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The 1982 Brewers couldn't step on the Cardinals' collective throats because they didn't have a closer. Today's Crew has two.
The 1982 Brewers couldn't step on the Cardinals' collective throats because they didn't have a closer. Today's Crew has two. (Photo: Eron Laber of Front Room Photography)

Ghosts on a tee

I wrote Brewers Battle Cards, Ghosts of 1982 before Game 2. I was on a high. Then it was posted after the Brewers lost Game 3. Suddenly ... I felt a bit silly.

And then tonight.

I realize we Brewers fans aren't seasoned playoff veterans, so I understand the quick reactions. I know many thought this thing was over after losing Game 3. But it just wasn't true. Win Game 4, and this series takes a whole new complexion.

And boy did it. The Brewers tied up the series at two games a piece. They take back home field. They assure at least a game in Milwaukee. And Zack Greinke takes the mound tomorrow.

Sweet.

Even better? That article I wrote before Game 2 that showed up after Game 3 about battling ghosts of the past?

Hoooooooo, baby. Was this ever an example.

If you don't follow @TweetsFrom1982 on Twitter, I encourage you to do it. Today was a great contrast of past and present since each game started at nearly the same time. Some background...

It was October 13, 1982. The Brewers and Cardinals were facing off for Game 2 of the World Series in Busch Stadium. The Brewers were fresh off of a 10-0 shellacking of the Cardinals to steal home field. Win this game, and all they'd need to do is win two of three in Milwaukee to win the World Series.

It started great. The Brewers took a 3-0 lead in the third. The Cardinals made it 3-2 on back-to-back, two-out run-scoring hits by Tommy Herr and Ken Oberkfell, the single by Oberkfell slipping just past a diving Jim Gantner.

Then Cecil Cooper plated Robin Yount with a run scoring single to make it 4-2 in the fifth.

Meanwhile, in 2011 on the same day and nearly at the same time, also in St. Louis, the Brewers took a 4-2 lead in the sixth inning when George Kottaras reached on a fielding error by Ryan Theriot.

Ghosts abound. Both games showed a 4-2 lead through the top of the 6th.

In 1982, Don Sutton was cruising. Other than the two-run third, he was perfect in the other four innings. Then in the sixth, with runners on first and third and two outs, former Brewer Darrell Porter stepped to the plate.

Meanwhile, in 2011, Matt Holliday led off the bottom of the sixth with a double to left. Trouble.

Darrell Porter would line a two-out, two-run double down the right field line to tie the game in 1982. Randy Wolf would retire Yadier Molina, Ryan Theriot and Jon Jay in order to get out of trouble in 2011.

Ghosts. Battered.

The Brewers ran into trouble again in 1982. With two on, one out and Rollie Fingers unavailable due to injury (though Harvey Kuenn would claim he was available, but just not in this situation), Pete Ladd took the mound. He had been perfect in the playoffs. He delivered a letters-high fastball with a 3-2 count to MVP candidate Lonnie Smith that was called a ball. Smith thought it was a strike, and started heading to the dugout before smiling to first base. The bases were loaded.

Ladd didn't recover. He walked journeyman Steve Braun (no relation, I think) to bring in the go-ahead and eventual winning run.

The 2011 Brewers made a pitching move in the eighth, too, but they didn't need to turn to an untested closer. They instead went to Francisco Rodriguez, the single season saves record holder. And their setup man.

Albert Pujols grounds out. David Freese singles. Matt Holliday grounds out. Yadier Molina strikes out.

No problem.

Then, in the ninth, the 2011 Brewers bring in their actual closer, John Axford. One harmless single to Lance Berkman. Nothing else. Brewers win.

The 1982 Brewers couldn't step on the Cardinals' collective throats because they didn't have a closer. The 2011 Brewers shut the door tonight because they had two.

Ghosts beaten.

Tomorrow, Zack Greinke takes the mound for the 2011 Brewers with a chance to take the series to 3-2, a position the 1982 Brewers would eventually hold, but lose.

Ghosts. On a tee.

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