Game 1 thoughts

Most newspapers and web sites will echo the same story about Saturday night’s Game 1.  They’ll state that Anthony Reyes put forth an amazing performance, one that very few expected.

Maybe these articles will mention that the Cardinals came into this series as the underdog as they were in the NLDS and NLCS and that their 7-2 victory was an upset.  The last time facts will appear. Last time the NL won a World Series Game, the last time St. Louis won on the road in the World Series, the last time Tony LaRussa won the first game of a World Series (first and only time was 1989 when the A’s won it all). You get the idea.

Reyes’ performance is worthy of any superlative you wish. 

Reyes survived a rough first inning as the Tigers took the lead. Detroit sat on a couple changeups and made the Cardinals rookie pay scoring its first and only run.

Then, Reyes started to retire the Tigers in order. Four straight became seven, seven became 10 and then 17.  He quieted down the dangerous Tigers lineup by locating his fastball all over the plate, low and away, low and in, waist-high and outside. Detroit’s batters helped Reyes by chasing pitches early in the count helping in his17 flyball/popup outs.

Reyes’ eight-plus innings was a huge boost to the Cardinals much-used but very successful bullpen.  Braden Looper finished the ninth but giving guys like Wainwright, Kinney and Johnson another night off couldn’t have turned out any better for LaRussa.

Coming in, I wondered whether Detroit would be flat especially since it’s been a week since there last game. The Tigers did come out strong in the first inning but afterwards couldn’t muster any offense.   Is it me or has history favored the teams who have played the seven game series in one LCS compared to the other LCS where there’s a 4-game sweep?  I keep flashing back to the 1988 World Series when I think of this.

Good night for Scott Rolen, and by the way, I don’t care if he and LaRussa are buddies or not.  His last 2 at-bats in the NLCS were great, even though Endy Chavez took away a home run on one of them. Rolen turned quick on an inside fastball to tie the game at 1-1 in the second against the Tigers.   He also keyed the three-run sixth with a ground rule double.

I like that the Tigers challenged Albert Pujols. Sometimes, you just have to challenge a hitter and chuck the stats. Strategy-wise, people will say that it is nuts to pitch to him with a base open. And in theory, they have a point. But Justin Verlander gave it a shot and learned you can’t sneak an outside fastball to Pujols. I respect Leyland for taking the blame. And yes, that decision will be scrutinized a lot, I just know it.

It’s weird to watch a LaRussa team in the World Series that’s considered an underdog. It’s the opposite of all the previous teams he led into the World Series.  In the past, LaRussa’s teams came into the World Series with no fewer than 99 wins.   To see his team with 83 regular season wins in the World Series is a bit different. Obviously, he’s gotten maximum effort out of everyone on that roster. Something to remember, he’s never lost a postseason series up 2-0.

Leyland shuffled his rotation so Rogers can get two starts at home. Tomorrow night, needless to say, is huge.  The Tigers have to make better contact on the ball. I know they aren’t the most patient team to begin with but at least they should try to take a couple pitches here and there. Rogers needs to go seven strong or pitch well enough to leave earlier with a big lead. Offensively, the Tigers need someone, anyone, to come through.

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