You might be surprised to see who the Cardinals will be facing tonight when they play the Cincinnati Reds for the first of their 19 games this season. Jason Marquis.
Yes, he is returning to the majors after most recently pitching on July 19, 2013, for the Padres. He had Tommy John surgery later that season, and pitched in eight games for the Phillies Triple A team last year.
It seems like forever since he was on the Cardinals back in 2004-2006 but I certainly haven’t forgotten the frustration of watching him pitch. (Have you?) Actually, he was fairly good in 2004 with a 15-7 record (one of four Cards starters to win 15+ games that season) and a 3.71 ERA.
And then came 2005. He started out decently, but somewhere in that July/August period where he lost seven straight games and went from a 9-6 record and 3.78 ERA to a 9-13 record and 4.67 ERA that my friend Michael coined the phrase “Guaranteed Loss Night” for his starts. He finished the season with a 13-14 record, 4.13 ERA and gave up 29 homers in 33 games. One (the only?) bright spot: he was good at the plate, as Mark Tomasik reminds us at RetroSimba today, and won the Silver Slugger award that season.
Then there was 2006. Yes, obviously the Cardinals won the World Series. But remember that awful month of September leading up to the playoffs? Marquis’ 0-4 record in five starts and 7.25 ERA certainly played a role. For the year, he was 14-16 with a 6.02 ERA … and did not pitch in October.
Sure, the official start to the 2014 Major League Baseball season was last Monday. Or last Sunday night, or March 22 in Australia — take your pick. Yes, it’s true the St. Louis Cardinals have played six games so far. None of that matters.
Today is when the season officially begins, for this afternoon is the home opener at Busch Stadium. Real baseball, at last.
Photo by Kelly
There’s nothing any of the other 29 teams do for their opening days that comes close to how the Cardinals kick off the home season. Now, I haven’t been to one everywhere (although that sounds like an amazing addition to my goal of getting to a game at all the big league ballparks, doesn’t it?) but I’ve caught bits and pieces of highlights and games, plus have been to several Cubs opening days in the past. And I’ve attended two Cardinals opening days.
St. Louis just does it best.
The Clydesdales, the Hall of Famers, the parade of players around the track and just the overall atmosphere — goosebump-inducing, each and every year. Whether you’ve been to Busch Stadium to experience it in person or just watched on television, you know what I mean.
Continuing our stroll back in recent Cardinals history from last Thursday, the 2005 St. Louis Cardinals followed up their 105-win-National-League-pennant-winning season by winning 100 games, the NL Central and making it to Game Six of the NLCS against the Houston Astros.
That’s a walk-off winner on Aug. 19, 2005 – thanks to Jim Edmonds.
Once upon a time, the New York Yankees played against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium II. Yes, it does seem like an interleague fairy tale since it was so many years ago — June 10-12, 2005, to be exact.
And, during the course of that three-game series, something seemed to intrigue Yankees closer Mariano Rivera — the very same one who received the amazing ovation and wonderful recognition during last night’s All-Star Game.
It had nothing to do with the one game he pitched in, which was the second of the three games and the Yankees’ only victory — Randy Johnson was the winning pitcher, Mark Mulder lost, Rivera (not surprisingly) got the save even though it was a 5-0 final. (Yeah, I had to look that up since I couldn’t remember all the details of the game. He entered in the bottom of the eighth inning — hmmm, sound familiar? — with the score 4-0, two outs, Abraham Nunez and Jim Edmonds on base and struck out Larry Walker looking. In the ninth, he retired That Guy Who Used to Play First Base, Reggie Sanders and Mark Grudzielanek. Thank you, Baseball Reference!)
Anyway, what was it that piqued Mo’s curiosity? Those arches that ringed the top of the old stadium.
Here’s a picture to remind you, taken from the vantage point from which I saw the greatest closer of all time pitch in person. (Tremendous view, I know — if I wanted to see the display of the retired numbers at the old ballpark. They were the section next to us. Not so great to see that cutter in action.)