Reyes the latest surprise in improbable postseason
Posted: Sunday October 22, 2006 2:07AM; Updated: Sunday October 22, 2006 3:30AM
Rookie Anthony Reyes, who didn't make the Cardinals out of spring training, came within three outs of a World Series complete game.
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DETROIT -- This, you have to give the Cardinals: They're making the absolute most out of what they have.
Saturday night, in Game 1 of the World Series, the patchwork Cards pulled a gem out of a rookie pitcher under the most pressure-packed of circumstances. The team's sore third baseman, who's had trouble simply putting the bat on the ball this postseason, blasted an important early home run. And the Cardinals got another homer -- just as important, maybe more so -- out of a player who shouldn't be allowed to swing the bat at all, he's that good.
In this latest chapter in a most bizarre October, the underwhelming Cardinals manhandled the Tigers in Game 1, headlined by rookie pitcher Anthony Reyes. The kid with the flat-brimmed hat and the striped knee-highs twirled a virtual tour de force in a never-in-doubt 7-2 win at Comerica Park.
The effort from Reyes was more than simply unexpected. It was, in fact, unlikely and, as far as Reyes' short career goes, almost unprecedented. Reyes had a one-hit, eight-inning beauty against the White Sox back in early June, but he threw a numbing 86 pitches in lasting only four innings in his last outing, against the Mets in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. He was even worse in the start before that, when he lasted only 2/3 of an inning against Milwaukee in the season's final weekend.
So it was only natural that, in this completely unnatural postseason, Reyes' line on Saturday looked like this:
8 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 4 SO, 1 BB.
At one point, the 25-year-old right-hander set down 17 frustrated Tigers in a row. And he threw just 93 pitches in his tidy eight-plus innings, leaving only after giving up a meaningless leadoff homer in the ninth.
"I don't know if I can top this," he said after the game.
Few, in fact, knew that Reyes could even approach this kind of dominance. In 17 up-and-down starts this season, he scratched his way to a 5-8 record and a 5.06 ERA. But after the Cardinals lost Mark Mulder to injury and no one else came close to stepping forward, Reyes -- who didn't even make the team coming out of spring training -- was stuck into the rotation almost by default. His assignment for Game 1 was a surprise to many around the game.
Now, Game 5 of the World Series -- if we get that far -- awaits.
"I think he did a great job," Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan said. "He made his adjustments as the game went on. He didn't set any patterns on them where they could get on him. He threw the breaking ball over the plate when he needed to, threw the changeup over the plate when he needed to and he moved his fastball around to both sides of the plate. He pitched."