Tavarez, Cardinals lose battle of bullpens
Posted: Sunday October 24, 2004 1:10AM; Updated: Sunday October 24, 2004 1:58AM
BOSTON (AP) -- This time Julian Tavarez's meltdown came on the pitcher's mound.
St. Louis' volatile reliever, who broke his left hand in a dugout tantrum in the NL championship series, stared at Mark Bellhorn's two-run homer that hit off the Pesky Pole in the eighth inning and gave the Boston Red Sox an 11-9 win in the first game of the World Series.
In the clubhouse, he stared some more -- into a video machine, where he kept rewinding the tape of the hit he wishes he'd never seen in the first place.
"It was a mistake. I left it over the middle of the plate," Tavarez said. "I watched it over and over again so I have it in my head not to do it again."
When neither starter made it out of the fourth inning, the game came down to a battle of the bullpens.
And when the Cardinals tied it 9-all with two runs in the eighth, the ball -- and the outcome -- was in the hands of Tavarez and Red Sox closer Keith Foulke.
Foulke, cool no matter how tough the predicament, won.
"If there's nobody on base and we have a 10-run lead or the bases are loaded in a tie game, I'm going to make the same pitches."
The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out after tying the score. Then Foulke retired two of their best hitters easily -- Scott Rolen on a popup to third base and Jim Edmonds on a called third strike.
"Keith's not scared of anything," Boston catcher Jason Varitek said. "That's a good thing to have in your closer."
It's been a great thing throughout the postseason. In eight appearances covering 10 2/3 innings, he hasn't allowed a run.
Then on a 1-2 pitch Tavarez's slider found too much of the plate and Bellhorn's homer hit the screen on Pesky Pole down the right-field foul line.
"I've been up and down, up and down all postseason. You've got to keep fighting," Tavarez said. "That's what happens when you make one bad pitch. You get hurt."
At least he didn't hurt his hand the way he did when he lost his temper in Game 4 of the NLCS after allowing the go-ahead home run to Houston's Carlos Beltran.
Despite the injury, Tavarez had pitched two perfect innings for the win in Game 6 of the NLCS and a scoreless eighth in Game 7.
On Saturday night, all he could do was turn and stare at the ball soaring through the night sky until it hit the screen attached to the yellow foul pole.
The result was the same, a Cardinals loss.
But afterward, Tavarez stood by his locker, calmly discussing the decisive pitch while his left hand and right shoulder were wrapped.
And pressing his fist to his forehead as he rewound, over and over, video of the pitch that lost the first game of the World Series.
"Just one bad pitch. Just one mistake," he said. "I won't let myself get down."