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Dual six-RBI night elicits memories of “The Sandberg Game”

St. Louis Cardinals fans are likely pleased to see the San Francisco Giants leave town after the visitors won three of four games in their just-completed series. Thursday evening’s game four was especially frustrating for St. Louis as several defensive plays undermined the MLB debut of starting pitcher Lance Lynn.

One of those questionable plays in the field during the Cardinals’ 12-7 loss involved outfielder Colby Rasmus as he seemed to pull back on a ball in the left-center gap in the top of the sixth. The door opened for the Giants to take the lead.

On the other hand, Rasmus had a night to remember with the bat as he hit his second career grand slam and tripled, driving in six runs.

On the visitors’ side, veteran Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff more than matched Rasmus as he collected four hits, including three home runs, and also plated six.

I asked researcher Tom Orf how often this feat of a six-RBI player on each club had occurred previously in Cardinals history. Back to at least 1920, the answer is just twice. Including Thursday, the Cardinals lost all three games.

On September 15, 1922, Hall of Fame second baseman Rogers Hornsby drove in six runs and was matched by six RBI from Philadelphia’s Butch Henline. The final score was 10-9, Phillies. It was the only other dual six-RBI game played in a regulation nine innings.

The other such contest is a most famous one. Commonly known as “The Sandberg Game,” the Cardinals faced the Cubs in Chicago on national television on June 23, 1984.

With the Cubs down 9-8 in the ninth inning, Chicago second baseman Ryne Sandberg hit a dramatic home run against another future Hall of Famer and former Cub, Bruce Sutter.

As the game went into extras, the Cards scored two in the top of the tenth. Once again, Sutter and Sandberg did battle in the bottom of the tenth, this time with a runner on base. Sandberg launched another home run to again tie the game. The Cubs won the battle in the 11th by the score of 12-11.

As you might expect, Sandberg made our six-RBI minimum. In fact, he plated seven that day. Almost lost in the Cubs’ heroics was Cardinals outfielder Willie McGee’s six RBI earlier that same afternoon.

Thursday night’s loss was tough, but it will quickly be forgotten, unlike “The Sandberg Game,” which is likely to live on forever.

Who knows? With the Cubs heading into Busch Stadium this coming weekend, maybe another such memorable skirmish is in the offing.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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