Monday, September 26, 2011

NLCS - 1965 Tournament - "The Bucs stopped here"

Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

The Reds defeat the Pirates 4 games to 1. This series was much closer than the final game count indicates as each Reds win was by 1 run. In fact, the Reds were outscored by the irates but came up with the clutch hit or pitch to prevail.

Game 1
Pittsburgh 2 - Cincinnati 3 – 11 Innings
Vern Law vs. Jim Maloney

Just like in game one of their series against the Astros, the Reds had to go extra innings to win the first game of the series in Pittsburgh. What looked like a high scoring affair, each team had scored 2 runs by the end of the 3rd, turned into a fantastic pitcher’s duel. Vern Law went 10 innings giving up only 2 runs. Jim Maloney went 9 and kept the Bucs off the scoreboard after they scored 2 in the 1st. The Reds scored the go-ahead run in the 11th after a lead-off double by Pete Rose and single by Frank Robinson moved him to 3rd with no on out. A young Willie Stargell dropped a fly ball in his haste to throw out a hustling (sorry about that) Pete Rose, who scored the winning run. Billy McCool, the Reds closer made it interesting in the bottom of the 11th allowing the 1st two men of the inning reach base. But Stargell, still smarting from the dropped fly ball grounded into the 463 double play giving the Reds the win. Maloney was MVP.

Game 2
Pittsburgh 6 - Cincinnati 7
Bob Friend vs. Sammy Ellis

This game looked to be a blowout as the Reds scored 4 runs in the 1st and led 7-2 heading into the bottom of the 8th. Leo Cardenas and Johnny Edwards came up with key hits in the 1st and Frank Robinson, game MVP, added a 3 run shot in the 8th to give the Reds a seemingly insurmountable lead.  But these Pirates never give up. Ellis who was cruising up to this point suddenly lost it. He allowed 4 hits including a couple of triples and all of sudden it was 7-6 heading to the 9th. Wilbur Wood pitched a 1-2-3 9th for Pittsburgh. Ted Davidson pitched the 9th for the Reds and really made things interesting.  After retiring the 1st two batters, Bill Mazeroski singled and pinch hitter Bob Bailey coaxed a walk. That brought Donn Clendenon to the plate. Donn was batting .367 up to this point and already had a couple of hits and an RBI. After working the count, Donn meekly grounded out to Davidson giving the Reds the 1st two games of the series heading home to Crosley Field.

Game 3
Cincinnati 1 – Pittsburgh 7
Bob Veale vs. Joe Nuxhall

The Pirates took out their frustrations in game 3 as they pounded the Reds for 7 runs and 16 hits. Bob Veale was fantastic as he held the Reds to 1 run on 5 hits while going the distance. And what a distance it was. Bob threw 152 pitches for the complete game. Take that you pitch count counters of the 21st century! Andre Rodgers and Bill Mazeroski led the Bucs attack with 2 RBIs each and 4 Pittsburgh starters had 3 hits apiece. Bob Veale was game 3 MVP and the Pirates sense some cracks in the soon to become big Red machine.

Game 4
Cincinnati 3 – Pittsburgh 2
Don Cardwell vs. Joey Jay

Game 4 was just a hard fought close game all the way. With both teams fielding bottom of the rotation starters, one would have expected a high scoring game. Au contraire. Both Cardwell and Jay were dominant. The key inning was the 6th when the Reds pushed across two runs to take a 3-2 lead. They held on with great relief work from Dom Zanni and Ted Davidson, game MVP. The Pirates had their chances. A 2 out error but weak fielding 3rd sacker Deron Johnson allowed pinch hitter Bob Bailey to reach second in the top of the 9th. Donn Clendenon, who was 3-4 with 2 RBIs up to this point, again had a chance to tie or give the  Pirates the lead. But Davidson struck him to preserve the win and give the Reds a commanding 3-1 lead.

Game 5
Cincinnati 4 – Pittsburgh 3
Vern Law vs. Jim Maloney

The Reds played long ball in a rematch of game 1 starters. Solo shots by Cardenas in the 1st, Gordy Coleman in the 2nd and Vada Pinson in the 3rd staked the Reds to 3-0 lead. But as they showed time and time again in this series, the Bucs were not going to give up. They scored 2 runs in the 4th on a 2 run shot by Willie Stargell. Stargell ended the series with a .414 batting average, second only to Roberto Clemente. Another solo shot by the Reds’ Johnny Edwards in the 6th gave the Reds a 4-2 lead. That was the score going to the 9th. Billy McCool relieved Jim Maloney, who was the MVP for the game and series in my estimation. But the Pirates did not go quietly. As they did in each of their loses they battled back and almost pulled this one out. McCool quickly got the first two men he faced out. Then consecutive singles by Mazeroski, Bailey and Clendenon plated 1 run and had the tying run at 3rd and the go-ahead run at 1st with Roberto Clemente coming to the plate. The fans were at the edge of their seats. They wanted to see the home boys win the series and avoid the train ride back to Pittsburgh. Clemente grounded out sharply to Rose who threw to Cardenas for the force and the series clinching win.

A well-played series by both teams and one that could have easily gone the either way.
--submitted by Ron Burnette--

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