Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

WORLD SERIES: DETROIT TIVERS VS. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Matching them up

October 21, 2006|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

Tim Brown offers an offbeat look at the keys to the World Series:

SMALL-MARKET OCTOBER VS. PUBLIC INTEREST

* Not since 1997, when the 92-win Florida Marlins met the 86-win Cleveland Indians, has baseball and its partnerships faced a crisis of such a metropo-less World Series. Jim Leyland's Tigers are young and lovable, though largely anonymous, unless one counts Leyland. Tony La Russa's Cardinals have been around before, just two years ago, when they put up almost no fight against the Boston Red Sox. The Tigers' star, Magglio Ordonez, is a nice enough guy, but speaks barely above a whisper and is best known for Ozzie Guillen's calling him a Venezuelan such-and-such. The Cardinals' star, Albert Pujols, is a reluctant personality who'll probably spend a lot of the Series separating the pitches just out of the strike zone from the pitches way out of the strike zone. This ain't the Subway Series, and the only thing going underground could be the television ratings.

* Edge: "Desperate Housewives."

PUJOLS VS. LEYLAND

* Pujols, by most opinions, is the most skilled hitter in the game. The Mets habitually pitched around him, and let Pujols decide whether to swing more aggressively or take the walk. In a National League Championship Series that went seven games, Pujols came up with a runner in scoring position only four times. He walked three times and singled once. So Mets Manager Willie Randolph was fortunate not to be cornered very often, thanks in part to his pitchers' ability to handle the Cardinals' leadoff hitter, David Eckstein, and No. 2 hitter, whether it was Scott Spiezio, Preston Wilson or Chris Duncan. Pujols has been tending a sore hamstring, which La Russa claims limits his power. Still, Pujols has incredible plate coverage, remains capable of dominating a series and always seems to be on base. Leyland probably will choose a path of caution, particularly with his left-handers.

* Edge: Pujols.

JEFF WEAVER VS. AMERICAN LEAGUE

* The American League is simply a more difficult place to be a pitcher, from the end-to-end lineups to the better hitters in the middle. Weaver has had his go in both, and the results had been consistent with most interleaguers. But this season has been more dramatic. In 16 starts for the Angels, he was 3-10 with a 6.29 ERA. In 17 for the Cardinals, including two in the postseason, he is 6-5 with a 4.78 ERA. Asked to identify the key element to his more reasonable effectiveness, Weaver said, "Obviously just coming over here and having a fresh start. Getting the opportunity to put those struggles behind me and start fresh and getting back to the National League, where I knew I had success in prior years." In his career, Weaver, in 157 AL regular-season starts (and 17 relief appearances), has a 4.59 ERA and a .277 batting average against. In 83 NL starts, his ERA is 4.28 and his BAA .258.

* Edge: American League.

CARDINALS VS. KENNY ROGERS AND NATE ROBERTSON

Despite the right-handed bats of Eckstein, Pujols, Juan Encarnacion, Wilson and Scott Rolen, along with switch-hitter Spiezio, the Cardinals were awful in games in which their opponents started a left-hander. In fact, only the Royals, Pirates, Orioles and Devil Rays were worse. In the NLCS, they were dominated by Tom Glavine once and, especially disconcertingly, by Oliver Perez once. La Russa said early in the NLCS his hitters would have to make adjustments against left-handers, which they did with some success. In the postseason, Yadier Molina and Ronnie Belliard have hit left-handers well; Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion, Wilson and Spiezio have not. In the regular season, left-handers batted .200 against Rogers and .181 against Robertson; right-handers batted .268 against Rogers and .284 against Robertson.

* Edge: Rogers and Robertson.

TIGERS VS. THE LAYOFF

* Leyland's crew has lived well for six days, even if Leyland warned it not to. It would be next to impossible not to notice the storefront signs, the "Good Luck Tigers" lighted up outside the airport, the newspaper headlines and the predictions for a quick, earnest dispatching of the Cardinals. They haven't played since last Saturday, conducted a mini-camp kind of week, and still seemed loose on the eve of the World Series. The question came from behind nearly every microphone, every notebook: Who's got the edge when one team practices and the other plays right until Game 1? Nobody had a great answer, so here it is: Five teams have opened the World Series after five or more days off. Each of them -- the 1995 Braves, 1996 Yankees, 2001 Diamondbacks, 2002 Angels and 2005 White Sox -- became champions.

* Edge: Tigers.

ROGERS VS. THE BODY OF EVIDENCE

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|