They will always remember the fifth game of the 1985 National League Championship Series as Ozzie Smith's game. With good reason. It was Smith who hit the ninth-inning home run today that gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But as Smith soaked in his well-deserved glory in the joyous Cardinals clubhouse, his manager, Whitey Herzog sat in his office and said with a satisfied smile: "The key to the ballgame was our bullpen."
Today, Herzog's heroes were Ken Dayley, who pitched starter Bob Forsch out of trouble in the fourth; Todd Worrell, who pitched Dayley out of trouble in the seventh; and Jeff Lahti, who took over in the ninth and got the Dodgers in order.
"Today was no different than it's been all year," said Dayley. "When Whitey calls your number, you go in and get those guys out. Then, when the next guy gets called, he does the same thing."
The three Cardinals relievers today pitched 5 2/3 innings. They allowed two hits and walked one. That brought the bullpen's statistics for the series to 16 2/3 innings pitched, three runs allowed -- all by Ricky Horton in the second-game loss in Los Angeles -- and an ERA of 1.70.
If one man put up those numbers, he would be an MVP candidate. Maybe people can just write on their ballots, "The Committee."
"There was never any doubt in my mind that the system would work," Herzog said.
When Bruce Sutter opted for Atlanta via free agency last winter, it was thought the Cardinals were in trouble. Who would be the finisher? Neil Allen, the ex-Met was given the first chance. He failed and was shipped to the Yankees.
Enter "The St. Louis Save Committee." From Lahti, Dayley, Worrell, Horton and Bill Campbell, the Cardinals had 44 saves this season. Last season, Sutter had 45.
"After a while, we knew when we came to the park to always be ready," said Dayley. "It wasn't a question of if you would pitch, it was a question of when you would pitch."
There was Campbell, a retread at 37, once a stopper in the American League but more recently a man with a sore arm and a big contract.
There was Dayley, 26, a one-time No. 1 draft pick in Atlanta. He became the left-handed heat.
There was Lahti, a 29-year-old journeyman who became the right-handed closer and Horton who relieved and started. And, on Aug. 27, Worrell entered the picture.
Before this season, Worrell was one of those hard-throwing pitchers who struggles in the minor leagues and leaves baseball people wondering what the problem is. But on July 18, Louisville Manager Jim Fregosi told Worrell he was a relief pitcher.
A committee-member was born.
At 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, Worrell stopped throwing everything except his fast ball and his slider. He made 11 relief appearances with a 1.17 ERA before being called up.
"I liked pitching in relief right away," Worrell said. "It was simpler. I did less thinking out there. I just came in, threw my two pitches and tried to get people out."
Worrell made his major league debut Sept. 4 in Cincinnati, coming on in the eighth inning with a 4-3 lead, two on and one out. He never gave up a hit, got the save and was Herzog's man down the stretch.
"We were going good before he got here," Lahti said. "But he gave us that little extra boost that might have been the difference in the pennant race with the Mets. He fit right in."
Like a piece in a puzzle. Today was no different. When Dayley tired in the seventh, giving up a walk to Mike Scioscia and a single to Enos Cabell, Herzog went to Worrell. He fell behind three balls to Steve Sax, who was trying to bunt.
"I was coming too much overhand," Worrell said. "But (pitching coach) Mike Roarke spotted it on the bench and signaled to me and I was able to adjust."
He threw two strikes with Sax taking all the way, then struck him out swigning with a third fast ball.
"Every day is a new day in this job," Dayley said. "One day you're a hero, the next day you're a zero. I know how (losing pitcher Tom) Niedenfuer feels . . . He's won a lot of big games for them, just like we have for us."
Note the word we. The members of The Committee almost never work alone.