Rodden recaps Series
This was definitely a World Series to remember.
In a postseason where the unexpected was to be expected, the Fall Classic certainly lived up. It was supposed to be a Subway Series, pitting the two teams with the best records in their respective leagues, the New York Yankees and the New York Mets, against one another.
Instead, it was a St. Louis Cardinals team that barely made the playoffs against the Detroit Tigers, who finished with 119 losses just three years ago.
However, once the Series came, it was predetermined that the Tigers would walk right through the injury-ridden Cards. With four quality pitchers and a proven closer, Detroit was in prime position for a sweep. Kenny Rogers had not allowed a run in the postseason, Justin Verlander was the favorite for Rookie of the Year and Todd Jones had been arguably the best closer in baseball this season.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, though, St. Louis had something other than pitching: heart. With all of baseball expecting a sweep, St. Louis had nothing to lose. In game one, Verlander was set to start against relatively unknown rookie Anthony Reyes, who won only five games in the regular season. Verlander had won 17.
This was the most important game that either pitcher had ever been on the mound for, and Reyes rose to the occasion. The underdog tossed eight innings, allowing two runs on four hits. Verlander, on the other hand, gave up seven runs in just five innings of work.
The Cardinals' offense was powered by home runs by Scott Rolen and MVP candidate Albert Pujols. Rolen and Pujols played the entire postseason injured, with a bad shoulder and sore hamstring, respectively. However, one thing that was not hurt was their heart.
Game two featured the only Tigers win of the series, behind their ace Kenny Rogers. Rogers did not allow a run in eight innings of work, although speculation about a foreign substance on his pitching hand stole the show. Rogers had a discoloration believed to be pine tar, which would allow his pitches to have more movement. Regardless, the Tigers took the game, 3-1. Many believed that this would turn the Series around and that Detroit would win out. But, as the saying goes, that's why they play 'em.
Defending Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter had the ball for St. Louis in Game three as the Cardinals returned home. Carpenter is a candidate to repeat as the league's best pitcher, and he lived up to the hype in this one. Final line: eight innings, three hits, no runs and six strikeouts.
There is only one word for this performance: dominant. Just four years ago, Carpenter was a free agent who did not get resigned by the Toronto Blue Jays. His comeback as the best pitcher in the National League can be attributed to one thing: heart.
After inclement weather forced Game four to be rescheduled, the injured Cardinals got an extra day of rest. Game four turned out to be David Eckstein's breakout game, and the eventual Series MVP went 4-for-5 with two RBI and another run scored.
Detroit's bullpen and defense could not hold the lead put in place by starter Jeremy Bonderman. Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya allowed three runs, only one of which was earned.
Game five proved to be the clincher, with Jeff Weaver, who has a career record of 86-101 and an ERA of 4.58, earning the win in arguably the best-pitched game of his career. After losing Game two, Weaver allowed two runs in eight innings, and Cardinal pitchers got the best of Justin Verlander for the second time.
David Eckstein went 2-for-4 with two RBI and one run scored to secure his spot as the MVP of the Series. At 5'7", 165 pounds, Eckstein does not have size. But he does have something else: HEART.
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