COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — He was a relief workhorse, often pitching several innings at a time while terrorizing hitters with his split-finger fastball. So it was no surprise to see him on the mound at the biggest moment of the season.
Bruce Sutter had already appeared in three games for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1982 World Series when he toed the rubber against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 7 - 28 years ago this week. With the Cardinals nursing a 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth inning of the seventh and deciding game, Sutter came on in relief of starter Joaquin Andujar.
He went to work against the heart of the Brewers lineup. After getting Paul Molitor to ground out to shortstop, he struck out Robin Yount before inducing an inning-ending grounder from Cecil Cooper.
It was not the first time Sutter had stymied Yount, who set a World Series record by recording two four-hit games during that year’s Fall Classic. Sutter killed a Brewers rally in Game 2 by getting Yount to swing and miss on a failed ninth-inning hit-and-run, resulting in Molitor being thrown out at second base.
After St. Louis tacked on two runs in their half of the eighth, Sutter clinched the championship by setting down Milwaukee in order once again. After striking out Gorman Thomas to end the game, Sutter was hugged by catcher Darrell Porter as the Cardinals celebrated their first World Series title since 1967.
Sutter’s save in Game 7 was his second of the series. He also recorded a save in Game 3 and was the winning pitcher in Game 2. He pitched two innings or more in all three games.
"I don't think people grasp how impressive it was for him to go two or three innings for a save,” said Tommy Herr, Sutter’s teammate from 1981 to 1984. “When you have to get six, seven or eight outs, so many things can go wrong for a closer."
In four appearances during the series, Sutter totaled 7 2/3 innings while surrendering four runs - two on a home run by Cooper with the Cardinals up 5-0 in Game 3 - on six hits.
Sutter broke into the major leagues with the Chicago Cubs, where he won the National League Cy Young Award in 1979. He spent his first five seasons in the Windy City before coming to St. Louis via trade after the 1980 season.
The right-hander saved 300 games in his 12-year career, which was good for third all-time at the time of his retirement. He led the National League in saves five times and was named to six All-Star teams.
Sutter was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
Cody Eding was the public relations intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program Class of 2010 at the Baseball Hall of Fame
Bruce Sutter Career StatsGames 661Wins 68Losses 71Innings Pitched 1,042ERA 2.83Strikeouts 861Walks 309Saves 300