The Cardinals scored ten runs in the top of the 6th inning last night to turn a 7-0 deficit upside down and pave the way to a high-stress 12-11 victory over the Reds. The craziness of the inning was tampered only by the setting, Great American Ballpark, a place built to resurrect the seasons of Paul DeJong, Paul Goldschmidt, and José Martínez, and in turn throw a wrench in all the feel-good stories we've been reading lately on Adam Wainwright. In fact, we've seen crazier things in Cincinnati.
Details aside, last night was a big win, too, their sixth in seven games, including four of five to begin an 11 game stretch within the division. And their playoff odds per FanGraphs now rest above 30 percent for the first time in a long time, which, of course, is probably what's important. But let's focus on the big inning instead.
Punctuated by a three-run homer from the bat of Martínez, last night's inning struck a similar chord to the top of the 7th in Game 1 of the 2014 NLDS at Dodger Stadium. Smaller stakes last night to be sure, fewer beers consumed (I wandered over to a nearby bar to watch the Cardinals-Dodgers game in 2014 after attending Game 1 of the Nationals-Giants series), but in both instances it felt like the Cardinals were going to keep scoring runs until the world swallowed us up whole. When a team plays close to 1,500 innings in a season, every once in a while you run into one in which the likelihood of an apocalypse is right on par with three outs.
Unlike last night, the Cardinals didn't reach double-digits in that inning against the Dodgers though. They scored eight, which is also pretty good, especially when you consider that Clayton Kershaw began the inning and was responsible for most of the damage. As for scoring at least ten runs in a single inning, the broadcast last night mentioned that the Cardinals most recently pulled this off almost exactly seven years ago when they beat the Cubs 12-0, and scored every single one of those runs in the 7th inning. Luckily for Cubs pitchers James Russell and Manny Corpas, I remarkably don't remember this game, a symptom of those 1,500 or so innings played per season, as alluded to above, and because the days in which the Cubs lost 101 games per season now seem like a long time ago, unfortunately. Bully to that.
I do, however, remember another such game against the same silly rivals in the summer of 1998, when these two teams dominated the baseball landscape because of their respective sluggers, who were chasing what seemed at the time to be baseball immortality.
On August 7, 1998, at old Busch Stadium, the Cardinals entered the bottom of the 1st down 3-0 courtesy of some shaky pitching from starter Kent Bottenfield. About 45 minutes later, the 2nd inning would begin and the Cardinals would be up by eight runs. If you don't want to do the math, they scored 11 runs during their turn in the 1st. Eight of those runs came across the plate before the Cubs even got the second out. Seven of them were charged to starter Steve Trachsel, who went just 1/3 of an inning because of this:
Reached on Error
Dave Stevens was mercifully brought in to relieve Trachsel and he didn't fare too well either but he did make it out of the inning and pitched a few more for good measure. The final score would end up being 16-3 and remarkably neither Mark McGwire nor Sammy Sosa went deep, so whether a majority of patrons felt like they got their money's worth is probably up for debate.
The star, or at least one of them, from that afternoon was Ray Lankford, who went 2-3 with a walk, a home run, three runs scored and four runs driven in. Brian Jordan hit three doubles. And five Cardinals drove in at least two runs, which sounds like a team record but it's not. The record for number of Cardinals driving in at least two runs in a game is six, which they last pulled off on April 7, 2013, in San Francisco, a game I remember well because I was in attendance and had just gotten engaged.
But back to the game in 1998. I was watching with my friend Travis, a recovering high school baseball player, whose only commentary was that there was nothing he hated more from his playing days than a first inning that seemingly took forever. Fair enough. As for Steve Trachsel, don't feel bad for him. He had a good career and a month later everyone forgot about this game and instead knew him as the guy who gave up home run number 62 to Mark McGwire.
*This was originally published with an error stating that Trachsel gave up home run number 70 rather than 62. Whoops.