Saturday, October 21, 2006 - World Series - Game One vs Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park - Attendance: 42,479 - Starting Pitchers: Anthony Reyes vs Justin Verlander
The Cardinals - just two days after shocking the Mets at Shea Stadium in Game Seven of the NLCS - stun the baseball world again in Game One of the World Series, with a decisive 7-2 drubbing of Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers.
This wasn't supposed to happen. Detroit had already won seven of eight postseason games against the best competition in the American League (Not to mention, they had already swept a three-game series over the visiting Cards back in June).
By contrast, St Louis stumbled and bumbled their way into the postseason with a stretch run so wretched, they seemed destined for doom - at least eventually. Fortunately, that destiny at least waited until 2007 - after becoming World Champions.
Game One began as planned. Initially. After Verlander easily dispatched the Cardinals in their first at bat, the Tigers immediately pounced on rookie Anthony Reyes. A one-out double by Craig Monroe and a two-out walk to Magglio Ordonez preceded a Carlos Guillen run-scoring single to right field. When Juan Encarnacion booted the ball, the runners - Guillen and Ordonez - moved up to second and third for hot-hitting Ivan Rodriguez - who hit the ball hard - but right at third baseman Scott Rolen to end the threat.
Instead of being in at least a 3-0 hole, the Cardinals trailed by a mere run when Scott Rolen - who speared that Rodriguez liner - hit a one-out home run deep to left field. Just like that, this game was tied. It was all downhill for the Tigers after that.
The Cardinals continued their assault in the third inning. Game Seven NLCS hero Yadier Molina stroked a lead-off single to right - then, after advancing to second on an infield out - Verlander caught David Eckstein looking at a called third strike.
However, DH Chris Duncan got the two-out RBI - a double to right field - to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.
Next up - Albert Pujols, who struck out his first time up - got some revenge this time off Verlander - with an opposite field two-run blast over the right field wall - to suddenly give the Cards a 4-1 lead.
Meanwhile, after that shaky first-inning, Reyes was nearly perfect over his next seven-innings of work, protecting that lead - which grew to 7-1 by the time the Cardinals were done in the sixth.
In that fateful sixth-inning, after Pujols drew a lead-off walk, Verlander had him picked off, but threw the ball away - the first of five throwing errors Tiger pitchers would accumulate in the five game series. They had some help from their third baseman, Brandon Inge - especially a bit later in this inning.
At the moment, with Pujols standing on third base, the next hitter - Jim Edmonds - drove him in with a single to right field. After Scott Rolen's opposite field ground rule double into the right field seats put runners on second and third, manager Jim Leyland brought in a relative unknown reliever - Jason Grilli - who induced Encarnacion into hitting a routine ground ball to third baseman Inge.
However, Inge - apparently auditioning for a spot on the pitching staff - threw it away trying to nail Edmonds at home - allowing both Edmonds and Rolen to score - then, on the same play Inge threw it away again, but Encarnacion could only make it as far as third - just missing a rare Little League home run in a World Series game.
After Reyes gave up a lead-off home run to Craig Monroe in the bottom of the ninth, manager Tony LaRussa took no chances - bringing in a new arm to finish the job. Braden Looper retired the side to preserve this surprisingly easy 7-2 Game One winner for St Louis.
Meanwhile, distraught FOX Network television executives are ruefully anticipating the downward spike in ratings this supremely boring World Series will create. Another Subway Series vanished when the Yankees disappeared in the ALDS, followed by the big market Bay Area ousting of Oakland in the ALCS. Then the Cardinals had the audacity to bounce the other New York team out of the picture, while Detroit was on a five day vacation.
Sure enough, this would become the lowest rated World Series in television history. Much to the delight of the greater St Louis area and other remote points throughout Cardinal Nation.