Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 26, 2006 - Come-From-Behind Game 4 World Series Win Over Tigers

Thursday, October 26, 2006 - World Series - Game Four vs Detroit Tigers at Busch Stadium III - Starting Pitchers:  Jeff Suppan vs Jeremy Bonderman - Attendance:  46,470

Game Four had been scheduled to be played on Wednesday, but was postponed, due to rain.

The Cardinals used timely hitting, good defense and capitalized on another inexplicably wild throw by Tigers' pitching to earn a pivotal come-from-behind World Series Game Four win - by a final score of 5-4.  This win gives the Redbirds a formidable three games to one advantage over the bumbling Tigers, who - thanks to one enormous throwing error - managed to cough up two more unearned runs en route to blowing an early 3-0 lead.

After a rocky start - giving up three runs after three-innings - Jeff Suppan kept the Tigers off the board over his final three innings of work to give his teammates a chance to get back in the game.

Trailing 3-0 in the third-inning, the Cardinals broke through off Detroit starter Jeremy Bonderman - on a one-out single by Aaron Miles, a stolen base, and a two-out RBI double by David Eckstein - one of three doubles the World Series MVP would collect on the night.

The Cardinals used a pair of doubles in the fourth-inning by Scott Rolen and Yadier Molina to pull within one run - down 3-2.

However, in the sixth-inning Rolen's lead-off double - his second of the game - was wasted when reliever Fernando Rodney entered the game to strike out both Miles and pinch hitter John Rodriguez -  stranding Rolen at third.

Rodney's only problem seemed to be what to do with any balls hit back to the mound - as we would see once again in the seventh-inning.

Still trailing 3-2, Eckstein led-off with another double, prompting manager Tony LaRussa to have pinch hitter So Taguchi - batting for Chris Duncan - lay down a sacrifice bunt - preferably one the pitcher would have to field.  Sure enough, after fielding the bunt, Rodney somehow managed to throw the ball over the first baseman's head - allowing Eckstein to score the tying (unearned) run, as Taguchi advanced to second - representing the go-ahead (unearned) run.

After an intentional walk to Pujols, Rodney struck out both Edmonds and Rolen - but Preston Wilson came up with the big hit - a run-scoring single to left field.  Left fielder Craig Monroe had no shot at nailing Taguchi at home, but Pujols was an easy out trying to take third.  However, the Cardinals had finally taken a 4-3 lead - although it would be a short-lived lead.

With Braden Looper now pitching for the Cardinals to start the eighth-inning, Ivan Rodriguez greeted him with a lead-off double - then advanced to third on Placido Polanco's ground-out to the second baseman.  That prompted LaRussa to bring in his rookie closer - Adam Wainwright - to get out of the jam.  However, the first batter he faced - Brandon Inge - tied the game with a double to center field.

Suddenly, the game was very much in jeopardy.   Detroit could take the lead again with another base hit, however, Wainwright struck out pinch hitter Alexis Gomez as well as Curtis Granderson, to end the threat.

With Joel Zumaya now pitching for the Tigers, Molina drew a lead-off walk to start the home half of the eighth.  Miles then forced Yadi at second on a grounder to third base.  Then, in a bizarre play, Zumaya struck out Encarnacion on a wild pitch, advancing Miles to second - although catcher Rodriguez was able to retrieve the ball in time to retire the batter at first base.

Next up - Eckstein - hit a line drive to left center field which probably should have been caught by Granderson - but the Tigers' center fielder slipped on the wet outfield grass, as the ball sailed over his head - good for another double, and good for his second RBI of the game.  That was the only run in the inning, but it proved to be all that was necessary to take Game Four by a  5-4 final score.

Despite blowing the save, Wainwright pitched a perfect ninth to preserve his first career postseason win - and put the Redbirds on the cusp of what seemed like an impossible World Series championship just one short month ago.

In baseball, one month can bring about great change.  A little rain can go a long way, too.

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