While World Series waits, managers mull moves
ST. LOUIS – A hand-shy Major League Baseball postponed Wednesday night’s Game 6 because of the threat of rain, which wasn’t a terrible idea, because there’s nothing more fun than dozens of baseball writers chewing on the effects of another 24 hours on a pitching staff.
That said, pushing the Texas Rangers’ potential clincher back to Thursday might have served to draw St. Louis Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter back into the series, either in relief or, on three days’ rest, as a starter in a potential Game 7 on Friday.
Carpenter pitched seven innings and threw 101 pitches in Game 5. In the only other start of his career on three days’ rest, he was ineffective against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 2 of this year’s division series.
Still, it’s something for the Cardinals to shoot for, getting the series to Game 7 and, maybe, the ball to Carpenter, if indeed manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan have that in mind. The turn technically belongs to Kyle Lohse(notes), except he didn’t get out of the fourth inning in Game 3, and his ERA in three postseason starts is nearly 8. Edwin Jackson(notes), the Game 4 starter and another option, could pitch on regular rest.
Of course, there has to be a Game 7 to play, which requires a Cardinals victory in Game 6. Besides, an MLB official conducting a Wednesday afternoon press conference with La Russa attempted to cut off further Carpenter inquiries, because, you know, MLB plays ‘em one game at a time.
Unless it looks like rain.
A pleasantly mirthful La Russa returned to the interview room after Tuesday’s bullpen bloodletting, said he had an idea of how Game 7 might play, but declined specifics.
“Dave and I just talked about it, and we said it doesn’t do anything because we don’t know how Game 6 is going to go,” he said. “So we’re just going to play Game 6.”
Left-hander Jaime Garcia(notes), who threw seven scoreless innings in Game 2, starts Game 6, opposing Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis(notes), who in seven career postseason starts carries a 2.22 ERA.
If baseball were to insist the Cardinals introduce a Game 7 starter Thursday afternoon, La Russa added, “If Bob Gibson is there, we’ll send Bob.”
It’s hard to believe that, if given a Game 7 and an eager Carpenter, the Cardinals wouldn’t take that shot.
“I was told by Carp that he would be ready to go,” La Russa said.
Inside the Cardinals’ clubhouse, the significance of Wednesday’s rainout was taken similarly. Nearing the end of a season that through diligence and circumstance and a crazy September remains winnable for the Cardinals, none would be surprised if the whole thing came down to Friday night.
[World Series slideshow: Best photos of Games 1-5]
There appears to be no similar debate among the Rangers, who have scheduled lefty Matt Harrison(notes) to start Game 7 on five days’ rest. Harrison is the 14-game winner in the regular season who has been so-so in three postseason starts. Derek Holland(notes), who came within two outs of a shutout in Game 4 and would have four days’ rest come Game 7, won’t start.
Asked for a reason, Washington said, “Because Harrison is my Game 7 pitcher. Harrison has been a big part of this team all year. I am not changing the things that I’ve been doing all year. That’s why we are where we are, and that’s why I’m saying Harrison.”
La Russa announced he’d flip-flop Lance Berkman(notes) and Matt Holliday(notes) in his batting order for Game 6, meaning Berkman would bat cleanup behind Pujols, and Holliday – hitting .167 in the series – would bat fifth. He added that Skip Schumaker(notes) would play center field and Nick Punto(notes) would play second base.
“It’s not going to change, I don’t think,” La Russa said. “That’s what off-days are for, when your family is not around. It could change.”
By early evening Wednesday, the gray tarp across Busch Stadium’s infield sparkled because of a rain that fluttered from drizzle to mist. In conversations with local and national meteorologists, baseball officials were convinced, MLB official Joe Torre said, “There was going to be rain during the game. Maybe not enough to stop it, but maybe enough to stop it.”
That was that. They made the decision in the afternoon, long before the gates opened.
Washington said he planned to return to the team hotel.
La Russa intended to see the movie “Moneyball,” the one that depicts the Oakland Athletics and, among others, Washington.
Fox was going to show a couple episodes of “Glee.”
And the nation’s ball writers, many on the road for a month, stared at what was left of their wardrobes, wondering which sweater might be able to go on three days’ rest.
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