MINNEAPOLIS — only strikes in this game are called by umpires, and there are no pickets here, only a Puckett. Yet, you won't have to look too hard to find a replacement team on the Metrodome field tonight for Game 1 of the 1987 World Series.
It'll be the one in the red caps, the one ostensibly known as the St. Louis Cardinals.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, these are your National League champions:
--Jim Lindeman at first base.
--Tom Lawless at third base.
--Jose Oquendo in right field.
--Lee Tunnell, warming up in the bullpen.
--And introducing as a World Series-only bonus, at designated hitter, Tom Pagnozzi.
No wonder Whitey Herzog, the Cardinal manager, wonders how he got here. The lineup he'll send out tonight against Frank Viola and the American League champion Minnesota Twins totaled 32 home runs during the regular season. Not averaged. Totaled.
That puts the Cardinals two home runs behind the Minnesota Twins' Kent Hrbek, one ahead of Gary Gaetti and in a dead heat with Tom Brunansky.
Herzog's lineup also averages 48.6 runs batted in a man (for the season). That's roughly equal to the total of Randy Bush, the Twins' .253-hitting part-time designated hitter.
Lindeman, St. Louis' cleanup hitter, batted .208 with 8 home runs and 28 RBIs during the regular season.
And this team won the pennant?
Well, kind of. Two of the foremost factors in the Cardinals' drive to the playoffs, first baseman Jack Clark and third baseman Terry Pendleton, will be out of action tonight.
Clark, who hit 35 home runs and drove in 106 runs while appearing in just 131 games, has been knocked out of the World Series with an ankle injury. After going 0 for 6 on the ankle during a "simulated game" Thursday, Clark was declared out for the rest of the postseason Friday, with pitcher Tunnell being recalled to replace him on the active roster.
Pendleton, who drove in 96 runs in 1987, has a pulled chest muscle that prevents him from throwing or batting right-handed. With Viola, a left-hander, on the mound for the Twins, the switch-hitting Pendleton will mainly spend Game 1 switching positions on the bench.
"I'll be a cheerleader," Pendleton said.
Those two injuries have created something of a void in the middle of the St. Louis batting order.
"Two-hundred RBIs," said Herzog, assessing the damage. "I'd say that's a hole."
The best thing going for the Cardinals right now is the knowledge that they have been here before.
In 1985, St. Louis had to play the entire World Series without Vince Coleman, the National League's base-stealing champion, after an automatic tarp-roller rolled up one of Coleman's legs. The Cardinals still took the Kansas City Royals to seven games--and might have won the whole thing, had it not been for a controversial call at first base by umpire Don Denkinger.
Most recently, St. Louis beat San Francisco for the National League pennant, 4 games to 3, with Clark managing but one at-bat and Pendleton missing one game. During the same playoff series, the Cardinals had to scratch Lindeman once because of back spasms, lost Game 1 starter Danny Cox to a stiff neck and lost Game 5 starter Greg Mathews after three innings because of a pulled thigh muscle.
Herzog now says he's afraid to schedule workouts.
"He wakes up every morning and he has to worry about who's going to get hurt today," Pendleton said. "We had a pitcher (John Tudor) tear up a knee by just sitting in the dugout. The other team's catcher runs into him and he's out for three months. Whatever injury can happen to a team, we've had it."
St. Louis had a total of 12 players on the disabled list during the regular season. Lindeman, who was on the disabled list twice, keeps that fact in mind when discussing the latest wave of attrition.
"If we had thought all season that we couldn't overcome injuries, we would have lost 100 games" Lindeman said. "We've had people out all year--Tudor, myself, everybody. But we continue to overcome it."
The Cardinals overcame the Giants by shutting out San Francisco over the final 22 innings of the National League championship series. And they all admit that their chances in the World Series hinge on their starting pitching, beginning with Joe Magrane tonight and following with Cox and Tudor in Games 2 and 3.
But shutting down the Twins is an altogether different matter. Especially in the Homerdome, custom-built to take advantage of the looping power swings in the Minnesota lineup.
During the regular season, the Twins hit 196 home runs--102 more than St. Louis. Hrbek, Gaetti, Brunansky and Kirby Puckett--you'll hear about them collectively this week as Minnesota's "Fab Four"--combined for 125 home runs and 383 RBIs.
During the American League playoffs, this batting order pummeled one of baseball's better pitching staffs, Detroit's, for 34 runs in 5 games. No Tiger starting pitcher--not Jack Morris, not Doyle Alexander, not Walt Terrell--ended up with an ERA under 5.00.