Jeff Weaver (5-4, 5.18; 0-1, 5.40) vs. Justin Verlander (17-9, 3.63; 0-1, 10.80).
On to the game…
Cards first – Bases loaded with no hits
Chris Duncan took a one out walk and moved up on a wild pitch. Pujols walked, too, as Verlander is throwing hard, but having trouble finding the plate. Edmonds looked to take ball four, but it was called a strike. Then he went for another ball up in the zone and flied out to center. As Jason Grilli warmed up in the pen, another wild pitch put both runners in scoring position. Rolen walked to load the bases with two out. Belliard grounded out 6-3 on a close play.
Cards second – Another error, another run
Molina led off with a single to center. Taguchi and Weaver each grounded out, putting the runner at third with two out. Where is one of the two wild pitches from the first inning? Mr. Clutch, David Eckstein shot a broken bat one-hopper to Brandon Inge at third. Inge dove, backhanded the ball and threw wildly to first. Eckstein took second as the ball got away. Duncan took strike three looking. Cards 1-0.
Tigers third – RISP averted
With one out, Inge doubled over Taguchi's head for a one-hopper off the wall in left. Weaver made a smart play on Verlander's comebacker, getting Inge hung up between second and third. That play saved a run as Granderson singled to center. Monroe grounded out to end the inning.
Cards third – Ran out of the inning
Pujols started the inning with a single to left. Pujols took off toward second as Edmonds fanned. Albert had a terrible break and was run down easily for the second out.
Tigers fourth – Dunce cap
Edmonds and Duncan apparently miscommunicated on a easy fly ball to right. Duncan tried to make a one-handed catch and dropped it. Sean Casey punished the Cards by homering to right just inside the foul pole on the very next pitch. Tigers 2-1.
From friend Bill McCurdy:
• A can-of-corn fly ball,
• Is an out, I'm a thunkin'!
• But not when it's hit,
• To Mr. Chris Duncan!
• In fairness to young Chris, guys,
• Veteran Jimmy was to blame,
• For flying close and going by,
• Planting footsteps on the game.
Cards fourth – Another error, two runs
Molina and Taguchi each singled with one out. Jamie Walker joined Jason Grilli in the bullpen. A trainer came out to clean the dirt from Verlander's spikes during the inning. Odd. Leyland also came out to talk. Weaver bunted to Verlander, who threw wildly past third base. The error enabled Molina to score. Eckstein's sharply-hit grounder to short scored Taguchi. Duncan popped out to short. Cards 3-2.
Tigers fifth – Six Ks in total
Inge and Verlander fanned, but Granderson walked. Monroe popped out.
Error on Buck
Three times, Joe Buck kept repeating the wrong definition of PFP, a term mentioned by Jim Leyland during one of those inane in-game interviews that had to run over two innings. Can't delay those commercials. It is "Pitcher's Fielding Practice", not "Pitcher's Fielding Position", Joe. Get with it!
Cards fifth – Be careful
Pujols flipped his bat, having a little hissy fit on a check swing that was clearly a strike, drawing the ire of the umpires. He took a called strike three on the next pitch, which was also a no-doubter. I hope Albert gets his head screwed back on straight. Rolen flied out to deep left for the third out.
Tigers sixth – Duncan double dud
Weaver made another great defensive play, spearing Ordonez' liner out of mid-air. Duncan then made another error, this one on Sean Casey on the warning track in right. The scorer must be a member of the Duncan family, as it was called a double. Weaver buckled down to strike out Pudge Rodriguez. Impressive.
Cards sixth – A baserunner
Belliard took a called strike three on a breaking ball. Molina sliced a single to short right for his third hit of the night. (Has a nice ring to it.) Joel Zumaya warmed up in the Tigers' pen. Taguchi grounded out, but Molina moved up. Weaver grounded out.
Tigers seventh – Six more outs
Pujols made a phenomenal defensive play, diving to his left and after rolling on the ground, throwing between his legs from his back to Weaver to record the out of former Cardinal Placido Polanco. New rightfielder So Taguchi made a catch for the third out.
Cards seventh – Big two-out hit
Fernando Rodney pitched for the Tigers. Eckstein's shot to shortstop Carlos Guillen was bobbled, giving the hustling Cardinals shortstop enough time to leg out a hit. Preston Wilson, who took over in left when Duncan left the game, batted next. On a 2-0 count, Leyland came out for another chat before Wilson took two more balls. Disappointingly, Pujols popped out and Edmonds flied out. Rolen came through, however, with an RBI single to right. Belliard was out on a weak jam shot. Cards 4-2.
Tigers eighth – Two more Ks
Randy Flores began to get loose in the bullpen with one down. Monroe fanned for the second out as did Guillen for the third. Several times, the crowd was chanting "Weaver". Just amazing for a guy who was unwanted in Anaheim four months ago.
Cards eighth – Get it over with
Joel Zumaya fanned Taguchi for the second out. Scott Spiezio hit for Weaver, but was out on the first pitch.
Tigers ninth – World Champs!
Adam Wainwright pitched. Sean Casey slammed a one-out double off the wall in right. Pinch runner Ramon Santiago took third on a wild pitch. Placido Polanco walked on a close pitch. Dave Duncan came out to talk with Wainwright before Brandon Inge fanned to end the 2006 baseball season. A huge celebration ensued behind the mound as the Cardinals rejoiced in their victory. In a great touch, the trophy presentation was held on the field, not in the clubhouse.
David Eckstein again had a big game, but the story was a monster performance by former castoff Jeff Weaver. It was so fitting the Cardinals won the series in front of the home fans in the first season of the new Busch Stadium. Congratulations, Cardinals!
Upcoming action (times CDT)
Victory parade - Sun., October 29 @ 2 p.m. - FSN Midwest
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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