King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Cardinals take a 2-1 World Series lead as Carpenter dazzles Detroit. But enough rain could bring Smudgy Rogers back for Game 4.

Published October 25, 2006 4:00PM (EDT)

All you people who had Detroit in five, out of the pool.

Chris Carpenter mesmerized the Tigers for eight innings of Game 3 Tuesday and the St. Louis Cardinals took a 2-1 World Series lead by winning 5-0. Carpenter was even more dominant than Detroit's Kenny Rogers had been in Game 2, and he did it without benefit of Rogers' Smudge, which was seen enjoying the game in a luxury box with Billy Bob Thornton.

Carpenter's thumb was a lot cleaner than Rogers' had been, but he still had an issue with it. He said he got jammed when he popped out to end the Cardinals' two-run fourth and his right thumb felt funny after that. He did an odd little hop off the mound and examined his hand after throwing a pitch to get Placido Polanco on a lineout in the seventh inning. He got a visit from the trainer, the manager and the entire infield.

But he proclaimed himself fit without even trying a warmup throw and continued tossing his eight-inning, three-hit, no-walk, shutout outing. Braden Looper pitched an uneventful ninth.

For all the controversy of Game 2 in Detroit Sunday, there wasn't much intrigue to this one. Just a lot of dominant pitching by Carpenter, the likely repeat Cy Young winner. The Cardinals got all they needed when they got a pair off Detroit starter Nate Robertson in the fourth on two singles and two doubles, Jim Edmonds drilling a grounder just inside first for the runs.

They added two in the seventh when fireballing reliever Joel Zumaya walked the first two hitters, then made a colossal blunder on Albert Pujols' comebacker, trying to get the out at third and throwing wild. Both runs scored and the game was effectively over.

All you people who criticized Detroit manager Jim Leyland for using Todd Jones in the ninth inning Sunday instead of Zumaya, out of the pool.

Wait, that means me.

Another odd move by Leyland was not to use Jeremy Bonderman until Game 4. Bonderman had been Leyland's second-best starter over the month before the Series started, with five quality starts and a 3.38 earned-run average in his last six outings. Putting him at the back of the rotation made him the one Tigers starter who won't take the ball twice.

Justin Verlander started Game 1, and while he had a great rookie year, he hadn't been good for a while. He'd had no quality starts and a 7.66 ERA in his last five games before giving up seven runs, six earned, in five innings in the opening loss.

While Leyland's odd starting-pitcher arrangement may have hurt the Tigers so far -- how would the Series have played out if Rogers' dominant Game 2 performance had come in Game 1, giving the Tigers the 1-0 lead with Bonderman pitching Game 2? -- it's coming in handy now. Needing a win to stay in the Series, the Tigers can turn to -- hey look! -- Jeremy Bonderman.

Jeff Suppan, the Cardinals' second-best starter and a guy with a growing reputation as a big-game pitcher, will throw for the Cardinals. But here's the real wild card, pardon the use of that term in this fifth straight World Series with at least one wild-card team: the weather.

The forecast is for rain all afternoon and most of the night in St. Louis both Wednesday and Thursday. If Game 4 gets rained out twice, the Tigers could go back to Rogers on full rest Friday, matched up with Suppan, and then Bonderman for Game 5 Saturday, most likely against Game 1 starter Anthony Reyes.

I think those matchups would give them a better shot at getting back to Detroit up 3-2 than the ones that are scheduled, Bonderman vs. Suppan and the struggling Verlander vs. Reyes. Reyes can't be expected to deal the way he did in Game 1, but Verlander's really leaking oil. After Game 1, his ERA since mid-September is up to 8.19.

The Cardinals wouldn't be affected by two rainouts until a potential Game 6, which would be Sunday in Detroit, but at that point, they'd have the clear advantage. They'd be able to move Carpenter up a game and pitch him on full rest against either Verlander or Robertson.

All of that would set up a Game 7 matching Jeff Weaver, who was so-so in losing Game 2, against whoever didn't start Game 6 for the Tigers. Leyland's biggest problem would be where to better hide Verlander.

Without rainouts, the Tigers had better win Game 4 behind Bonderman, because Verlander will start Game 5, and did I mention his ERA since mid-September?

With rainouts -- well, we'll have plenty of time to talk about what comes next.

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Three minutes from glory [PERMALINK]

Almost got a third straight game in under three hours. Tuesday's Game 3 came in at 3:03, thanks mostly to three mid-inning pitching changes by the Tigers. So close. America was on the edge of its collective seat.

We still have at least two and maybe as many as four more chances for this World Series to become the first in 10 years to have three games under three hours.

You know what's making them play so fast? Fast being a relative term: The average time of non-extra-inning games in the 2005 World Series was 3:15. In 2004 it was 3:23. It's the cold weather.

Yeah, I like our chances, relatively-fast-baseball-game fans.

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Why McCarver gets the big dineros [PERMALINK]

The game's key play: Two on, nobody out in the Cardinals' seventh, St. Louis leading 2-0. Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya can't find the strike zone, and Albert Pujols is up.

Pujols hits a sharp grounder back to the mound. Double-play ball. Huge play. For all his struggles, Zumaya's got a great chance to be one out away from getting out of the inning. He fields it, then throws wild to third. Instead of two outs, man on third, down 2-0, it's no outs, man on second, 4-0. A complete disaster.

Tim McCarver, in his best "Here comes a pronouncement from a font of baseball wisdom, the kind of thing you can only pick up from having played in the major leagues in four different decades" tone: "That's a bad play by Zumaya."

Really. Huh. I guess that's one way to look at it.

Previous column: Labor peace, fast games

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