Ibanez to ground into a double play. And Wilson’s fastball was about 2-3 mph faster than at any point in 2011.
— This game only lasted two hours and 39 minutes, and Cain was the reason. It was one of those times when a pitching line featuring 7 shutout innings, 2 hits, 3 walks and 5 strikeouts didn’t tell the whole story. Cain stranded a Phillies runner at second in four of those innings, which would tell you he was in trouble some of the time — but not one guy reached third against Cain. There was something about watching that performance that was strangely calming, especially during a game as important as a Game 3 at home with the series tied 1-1.
How huge was this game? Bruce Bochy might have started Tim Lincecum on three days rest in Game 4 if they lost, even though he had a blister that had everyone freaking out. Remember? I admit I had forgotten all about that blister paranoia until reading the post I wrote a year ago today.