Rogers to start for Tigers, Reyes for Cards in Game 6
Manager Jim Leyland gambled that there would be a Game 6 in the World Series by starting rookie Justin Verlander, instead of Rogers on four days' rest, in Game 5 on Friday night.
"If it was one game, I would pitch Kenny," Leyland said, "but we've got to win three."
The St. Louis Cardinals held a 3-1 series lead and didn't want to talk about who would pitch a game they hoped wasn't necessary. But manager Tony La Russa acknowledged he planned to start rookie Anthony Reyes, keeping ace Chris Carpenter ready for a potential Game 7.
"It won't be Carp unless we have some kind of weather," La Russa said Friday night before Game 5. "If we play tomorrow, it will not be Carp."
Leyland set up his rotation so Rogers would pitch in Games 2 and 6 at home, where he was sensational against St. Louis, Oakland and the New York Yankees.
After Rogers created a stir by pitching with a brownish smudge on his throwing hand Sunday night, when he threw eight scoreless innings to lead Detroit to its only Series win, Leyland said he wouldn't put the left-hander on the mound in Busch Stadium.
"I heard one TV personality say that he thinks the hostile environment would really motivate Kenny, and I don't buy that," Leyland said. "I think it would probably work the opposite. I think the environment in Comerica Park motivates Kenny."
Rogers was asked before Game 5 if he was surprised that Leyland wanted to shield him from the environment in St. Louis.
"What do you mean, the rain?" he joked.
It wasn't the first time Rogers had a little fun with the swirling controversy stemming from his last start, in which the crafty veteran insisted he had mud, resin and spit on his hand.
Rogers signed a baseball for a St. Louis fan along the third base line before Game 3 and the red-clad faithful let him have it.
"Put some pine tar on it!"
"Scuff it up, Kenny!"
Rogers replied with a shot of his own.
"Hey, whatever works," he said, smiling. "You should check your bats -- maybe there are holes in them."
Detroit reliever Jason Grilli is rooting for Rogers to get another chance to pitch and silence at least some of his critics.
"I feel bad for him because people are trying to discredit what he's done," Grilli said. "I don't think they would want to face Kenny the way he's going."
In Detroit's 3-1 win in Game 2, Rogers extended his postseason scoreless streak to 23 innings this year and 24 1/3 overall dating to 2003 with Minnesota. It is the longest streak since Curt Schilling tossed 25 scoreless innings in 1993 and 2001.
Rogers became only the second pitcher to have three scoreless starts in a single postseason. Christy Mathewson had three complete-game shutouts (27 innings) for the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1905 World Series.
"I've never seen a pitcher that can pitch three games like that," said Detroit catcher Ivan Rodriguez, a 13-time All-Star. "When he's on, he's on. Kenny is a guy that locates the pitches down and in and uses all his pitches. When he looks that good, he's very tough to hit."
Reyes was tough to hit, too, in his previous start.
The hard-throwing right-hander gave up just two runs, four hits and a walk, helping the Cardinals win the Series opener 7-2. He retired 17 straight batters last Saturday night, the longest such streak in a World Series game since Cincinnati's Jose Rijo retired 20 in a row in Game 4 against Oakland in 1990.
In the regular season, however, Reyes was 5-8 with a 5.06 ERA in 17 starts.
"We have confidence in everybody that goes out there. Hopefully we can finish tonight and there won't be a Game 6," St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen said. "If Reyes pitches Game 6 in Detroit, and that's the way it is, we're going to try to win the thing.
"He threw great last start," he said.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press