10/22/2004 7:14 PM ET
Time right for Cards' Williams
Veteran right-hander tabbed for Game 1 start
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
Woody Williams is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA in three postseason starts. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
BOSTON -- Woody Williams was named by St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa as the Game 1 starter of the 2004 World Series more because it was his turn than anything else.
But it should be noted that Williams has also been the Cardinals' best postseason starter to this point, and it's only fitting that his spot in the Cardinals' four-man rotation fell just in time for Game 1 of the Fall Classic between the Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox.
"Woody, TBD, TBA," La Russa said Friday, when asked how his rotation shakes out for the first three games. "The architect of our pitching staff [pitching coach Dave Duncan] hasn't told me how we're going to pitch. We have some decisions to make."
But in terms of Saturday, no meetings are required.
"We certainly didn't do it timing out the World Series," said La Russa, whose Cardinals took the NLCS to a Game 7 on Thursday and beat the Astros, 5-2. "He's [pitching on] five days' [rest], and he's the perfect guy for it.
"He's competitive, and he goes out there with good stuff, without good stuff. And he's going too find a way to keep you in the game ... he can make pitches to righties and lefties, and he's got good experience -- good, competitive experience."
Williams was the Game 1 starter of the Division Series and beat the Dodgers with a six-inning, two-run performance. He also opened the LCS, with six innings against the Astros, during which he allowed four runs and struck out five in a Cardinals win. Williams later went head-to-head with Houston's Brandon Backe in a Game 5 pitchers' duel that ended with both starters throwing eight scoreless frames.
In three postseason starts, Williams is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA -- six earned runs over 19 innings, four walks and 11 strikeouts.
So, regardless of if Saturday was his day to pitch anyway, it's fitting that Williams, who overcame his first-half regular-season struggles, gets the nod for Game 1.
"It's definitely an honor," he said. "As a kid growing up, this is what you play in your back yard and [what] you pretend for: this situation. And here it is, a dream come true."
Williams, who played for the Blue Jays from 1993-98, has appeared in 17 career games against the Red Sox, including eight starts. Lifetime, he is 3-4 with a 4.61 ERA against Boston. He has started once versus Boston since joining the Cardinals in 2001. He allowed five runs over 6 2/3 innings in an Interleague matchup at Fenway in 2003.
Williams knows what's coming on Saturday -- he acknowledged the enthusiastic Red Sox fans, the cold weather, the Green Monster and the potent Boston lineup -- but he doesn't intend to change anything when he makes his first career World Series start.
"The way these guys are hitting in the ballpark, it's amazing how far they hit the ball over that wall," Williams said of the Green Monster. "Hopefully the balls will bounce off the wall and [the outfielders will] make a good play and keep them to a single.
"I know it's a big home-field advantage, but at the same time I know that I have to go out there and try to do the things I'm doing. By no means do I try to change. I have to do what I can do and stick with my strengths and not worry about the surroundings."
And he's hoping that will be enough to take Game 1 on the enemy turf of Fenway Park.
"There's no doubt that I have to make sure that I focus on every hitter," he said. "I've got to keep the top of the lineup off the bases, because the big boys can definitely make that a three- or four-run inning real quick."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.