DETROIT (AP) -- Rest can be overrated.
The St. Louis Cardinals managed just fine in Game 1 of the World
Series without much.
And maybe those hard-throwing Detroit Tigers, who had a week
off, aren't so tough after all.
Rookie Anthony Reyes pitched brilliantly into the ninth inning,
Albert Pujols made Detroit pay for pitching to him, and Scott Rolen
also homered to help St. Louis cruise past the ragged Tigers 7-2 in
the World Series opener Saturday night.
"Nobody expected us to win here," Pujols said. "They have a
great team out there. The last thing we want to do is just show up
and just embarrass ourselves."
The Cardinals have already put up more of a fight than their
previous World Series, when Pujols and Rolen came up empty as
Boston swept them two years ago.
With the Tigers hosting their first World Series game in 22
years, fans showed up hoping to see rookie Justin Verlander buzz
through a Cardinals team that scraped its way past the New York
Mets in a seven-game NL Championship Series that had wrapped up
less than 48 hours earlier.
But instead, Reyes easily outpitched Verlander in the first Game
1 matchup between rookies, taking the crowd out of it early and
ending Detroit's seven-game postseason winning streak.
"We didn't play well," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
And he made a curious decision that cost his team dearly.
First base was open when Pujols stepped to the plate with two
outs in the third inning and St. Louis ahead 2-1.
Chris Duncan was on second after an RBI double, but the Tigers
pitched to Pujols anyway and Verlander challenged him right away
with a 93 mph fastball that the slugger drove over the right-field
fence for a 4-1 lead.
When Pujols came up with runners in scoring position and first
base open during the regular season, he was walked in 31 of 73
plate appearances (42 percent), according to the Elias Sports
Bureau. Twenty-five of the walks were intentional.
"Obviously, he burned us," Leyland said. "I'll take the heat
The three-run cushion was more than enough for Reyes, who
retired 17 consecutive batters before Carlos Guillen's
seventh-inning single. The right-hander was lifted after Craig
Monroe's homer on the first pitch of the ninth.
"I don't know if I can top this," Reyes said.
Braden Looper finished off St. Louis' first World Series victory
since 1987, stopping an eight-game Series losing streak for NL
Carrying only two players with World Series experience, the
young Tigers appeared a little jittery, making wild throws and key
Detroit, which completed a four-game sweep of Oakland in the
ALCS last Saturday, was supposed to have the edge on the mound in
Game 1. Verlander is a leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year,
while Reyes went 5-8 with a 5.06 ERA in 17 regular-season starts.
In fact, the Cardinals only turned to him in the opener because
none of their three top pitchers was ready to go.
"He doesn't scare, he's got great composure -- and when he gets
it rolling he's got great weapons," St. Louis manager Tony La
Reyes had the fewest wins of any Game 1 starter in World Series
history and was the first in 33 years with a losing regular-season
record. He wasn't even on the Cardinals' roster for their
first-round series against San Diego.
But he pitched like a poised pro.
Peering from under a starch-stiff cap and with his red-and-white
socks pulled high, Reyes allowed only four hits and one walk.
"That style is ... not that attractive," La Russa said,
referring to that hat. "I don't think it's going to be copied
widely by the kids of America."
Soon after, Reyes explained his whole get-up.
"The socks I've had up since Little League, so I don't feel
there's any reason to change now," he said. "But the hat helps me
see a little bit, gets more light in, helps me see signs."
Reyes' performance wasn't as dominant as Bob Gibson's
17-strikeout effort for St. Louis in Game 1 of the 1968 World
Series against the Tigers, but it was just as effective.
"I was just trying to be as focused as I can," Reyes said.
Rolen tied the score at 1 with a solo shot in the second, a
no-doubt drive to left that proved his swing really is coming
around -- just as he's been saying.
Playing with soreness and fatigue in his surgically repaired
left shoulder, the All-Star third baseman began the night batting
.188 without an RBI this postseason. His first trip to the World
Series was no fun at all -- he went 0-for-15 against Boston two
"It's a completely different series," Rolen said.
Yadier Molina, the home run hero in Game 7 of the NL
Championship Series, got St. Louis going again in the third with a
leadoff single. He scored on Duncan's two-out double before Pujols
connected against the 23-year-old Verlander.
The pitch he threw was a big mistake, but Verlander smiled for
some reason right after Pujols teed off.
"The pitch to Duncan with two outs in the third was a pivotal
point because then Albert came up and hit the home run," Verlander
said. "It was a bad pitch and it was probably the biggest pitch of
the night. If I made a different one, it might've been a totally
Verlander walked Pujols leading off the sixth -- not such a good
idea in that situation, and three innings too late anyway.
The right-hander then threw away a pickoff attempt, and Pujols
hustled to third on his ailing right hamstring.
Jim Edmonds singled to make it 5-1, and Rolen's double deep into
the right-field corner chased Verlander.
The rookie flashed his outstanding stuff all night, striking out
eight in five-plus innings. But he also showed his inexperience,
throwing too many fastballs in the middle of the plate while giving
up seven runs -- six earned -- and six hits.
Rolen rounded third and crashed into Inge in foul territory,
tumbling to the ground in a heap. Rolen was ruled safe at the plate
because of obstruction, making it 7-1, and both players appeared
Inge was charged with two errors on the play.
Detroit got on the board early in its first World Series game
since 1984, momentarily delighting the crowd of 42,479. Monroe, an
unheralded player showing off a wealth of skills this postseason,
doubled in the first inning and scored on Guillen's two-out single.
"We aren't worried. We lost the first game to the Yankees,
too," Detroit's Magglio Ordonez said of the four-game,
opening-round win over New York. "We just have to come back and
Rogers pitched 15 scoreless innings in the playoffs, going
2-0. ... Verlander has allowed five homers in three postseason
starts. ... Reyes' string of setting down 17 straight batters was
the longest in a World Series game since Cincinnati's Jose Rijo
retired 20 in a row in Game 4 against Oakland in 1990.