Yes, we just recapped a Philadelphia Phillies' game against the St. Louis Cardinals from April of 1998 about a month ago, but I thought I would dust off another retro scorecard from when the teams met in May of that year, back in a time when teams outside your division made multiple trips into town in a given season. This could also provide an interesting case study to see how the teams were doing after one month apart. So let's go back 25 years ago, to May 20, 1998.
The Phillies took two of three when St. Louis visited last month, but they've dropped the opener of this three-game set the previous night. Both clubs are in the wild card mix as we've just passed the quarter-pole of the season, with the Cards one game over .500 and the Phillies two games under. On this Wednesday night, we'll be getting a particularly forgettable pitching matchup between St. Louis' Paul Busby (making his first MLB start after only being used in relief prior to tonight) and the Phillies' Mark Portugal.
The Vet is buzzing, as everyone is there to see how Mark McGwire will follow up his 3-homer performance from the night before. So of course Tony La Russa sits him in favor of Gary Gaetti on this night. We're scoreless in the top of the second when Paul Busby helps his own cause with an RBI groundout to open the scoring. Then, Ron Gant and Delino DeShields hit back-to-back home runs, and it's 4-0 already.
The Phillies wipe out half of the deficit in the bottom of the third against Paul Busby, with Doug Glanville and Scott Rolen each collecting RBI singles to make it a 4-2 game. But Tony La Russa's true genius shines through in the fifth inning when Gaetti blasts a 2-run home run to make it 6-2. Portugal is done a few batters later, as long man Darrin Winston comes in for the Phils.
Paul Busby keeps shutting the Phils down, and it's still 6-2 in the top of the seventh, when Gaetti steps up to the plate again and unloads another 2-run bomb to make it an 8-2 game. This is why Tony La Russa is the smartest man in the history of baseball, folks. The Cards are up big, and Busby's night is done, but the Phils actually take advantage of St. Louis reliever Kent Bottenfield, of all people. Yes, the same Kent Bottenfield that the Phillies will TRADE RON GANT TO THE ANGELS TO ACQUIRE two years later at the deadline. Baseball is weird, man. At any rate, Bottenfield records zero outs and is eventually charged with three runs, as the Phillies make it a somewhat interesting 8-5 game.
We get to the ninth, still at 8-5, and Gaetti strides to the plate against Mark Leiter. On a 1-2 pitch, Gaetti drives one deep to left. Could it beeeee? No, Gregg Jefferies secures the catch with his back against the wall. We were inches away from having two different Cardinals first basemen post 3-homer games on consecutive nights. Chef's kiss, Tony La Russa. In the bottom half, the Phils are mowed down by Jeff Brantley, and St. Louis wins 8-5. If you'll recall, this is the same exact result of the April 25, 1998 game that I recapped previously.
With the pitching win, Paul Busby actually goes to 5-0 on the year and looks like a decent staff arm for the Cards. But there are two things that you should know:
1. His name was actually Mike Busby.
I've just been calling him Paul this whole time because I wanted to see if anyone would question it, which I seriously doubt, because I had zero recollection of him.
2. This was the last win of his MLB career.
Busby got one more start, which he lost, then pitched the rest of the season in relief. He finished 5-2 on the season. In 1999, he went 0-1 in 15 relief appearances, then never appeared in another MLB game. His last baseball experience of any kind was in 2001 with the Camden Riversharks, where he was teammates with Kim Batiste. His Wikipedia, in its entirety, reads "Michael James Busby (born December 27, 1972) is an American former professional baseball pitcher, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the St. Louis Cardinals."
Neither the Phillies nor the Cardinals ended up making the playoffs in 1998, but at least we had Mike Busby. And another 8-5 loss.