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San Diego vs. St. Louis

October 04, 2005|Steve Henson



*--* P Player Avg HR RBI CF Dave Roberts 275 8 38 LF Ryan Klesko 248 18 58 RF Brian Giles 301 15 83 C Ramon Hernandez 290 12 58 1B Mark Sweeney 294 8 40 SS Khalil Greene 250 15 70 2B Mark Loretta 280 3 38 3B Joe Randa 276 17 68 P Jake Peavy 189 0 2


* Strengths: Padre hopes hinge on the front of the rotation and the back of the bullpen. Jake Peavy (13-7, 2.88 earned-run average), who starts today, can be dominant. He held opposing batters to a .217 average and struck out 216 in 203 innings. Adam Eaton (11-5, 4.27) is another quality starter, and he will pitch Game 3. Trevor Hoffman (43 saves) is one of the best closers in the game. The offense revolves around outfielder Brian Giles. If speedy center fielder Dave Roberts is able to play, the lineup and the defense improve. If Roberts is sidelined because of a pulled leg muscle he suffered Sept. 24, Robert Fick, Eric Young or Ben Johnson would start and the defense would be shuffled.

* Weaknesses: Any team that makes the playoffs with an 82-80 record has significant flaws. The offense ranked 27th in runs, and nobody hit 20 home runs or drove in 85 runs. The defense is suspect as well, especially if Roberts can't patrol center field. As for pitching, there is a significant drop-off after Eaton. The Game 2 starter will be Pedro Astacio or Woody Williams.

* Key reserves: 1B/C/OF Robert Fick (.265, 3, 30); 1B Xavier Nady (.261, 13, 43); OF/2B Eric Young (.275, 2, 12); IF Damian Jackson (.265, 5, 23).

* Team batting: .257, 13th in NL.

* Team ERA: 4.15, tied for eighth in NL.

* Key to the series: Getting two dominant performances from Peavy in Game 1 and a potential Game 4 are essential. Another pitcher must step up as well. The most likely candidate is Eaton, who struck out 11 in seven scoreless innings against the Dodgers on Sunday. The Padres probably won't score many runs, so any slim lead they take into the late innings must be protected by Hoffman.


*--* P Player Avg HR RBI SS David Eckstein 294 8 61 CF Jim Edmonds 263 29 89 1B Albert Pujols 330 41 117 RF Larry Walker 289 15 52 LF Reggie Sanders 271 21 54 2B Mark Grudzielanek 294 8 59 C Yadier Molina 252 8 49 3B Abraham Nunez 265 5 44 P Chris Carpenter 065 0 2



* Strengths: The Cardinals posted 100 victories to the Padres' 82 and have the depth and balance to sweep the series. They lead the National League in earned-run average and will send out a quality starter in each game, beginning with Cy Young Award candidate Chris Carpenter. They also can bump two starters into the bullpen. Offensively, the Cardinals have the difference-maker in Albert Pujols. Leadoff batter and shortstop David Eckstein had a strong season, and he and second baseman Mark Grudzielanek helped the Cardinals lead the majors with 196 double plays. Motivation should be high -- the Cardinals want to get back to the World Series and atone for their dismal performance against Boston last season.

* Weaknesses: Third baseman Scott Rolen is out, and his replacement, Abraham Nunez, has slumped after a hot start. Jim Edmonds and Larry Walker, key left-handed bats in the lineup, have battled injuries. Left-handed reliever Ray King had a horrendous September and could be vulnerable against sluggers Brian Giles and Ryan Klesko. Right-hander Al Reyes tore a ligament in his right elbow Sunday and is out for the rest of the year.

* Key reserves: OF So Taguchi (.288, 8, 53), 1B/3B/OF John Mabry (.240, 8, 32), C Einar Diaz (.208, 1, 17), OF John Rodriguez (.295, 5, 24)

* Team batting: .269, third in NL.

* Team ERA: 3.48, first in NL.

* Key to the series: Carpenter has had a few poor outings lately, so getting a strong performance in Game 1 is important. The Cardinals simply need to play to their ability because they clearly are the superior team.



Best-of-five series; all times Pacific

* TODAY: San Diego (Peavy 13-7) at St. Louis (Carpenter 21-5), 10 a.m., ESPN

* THURSDAY: San Diego (Astacio 4-2) at St. Louis (Mulder 16-8), 1 p.m., ESPN2

* SATURDAY: St. Louis (Morris 14-10) at San Diego (Eaton 11-5), time and TV TBA

* SUNDAY: St. Louis at San Diego, if necessary

* MONDAY: San Diego at St. Louis, if necessary

-- Steve Henson

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