<
>

Cards 2nd highest win team to lose World Series

10/28/2004 - St. Louis Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- 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.

"I wish we would have given them a tougher fight," Reggie
Sanders said. "They put the pressure on and we didn't have
pressure on them at all, so it was an easy run for them."

The Cardinals had the National League'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 Cardinals' rotation, minus
injured Chris Carpenter, was exposed as average.

"They outplayed us in every category," manager Tony La Russa
said. "So it ended up not being a terrific competition."

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.

"The odds obviously were against us," said Bill DeWitt Jr.,
the team's general partner and chairman of the board. "If we had
won tonight it would be something to build on.

"But every time we hit the ball hard, it was right at
somebody."

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 sluggers' series after
the Red Sox'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 RBI, 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 RBI, was 1-for-15 with no RBI. 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 Cardinals' lone run in Game 3. Pujols
had three of St. Louis' 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.

"If you look at Manny Ramirez, he didn't get any RBI in the
last series and he saved it for this series," Pujols said. "What
can you do? You can't bring this team back and say I wish I could
have that pitch back, because it's over."

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.

"It's amazing," said Game 1 loser Woody Williams. "We were
talking about that on the bench: Let's get one lead and see what
happens. But it never happened."