The Cardinals were off this day for a travel day. Their record stood at 30-21. They had just won two out of three from the Padres and were on their way to Colorado to play the Rockies. This left Busch Stadium wide open for another special event: the River Bandits played a regular season game against the Kane County Cougars there on this date in 2011.
It has become somewhat of an annual tradition in the Midwest League teams to square off in a major league park. A number of games like this have happened at Miller Park in Milwaukee and Wrigley Field between Midwest League teams. However, this is the only time the River Bandits have played a regular season game in an MLB venue before or since. I made the trip down for the game. It was freakishly cold for that time of year, which was unfortunate. It kept the crowd size small, since they were relying almost 100% on walk-ups to attend the game.
Carlos Martinez started this game for the Bandits. He pitched well, but he did get the loss. He allowed seven hits and one run over five innings. He had five strikeouts against one walk.
It was a hard fought game. The Cougars led 3-0 through six innings. Geulin Beltre and Alex Llanos each had three hits for the Cougars, and Beltre had two RBI. Leonel Santiago kept the Bandits’ bats in check. He allowed only three hits and one walk over six shutout innings. The Bandits’ finally got on the board in the eighth inning when Robert Stock and Starlin Rodriguez each singled. Stock was advanced and scored on fielder’s choices. In the bottom of the ninth, the Bandits got a couple walks, a single and an error to score another run. But they left the potential tying and winning runs at second and third when Michael Swinson grounded out to end the game.
It was a surreal experience seeing the River Bandits’ and Cougars’ logos on the big screens and ribbon boards at Busch Stadium. Almost as strange was seeing Busch Stadium so empty while a game was going on. Seeing all the concessions stands closed save for one or two was also really strange.
The Quad-Cities River Bandits just couldn’t get the big hit they needed in their first game in a big-league stadium.
Michael Swinson grounded out with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning as Kane County held on for a 3-2 Midwest League victory at Busch Stadium.
Quad-Cities, playing in a major-league stadium for the first time in franchise history, was limited to six hits at the home of their parent club, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Here are more pictures from the game (click for larger):