Well there you go. Write off the Cardinals at your peril. Detroit may have the better all round team on paper, but some so-called experts have been writing about this series as though St Louis are a group of scrubs. Far from it.
Two factors loom large over the result of game one, one big difference between the two teams heading into the game and one similarity.
I mentioned in my previous two posts that the Tigers’ long lay-off may leave them undercooked and there seemed to be signs of this last night. Guillen and Monroe were the only two Tigers to get a hit off Anthony Reyes (two apiece) while the rest of the lineup struggled. Verlander and Brandon Inge made crucial errors in the sixth. They may have just been unfortunate mistakes, but they provide further ammo for people to claim that the Tigers are suffering from some rust. The Cardinals meanwhile looked like a well-drilled team.
The game can also be looked at as a battle between two rookie starting pitchers and it was the Cardinals who came out on top. It’s hard to overstate how impressive Anthony Reyes’ start was. He hasn’t had the easiest of rookie seasons and starting game one of the World Series at Comerica Park is a tall task to face. He started slowly, giving up two hits, one walk and a run in the opening frame, and it would have been easy to panic; however he regained his composure and pitched brilliantly. It was a textbook example of how to pitch without overpowering stuff; first pitch strikes to get ahead of the hitter and not giving up free bases with walks. Just like Josh on Five, I think Rick Sutcliffe was a bit harsh on Justin Verlander. He made a few mistakes but certainly didn’t pitch badly. The problem for Detroit was their inability to provide much run support.
Combining those two factors is important when looking ahead to the rest of this series. Tony La Russa didn’t have many other choices for his game one starter due to the way the NLCS panned out; however the Tigers were virtually able to set-up their starters in whatever fashion they liked. This makes game two even more crucial for the Tigers. Losing the opening two games of the series would put them in a massive hole heading out to St Louis in any case; yet Detroit will also have to face the Cardinals’ two best pitchers in games three and four. Before last night’s game no one would have seriously considered a St Louis sweep, but if they win game two it would certainly be a distinct possibility.
Kenny Rogers will be looking to continue his excellent post-season form tonight as he tries to level the series against Jeff Weaver. It’s a match-up that undoubtedly favours Detroit, but the Cardinals won’t care about that. It should be another exciting night of baseball action.
Finally, I cannot let the moment pass without expressing my disappointment with Jonny Gould! Six out of ten for Bob Seeger’s woeful warbling is indefensible; whatever the poor excuses he came up with. Even Josh’s three was a bit kind in my opinion. Great coverage as always though (no doubt Erik and Dave are having a good time despite the weather!). You can’t beat those World Series tuxedos and it was nice to know that Jonny learned something at drama school apart from how to be a tree.