Topsy turvy series
October 26, 2006
Before the World Series started Detroit was dominating its opponents, and the Tigers appeared to have a shot at repeating the American League sweeps accomplished by Chicago and Boston the last two years. Detroit was red hot with a seven-game winning streak, the last six by three runs or more.
St. Louis was coming off a hard-fought seven-game series with the New York Mets that left the Cardinals only one day of rest. It appeared team rest would already be a factor, since the last eight clubs like Detroit with five or more days off before the World Series all went on to capture the title.
The Tigers looked to be unbeatable, so they were made a heavy 2 to 1 favorite. But as some people in baseball like to say, momentum is just the next day’s starting pitcher.
Immediately the Series turned upside-down in a Game 1 shocker thanks to St. Louis starter Anthony Reyes. Reyes had a losing record in the regular season, the fewest wins of any World Series Game 1 starter ever, and wasn’t even on the roster for the playoff series against San Diego, but he came up huge by giving up only two runs in the Cardinal upset victory.
In Game 2 Detroit got even because of 41-year-old Kenny Rogers’ stellar pitching. But what was it that was on the veteran Rogers’ left hand that had to be washed off before the second inning? Was it illegal pine tar or a substance of that nature, or was it, as Rogers says, a combination of spit, dirt and resin? And why didn’t Cardinal manager Tona La Russa try to have the hot-throwing Rogers tossed out of the game at that point?
Until “The Gambler” admits one day to what was really on his pitching hand, we’ll never know for sure what it was.
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The reason La Russa didn’t make a big scene was because he didn’t want to win the game that way. La Russa and Tiger manager Jim Leyland are the best of friends, with Leyland serving as a third base coach, scout, and spring training coach under La Russa over the years. Had it been someone that the intense La Russa disliked, we would have seen a more negative reaction.
Game 3 was a largely uneventful contest, as St. Louis’ reigning Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter twirled a masterpiece to put the Cardinals up 2-1.
Predictions – As of Wednesday evening, it appeared that there would be difficulty in playing Game 4 Thursday night due to the rain. If it was postponed again, the pick is St. Louis. Starting pitcher Jeff Suppan has been on fire and earned his NLCS MVP award last week.
If that happens, St. Louis would be up three games to one, and since the pick here was for Detroit to win the Series, that means the Tigers need to win Game 5.
If there is a Game 6, it will be interesting to see if Carpenter is matched up against Rogers. If so, that would be worth a bet on the Under. If not, the bet is on Rogers and his amazing and controversial 23-inning scoreless streak.
If I was La Russa, I would save Carpenter for a possible Game 7 against a lesser pitcher. If that Major League Baseball dream scenario occurs, I’m switching my pick to St. Louis in 7.
The Tigers were doing just fine when nobody was expecting them to win and the pressure was off. But when they became the overwhelming favorite, they started to choke. Three position players were experiencing 0-fer streaks, helping explain Detroit’s paltry five runs in the first three games.
Congratulations to those in the Carson area who wagered on St. Louis to win the World Series at odds of 9 to 1, and especially to those who got on Detroit at odds as high as 90 to 1.