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NLCS REPORT

Trachsel Might Be Replaced

October 17, 2006|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS — Steve Trachsel, who retired two of the 12 batters he faced in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, may not start Game 7, if the series goes that far.

The New York Mets are as likely to go with left-hander Darren Oliver, who pitched six innings in relief of Trachsel on Saturday and did not give up a run, but could need Oliver in a long stint before then. In that case, they would have little choice but to pitch Trachsel again.

Trachsel was hit above the right knee by a batted ball in the second inning and left after four more pitches. He said Monday, before he was to throw a bullpen session, that he would be physically able to pitch by Thursday.

There was widespread disappointment in the Mets organization, from players to management, in Trachsel's Game 3 performance. One Met said there would be more displeasure if Trachsel got the ball again.

An Oliver start also would serve a strategic purpose. The Cardinals were 23-34 during the regular season in games started by a left-hander, a .404 winning percentage that was, according to STATS, better than only Kansas City (.265), Pittsburgh (.265), Baltimore (.327) and Tampa Bay (.370).

The Cardinals have lost three games in the postseason, two of them started by left-handers (the Mets' Tom Glavine and Oliver Perez).

"I'm going to be available whenever they need it," Trachsel said.

Asked if that meant Game 7, he said, "Oh, yeah. Or sooner."

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Scott Spiezio always has been at his best with David Eckstein around. It was the years in the middle, in Seattle, that nearly ruined him.

"From Day One in spring training this year he was the same guy," said Eckstein, St. Louis' shortstop. "I know it was tough for him in Seattle. I think his quote was, 'I lost my love for the game.'

"This environment here, I think it brought it right back. He was the guy in Anaheim who always loved the game, loved to play.

"I didn't see him in Seattle, but I see the same guy now I saw in Anaheim."

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The Oakland A's had had only two managers since Tony La Russa left in 1995: Art Howe for seven seasons and Ken Macha for four. Now there'll be a third, after Macha was fired Monday, and La Russa, the Cardinals manager, was stunned to hear the news.

"Well, they had such a great second half," he said. "How did they beat Minnesota? They beat Minnesota, right? How did that happen?"

Mets Manager Willie Randolph had seen enough New York Yankees seasons to know that these jobs are hardly lifetime appointments.

"Being in New York as long as I've been there," he said, "nothing really surprises me."

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From STATS: Kenny Rogers of the Detroit Tigers and Glavine have the two longest scoreless streaks in a postseason by 40-plus-year-old pitchers. Rogers' streak stands at 15 consecutive innings and Glavine's is at 13.

Glavine turned 40 in March. Rogers will be 42 in November.

tim.brown@latimes.com

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