Rookie Reyes has the game of his life
Rookie Anthony Reyes turned in a masterful performance, lifting the Cardinals to an easy win in Game 1.
DETROIT -- Rookie Anthony Reyes not only cracked an exclusive St. Louis club formerly reserved for the likes of Bob Gibson and Dizzy Dean with his Game 1 World Series victory Saturday night, he single-handledly started a nationwide fashion trend that will soon see kids flattening the bills of their caps and pulling up their socks.
Or maybe not.
"I'm not a real style master, but that style is not that attractive,'' Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of the flat-bill look. "It has something to do with his concentration and focus. I don't think it's going to be copied widely by the kids of America.''
When the Cardinals played Detroit in the 1934 World Series, Game 1 starter Dean was 30-7 with a 2.66 ERA. When they played Detroit in the 1968 World Series, Game 1 starter Gibson was 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA. And when they matched up against the Tigers Saturday, their Game 1 starter was Reyes, who was 5-8 with a 5.06 ERA.
Which one is not like the others?
Reyes was the first Game 1 starter in a World Series with a losing record since Jon Matlack in 1973, and his five wins are the fewest ever by a Game 1 starter. He wasn't on the postseason roster when the Division Series started two weeks ago, which was fitting because he wasn't on the major-league roster when the regular season started, either. For that matter, he wasn't in the majors when September started. "It's always been kind of a struggle for me,'' he said.
St. Louis first brought him up to the majors when Chris Carpenter got hurt in May and then sent him back to Triple-A Memphis in mid-August. The Cardinals recalled Reyes in early September and added him to their roster for the NLCS out of necessity as much as anything. He started Game 4 of the NLCS, giving up two runs in four innings. With the rest of the rotation gassed, St. Louis handed him the ball for Game 1.
Starting Game 1 of the World Series is an honor. And in this case, La Russa said, it was also an "unfair'' assignment for someone of such limited inexperience. Pitching coach Dave Duncan said he would have been satisfied if Reyes had given them five innings and kept the game close.
Instead, Reyes went all the way into the ninth inning, holding the Tigers to two runs and four hits.
"This ranks high on the World Series pitching performances I've seen simply because it was Anthony Reyes,'' Duncan said. "He's had limited experience in the major leagues, and he's had limited success in the major leagues. And even though he's had moments of brilliance like tonight, those moments have been limited.''
Reyes had a difficult first inning, giving up one run on two hits and a walk, but he got out of the inning by stranding runners at second and third. When he reached the dugout between innings, Duncan took him aside and told him that Detroit was looking for his offspeed pitches so he should go hard with his fastball. That made all the difference. Reyes didn't allow another baserunner until the seventh inning, retiring 17 consecutive batters during one stretch. With the Tigers helping him out by swinging at -- and popping up -- most everything, Reyes threw just 91 pitches.
"The first inning he was just feeling around,'' shortstop David Eckstein said. "After that he was like, 'I know I have a good fastball. I know I can locate it. Let me take it to them.' "
Reyes says he wears the bill of his cap flat, rapper style, because it helps him read the catcher's signs by allowing in more light. He wears the socks up on the days he pitches -- "When he wants to get his game on,'' Wainwright said -- because that's the way he's been doing it since Little League (St. Louis minor-leaguers are also instructed to wear their socks up).
Not that St. Louis reliever Jason Isringhausen sees that catching on, either. "I don't have any calves, so I'm not doing that.''
And as for the secret to keeping the bill flat?
"That's the way it comes out of the box,'' Reyes said. "I just don't bend them.''
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. You can reach Jim at jimcaple.com
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2006 World Series Game 1
Anthony Reyes and the Cardinals opened with a surprising 7-2 victory over the Tigers. Recap | Series page
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• Keith Law: Verlander loses command
• Gene Wojciechowski: Don't count out Cards