October 22, 1987
World Series, Game Five
Series Tied, 2-2
Twins: Dan Gladden (LF), Greg Gagne (SS), Kirby Puckett (CF), Kent Hrbek (1B), Gary Gaetti (3B), Tom Brunansky (RF), Tim Laudner (C), Steve Lombardozzi (2B), Bert Blyleven (P)
Cardinals: Vince Coleman (LF), Ozzie Smith (SS), Tom Herr (2B), Dan Driessen (1B), Willie McGee (CF), Curt Ford (RF), Jose Oguendo (3B), Tony Pena (C), Danny Cox (P)
Cox and Blyleven had faced off in Game Two, and the results were pretty lopsided. Blyleven cruised through seven innings, giving up just two runs and striking out eight, while Cox couldn't get through the fourth and was charged with seven of Minnesota's eight runs. Tonight was a different animal altogether.
For more than half of the game, this contest turned into a pitcher's duel of the highest order. Blyleven's devastating curveball was on point, as was Cox's mustache. The Cardinals had two legitimate opportunities to score in the first five innings, failing in the third when Jose Oguendo reached third base with nobody out but was eventually thrown out at home after hesitating on a ground ball to Greg Gagne, and again in the bottom of the fifth when Cox missed a bunt on strike two and Oguendo was tagged out again. What a ridiculous double play to end an inning, in the World Series no less.
St. Louis finally managed to score off of Blyleven in the sixth.Vince Coleman chops a single right to Kent Hrbek at first base, but the ball takes a funny hop and Coleman is on to lead off the inning. A frustrated Blyleven kept a close eye on the speedy Cardinal left fielder but eventually pitched to Ozzie Smith, who put down a bunt that the Dutchman couldn't handle and thus runners were on first and second with nobody out.
Two batters later Whitey Herzog successfully pulled off a double steal. The Twins then intentionally walked Dan Driessen with one away, and Blyleven struck out Willie McGee on three pitches for the second out. Sadly he wouldn't escape the threat unscathed.
Curt Ford's single brought home two, and Gagne's booted play at short let Driessen score to make it 3-0. Keith Atherton came out for the seventh but promptly handed a one-out walk to Coleman and then balked him to second base. Tom Kelly knew he didn't have the luxury of waiting Atherton out and went right to Jeff Reardon - in the middle of an at-bat. Coleman stole third and scored as Ozzie doubled. Smith then stole second as well, but the conveyor belt ended and after seven it was 4-0, St. Louis.
The Twins mounted their only true rally in the top of the eighth. Dan Gladden singled the other way and moved up to second when Gagne reached on a bunt single. Kirby Puckett flew out, and that ended Cox's night.
Ken Dayley came on to get Hrbek as a lefty, and then Herzog went to Todd Worrell. For a moment it looked like Minnesota would waste their first good chance to score, but Gary Gaetti sent McGee back to the center field wall and the ball bounced out of his glove. The Rat stood on third and had cut the Cardinals' lead in half, but that was as far as he would go. Worrell worked around a pair of ninth inning walks to close it down and give his team their third win on the trot.
After being down 0-2 in the series, winning three in a row had seemed unthinkable. But good pitching, timely hitting, and some fantastic base running (well, for Smith and Coleman - less for Oguendo) made a big difference. And there was certainly a little luck involved, too.