(Busch Stadium) There is no question that at some point in the near future, Bruce Bochy will take his rightful place in Cooperstown. Retiring this season after 25 years, the last thirteen in San Francisco, Bochy is only eight wins away from becoming just the eleventh manager in MLB history to reach 2000 victories. He has won four National League pennants and three World Championships.
“I’ve had really good battles in this ballpark,” Bochy said, looking out at the field as if to watch the games play out again in his mind. “Tough ones and some good ones, too. I go back to ’96 and we got beat by St. Louis in the first round. That was disappointing, it was my first time.”
He managed the San Diego Padres to the NL West title that season and two years later the two teams met again in the 1998 NLDS.
Third baseman Gary Gaetti had a 3-run homer and Todd Stottlemyre led the way to a 3-1 victory for St. Louis in Game 1. Then Tom Pagnozzi drove in Brian Jordan with what proved to be the winning run as the Cardinals took Game 2 by a score of 5-4. Jordan hit a 2-run homer off Trevor Hoffman for the difference in Game 3’s 7-5 victory. Dennis Eckersley saved all three games.
“And then ’05, ’06 they worked hard on my side–no getting around it, but couldn’t get by them,” Bochy continued. “Lost in different ways, pitching, we just stopped hitting. Then you look at ’12 and ’14, we had some really good battles. Good memories in those games, obviously.”
Those good memories came after Bochy left the Padres following 2006 and moved over to manage San Francisco. In particular, he looks to the second inning of Game 5 of that 2012 playoff with his team trailing 3-1 in the series.
“Zito, he’s making the start for us and the bases are loaded and nobody out…so it’s not looking too good for us,” Bochy recalled. “Game’s over and he shut them out. Zito, he pitched great, got the win, and we went on to win the best of seven. That was quite the series. Our pitching at that point stepped up. I think maybe we gave up maybe a run or two the next three games.”
The Cardinals indeed scored only one run in those last two games as San Francisco went on to sweep Detroit in the World Series.
“Then of course, ’14,” Bochy reminded. “Which was a great series, but what always comes to mind is Travis Ishikawa’s big home run to send us into the World Series. That was a great moment. A great moment for him, but we all remember that.”
Totaled up, Bochy and his teams faced the Cardinals seven times in the post season. Tony La Russa winning the first four, with Bochy taking the next three.
“Trust me, I remind him when I see him,” Bochy said. “Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. For some reason, tough match up for us in those three and then like I said, in ’12 14 it kind of went the other way. But I can tell you in ’12, I was going geez, almighty these Cardinals, they’re going to knock me out again. Then we came back to win and it kind of turned around.”
“Both these organizations, before my time here, trust me there was a lot of great battles. It’s been great to be a part of it.”
photo credit: Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com; Bill Greenblatt/UPI