SERIES: NL Division Series; Cardinals lead 1-0.
The San Diego Padres knew their first-round series against the St. Louis Cardinals was going to present a major challenge. After losing the opener, along with their ace pitcher for the rest of the playoffs, the Padres are facing some extremely daunting odds.
The Cardinals look to push the Padres to the brink of elimination when the teams meet at Busch Stadium in Game 2.
Reggie Sanders hit a grand slam and set an NL division series record with six RBIs, Chris Carpenter pitched six scoreless innings before being pulled as a precaution and St. Louis built a big lead and held off San Diego 8-5 on Tuesday in the opener.
The Cardinals led the major leagues with 100 wins and are facing the 82-win Padres, and this matchup looked that one-sided as St. Louis built an 8-0 lead by the fifth inning.
Things got worse for San Diego when Peavy departed for the remainder of the postseason after 4 1-3 innings, heading to a hospital with a broken rib that will take four to six weeks to heal. The injury was a pre-existing condition that worsened as he pitched.
None of that, however, kept the Padres from fighting back. They rallied against the St. Louis bullpen after Carpenter was removed with cramping in his right hand, scoring once in the seventh, adding another run in the eighth and getting right back into it in the ninth. San Diego scored three times and loaded the bases with two outs before closer Jason Isringhausen struck out Ramon Hernandez.
“We’re playing a tough team,” Sanders said. “As you can see, they fought to the last out.”
The Cardinals hope they won’t have to go the bullpen that early again Thursday, and send left-hander Mark Mulder to the mound, hoping he can stop any offensive momentum San Diego might have from Tuesday’s rally. The Cardinals bullpen is short-handed with the loss of right-hander Al Reyes, who is out for the playoffs with a torn elbow ligament.
While the Cardinals are a much deeper and more talented club, the Padres apparently aren’t intimidated by them, as the Game 1 comeback and San Diego being one of only four teams with a winning record against St. Louis this season suggests.
“We got the outs we needed,” manager Tony La Russa said. “It was hairy there at the end, no doubt about it.”
Eric Young had a pinch-hit homer in the eighth and an RBI groundout in the ninth for the Padres.
“I think anytime you’re down eight runs and you end up getting the winning run at the plate, I think that shows a lot of character and heart of the club,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. “They were battling to the end.”
The series shifts to Petco Park for Game 3 on Saturday.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Padres - NL West champion. Cardinals - NL Central champion.
PROJECTED LINEUPS: Padres - CF Dave Roberts (.275, 8 HRs, 38 RBIs, 23 SBs), 2B Mark Loretta (.280, 3, 38), LF Ryan Klesko (.248, 18, 58), CF Brian Giles (.301, 15, 83, 92 runs, 119 BBs), 1B Mark Sweeney (.294, 8, 40), 3B Joe Randa (.276, 17, 68), SS Khalil Greene (.250, 15, 70), C Hernandez (.290, 12, 58), P Astacio (.063, 0, 1). Cardinals - SS David Eckstein (.294, 8 HRs, 61 RBIs, 90 runs, 11 SBs), CF Edmonds (.263, 29, 89, 88), 1B Albert Pujols (.330, 41, 117, 129, 16), RF Larry Walker (.289, 15, 52), LF Sanders (.271, 21, 54, 14 SBs), 3B Abraham Nunez (.285, 5, 44), 2B Mark Grudzielanek (.294, 8, 59), C Yadier Molina (.252, 8, 49), P Mulder (.145, 0, 3).
PADRES PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER: Astacio (4-2, 3.17 ERA). The right-hander won his last four decisions and posted a 2.20 ERA in his last seven starts, pitching at least six innings in each of those games. Astacio, however, has struggled against the Cardinals in his career, going 7-12 with a 5.12 ERA in 25 games, including 22 starts. Astacio, who did not face St. Louis this season, has not allowed a run in four postseason relief appearances, going 0-0 with six strikeouts in five innings. He last pitched in the playoffs in 1996 for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER: Mulder (16-8, 3.64 ERA). The left-hander gets the nod from La Russa for Game 2 despite a pair of poor starts to close the season. He lasted only 1 2-3 innings and allowed seven runs in an 8-7 loss to Milwaukee on Sept. 24, and departed after giving up three runs and seven walks in four innings during a 12-6 defeat to Cincinnati on Friday. Prior to those two games, however, Mulder had pitched at least seven innings in six straight outings with a 2.35 ERA over that span. He is 2-2 with a 2.25 ERA in four postseason starts. Mulder beat the Padres on July 26, pitching 5 2-3 innings and allowing two runs in a 4-2 road win. He’s 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in two career starts against San Diego.
SEASON SERIES: Padres, 4-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Padres - San Diego has lost four straight postseason games to the Cardinals, including a three-game sweep in the 1996 NLDS. … RHP Peavy’s injury leaves the Padres with nine pitchers for the remainder of the series. … Of San Diego’s 13 hits in Game 1, eight came in the last two innings. Cardinals - CF Edmonds has hit seven HRs in division series play, second among NL players to Chipper Jones of Atlanta, who has eight. … LF Sanders, a career .188 hitter in the postseason coming into this series, is the third Cardinals player to hit a grand slam in the playoffs. Gary Gaetti did it in the 1996 NLCS against the Braves’ Greg Maddux and Ken Boyer did it in the 1964 World Series. … St. Louis continued to benefit from the double play, getting three more in Tuesday’s win. The Cards led the majors in that category this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Padres - 36-45 on the road in regular season, 0-1 postseason. Cardinals - 50-31 at home in regular season, 1-0 postseason.