World Series 2006: Right Here, Right Now
The World Series trophy will be in the building tonight as the St. Louis Cardinals have a chance to clinch the series at home. After the Detroit Tigers (literally) threw Game 4 away, the Cards now hold a 3-1 series lead, and need only to win one of the next three games to win the franchise's 10th World Series crown, which would be second only to the New York Yankees.
The Cardinals finished the regular season with 83 wins, which means that if they can close this series out, they will gain the distinction of being the World Series champion with the lowest regular season win total, displacing the 1987 Minnesota Twins (who had 84, and beat the Cardinals in the World Series). However, we shouldn't assume that it is a sure thing they'll close it out. As the Fox Network pointed out mere seconds after Adam Wainwright closed out Game 4, the last time the Cardinals held a 3-1 lead in the World Series, they ended up losing (1985 against the Royals).
A few other reasons why Detroit could still come back:
They should have the advantage in starting pitching for the next two games. Aside from his flat performance in Game 1, Justin Verlander has been better all year than his Game 5 counterpart has (Jeff Weaver). Game 6 will probably see up-and-down rookie Anthony Reyes go for the Cards, while Detroit will send Kenny Rogers and his 23 inning scoreless streak to the hill. If we get to a Game 7, Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter will give his team the advantage on paper over Nate Robertson, but anything can happen in a Game 7.
It's unlikely that they'll keep making the same type of errors that have killed them thus far, especially in Game 4. If not for Rodney's throwing error, Granderson slipping in centerfield, and Monroe misjudging the liner in the 8th inning, the Tigers would have taken last night's game, and the series would be even. Detroit is a better team than that, and they won't continue to make these kinds of mistakes.
Their bats have started to come around. Game 4 was their biggest offensive output of the series (4 runs).
The Cardinals' hopes for clinching tonight rest on reclamation project Jeff Weaver. It would be fitting if he can pitch them to a title, since in many ways he is a symbol for how the Cardinals' season has gone. Weaver was once a 'can't miss' prospect, just like the Cardinals were a can't miss team this year. After struggling and being given up on (Weaver when he was waived by the Angels at mid-season, the Cardinals as they collapsed down the stretch), things have come together at the right time for both of them. While Weaver hasn't been dominant (though he's yet to give up more than 3 runs in any of his 4 playoff starts), he's been good enough to keep his team in every game. That's a good way to sum up the Cardinals. They're not a dominant team, nor will they go down as a memorable champion if they win. But they have been good enough. And that's really all that matters.
If the weather permits, enjoy tonight's game.