Cardinals eager to get back to Busch after Fenway frightfest
Posted: Monday October 25, 2004 2:59AM; Updated: Monday October 25, 2004 3:55PM
Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen are a combined 1-for-16 in the first two games of the World Series.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
BOSTON -- At home, the Red Sox are the 1927 Yankees. The late-season New England weather, the cold, the mist, the wind, seems to suit them. The ball bounces off the Green Monster just right for the Red Sox. Pesky's Pole is a chummy old friend. The clubhouse in old Fenway Park isn't cramped. It's cozy.
The Cardinals are king at their home, too. Nobody in the National League had a better home record than the Cardinals did this year. The symmetry of Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis fits them perfectly. Their nice, Midwestern crowds are polite and knowledgeable. St. Louis may not be the liveliest place on earth, but to the Cardinals, it's quaint. It's just right.
The Cardinals, as you might figure, can't wait to get back home. Can't get there fast enough. After spending these last couple of nights in the Sox's wacky park -- Games 1 and 2 of the World Series turned out about as bad as they could for the Cardinals -- Busch Stadium will be one welcome sight.
There, the Cardinals figure they can make their stand. There, the Cardinals have to make a stand.
There, the Cardinals finally can play their ballgame.
"The thing for us is to get out of this four-hour mess," Cardinals reliever Ray King said, "and get back to our ballpark."
American League-style baseball has not been good to the Cardinals. The designated hitters that they were allowed to use in the games at Fenway did not produce a hit. The Cardinals' pitching staff was treated like a Coke can on the Massachusetts Turnpike.
Even the St. Louis offense -- and, believe me, that's some lineup -- sputtered. Jim Edmonds, for heaven's sake, is hitting .125. Put Edmonds, Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen together, and you know how many RBIs they have? One. One lousy RBI.
The Red Sox have given the Cardinals all sorts of chances -- Boston field-butchers have committed eight errors in two games -- and the Cardinals still have lost the two games 11-9 and 6-2.
The worst part about this, from the Cardinals' viewpoint, is that they are a good road team. "We like playing on the road," manager Tony La Russa insisted.
The Cardinals won 52 games on the road this season. Nobody in baseball was better than that. But the postseason road has been a lot different. The Cardinals stole a win in Los Angeles during the Division Series -- the clinching game, as it turned out -- but they couldn't crack the Astros at Minute Maid Park, losing all three games there in the National League Championship Series.
And here at Fenway Park, with its wind and its fans and its teensy little visitors' clubhouse and the clam chowder and the big-city noise, they lost the first two games of the World Series.
So the three games scheduled for Busch Stadium next week -- well, how important are they for the Cardinals? And not just one or two of them, either. The Cardinals need them all.
"We like playing on the road," La Russa said. "We love playing at home. So like versus love."
This World Series is turning out to be all about home field advantage. The Red Sox hit .304 at home. They hit .260 away from it. They have a 4.09 ERA at home and a 4.30 ERA outside of Fenway.
They won their one game here during the Division Series against the Angels, and won two of the three against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, so now they are 5-1 this postseason at Fenway. That's pretty good. That's an advantage.
St. Louis is 6-0 in Busch Stadium this postseason against the Dodgers and Astros. They hit .284 there this season, and .272 away from Busch Stadium. They had a 3.54 ERA at home, a 3.96 ERA away from it this season.
That's pretty darn good, too.
Starting Tuesday at Busch, the Cardinals get to play in their ballpark, with their fans, playing NL ball without that blasted designated hitter rule. They'll be in their lockers in their clubhouse with their cars in their usual parking spots, and they'll be eating home cooking and sleeping with whomever it is that they usually sleep with at home.
They'll be more aggressive. They'll be more confident. They'll play better baseball. Things will change in St. Louis, they vow.
"We'll see how patient they are in St. Louis," St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan said of the Red Sox hitters. "If they're the same, I'll be impressed."
The Cardinals are going home for their last homestand of the year.