for this game

Weaver, Cardinals look to clinch first title since 1982

Oct 27, 2006 - 1:39 PM Detroit at St Louis 8:27 pm EDT World Series Game Five Cardinals lead, 3-1

ST. LOUIS (Ticker) - Jeff Weaver lost his spot in the rotation before coming to the St. Louis Cardinals. But on Friday, he will be the starting pitcher in the Cardinals' biggest game of the season.

Weaver will take the mound for the Cardinals when they look to clinch their first championship since 1982 in Game Five of the World Series against the Detroit Tigers.

Weaver (2-2, 2.94 ERA) lost his rotation spot to his brother Jered as a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. After being acquired from the Angels on July 5, he was 5-4 with a 5.18 ERA in 15 starts for the Cardinals during the regular season.

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa originally planned to pitch Game One starter Anthony Reyes, but opted to pitch Weaver, who has been effective in the playoffs and will be on full rest.

"I think it will be his natural day, I think," La Russa said. "The way he's pitched for us makes sense to go, and we keep Anthony ready for whatever we need."

The Tigers will give the ball to Justin Verlander (1-2, 7.47), who was charged with seven runs in five innings in Game One. The 23-year-old righthander struck out eight but also surrendered a pair of home runs, raising his total to five in 15 2/3 innings this postseason.

Opponents are hitting .303 off Verlander in the playoffs after batting .266 against him during the regular season. Dating to his final start of the regular season, Verlander has allowed increasingly more runs in four consecutive outings, yielding two, three, four and seven in his latest start.

"I think Justin will be fine," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "I would expect he'll be fine for (Wednesday), and it's like I said, he's one of our four starters. I think basically other than Justin's performance, we've pitched pretty well."

David Eckstein served as both a catalyst and finisher as the Cardinals posted a 5-4 victory over the sloppy Tigers in Game Four.

Eckstein started a seventh-inning rally with a double and drove home the go-ahead run in the eighth with a two-base hit, helping St. Louis to a commanding three games to one lead.

"This is probably the biggest stage that you can be on, and having the opportunity to be in that situation, I was just hoping that I would find a way to put a good at-bat - put the barrel of the bat on the ball," Eckstein said. "And fortunately I was able to do it and it felt good."

"Well, he's the definition of a clutch player, and then you try to give an example of what that means, game-winning hit against a guy throwing 100," La Russa said. "That's all you need to know. A guy with that talent, he's the toughest guy I've ever seen in uniform."

It looked like the Tigers were on their way to evening the series after they built an early 3-0 lead. But their defense deserted them, pushing them to the brink of elimination for the first time this postseason.

"We just talked about that inside the clubhouse, kind of a freak thing," Leyland said. "But that's baseball. You live with the consequences."

Center fielder Curtis Granderson slipped chasing Eckstein's fly-ball double and reliever Fernando Rodney made a costly throwing error to ignite the Cardinals' seventh-inning rally.

Jeff Suppan, who allowed just a run in 15 innings against the New York Mets en route to winning MVP of the National League Championship Series, left after six frames. He allowed three runs and eight hits.

"We've got to win three in a row. And that pretty much puts it pretty simple," Leyland said. "Are we capable of doing that? Absolutely. Are we in a good position? Absolutely not.

"So I think you just go out and remind the team all the time that if you win the next game in the postseason you keep playing. And obviously that's the case (Friday). We win, we keep playing. If we don't, we don't."

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!

Related News