10/12/2002 9:18 pm ET
Matheny hits unlikely HR
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- If you're into predicting playoff homers by Cardinals players, simply bet on the guy least likely to hit one.
Mike Matheny knocked a solo shot -- his first since April 26 -- to left to give the Cards a 4-1 lead over the Giants in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series Saturday at Pacific Bell Park.
There was no reason to expect Matheny to go deep. He did it three times in April, and didn't do it again in 283 total regular-season and playoff at-bats.
But there have been postseason homers almost as rare, and much more significant, in Cardinals history.
Ozzie Smith hit a career single-season high six homers in 1985, but still no one expected his bottom-of-the-ninth blast that gave St. Louis a 3-2 win in the deciding fifth game of the NLCS. It was the only postseason homer for Smith, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer. The Cardinals went on to lose the World Series to Kansas City in seven games.
Jose Oquendo, now the Cards' third base coach, homered just once during the 1987 regular season. But what Oquendo will always be remembered for is his homer in Game 7 of the NLCS that season -- against the Giants, of course.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.