This may have been most difficult column for me to write. Ever. First off, congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals on their first World Series championship since 1982.
Tonight, Jeff Weaver threw how Detroit Tigers fans had hoped he would when the team drafted him. He’s played for five teams in as many years, and was given up for dead by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim when the Cardinals took a chance on him. He paid them back tonight with a dominating eight inning performance in which he struck out nine. His lone blemish was a two-run homerun to the red hot Sean Casey in the fourth inning.
Once again, it was an error by a Tigers pitcher that turned out to be the difference in this game. In the bottom of the fourth, Yadier Molina and So Taguchi hit back-to-back singles with one out. Jeff Weaver then laid down a bunt which was fielded by Justin Verlander, who then summarily threw the ball away trying to get Molina out at third base. Molina scored and a ground out later, Taguchi scored and the Cardinals had the lead back.
It seemed like the only innings in which the Tigers actually threatened to score were the ones in which Sean Casey came to bat. Ivan Rodriguez struck out to end the sixth inning after a Casey-double and then in the ninth, the Tigers made some noise. Casey again doubled with one out and he moved to third on a wild pitch. Placido Polanco drew a walk, but Adam Wainwright struck out Brandon Inge to end the game and the series.
You have to give a ton of credit to the Cardinals pitchers. The Tigers scored a grand total of 11 runs in five games and in only one of the Cardinals’ wins did the Tigers score more then two runs. Each of the four games was won with a different starter on the mound that night so it wasn’t one particularly guy who carried them.
David Eckstein was awarded the World Series MVP. He went 6-for-9 with four RBIs and two runs in Games 4 and 5 and played some pretty flawless shortstop in the series. That throw to first is painful to watch, but he gets the job done.
This was definitely a series in which one team did things right and the other team didn’t. The Cardinals hit the ball while the Tigers didn’t. The Tigers made some pretty bad errors while the Cardinals generally got it done on the field. A great example came in the bottom of the seventh in Game 5. Polanco (who finished the World Series 0-for-17) hit what looked to be a seeing eye single between first and second. Albert Pujols made a diving catch, threw to Jeff Weaver while on his back, and Weaver scooped the ball and stepped on the bag just before Polanco did.
I’m not sure what I’m more disappointed about. That my Tigers lost, or that baseball is over. Regardless, Cardinals fans have something to be happy about. It’s been 24 years and it’s a well deserved championship.