Tuesday, October 24, 2006

World Series Game 3: Cards take control

SCORE: Cards, 5-0
SERIES: Cards 2-1


Cardinals ace (how many times has he been called that lately) Chris Carpenter did just what he has done at new Busch Stadium all year- shut down the opponent. The man with the fiber optic-thin 1.81 home ERA continued his mound mastery tonight as he made the Tiger cubs his latest victims. Shaking off 2 poor NLCS starts Carpenter looked like the soon-to-be 2-time Cy Young winner that he is; he limited Detroit's suddenly struggling lineup to just 3 hits in 8 innings while throwing just 82 pitches, striking out 6 and walking none. In fact the guy didn't even allow a 3-ball count to a Tiger batter all night. How's that for coming out and dominating a game?
Detroit starter Nate Robertson (5IP, 5H, 2ER, 3BBs, 3Ks) wasn't awful, but he was in a couple of jams early and definitely did not look sharp. Chalk it up to yet another Detroit hurler (along with
Verlander & Zumaya) who certainly appeared to be rusty after nearly 2 weeks of inactivity.

Carpenter got all the support he would need in the 4th, when the Cards loaded the bases on a single by Preston Wilson, a ground rule double by Phat Albert and a walk to Scott Rolen. After a fielder's choice by Belliard cut down Wilson at the plate on a nice play by Inge, Jim Edmonds laced a double down the right field line scoring 2 huge runs that set the tone for the rest of the night. That tone would be that St. Louis would not need any more runs in this one, because their best pitcher, and one of the best in the game, was pitching like it again.

Meanwhile the Tiger hitters, especially the trio of Grandy-Polanco-Pudge(less), were toothless again. That threesome is now a combined 0-34 in the series- they are the only things colder in Detroit than the weather. Talk about chocking on the biggest stage; these guys are making E-Rod look like Reggie Jackson. And the Tigers continued to play sloppy defense; the game was officially decided in the 7th inning when flamethrower Joel Zumaya came on in relief. The hard-throwing righty must have been rusty from his 2 week layoff after coming down with wrist trouble in the ALDS. He immediately walked the 1st 2 batters, then had to face Pujols with no outs & 2 on; he pitched Albert well, and got him to hit a comebacker to the mound. But Zumaya wheeled and threw to third, behind Inge, who was scrambling to get to the bag, and the ball went down the leftfield line for a devastating 2-run error that put the game away. It was the 3rd error by a Detroit pitcher in the series, 5th error overall by the normally sure handed Tigers. The Cards,meanwhile, who had made an error in 4 consecutive games, played flawlessly in the field.

Terrific pitching, timely hitting, and a critical error all adds up to a 2-1 Cardinal lead in the series.

Zumaya's error. Although Edmonds' was the deciding hit, the error was a double-edged psychological blow for Detroit: it made a 2-run deficit a 4-run deficit with 2 innings to go, and it proved that the once-unhittable reliever could be scored upon, not to mention what the after-effects of such a blunder on the grand stage of the Series will do to his psyche.

Carpenter. Once again Edmonds had the biggest hit of the night, but without Carpenter's performance the Cars might not win that game. Him stepping up at the right moment was the kind of lift a team can use as a springboard to a championship.


Zumaya. He took a workable deficit and turned the game into a near-rout with his horrible performance. His line (1IP, 0H, 2R, 2BBs, 1K, 1 BIG 'E') was awful, and his error was even worse. I am not faulting him for trying to get the lead runner, like McCarve-job was doing (he kept saying that almost every time in that situation the pitcher would go to second base, not third.) Hey, it was a 2-run game and he was trying to get the force at third to keep the man from being 90 ft from home plate- no problem there. But his throw was so bad, wide and behind the helpless Inge, that it made for one of those unforgettable World Series moments.

NOTES: While the Tiger middle of the lineup is 0-34 (including a frigid 0-12 from ALCS MVP Polanco), the supposedly hurting Cards triumvirate of Pujols, Edmonds & Rolen are a combined 11-31 (.354) with 8 runs, 7RBis, 6 BBs & 2 HRs. That's getting it done.

No words necessary for this one.

The Tigers will try to regroup behind righty Jeremy Bonderman, who hasn't pitched in 10 days (uh-oh) but brings a 1-0 record and 3.00 ERA to the mound. He will be opposed by Jeff "Big Game" Suppan, who is 1-1 with a 1.86 ERA including his gem (8IP, 3H, no runs) in Game 7 of the NLCS vs. New York. Should be a good one, and one that The Tigers desperately need if they want this thing to go back to Detroit.

No comments: