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October 25 2006

The amount of traffic suddenly coming to this site searching for slight variations of "when is the last time the St Louis Cardinals played the Detroit Tigers in the World Series?" is surprising.  It's particularly surprising given that this site has nothing to say about when the Cardinals and the Tigers last played in the World Series whatsoever.  Anyway, the people, particularly the people whose stability is questionable given their decision to type something that long into a search engine, have the power.  Here goes:

The St Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers met in the 1968 World Series.  The Tigers won four games to three in a series often remembered for the matchup of pitchers Bob Gibson and Denny McLain.  Detroit's 31-game winner McLain had thrown to a 1.96 ERA and would win the AL-MVP and Cy Young Award that year, while the Cardinals' Bob Gibson went 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA while winning the NL-MVP and Cy Young Award in the National League.  Detroit's Mickey Lolich would do his best to steal the show before it was all done.

The Tigers won the ten team American League with a 103-59 record.  Catcher Bill Freeman and first baseman Norm Cash each hit 25 home runs for the Tigers.  Outfielder Jim Northrup added 21 and 25-year-old Willie Horton led them all with 36 home runs.  McClain led the Detroit staff but the Tigers also got help from Earl Wilson (13-12, 2.85) and Lolich (17-9, 3.19).  Detroit had three of the top four players in the voting for AL-MVP in 1968 -- McLain won with Bill Freeman and his 263/366/454 line second and Horton and his 36 homers fourth.

The Cardinals, who had won the 1967 World Series by beating the Red Sox in seven games, won the ten team National League with a 97-65 record.  The Cards didn't have a single player hit more than 16 home runs but featured an offense full of famous names like Tim McCarver, Orlando Cepeda, Mike Shannon, Lou Brock, Curt Flood and Roger Maris.  Center fielder Curt Flood posted a 301/339/366 line and finished fourth in voting for NL-MVP.  Brock finished sixth and Shannon seventh.  The Cardinals pitching, led by Gibson, was by far the best in the National League.  Gibson was backed up by Nelson Briles (19-11, 2.81), Ray Washburn (14-8, 2.26) and 23-year-old Steve Carlton (13-11, 2.99) in a tremendous year for pitchers.

Gibson faced McLain in Game 1 and the Cards won 4-0.  Gibson threw a complete game five-hitter and struck out 17.  The Cards scored three runs off of McLain in five innings.

Detroit pounded the Cards in Game 2, winning 8-1.  Lolich struck out nine in his own complete game, allowing just one run.  Detroit homered three times against Cards' starter Briles.

St Louis went up two games to one with a 7-3 win in Game 3. 

Gibson and McClain squared off again in Game 4, with the Cardinals winning 10-1 to go up three games to one in the series.  Gibson threw another complete game, allowing one run on five hits and striking out ten.  McLain went just 2 2/3 innings and the Tigers made four errors.

Detroit scored three in the bottom of the seventh and got out of Game 5 with a 5-3 win.  St Louis led the series three games to two.  Lolich threw another complete game, striking out eight. 

McLain started Game 6 in St Louis and the Tigers pounded the Cards, winning 13-1 to tie the series at three games apiece and force a Game 7. 

Lolich, pitching on two days rest, and Gibson both threw complete games in Game 7.  Detroit took the game and the series with a 4-1 win. 

In the series, Lolich went 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA in three complete games.  Gibson was 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA and struck out 35 in 27 innings, also throwing three complete games.  McLain went 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA.

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