St. Louisďż˝ first Series in 17 years was forgettable
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals seemingly could do no wrong during the regular season.
But that 105-win team bore no resemblance to the bunch that flopped in the World Series, losing 3-0 to Boston on Wednesday night and getting swept in four games by the Red Sox.
ďż˝I wish we would have given them a tougher fight,ďż˝ Reggie Sanders said. ďż˝They put the pressure on and we didnďż˝t have pressure on them at all, so it was an easy run for them.ďż˝
The Cardinals had the National Leagueďż˝s best offense and the second-best pitching staff. Not in the World Series, where they batted a feeble .190 and had a 6.09 ERA. The lineup was littered with historically bad performances at the plate, most notably by their trio of MVP candidates. And, the Cardinalsďż˝ rotation, minus injured Chris Carpenter, was exposed as average.
ďż˝They outplayed us in every category,ďż˝ manager Tony La Russa said. ďż˝So it ended up not being a terrific competition.ďż˝
The Cardinals waited 17 years between World Series trips, only to end the season with a dubious distinction: Only one team had more victories before getting swept, the 1954 Indians, who were 111-43 before losing to the New York Giants.
The wait was nearly as long for La Russa. Maybe it was even more gut-wrenching on a personal level, considering that in his last shot at the championship in 1990 his heavily favored Oakland Athletics got swept by the Cincinnati Reds.
After falling behind 3-0, ownership would have been happy with one victory. They were realistic not to expect another comeback like the Red Sox pulled off in the AL championship series against the Yankees.
ďż˝The odds obviously were against us,ďż˝ said Bill DeWitt Jr., the teamďż˝s general partner and chairman of the board. ďż˝If we had won tonight it would be something to build on.
ďż˝But every time we hit the ball hard, it was right at somebody.ďż˝
Mostly, St. Louis went quietly, tiptoeing off the stage. The Cardinals scored one run in the last two games at home, where they had been 6-0 in the postseason, and were a woeful 4-for-28 with runners in scoring position in the Series.
The Cardinals totaled 12 runs, the fewest since the Braves had nine when they were swept by the Yankees in 1999.
The life seemed drained out of the Cardinals after their most forgettable play of the Series, pitcher Jeff Suppan frozen between third and home with one out in the third inning of Game 3. Instead of tying the score at 1 on a run that the Red Sox had been conceding, Suppan ran into a double play.
Starting with that at-bat, the Cardinals reached base only seven times in 54 plate appearances the rest of the Series, getting a homer, a double, three singles and two walks against a Red Sox staff that was considered far from dominant. They advanced only four runners into scoring position in Game 4.
It seemed as if it was shaping up as a sluggersďż˝ series after the Red Soxďż˝s 11-9 victory in Game 1. After that, the Cardinals scored just three runs.
Cleanup hitter Scott Rolen, second in the NL with 124 RBIs, was 0-for-15 with one RBI. He finished the year in a 12-for-75 skid after coming back from a strained left calf in mid-September.
No. 5 hitter Jim Edmonds, who hit 42 homers and had a career-best 111 RBIs, was 1-for-15 with no RBIs. Sanders was 0-for-9 with five strikeouts before getting benched in favor of John Mabry in Game 4. Mabry continued that trend, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
Albert Pujols and Larry Walker had their moments, but never with any support from the rest of the offense. Walker was 4-for-5 in Game 1 and homered for the Cardinalsďż˝ lone run in Game 3. Pujols had three of St. Louisďż˝ five hits in Game 2 but was silent in the clincher before singling to lead off the ninth.
Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds were horrible in the clutch, going a combined 1-for-12. None of them got a chance for redemption in Game 4.
ďż˝If you look at Manny Ramirez, he didnďż˝t get any RBIs in the last series and he saved it for this series,ďż˝ Pujols said. ďż˝What can you do? You canďż˝t bring this team back and say I wish I could have that pitch back, because itďż˝s over.ďż˝
Pitching shouldered its share of the blame. Before Jason Marquis gutted out six innings in the 3-0 Game 4 loss, the Cardinals had gotten very little from the rotation.
Marquis was the first starter to last long enough to qualify for a victory. The three pitchers who preceded him lasted a total of 11 2-3 innings and allowed 15 runs.
Cardinals pitchers allowed at least one run in the first inning of all four games. St. Louis was dominated so completely, it never led.
ďż˝Itďż˝s amazing,ďż˝ said Game 1 loser Woody Williams. ďż˝We were talking about that on the bench: Letďż˝s get one lead and see what happens. But it never happened.ďż˝