Luckily the St. Louis Cardinals uniforms are scarlet. That may camouflage how crimson their embarrassed faces have become. Get these guys on the red-eye, quick. They need home cooking bad.
People come here to be discovered. But who needs to be exposed?
The Los Angeles Dodgers tortured the Cardinals, 8-2, tonight in Part II of a National League horror thriller that folks in the Midwest might consider pornography. Community standards, don't you know?
Orel Hershiser, who has won his last dozen decisions, pitched an eight-hitter and batted home the first run. Greg Brock hit a 400-foot, two-run homer. And Ken Landreaux and Bill Madlock each had three of the Dodgers' 13 hits as 21-game winner Joaquin Andujar was thoroughly trounced before a gleeful crowd of 55,222.
However, by the finish, the Cardinals had contributed to their own downfall with almost every manner of misplay, from wild throws to missed cutoff men to picked-off runners to comic gaffes on the bases and afield. Vince Coleman and Willie McGee thrown out stealing back to back to start the game? Impossible.
"We got enough (video) tape tonight for a month of bloopers," growled Cardinals Manager Whitey Herzog. Asked if Andujar, who has one victory in seven weeks, would start in Game 5, Herzog snapped, "There may not be a Game 5."
No team has ever come back from a 2-0 deficit in a seven-game league championship series. Of course, there's never been one before. But, if you're from Missouri, that's not much consolation. The way the Cardinals, and their cross-state compatriots from Kansas City, have played so far in these playoffs, the prospect of an I-70 World Series is faint and fading.
"You know, our guys like to play in St. Louis, too," said Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda, grinning. "Our team deserves tremendous credit, rather than what they didn't do."
It's true that Hershiser was smart and gritty -- a genuine hero. He started too strong -- "feeling like Gooden" -- and had to exhaust himself running the bases before his sinker came in true. Whether he was chopping a hit over a drawn-in infield; or scoring from first on a double that never reached a fence; or throwing nine pickoffs with Coleman on first; or letting a pop-up bunt drop to start a double play, the 23-year-old was one mental jump ahead of the game.
It's also true that the Cardinals were more dramatically awful than the Dodgers were excellent.
From the moment this game began with big Mike Scioscia pegging out Coleman (110 steals) and McGee (56), this was one long night of garish humiliation for a St. Louis team that entered the NL playoffs with 101 victories and a desire to prove its greatness.
Instead, several Cardinals, particularly Andujar, came very close to making jokes of themselves.
Andujar made a wild pickoff throw, bunted into a double play while sitting in the dirt at home plate and struck out looking with two men on base. That doesn't touch his pitching.
He gave up six runs in 4 1/3 innings and further contributed to his reputation as a brushback artist by apparently taking out his anger with a 90 mph duster that missed Steve Sax's temple by a hair. Andujar even knocked down the first Dodger of the game, Mariano Duncan.
All in all, Andujar has had about as bad a year as a pitcher can have when he wins 21 games. He refused to participate in the All-Star Game when it seemed he wouldn't get the start, then, last month, was mentioned in the Pittsburgh Seven cocaine trial.
At a press conference Wednesday, he turned his hat from front to back, like a catcher, between questions. "I read that the key is Joaquin Andujar," he said. "The playoffs haven't started yet and they're blaming me. If we lose, they blame me . . .
"Thank you, and don't blame it on Joaquin," he concluded, leaving the stage, his hat forward.
Surely, no one will think of such a thing. Well, maybe Herzog would.
"We were doing all right (leading 1-0) until the third," said Herzog. "Joaquin's got one out, a man on first and Hershiser's trying to bunt. They're tryin' to give us an out. And Joaquin tries a pickoff."
The wild throw gave Sax two bases. He scored as Hershiser, after fouling two bunts, chopped a ball over Terry Pendleton's leap. Landreaux doubled home hustling Hershiser, Madlock singled home Landreaux and, as Herzog said, "after that, it was just one of those things."
When Brock wasn't following Scioscia's bunt hit with a bleacher blast for a 5-1 lead in the fourth, the Dodgers were continuing to run with impunity on the arms of McGee and Coleman, who might run the ball back to the infield faster than they throw it.
Mike Marshall singled home Landreaux, who had doubled, to knock out Andujar in the fifth. Madlock and Pedro Guerrero greeted reliever Bill Campbell with consecutive two-out RBI singles in the sixth to close the Dodgers' scoring. On all those RBI hits, the Cardinals outfield looked as if it needed turf hops to make its throws respectable.
In Andujar's defense, it might be noted that he did provide one moment of diversion, when he batted left-handed -- and struck out looking -- in the second. Normally, he hits right-handed.
The Cardinals had their moments. Just not very many of them. McGee scored from second base on a routine wild pitch to the screen, beating the throw so cleanly that a slide was superfluous. It was the sort of reality-distorting trick that intimidates the Cardinals' rivals. Coleman drove home a run on a ninth-inning infield hit -- on which any other runner would have been out at first by one to three strides -- to end the game.
Neither those two speed runs, nor the sight of Andujar striking out the core of the Dodgers' lineup -- Landreaux, Madlock, Guerrero and Marshall -- in a row his first time through the order, made much impression on the Dodgers.
The Cardinals were left in their own funk, particularly Herzog, who came dangerously close to making the kind of "I'm-smart-but-my-players-might-not-be-too-bright" distinction into which frustrated managers can fall.
"There are certain counts that are almost a free pitchout and you can't run on those," said Herzog, citing how Coleman and McGee might not have picked the right pitches to go. When did 1-1 and 1-0 become no-steal counts?
"Why they got anxious, I don't know," said the manager. If they'd both been safe, if Tommy Herr's subsequent double had scored them and the Cardinals had gone on to win, would those same decisions to steal have been called "aggressive"?
Perhaps the true key to this game was the complete contrast in composure between Hershiser and Andujar. "Hershiser might have been one out away from coming out of the game in the third inning," said Herzog, thinking of a Pendleton at-bat with a run home and men at the corners.
But Hershiser escaped. "One-run innings don't hurt you," said the wise young head. "Like Earl Weaver says, he's going to try to score more in one inning than you do in the whole game. I'll take a bogey and go to the next hole."
Hershiser also turned the tables, not only with his hit, but with his decision to let Andujar's bunt fall to the ground in the fourth. Andujar, showboating as usual, fell to the wallet position as he popped up his bunt and sat in the batter's box awhile. Before he knew it, Hershiser had started the double play and, with the crowd's laughter in his ears, Andujar headed back to the mound.
Bunt hit, homer. Time to go back to St. Louis.
When Danny Cox (18-9) faces the Dodgers' Bob Welch (14-4) at 1:05 p.m. in Busch Stadium Saturday, the Cardinals will presumably have recovered their equilibrium.
Nonetheless, this has been a staggering experience for a team that lives by unnerving its rivals.
In two nights here, almost every slapstick misfortune has befallen the Cardinals. It may be a hard memory to outrun.