Tagged: World Series

Winner and New World Champions: Game 5 blog

Welcome to Game 5. Will the Tigers bounce back or will the Cards Party Like It’s 1982?

Keys to the Game: Obvious. The Tigers have to win and hope their pitchers don’t make errors. For the Cards, they need to win this tonight behind the same old traits that got them up 3-1: great pitching, take advantage of mistakes and have timely hitting. It’s that simple

Top 1st: Jeff Weaver sets the Tigers in order. Strikes out Curtis Granderson with a fastball,  Craig Monroe with a slider. Carlos Guillen flies to left. What a transformation for Weaver going from 3-10 with Anaheim to the starting pitcher in a possible World Series clinching game

Bottom 1st: Justin Verlander does not set the Cardinals in order. In fact, he’s a little nervous and very wild.  Verlander walks three batters, throws two wild pitches, wents full count on four batters in the innings. Despite loading the bases without a base hit, Verlander luckily gets out of the inning as Guillen made a nice stop of a Ronnie Belliard grounder up the middle and Casey made a nice scoop of Guillen’s throw to save two runs. Detroit fans just let out a collective sigh. 

Pudge Rodriguez should get a medal for making it through the bottom of the first. Verlander threw six or seven balls in the dirt, blocking all but his two wild pitches. Pudge Rodriguez, a sure-fire Hall of Famer.

By the way, I am listening to the game and one of the reasons Kenny Rogers did not start Game 5 was because Leyland didn’t want him pitching in front of the St. Louis crowd and type of atmosphere. I thought Cardinals fans were harmless, wholesome like the Osmonds. If Verlander tanks tonight, the second guessing will only get worse. Tigers fans should hope he doesn’t throw 35 pitches per inning again.

Top 2nd:  Weaver’s fastball is hitting the corners well. He got the right-handed hitting Magglio Ordonez to swing on an inside and low fastball and followed that by getting the left-handed hitting Casey called on strikes with a waist-high inside fastball. Rodriguez grounds out to end the inning. Six up, six down.

Bottom of 2nd: Yadier Molina drives a 2-2 pitch to center for a single. Taguchi tried to bunt his way on but third baseman Brandon Inge made a great bare-handed grab and throw to get Taguchi at first. Weaver follows with a groundout to short moving Molina to third.  Inge makes a great stab of Eckstein’s broken-bat grounder but his throw goes past first baseman Sean Casey. Molina scores, Eckstein advances to second. The Tigers have made an error in five straight World Series games, the first time since the 79 Pirates. Verlander gets Chris Duncan on a called third strike and his second inning is a vast improvement from the first inning. 1-0, St. Louis.

Top 3rd:

Placido Polanco leads off by grounding out to third and is now 0 for 15 in the series. Brandon Inge, who had a nice night at the plate last night, continues his success at the plate with a double to left. His time on the bases is brief. Verlander grounds back to Weaver, who catches Inge in a rundown. Scott Rolen catches Inge for the second out and a huge baserunning blunder for Inge. Granderson follows with a single to center which would’ve scored Inge. Monroe ends the inning with a groundout to third.  Not looking good for the Tigers so far.

Bottom 3rd:

After giving up a leadoff single to Pujols, Verlander gets Edmonds into a strike em out, throw em double play. Pujols went halfway toward second drawing a throw from Rodriguez. Casey tagged him out for the second out. Rolen popped up to end the inning. Verlander seems more relaxed. If the Tigers can only get a couple more good innings out of him and scored some runs.

Top 4th: Detroit has the luck goes its way finally. Ordonez lifts a routine flyball that goes off of Chris Duncan’s glove. Ordonez races to second.  Next batter, Sean Casey turns on an inside pitch and drives it into the right field stands for a 2-1 Tigers lead. Credit Casey, who struck out looking on an inside fastball in the second inning, for making the adjustment between at-bats. Rodriguez flies out and Polanco ground out and is now 0 for 16.  Still, the Tigers catch a break and take advantage.

Bottom 4th: Jim Leyland and his staff should address a week on showing his pitchers who are not named Kenny Rogers, the aspects of fielding and throwing the position especially on bunts and comebackers.  I don’t care if its not en vogue in the AL to bunt, this is costing the Tigers big time in the series. With two on and one out, Weaver bunted back to Verlander, whose low throw to third skipped past Inge and into foul territory scoring Molina to tie the game. It is Verlander’s second error of the series. Taguchi moved to third and Weaver to second. Eckstein’s groundout scored Taguchi for a 3-2 lead. Duncan popped out to Guillen to end the inning.  Fifth straight game a Tigers pitcher has committed an error. Just awful.  Detroit fans must be losing their minds right now.

Top 5th: Weaver hasn’t gone past the sixth in his last nine starts. The way he’s pitching, he’s doing too well to take out just yet. Weaver struck out the first two batters, Inge and Verlander, giving him six on the night. Granderson walks but Monroe gets fooled on a change-up and pops out to Eckstein. The Tigers are running out of outs.

Bottom 5th: Verlander gets a three-up, three-down inning backed by a nice curve, one of the few that’s worked for him tonight, to get Pujols looking at a third strike. Polanco makes a nice stab and throw to retire Edmonds and Rolen send one to the wall in left but Monroe makes the catch to end the inning.  Memo to Fox:  Please don’t interrupt the game to do the in-game manager interview. I don’t like to see at-bats on a split screen. It’s annoying.

Top 6th: If Chris Duncan is in the field in the seventh, I’ll be shocked. For the second time tonight, Duncan turned an out into a scoring opportunity for Detroit.  Duncan is quite lucky not to have his second error of the night instead awarding a double to the hot-hitting Casey. However, Weaver continues to impress as the Tigers do not take advantage of the two-out miscue. Weaver gets his 7th strikeout of the night going sidearm with a fastball to get Rodriguez looking at strike three. Nine outs left

Bottom 6th: Verlander likely pitched his last inning. Molina recorded his 3rd hit of the night in as many trips with a one-out single. La Russa is letting Weaver start the seventh as the Cardinals righty grounded out to second to end the inning.

Top 7th: No shock here, Preston Wilson enters the game in left as Taguchi goes to right. Jerry Reed had a hit with “When You’re Hot You’re Hot.” The second line of the chorus is “when you’re not, you’re not.”  That describes Polanco in this series.  Polanco led off the seventh with a grounder to Pujols, who was playing far off first. Pujols threw from to back to Weaver, who scooped the ball out of the dirt and touch the bag just before Polanco to get the out. Inge and pinch-hitter Alexis Gomez were retired as Weaver is still going strong after seven.

Bottom 7th:  Verlander is done and Fernando Rodney comes in relief. Eckstein is making a strong case for MVP during the past couple of games. He leads off by reaching on an infield single as Guillen can’t cleanly get the ball out of his glove. Wilson walks. Rodney retired Pujols and Edmonds. Rolen, who I said had the inside track of Series MVP, delivers some insurance with an RBI single to right scoring Eckstein for a 4-2 lead.

Top 8th: Weaver is back out there against the Tigers, who are down to six outs. Make that three outs. Weaver gets his eighth and ninth strikeouts of the night to end the eighth.  I think the party is about to begin in St. Louis. I hope La Russa lets Weaver start the ninth, he’s earned it.

Bottom 8th: Weaver is done but not after he tossed eight innings allowing four hits, one after Casey’s fourth-inning home run, walked one and struck out nine.  Joel Zumaya comes in and retires the side in order. Three outs left for Detroit.

Top 9th: The Cards go with closer Adam Wainwright, who has a chance to put the icing on an incredible, and some would say improbable, postseason run.

Ordonez hits a liner off Wainwright’s glove that goes in front of Belliard, who throws out Ordonez by a step. Two outs to go

If the Tigers lose, Casey’s outstanding performance should still be noted. He’s 3 for 3 tonight with a two-run home run and 2 doubles, the second of which happens in the ninth. Casey is lifted for Ramon Santiago, who is stranded there when Rodriguez grounds back to the pitcher. One out away and 0 for 17 Polanco steps to the plate.

Polanco draws a well-earned but very close walks to put runners on the corners for Inge.

Wainwright makes quick work of Inge on three pitches, the last on a slider that Inge swings through to give St. Louis its first World Series title since 1982. Goodbye Denkinger, the Metrodome and the 04 Red Sox. The last time St. Louis win the WS, the Cardinals closer, Bruce Sutter, recorded the final out via strikeout too.

Postgame:  So will struggling during the final month of the regular season but still making the playoffs be the new trend?  83 wins is an all-time low for world champ. La Russa’s best postseason job by far. He finally can really celebrate a WS title. Remember, the 89 A’s didn’t celebrate too much in the aftermath of the earthquake. Good for La Russa.

I know much will be made of the Tigers’ fielding misfortunes and the move to start Verlander over Rogers. Still, the Tigers offense was woeful at best. Casey was fantastic and Inge had some great spots too. The top of the order was horrible with the second lowest average of all time.  St. Louis’ advance scouts definitely did a flawless job with their reports and observations in preparing the Cardinals pitching staff.

MVP goes to…..David Eckstein. I can’t argue. He was clutch in the last two games going 6 for 9 with four RBI. He had eight hits in the series and finished with a .364 average.


Game 2 notes

Fox Sports: We Report, You Decide!

Gotta love the St. Louis anno-I mean, the Fox announcers last night when they discovered Kenny Rogers’ secret recipe on his pitching hand.  Heck, one would’ve thought Joe Buck and Tim McCarver unearthed Watergate II.

Even better was Rogers still came through with this third outstanding performance of the playoffs.  The tally is now at 23 scoreless innings of work in the postseason.

One thing overlooked last night was how brilliantly Rogers fielded his position.  This shouldn’t be a surprise from a multiple-time gold glove winner but it makes a difference having a pitcher with such fielding talents.  There was the Miles liner along with I believe 3 assists.

Times for the first two games have been 2 hours, 55 minutes and 2 hours, 54 minutes. Which means instead of the same 3 commericials 30 times, we’re getting the same 3 commericials 25 times.  Sunday’s game would’ve hit the 2:30 mark if Tony LaRussa didn’t go through his entire bullpen.

Switching gears, the Washington Nationals retained pitching coach Randy St. Claire even though the club hasn’t selected a manager yet.  This could only create an awkward situation if a new manager is hired and wants his own staff.  Cliché time-Cart Before the Horse? 

I’m glad we’re not looking at a series sweep this year.

Last night, ABC aired Desperate Housewives against the World Series.  This meant couples everywhere had to battle over who got the main television. Thankfully in an age of TIVOs and DVRs, this doesn’t have to have a devastating consequence.  The World Series is a once a year event, the Housewives rerun will air soon enough. The World Series never repeats.  Wednesday, Lost will air an original episode against Game 4 of the World Series. My wife isn’t backing down from having the one TV in the house be tuned into Lost. She was cool with recording Desparate knowing she must watch it while I’m not home.  I’m already searching for options for Wednesday. I can’t record the World Series, I need to see it live, even if it means going to my gym for an hour. Yikes!  Most other shows are in repeat status this week.  Thanks, ABC! 

I like Lost, it’s a good show.  Desparate…no thanks!  And there are a lot of other great shows out there and there’s a slew of people who don’t watch baseball. I get it. ABC has no interest in the World Series, too, and I understand them wanting to run some of their more popular shows. This week, though, it’s the last slate of baseball games for the season and I want to watch them in peace. Next week when November sweeps begins,  my wife can control the television for the next 5-plus months.

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.