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Cardinals Score a New York Sized Victory

Fans who tuned in to watch Game 7 of the hotly contested NLCS between the Cardinals and Mets got all that they bargained for, and then some.  The finale of this series was a thriller, even though the high-powered offenses combined to score just 4 runs, and it was of the most fun games to watch of this postseason.  Of course, the majority of the 56000+ fans watching the game at Shea Stadium probably left with a much different perspective. 

Jeff Suppan got the start for the Redbirds

The Cardinals sent Jeff Suppan to the mound, a veteran righthander who has started more playoff games than any pitcher in baseball in the 21st century.  He was opposed by Oliver Perez, known before the game as “the worst pitcher ever to start a Game 7”.  Both Suppan and Perez pitched very well, giving their respective teams a chance to win, but knowing very well that the game was out of their hands. 

David Wright has had a quiet postseason, but the 3B came through today

The Mets kicked-off the scoring in Game 7 with an RBI single by David Wright in the Bottom of the 1st inning.  Carlos Beltran scored on the play after hitting a 2-out double in the inning.  Beltran was the first Mets’ player to cross home plate in Game 7, and amazingly, he would be the only one. 

Ronnie Belliard did not let the Mets keep their lead for long

The Cardinals were quick to respond to the Mets fast start.  After Jim Edmonds singled to lead-off the Top of the 2nd, Yadier Molina added another base hit, advancing Edmonds to 3rd base.  Ronnie Belliard then hit an RBI groundout to tie the game at 1-apiece. 

Oliver Perez and Jeff Suppan settled-in quickly

Despite allowing a run each in the first 2 frames, Oliver Perez and Jeff Suppan got into a groove quickly and would dominate the opposing hitters for the next several innings.  Suppan, who dominated the Mets in Game 3, did not allow New York a hit in his final 6 innings of work (2nd thru 7th inning).  Perez looked far from the “worst pitcher to ever start a Game 7”, throwing 4 scoreless innings after allowing the 2nd inning run.  Neither Suppan nor Perez earned a decision in the game, despite pitching very well.  Their lines are below…

  • Suppan — 7 innings, 2 hits, 1 run (1 earned), 5 walks, 2 strikeouts
  • Perez — 6 innings, 4 hits, 1 run (1 earned), 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Perez and Suppan were both backed by solid relief, at least initially.  For the Cardinals, Randy Flores pitched a perfect 8th inning, while striking out 2.  For the Mets Chad Bradford used his submarine style to perfection, keeping St. Louis without a baserunner in the 7th.  Then things went south for both relief corps, though the erratic-ness would only victimize one of the teams. 

Aaron Heilman had no reason to pump his fist tonight

Aaron Heilman entered the game in the 8th inning for the Mets, and pitched very well, allowing St. Louis just one baserunner, when Willie Randolph chose to intentionally walk Albert Pujols.  Heilman’s fate would change drastically in the 9th inning, and the result would be catastrophic for the Mets.  Heilman started the 9th by sending Jim Edmonds down on strikes.  Scott Rolen followed with a single.  Then came the fatal blow, a 2-run blast by Yadier Molina (more on that later), to give the Cardinals a 3-1 lead, and one which the Mets would be unable to crack.  Heilman would eventually get out of the 9th inning, but the damage was more than done. 

On the Cardinals side, Adam Wainwright entered the ballgame in the 9th.  Wainwright has been terrific for Tony La Russa, and he would continue getting outs today, although he certainly caused some late drama for the Shea Stadium fans.  Wainwright started off the 9th by allowing consecutive singles to Jose Valentin and Endy Chavez.  He then struck-out Cliff Floyd, who pinch-hit for Heilman.  Jose Reyes lined out to centerfield, putting the Mets on the brink of elimination.  Paul Lo Duca however, earned a walk, loading the bases with 2 away.  Tony La Russa’s countenance went from relaxed and content to perplexed and furious within half a second.  The Redbirds’ manager got worked-up for no reason however, as Wainwright struck-out Mets’ slugger Carlos Beltran on three beautifully placed pitches to end the game.

 

Carlos Beltran and the Mets’ bats were quiet yet again

If the noise level at Shea Stadium were directly related to the Mets’ offensive success, you’d be able to hear a fan curse after spilling his beer from across the ballpark.  Carlos Beltran and the Mets went quietly once again, going hitless between the 1st and 9th innings — unfathomable for an offensive lineup of New York’s caliber.  There’s not much to say here other than the Mets’ bats hit many times worse during the NLCS than they did during the regular season.  Credit the Cardinals pitching for keeping the Mets high-powered offense in check, but also criticize relentlessly the inability of David Wright and Paul Lo Duca to produce in the series. 

Yadier Molina was HUGE for the Cardinals in the NLCS

Yadier Molina has quietly been the best offensive player for the Cardinals in this NLCS.  Molina hit .348 in this series and most fans didn’t know about it.  The catcher’s impact on Game 7 wasn’t quiet however, as his game-winning 2-run Homerun was heard from Shea Stadium to Brooklyn, to the Bronx, to Manhattan, and across America.  And apart from his hitting, Molina also played terrific defense behind home-plate, calling excellent games and making clutch throws to nail Mets’ baserunners such as Jose Reyes earlier in the series.  It is Molina — not Pujols, not Rolen, not Carpenter — who is the main reason why the Cardinals are headed to the World Series. 

FINAL SCORE: Cardinals 3 Mets 1

Pitchers of Record:

W: Randy Flores

L: Aaron Heilman

S: Adam Wainwright

Player of the Game: Yadier Molina

NLCS MVP (my choice): Yadier Molina

The Cardinals will play the Tigers in the World Series, which starts Saturday at Comerica Park in Detroit.  I will stand by my prediction of the Tigers sweeping the Cardinals to earn their first Championship since 1984.

________________________________________________________________

Trivia Time!

The previous question and the correct answer to it…

Q: Cardinals’ starting pitcher Jeff Weaver was drafted by and played his first 3.5 years with which team?

A: Weaver was drafted by the Detroit Tigers and played with them for 3 and a half seasons.  In an interesting twist, Weaver will face his first team in the World Series. 

Today’s question is…

One part of Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland’s attire during games sets him apart from most skippers.  What is it?

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One Response to “Cardinals Score a New York Sized Victory”

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