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Archive for October, 2006

2006 Hank Aaron Award to Ryan Howard, Derek Jeter…

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

                         Aaron, Jeter andHoward

On Wednesday, October 25, 2006, as fans waited in St. Louis to see if game 4 would be played that night, the Phillies Ryan Howard and Yankees Derek Jeter were inside in a press room at Busch Stadium each representing his league as recipients of the annual Hank Aaron Award.  Howard, for the National League by virtue of his Phillies club records; 58 homers and 149 RBIs along with a Phillies club leading .313 batting average and Derek Jeter for his .344 average (2nd in the AL), 118 runs scored, 214 hits, 34 stolen bases, 14 homers and 97 RBIs.

MLB.com’s Mark Newman writes about the history of the Hank Aaron Award;

                   Hank Aaron

Since 1999, the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Ruth’s all-time home run record, Major League Baseball has recognized the best offensive performer from each league with this award. Andruw Jones of the Braves and Ortiz won the awards last year. Past recipients include Barry Bonds (three times), Alex Rodriguez (three times), Manny Ramirez (twice), Albert Pujols, Todd Helton, Sammy Sosa and Carlos Delgado.

As is now customary before the fourth game of a World Series, commissioner Bud Selig and baseball’s all-time home run king sat at the head table with the two winners.

“Hank Aaron and I have had a very special relationship which goes back to 1958,” Selig said. “We just replayed some highlights from the 1957 season, and Hank hit a home run, for the benefit of the Milwaukee Braves. Obviously he broke the most cherished record in American sports, but he’s also, more importantly, he’s one of the nicest human beings that I’ve ever known. … So this award has great meaning. Hank’s contribution to the sport is legendary. And the thing you always notice about him, he always carries himself with great dignity and class through controversies, through a lot of things. He’s just the person I remember 50 years ago.”

Philly.com sports writer Jim Salisbury writes of the human, personal side of the award presentation to Ryan Howard;

                Ryan Howard         Ryan Howard 

“If someone would have told me I’d be sitting next to Hank Aaron, I’d have said they were crazy,” Howard said a few minutes after the presentation. “It’s an honor to have my name mentioned in the same sentence with his, let alone win an award with his name on it.”

The Hank Aaron Award honors the outstanding offensive player in each league, as determined by fans’ Internet voting. It was established in 1999, on the 25th anniversary of Aaron’s breaking Babe Ruth’s record.

Can’t you still see Aaron putting on that helmet, loosening those powerful wrists in the batter’s box and taking Al Downing deep on April 8, 1974? Ryan Howard wouldn’t be born for five more years, but his dad, Ron, remembered watching it on TV.

His feelings about seeing his son sit next to such an American giant?

“Phenomenal. Unbelievable. It’s quite an honor, it really is,” Ron Howard said with a smile almost as big as his son’s. “Mr. Aaron is a very unique individual.”

The Howards are from the St. Louis area, so they didn’t have to go far for last night’s presentation. If things go well, there could be another big day coming on Nov. 20, when the NL most valuable player is announced.

It’ll be one of two guys: Howard or Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols.

The Phillies slugger is not thinking much about what will happen on Nov. 20. He’s got an all-star trip to Japan coming up in a couple of weeks. And besides…

“The Hank Aaron Award deserves its own special day,” he said.

At one point during last night’s presentation, Aaron looked over at 26-year-old Ryan Howard and seemingly delivered a message. It sounded as if Aaron was talking about being a role model. He should know this: Howard is a good one.

“I think most of us have to realize that we owe [the world] much more than hitting home runs on the field,” Aaron said. “We owe our kids, we owe our fellow man, and you do have a tremendous duty to continue to do your job on and off the field.”

Folks who know Aaron say he always has resented being viewed as just a slugger. Aaron praised Howard for being a complete player.

“This is a tremendous night for me, seeing how you decided to carry the torch, not only as a ballplayer, but a complete player,” Aaron said.

That made Howard light up.

“To have something like that said about me by him,” Howard said, “it’s really a pleasant surprise.”

The last 18 months have been storybook for Howard. We all watched it. He emerged from Jim Thome’s shadow to hit 22 homers in 88 games in 2005. He won the NL rookie-of-the-year Award. This year, he blasted 58 homers, breaking Mike Schmidt’s 26-year-old team record, and drove in 149 runs, both major-league highs.

“It’s starting to sink in,” he said. “I think the season I had opened some eyes. It was a fun ride.”

Larry Fine of Reuters recaps the award presentation to Derek Jeter;

          Derek Jeter             Derek Jeter

Jeter, sitting next to baseball’s all-time home run leader and young slugger Howard, said, “I sort of feel out of place.”

The Yankees shortstop, who stole 34 bases, hit only 14 homers.

“With Hank Aaron, the first thing that comes to mind is home runs. Ryan Howard the same thing. So when people said what award I was going to win, I stuck my chest out, and I said, ‘You know, the Hank Aaron Award. What do you think?” said Jeter.

“It’s an honor and a privilege for me to be here, and I really appreciate it.”

Hopefully, this winter Ryan Howard will take plenty of batting practice and cut down on his strikeouts, as well as work on his fielding to perfect his 1st base position to live up to the “complete player” status which Hank Aaron conveyed upon him and blast plenty more homers in 2007.

Season Ends on Sad Note: Former Knuckleballer Joe Niekro Dead at 61…

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

                            Joe Niekro

Former Houston Astros pitcher, knuckleballer Joe Niekro, a veteran of 22 major league seasons and a lifetime record of 221-204 passed away on Friday after suffering a brain aneurysm Thursday at his home in Florida. 

Niekro, at first a fastball/curveball pitcher, was the younger brother of Hall of Fame member Phil Niekro.  The 2 brothers pitched together on the Atlanta Braves in the 1973 and 1974 seasons before Joe was purchased by the Astros in April, 1975.

Joe Niekro is the father of 2nd year 1st baseman Lance Niekro of the San Francisco Giants. 

Below are excerpts from AP Sports Writer Fred Goodall’s Report;

The two-time 20-game winner suffered a brain aneurysm Thursday and was taken to South Florida Baptist Hospital in nearby Plant City, where he lived. He later was transferred to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he died.

“It came as a real shock to us,” Smith said. “He was a great guy. He had a real spark and a great sense of humor.”

Smith said Niekro did not have an active role with the Astros but kept in contact with many of his former Houston teammates.

Like his older brother, who won 318 games, Joe Niekro found success after developing the knuckleball and pitched into his 40s. They had a combined 539 major league victories, a record for brothers.

Smith said he was told of Niekro’s death by Enos Cabell, one of the Niekro’s Astros teammates.

“Enos said he just visited with him a few weeks ago in Cooperstown,” Smith said. “Enos said he seemed healthy and full of life. This just came as a sudden shock.”

Niekro won a franchise-best 144 games in 11 seasons with the Astros from 1975 to 1985, when he was traded to the New York Yankees. He was an All-Star in 1979, when he went 21-11 with a 3.00 ERA and followed up with a 20-12 record in 1980.

He beat the Dodgers in a one-game playoff that clinched Houston’s first postseason berth in 1980. Seven years later, in his 21st season, he finally appeared in the World Series with the Minnesota Twins.

Niekro was born on Nov. 7, 1944 in Martins Ferry, Ohio. A third-round draft pick of the Cubs in 1966, he broke into the majors in 1967 and appeared in 702 games, including 500 starts, in 22 years with the Cubs, Padres, Tigers, Braves, Astros, Yankees and Twins.

Niekro, who once was suspended for getting caught on the mound with a nail file in his back pocket, pitched his final game in April 1988 — at age 43. He finished 221-204 with a 3.59 ERA, including 144-116 with a 3.22 ERA for the Astros.

“He played a very prominent role in our first trip to the playoffs (in 1980),” Smith said. “He was very popular with our fans, and he was truly one of our all-time greats.”

For more on about Joe Niekro and his baseball career, click here.

Cardinals Win World Series; Weaver Dominant, Eckstein Stars and is Series MVP…

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

                   Cards Celebrate        Cards Celebrate

The National League’s St. Louis Cardinals are MLB World Champions for the first time in 24 years and for the 10th time since the World Series was instituted with the 8 game series in 1903.   They defeated the American League’s Detroit Tigers by a 4-2 score to take the series by 4-1 in games and put to sleep fears of blowing another 3-1 lead in games.

               Jeff Weaver        Eckstein, Cards Celebrate

Cardinal starter and game winner Jeff Weaver was dominant in going 8 innings striking out 9 while giving up just 2 Tiger runs on 4 hits.  Shortstop  David Eckstein, winner the World Series MVP honors and the Corvette which goes along with the honor, drove in 2 more runs and finished the series with a .364 batting average and 4 RBIs.

Cards 3rd baseman Scott Rolen finished the series with a .421 batting average with a homer and 2 RBIs.  Catcher Yadier Molina, who went 3 for 4 for game 5, hit .412 for the series.  

The Cardinals got on the board first with a run in the 2nd inning as Eckstein singled to 3rd base off of Detroit starter Justin Verlanger driving in a run and making it to 2nd base on 3rd baseman Brandon Inge’s errant throw.

Detroit threatened in the 3rd inning as Inge clubbed a 1 out double to leftfield.  However, he was nailed at 3rd on a Verlander ground fielder’s choice.  Centerfielder Curtis Granderson followed with a single to center moving Verlander to 2nd base.  However, leftfielder Craig Monroe grounded out to 3rd base to end the inning.

                       Sean Casey

In the 4th inning, Detroit took a momentary lead of 2-1 as 1st baseman  Sean Casey drove a 1 out Weaver pitch for a homer with 1 on.  It was Casey’s 2nd homer of the series.  The Cards tied the game in their 4th inning as pitcher Weaver reached on a fielder’s choice with 2 on. A run scored on Verlander’s throwing error on the play; the 5th error by a Detroit pitcher in the series.  Eckstein followed with a ground out scoring a 2nd run as St. Louis took a 3-2 lead and nevr looked back. 

Losing pitcher Verlander left the game after 6 innings giving up 3 runs on 6 hits but committing the costly error.

Rolen’s 2 out single in the 7th drove in Eckstein with the 4th St. Louis run, putting icing on the cake.

                     Adam Wainwright

Detroit again mounted a mild threat in the 9th as Casey hit a 1 out double to center off of St. Louis reliever Adam Wainwright and was replaced by pinch-runner Ramon Santiago.  With 2 outs, Santiago advanced to 3rd base on Wainwright’s wild pitch.  But Wainwright, who was credited with the save, got Inge on a swinging 3rd strike to seal the World’s Championship for the Cardinals.

Yahoo Sports Reporter Jeff Passan writes of the Cardinals victory that “It was in the Cards;”

What should have been wasn’t, and were any beauty salvaged from a series that could have used a face lift, tummy tuck and case of Botox, this was it. The St. Louis Cardinals dug and ground and burrowed their way to a 10th championship Friday, stunting the Detroit Tigers one final time, 4-2, to close out the series in the fifth game at Busch Stadium. And though the series hinged on errors committed by the Tigers, its roughest edges found sandpaper in the form of the Cardinals, who needed Jeff Weaver, one of the Californians, to bamboozle the team that drafted him, and called upon David Eckstein, all 5-foot-7 of him, to drive in two more runs and win the series MVP.

There were others in the crew, too, retreads and has-beens, a motley bunch to surround Albert Pujols, who, it turned out, had little to do with St. Louis’ first championship in 24 years. It was a team in the strictest sense, cobbled together by St. Louis general manager Walt Jocketty and helmed by manager Tony La Russa, who convinced the Cardinals what no one else believed: They could.

So they did, and there they were, in the third incarnation of Busch Stadium, celebrating, the men in uniforms or suits, the women in jerseys or couture, the kids wearing Budweiser.

“It just shows you this is the best game in the world because you can’t predict it,” Eckstein said. “You get a bunch of guys on a mission, going out there, playing as hard as they can, as smart as they can, until the game ends, and anything is possible.”

Probable, on the other hand, it wasn’t. Everyone knows the story. The Cardinals finished 83-78, nearly blew an 8½-game National League Central lead over Houston in the season’s final 12 days and dragged their ready-to-be-buried corpse into the playoffs for a quick funeral against San Diego.

Only the Cardinals won the series opener.

“And it’s more fun to believe in yourself,” La Russa said. “When I saw our club respond the first game in San Diego, I thought we had a shot.”

 Detroit, who made short work of the Oakland As and the Yankees and had a week off while watching the Cards and Mets struggle, watched as their hitting and defense went south in this world series.

Jim Keller, Editor of of SportsTicker Baseball recaps the losing Tigers’ plight;

The Detroit Tigers don’t need to ask why.

While many losing teams in the World Series are left to wonder why things went south, the Tigers have no such questions after they lost Game Five of the World Series.

Their defense committed eight errors, a record-setting five by their pitching staff, and they hit just .191. Detroit was held to three hits and Games One and Three and four in the finale.

“We made some mistakes and they capitalized on them and that’s a sign of a good team,” Tigers first baseman Sean Casey said. “There’s a great bunch of guys in here and we fought to get in and we came up a little short.”

Perhaps the biggest error came in the Game Five clincher, when Detroit starter Justin Verlander threw away a sacrifice attempt by Jeff Weaver in the fourth inning that led to two runs.

Verlander also committed an error in the sixth inning - an errant pickoff attempt - that opened the flood gates to a three-run inning in the Cards’ 7-2 victory in Game One.

“In the American League, you don’t handle a lot of bunts and stuff,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “We knew we were going to do that this series, so we worked on it during the time frame we were off and quite frankly, we didn’t execute.

Brandon Inge made three errors in the series - two on the same play - and three relievers joined Verlander in the error column.

“When you give four outs to the other team, somehow they’re going to get it done,” Detroit catcher Ivan Rodriguez said. “It happened the last three games here. We made some errors that we don’t do that much.

“We’re a good defensive team and overall, part of the big reason we’re in the World Series is because we have good defense and good pitching.”

Closer Todd Jones booted a ninth-inning grounder in Game Two that led to a run, Joel Zumaya threw away a potential double-play grounder in the seventh inning of Game Three that resulted in two runs and Fernando Rodney made a wild throw on Thursday in the seventh frame that led to two runs.

Detroit lost the American League Central championship on the last day of the season to the Minnesota Twins and were given no chance against the New York Yankees in the AL Division Series.

But the Tigers took out the “Bronx Bombers” in four games and swept the Oakland Athletics in the ALCS before the bats went silent.

ALCS Most Valuable Player Placido Polanco, who went 9-for-17 against the Athletics, was 0-for-17 against his former team. Curtis Granderson (2-for-21), Craig Monroe (3-for-20), Magglio Ordonez (2-for-18) and Ivan Rodriguez (3-for-18) also struggled against the Cardinals.

“We just couldn’t get anything going with the bats,” Detroit first baseman Sean Casey said. “We’re a pretty good hitting team but they totally shut us down. You have to give them credit. They deserved to win.”

For comparative playoff stats for the 2 teams and various other articles and stats pertinent to the world series and to the post-season, click here.

And so, the 2006 Baseball season ends.  Blogging Baseball’s inaugural season has been great fun for this veteran fan who has followed the season closely, from overseas, from thousands of miles away. 

This blog will continue in the off-season covering the League Meetings, the trades, the Free Agents, the making of the 2007 season, of course with special emphasis on the Phillies, and with many more All-Time Baseball Highlights, of which there are no end.

So, for teams from Boston, to Tampa Bay, to Kansas City and Seattle too; to Pittsburgh, Chicago, Colorado, Arizona and yes the Phillies, “Hope Springs Eternal” as they anxiously to once again hear that magic sound: “Play Ball” once again on Opening Day, 2007.

Cardinals Go Up 3-1 With 5-4 Win on Tigers Fielding Miscues…

Friday, October 27th, 2006

The Detroit Tigers went into the St. Louis 7th inning holding on to a 3-2 lead in game 4 of the World Series in St. Louis.

                   David Eckstein                    Preston Wilson

But then Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein reached with a double on a fly ball that centerfielder Curtis Granderson slipped on the wet oufield turf while trying to make the catch.  Then, the next hitter, pinch-hitter So Targuchi sacrifice bunted and Detroit reliever Fernando Rodney rushed an errant throw which sailed over 2nd baseman Placido Polanco’s head as he covered at first base.  Thus St. Louis tied the game as Eckstein scored on the error and eventually took a 4-3 lead on leftfielder Preston Wilson’s 2 out RBI single to left.

Then, after Detroit tied the game in the top of the 8th inning, Eckstein again doubled, this time off of Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya, driving in 2nd baseman Aaron Miles with the game-winning run as the ball glanced off of the glove of a diving Craig Monroe in leftfield.

Baseball is a game of inches as Yahoo sports reporter Jeff Passan writes; 

Balls and strikes and plays at the plate and everything in baseball, really, boils down to tiny slivers of space, and every player understands that. And still, the Tigers couldn’t help but pine for that extra inch Thursday night, not after its absence time and again facilitated their downfall in a 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, who now hold a 3-1 series lead and could win their 10th championship Friday night at Busch Stadium.

“You saw it first-hand,” Granderson said. “Add a half-inch to Monroe’s glove and he makes that play. I go ahead and plant an inch instep, keep my feet underneath me a little more, go ahead and stay up and catch that ball routine. Who knows what happens after that?”

Granderson, or anyone, for that matter, could have slapped the game-winning hit, and music could have pumped from the speakers in the Tigers’ clubhouse, and the series could be tied, with at least another game in Detroit guaranteed. Instead, they were left to wonder and wallow in silence, and the pain of an “if” leaves the kind of sting no antihistamine can alleviate.

Not when each instance proved so critical. Down 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Cardinals led off the inning with David Eckstein, who always seemed to show up at the worst times for the Tigers. On Fernando Rodney’s third pitch, Eckstein sent a routine fly ball to center field, one toward which the speedy Granderson glided. As he planted to adjust his line toward the ball, the grass – deluged by nearly two consecutive days of rain – separated from the dirt, and Granderson tumbled. By the time he recovered, Eckstein was on his way to second base, and he scored when So Taguchi’s sacrifice bunt turned into a two-base throwing error by Rodney.

An inning later, with Aaron Miles at second base, in stepped Eckstein again. Because the grass was acting like anti-lock brakes on ground balls, Monroe shaded in so he could have a better play at home. Anyway, Monroe figured, the 5-foot-7, 165-pound Eckstein might be the least likely player in the stadium to hit a ball toward the gap. Of Eckstein’s seven extra-base hits at Busch during the regular season, four were down the left-field line and three down the right-field line, and he’d made only 13 outs on fly balls to left-center.

So, naturally, Eckstein put a charge into a Joel Zumaya pitch, and the ball faded from Monroe. He’d gotten a late jump, surprised like the rest of the 46,470 in the stands, and made up the distance quickly.

“He came out of nowhere,” Cardinals closer Adam Wainwright said. “That ball was in the gap. He looked like Superman.”

In the end, Monroe was more Clark Kent, a mortal bound by his body, and it happened to be one that could not stretch far enough. It was a valiant effort, only valiance and effort could not prevent Miles from scoring the winning run.

“I knew it was going to be a tough play when he hit it,” Monroe said. “I wouldn’t change anything about that play. You know, game of inches.”

Inch, he meant.

Detroit got off to a 1-0 lead as 1st baseman Sean Casey clubbed a 1 out solo shot to rightfield.  Detroit added to it’s lead with 2 runs in the 3rd inning as both Casey and catcher Ivan Rodriguez singled to rightfield, each driving in a run.

             Sean Casey           Ivan Rodriguez

The Cardinals got on the board in the bottom of the 3rd inning as Eckstein, who was 4 for 5 for the game with 2 RBIs, doubled to left centerfield.  In the 4th, the Cardinals closed the gap to 3-2 as catcher Yadier Molina, the hero of the NLCS against the New York Mets, clubbed a 2 out double driving in 3rd baseman Scott Rolen who had previously doubled.  3-2 Detroit.

                           Yadier Molina

Neither of the starters was in on the final decision.  Cards starter Jeff Suppan and Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman both left the game after 6 and 5 1/3 innings respectively with Detroit holding a 3-2 lead. 

Cardinals reliever Adam Wainwright recorded the win getting the side out in the 8th inning after 3rd baseman Brandon Inge doubled to drive in the tying run for the Tigers.

Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya, who gave up Eckstein’s 8th inning game-winning double was tagged with the loss.

For a full recap, box score and play-by-play on Thursday’s World Series game 4, click here.

On Friday, weather-permitting, St. Louis, with a seemingly commanding 3-1 lead in games, hopes to put away this World Series as Jeff Weaver faces  Justin Verlanger for the Tigers. However, before writing off the Tigers, recall the 1968 World Series, the last time the Cardinals and Tigers met in the post-season classic, as well as the 1985 Series between the Cards and the  Kansas City Royals.  On each occasion, the Cards went out to a 3-1 lead only to see their opponents come back with 3 consecutive wins to take the series.

If needed, game 6 will be played on Saturday back in Detroit with lefthander  Kenny Rogers, hopefully minus the discoloration on his pitching hand, going against Anthony Reyes for the Cardinals.

For a full box score and play-by-plays on Friday’s game, click here.

World Series Game 4 in St. Louis Postponed Due to Rain…

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

Busch Stadium

*****************

Jeremy Bonderman Jeff Suppan

UPDATE: It now appears as if Detroit will go with Jeremy Bonderman and Jeff Suppan will start for St. Louis as was originally planned for Wednesday, provided, weather-permitting, that the game is played.

*****************

Wednesday’s Game 4 of the World Series which was to see Detroit’s Jeremy Bonderman face Jeff Suppan for St. Louis was postponed due to rain in St. Louis. It is due to be played Thursday weather-permitting but there’s a huge question-mark as to the weather in both St. Louis and Detroit through at least the weekend.

AP Baseball Writer Mike Fitzpatricck reports on the circumstances of Wednesday’s postponement;

Pitchers dominated the first three games of the World Series, then rain took over.

Game 4 was postponed Wednesday night because of showers and will be made up Thursday at 8:27 p.m. EDT, potentially sending the World Series into scheduling chaos. More rain was expected the next two days, and nobody was certain when the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals would play again.

“They’re going to be dicey,” said Jimmie Lee Solomon, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner’s office. “There is about a 70 percent chance of rain tomorrow. It’s going to be light rain. We don’t know whether or not that rain will linger, like it did tonight.”

Game 5 at Busch Stadium was pushed back to Friday night, which was supposed to be a day off in the Series. And it doesn’t look much better this weekend in Detroit, with a forecast of rain and cold.

A silver tarp covered the infield all evening, players didn’t come out to warm up and Game 4 never got started.

“This wouldn’t have been a baseball game, it would have been survival,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. “I’m actually pleased for both teams that we’re not playing. Fans, that wouldn’t have been too much fun, either.”

But Jeremy Bonderman, slated to start for Detroit against St. Louis’ Jeff Suppan, was eager to pitch in the light drizzle early Wednesday night.

“We aren’t sugar. We ain’t going to melt,” Bonderman said.

Tigers first baseman Sean Casey, however, thought Major League Baseball made the right call.

“Guys getting hurt, having a five-inning World Series game, nobody wants that,” Casey said.

A sparse crowd at Busch Stadium was informed of the rainout about three minutes after baseball made the announcement. Fans covered in plastic, many who stayed for hours hoping the rain would stop, quickly filed toward the exits.

Some had waited out the delay in the stands. Others packed the gift shop and lined up at concession stands.

Steady showers all day led to the first World Series rainout since the 1996 opener between the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees. The rain fell harder as the night progressed, and the game was called after a delay of 1 hour, 51 minutes, the first time a Series game in St. Louis has been rained out.

“It became apparent the front was not going to move through,” Solomon said. “It stalled in front of us.”

It also was the fourth washout of a wet postseason. The Cardinals had two games rained out in the NL championship series against the New York Mets, and Game 2 of Detroit’s first-round series at Yankee Stadium also was postponed.

“You want to go out there and play, but you can’t control the weather. It’s not that big of a deal,” St. Louis outfielder Preston Wilson said.

The postponement gives La Russa a chance to juggle his rotation if he wants. He could bring Jeff Weaver back on regular rest in Game 5 instead of pitching rookie Anthony Reyes again. Reyes, however, tossed eight-plus strong innings for a 7-2 victory in the opener.

Leyland could do the same with Kenny Rogers, who beat Weaver in Game 2 on Sunday night and extended his shutout streak to 23 innings this postseason. But Leyland specifically set up his rotation to give Rogers two starts at home, and the Series doesn’t shift back to Detroit until Game 6.

“Unfortunately, Friday’s forecast is pretty bad also,” Solomon said. “We could get a soaking, as much as 2 or 2 1/2 inches, they say.”

Despite all the rain, La Russa said he was told by Major League Baseball that the teams might still get a travel day between Games 5 and 6.

“That has not been determined exactly how they’ll handle that, but that could happen,” Solomon said. “I’m not going to make a decision on that, because I hopefully won’t have to worry about that day being gone.”

Added FOX network spokesman Lou D’Ermilio: “Right now my understanding is that if we play tomorrow and we play Friday, we’ll be playing Saturday and Sunday.”

Asked what would happen if Thursday night’s game was rained out, D’Ermilio said: “We didn’t get that far. We’re going to meet tomorrow.”

Suppan said he was given several possible start times, so he spent much of the delay stretching and staying hydrated.

Justin Verlanger Jeff Weaver Anthony Reyes

The match-up originally slated for game 5, a rematch of game 1 with Justin Verlanger facing Jeff Weaver is now scheduled for Thurday night’s make-up of game 4 with Anthony Reyes going for the Cards rather than Weaver, subject to change.

Carpenter Brilliant as Cardinals Win Game 3 Decisively…

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

There was nothing on St. Louis starter Chris Carpenter’s pitching hand but normal flesh-colored skin.  Nothing marred Carpenter’s brilliant 8 inning, 3 hit, 6 strikeout pitching as the the Cards pulled ahead of the Tigers by 2-1 in games with a decisive 5-0 win in game 3 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

                  Chris Carpenter          Busch Stadium

AP writer Ben Walker describes Carpenter’s performance;

Staring at catcher Yadier Molina’s mitt, Carpenter’s concentration was unshakable.

“Go one pitch at a time,” Carpenter said. “All that stuff around you that’s going on doesn’t get in your head, so you’re not even thinking about it.”

Looking fierce with his three-day beard, Carpenter showed why he won the NL Cy Young Award last year and is a top contender this season. He struck out six, walked none and kept the Tigers’ trio of Placido Polanco, Ivan Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson hitless in the Series.

Carpenter’s lone problem came in the seventh inning. As Polanco led off by lining out to good friend Albert Pujols, Carpenter hopped off the mound and looked at his hand.

The problem: Jammed when he batted in the fourth inning, his hand was a bit balky.

“It felt kind of funny from that point on,” he said.

“They think I might have just bruised it in there or something like that,” he said. “We’ll deal with it tonight, but I think it will be fine.”

Detroit lefthander Nate Robinson shut out the Cards through the first 3 innings allowing only a walk in the 2nd inning.

                          Jim Edmunds

However, in the 4th inning with 1 out and the bases jammed, centerfielder  Jim Edmunds stroked a 2 run double to rightfield to put the Cards on the scoreboard.

In the 6th inning, Robertson was pulled for a pinch hitter.  His line for the game was 2 runs, 5 hits, 3 walks and 3 strikeouts.

In the 7th inning, St. Louis added 2 more runs on Detroit’s fireballing reliever Joel Zumaya.   Zumaya walked both shortstop David Eckstein and leftfielder  Preston Wilson. Then 1st baseman Albert Pujols hit a fielders choice and the runners scored on Zumaya’s errant throw.  4-0 Cardinals.

The Cards put the final icing on the cake scoring their 5th run in the 8th inning on a 1 out, bases loaded wild pitch by Detroit reliever Fernando Rodney.

The only thing resembling a possible Detroit threat occurred in the 3rd inning as 3rd baseman Brandon Inge singled to center with 1 out.  He advanced to 2nd base on pitcher Robertson’s sacrifice grounder to the pitcher.  He then advanced to 3rd base on a wild pitch. But Carpenter got centerfielder Curtis Granderson grounded out to second base to retire the side.

Cards reliever Braden Looper pitched the 9th inning and dispatched the Tigers in short order to end the game.

For a full recap, box score and play-by-play on Monday’s World Series game 3, click here.

In game 4, Detroit’s Jeremy Bonderman will face Jeff Suppan for St. Louis as the Tigers hope to even the series.

For a full box score and play-by-plays on Wednesday’s game, click here.