10/22/06 1:18 AM ET
Cardinals Short Hops: Game 1
Rookie starter Reyes sets tone, while big boppers back him
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
In < 25 words ...
Thanks to outstanding pitching by Cardinals righty Anthony Reyes, the coronation of the Tigers is not such a foregone conclusion now, is it?
Fans at Comerica Park reached frenzy status before the game and were still there in the third inning, right up until Albert Pujols jacked a Justin Verlander pitch the opposite way to right field for a home run and a 4-1 Cardinals lead. The towels scarcely appeared thereafter.
4 -- Actually, this is a small number that loomed big. The Cards had eight hits and left just four on base in a testament to their power and efficiency. By the time they left their first runner, the Cards were up, 7-1.
Scott Rolen -- Three balls: Up until Cardinals third baseman Rolen was robbed of a home run by Mets left fielder Endy Chavez in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, the talk was he couldn't catch up with the high fastball because of his chronic shoulder problems or poor timing. He's fine. Just ask Verlander, who saw Rolen swat his 1-0 pitch in the second inning into the left-field stands for the Cardinals' first run.
Sense of October
When the Cardinals suffered a sweep at the hands of the Red Sox in the 2004 World Series, Rolen, bothered by a calf injury, went 0-for-15, and Pujols batted .333 but did not have an RBI in 15 at-bats. Both standout players had big swings at the right time on Saturday night. Also, Jim Edmonds, 1-for-15 in the Series against the Red Sox, had two singles and drove in a run against the Tigers.
Lines of the game
4 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 1 HR, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Comment: Rolen entered the game batting .188 this postseason and was sharing third with Scott Spiezio because manager Tony La Russa felt Rolen simply wasn't swinging the bat well. Unless Rolen experiences a setback in his shoulder, it would be hard to justify not going back to Rolen in Game 2 and thereafter.
8 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 1 BB, 4 SO
Comment: In his first 20 pitches, Reyes gave up a double, a walk and Curtis Granderson's RBI single. Considering that opponents hit .313 with eight home runs in the first 30 pitches against him during the regular season, a slow start wasn't surprising. After the 20th pitch, however, Reyes was perfect for the next 17 batters until Carlos Guillen singled off the glove of diving second baseman Ronnie Belliard with one out in the seventh. Reyes became the first rookie to win a Series game since the Angels' John Lackey won Game 7 against the Giants in 2002. Reyes threw 90 pitches, the last a homer by Craig Monroe to open the ninth.
"I was a little nervous, not too much. I just came into the game, everyone told me to stay focused [and take it] one pitch at a time. I tried to focus on the [catcher's] mitt and not let anything else rattle me." -- Reyes
Onetime Tiger Jeff Weaver will start for the Cardinals on Sunday night in Game 2.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.