MINNEAPOLIS — The Cardinals under the Dome looked more like pheasant under glass--minus the trimmings, of course. The Minnesota Twins took care of that, knocking the stuffing out of St. Louis during a 10-1 rout in Game 1 of the World Series Saturday night.
Before 55,171 human squawk-boxes inside the Metrodome, the Twins brought the World Series into the 21st Century by bringing it, for the first time, under the synthetic big top. Unfortunately for St. Louis, the Cardinals had to come, too, and after they had spent three innings gingerly sidestepping booby traps, their tent collapsed in a hurry.
Minnesota scored seven runs in the bottom of the fourth, the biggest World Series inning since 1968, when the Detroit Tigers managed 10 in one inning. Cardinal pitching was responsible for those, too. This time, starter Joe Magrane gave up four straight singles and a walk before reliever Bob Forsch came on to give up a single to .191-hitting catcher Tim Laudner and a grand slam to leadoff man Dan Gladden.
Before the inning was over, the Twins would send 11 batters to the plate, and the Cardinal outfield would lose the ceremonial first ball in the roof. It happened at 9:02 p.m., CDT, when St. Louis left fielder Vince Coleman saw Gary Gaetti's pop fly go up--and never saw it come down. Bloop double . . . and Cardinal blooper No. 1.
No. 2 would come in the eighth inning, on another pop-up by Gaetti, this one to center fielder Willie McGee. McGee dropped the ball--out of the glove, kerplunk--but was able to force Kirby Puckett, who was holding close to first base, and save himself an error.
Along the way, the Cardinals surrendered 10 runs and 11 hits, including two in one inning by Gaetti (tying another record) and a two-run home run by .238-hitting second baseman Steve Lombardozzi.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, managed five hits and no walks against Frank Viola and Keith Atherton, their run production limited to a bloop double, a long fly ball and a run-scoring infield out.
"They pitched better, they hit better, they played better," summarized St. Louis shortstop Ozzie Smith, who was the Wizard of 0 for 4. "That's what happened. It's simple."
Or as Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog put it, simply, "That was an old-fashioned butt-kicking."
The Cardinals cannot say they weren't warned. There was suspicion that something like this might happen.
St. Louis was encountering the Metrodome the first time, something that should always be accomplished with training wheels and under parental supervision. Bad things happen here, even to the best of teams. Detroit and its 98 victories were swept under the rug here barely a week ago.
And the Tigers had some hitters. For this game, the Cardinals were armed with a batting order that ranks among the worst ever seen in a World Series game.
Jim Lindeman (.208, 28 runs batted in) hitting cleanup? Tony Pena (.214) batting sixth? Jose Oquendo (1 home run, 24 RBIs) in right field? Tom Pagnozzi (.188) the designated hitter? Tommy Lawless (.080) at third base?
To put this in perspective, Laudner, the Twins' weak offensive link and No. 9 hitter, batted higher than two St. Louis starters with his .191 average. And his 16 home runs were five more than anyone in Herzog's lineup.
"We're not going to score many runs with the attack we've got, and that's the way it's going to be," Herzog said.
It's that way because Jack Clark is unavailable, disabled with an ankle injury, and Terry Pendleton is limited to part-time designated-hitter duty because of a pulled rib-cage muscle.
"If we get good pitching, we've got a chance," Herzog said. "If we don't, we're not going to win. . . . We had to keep the ball in the ballpark tonight, and we didn't."
Strange as it may seem, St. Louis actually had a lead in Game 1. Not much of one, and not for long, but a lead nonetheless.
It came in the second inning, when Minnesota center fielder Kirby Puckett misjudged a pop fly by Lindeman and let it bounce just in front of his glove for a bloop double. McGee hit another fly ball to Puckett, deep enough to move Lindeman to third base, and Pena scored him on a ground ball to shortstop.
There it was, students of World Series history: St. Louis 1, Minnesota 0.
Shortly after, however, Magrane was forced to pitch the bottom of the fourth. Shortly after, Minnesota led, 7-1.
Magrane escaped the first three innings without allowing a hit, but there were danger signs. He walked two batters in the second inning, another in the third, and the Twins were readying for their second swings against him in the fourth inning.
"You could hear the guys saying it in the dugout--'OK, let's get to this guy the second time around,' " Viola said. "You could see it in their eyes. I know, I've seen it in other teams' eyes when I've been pitching."
It started with the first pitch Gaetti got his eyes on in the fourth inning. Gaetti bounced it down the third-base line, deep enough to leg out an infield single.