SI Vault
Steve Wulf
November 02, 1987
Accompanied by a chorus of 55,376 loud voices, Frank (Sweet Music) Viola pitched the Twins, a preseason 125-to-1 shot, to a 4-2 victory over the Cardinals in Game 7 of the first World Series ever to be won indoors
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
November 02, 1987

Sweet Music

Accompanied by a chorus of 55,376 loud voices, Frank (Sweet Music) Viola pitched the Twins, a preseason 125-to-1 shot, to a 4-2 victory over the Cardinals in Game 7 of the first World Series ever to be won indoors

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5

The pitching matchup for Game 5 was the same as it had been for Game 2—Blyleven versus Cox. Blyleven was bidding to become the second pitcher, after the Yankees' Lefty Gomez, to go 6-0 in postseason play. The balk controversy never materialized, and both pitchers settled into a scoreless duel. The Cards had a nice opportunity in the fifth when Oquendo's base hit and Pena's hit-and-run single put runners on first and third with one out. But St. Louis tried a squeeze play with Cox at bat, and Oquendo was tagged out between home and third as Cox struck out.

Until the bottom of the sixth, the most notable error in the Series had been the one by commissioner Peter Ueberroth on a foul ground ball to his box in Game 3. But now the Twins fell apart—at the seams, in a way. Coleman led off the inning with an easy grounder to Hrbek at first, but the ball hit a seam in the turf and handcuffed Hrbek. Smith got a base hit out of a bunt that Blyleven couldn't handle. After Herr fried out, Coleman and Smith pulled a double steal, so Blyleven had to walk Dan Driessen intentionally. With the bases loaded and one out, and an 0-and-2 count on McGee, Blyleven smiled. Then he threw a beautiful curveball that caught McGee looking. It seemed as though the Dutchman might once again stick his finger in the dike.

Ford was next. Not much is known about Ford, the smallest (5'9", 140 pounds) and quietest Cardinal. He played with Oil Can Boyd at Jackson State. He came into the St. Louis system as a second baseman and moved to the outfield. His nickname is Ernie, not after Tennessee Ernie Ford, but because he likes the music of Busch Stadium organist Ernie Hayes. But Herzog knew, and Blyleven didn't, that Ford has one of the quickest bats of any of the Cardinals' lefthanded hitters. So when Blyleven tried to sneak a fastball—a good fastball—by him, Ford lined it up the middle for the game's first two runs. Gagne's error on Oquendo's routine grounder gave the Cards their third run. Three runs produced with only one ball hit out of the infield. "They're pretty much like a bunch of gnats swirling around you," Gaetti said.

Speed got St. Louis another run in the seventh when Coleman walked, went to second on a balk by Keith Atherton, stole third and scored on Smith's infield single. The Cardinals stole five bases in the game, the most for one team since the 1907 Cubs.

Cox's only real trouble came when he gave up singles to Gladden and Gagne in the eighth. He got Puckett to fly out and then handed the ball to Dayley, who got Hrbek to fly out and handed the ball to Worrell. Gaetti hit a shot to deep center that McGee had for a moment, then lost as he hit the wall. Two runs scored, but Gaetti was left at third. When pinch hitter Baylor popped out with two men on in the ninth, the Cards had a 4-2 victory. The Twins were left wondering what had become of their two-games-to-none lead. "I'm glad to get out of here," said Gaetti.

Said Hrbek, "There isn't one team in the American League that beats you like that. They slap, run, have a good bullpen. I figure the only way to beat them is by going out of the ballpark."

So the Series headed back up the Big Muddy. While there had been some interesting plays and players, the five games generally lacked real excitement. None of them had gone to the bottom of the ninth inning.

Game 6 perked everybody up. It wasn't just the crowd in the Thunder-dome, though it was certainly loud enough. This was the best game of the Series so far, even if its outcome was decided by the bottom of the sixth. Again Tudor was facing Straker, but this time they seemed to be serving batting practice. The Cardinals scored first in the first, on a majestic homer by Herr—yes, his first lefthanded this year—into the upper deck in rightfield. The Twins scored second in the first, taking a 2-1 lead on a triple—the dinkiest in recent Series history—by Gladden, the first of four singles by Puckett, a Gaetti ground-out and a single by Baylor.

St. Louis tied it in the second in typical guerrilla fashion: walk, fielder's choice, AstroTurf single. Minnesota blew a chance in its half of the inning when Hrbek was picked off second with none out. The bottom of the third brought another Series first when Baylor's pop foul, following a parabola that would have taken it into the seats behind home plate, hit one of the ceiling speakers (they're in play), rattled around and plopped into Pena's glove.

In the fourth, Driessen's double off the rightfield Hefty bag fence, two singles and a sacrifice fly made it 4-2, Cardinals. It went to 5-2 on McGee's RBI single in the fifth. But Tudor was not himself. Puckett singled for the third time to lead off the bottom of the fifth, and Gaetti drove him home with a double down the leftfield line. Next came Baylor, who had last faced Tudor in 1983, when Baylor was with the Yankees and Tudor the Red Sox. Baylor homered off Tudor on July 4 of that season.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5