Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cards/Tigers - Game 3 preview

Despite their 3-1 loss to Kenny 'stickum' Rogers on Sunday, the Cardinals find themselves in a pretty good position. As I've said before here, all the road team in a 7 game series wants out of the first two games is a split. Obviously, if you can take 2, that's awesome, but realistically the split is what you shoot for. StL accomplished that.

Now it's a best-of-5 series, and the Redbirds have home field advantage.

It gets better: their best 2 second-half pitchers will start the next 2 games. The possibility that Reyes could start Game 5 with a chance to win the Series is no longer a pipe dream, it is a distinct possibility. Players play all season for a chance like this; now's the time to reach out and take it.

Some things I hope to see tonight:

1. The game. I've still only seen about 2 innings total through the first 2 games. Look for that to change.

2. Cardinals play from ahead. The opponents have scored first in the last 6 games, and in the first inning in the last four. The good news is that StL has split the last 6 games playing from behind. However, after watching Detroit swing at anything thrown towards the plate (including hot dog wrappers, spittle, very small rocks, and vitriol) during their Game 1 loss their free-swinging ways don't play well when trailing. Let's jump ahead tonight. Carp is tough anyway; Carp pitching with a lead is unhittable.

3. Taguchi in LF over Preston Wilson. Viva El Birdos laid out a pretty good argument as to why Encarnacion should get a rest. Although both he and Wilson are swinging at any pitch which might be in the strike zone over it's first 4 feet of travel, I have more faith in Encarnacion's defense than Wilson's. Besides, Taguchi had the key at-bat in Game 1. Without his protecting Molina (who went on a hit and run) by essentially throwing his bat at the pitch, Molina's out by 40 feet, and that entire inning's different. That play is #2 on my unsung key plays in this post-season (#1 is sending Wilson on a 3-2 pitch with Pujols at the plate in Game 4 of the NLDS. Pujols' grounder to third is a DP ball. Instead, Wilson gets to second with 2 out, and eventually Belliard ties the game with a single. Look it up.).

My proposed line-up for St. Louis:

Eckstein SS
Taguchi LF
Pujols 1B
Rolen 3B
Edmonds CF
Encarnacion RF
Belliard 2B
Molina C
Carpenter P

See you after the game.

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