Posted: Monday October 23, 2006 3:12AM; Updated: Tuesday October 24, 2006 2:07AM
Kenny Rogers hasn't allowed a run in 23 postseason innings spanning three starts.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
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DETROIT -- What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a World Series. It may not be the one that the good people of New York or Boston or L.A. or Chicago wanted to see. I'm not sure that even the fair citizens of Dubuque care all that much about this one.
But two games into this not-yet Fall Classic between the Tigers and Cardinals, we have the makings of a real, live, maybe even interesting World Series.
Which is, as we should have figured, just the opposite of what we all figured.
C'mon, now. Detroit? St. Louis? This was set up to be a World Series only a Midwestern mother could love. The ratings for this promise to be as abysmal as the weather. The interest level, even among your average baseball fan, falls somewhere between watching Tony La Russa walk to the mound for another pitching change and breathing in another lungful of Jim Leyland's second-hand smoke.
But admit it. Already there have been surprises in this Series, eyebrow-raisers in what we thought would be a yawner. The Cardinals stunned just about everyone outside the greater metropolitan St. Louis area right off the bat on Saturday night with a win over the Tigers in the Series opener at Comerica Park. And the Tigers did their part Sunday night in Game 2, evening the Series behind another impressive pitching performance from the rejuvenated -- and, yeah, possibly earth- or pine-tar-aided -- Kenny Rogers.
In the first two games, we've seen a pair of pitching performances that have been pretty darn good, one by 25-year-old Cardinals rookie Anthony Reyes in Game 1, and one by the 41-year-old Rogers in Game 2. We've seen controversy. We've seen a spectacularly botched play (Brandon Inge's misadventure at third base in Game 1), a couple of postseason heroes in the making and one semi-dramatic ninth-inning showdown.
Two games into a World Series that no one outside of the host cities wanted, we all have to concede this point: It's not been half bad.
"Going to St. Louis with a 1-1 Series is good," Tigers catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez said.
Going to St. Louis tied is much more preferable, for anyone who's watching out there, than the Tigers going down 0-2, which they were in some danger of doing Sunday night when the Cardinals, flummoxed by Rogers -- the Ponce de Leon of starting pitchers -- rallied against closer Todd Jones. Though Rogers clearly could have stayed in the game -- he said so afterward -- Leyland summoned Jones, who gave up a two-out single to Scott Rolen, botched Juan Encarnacion's comebacker, served up a run-scoring double to Jim Edmonds and then hit Preston Wilson with a pitch (that may be the only hit Wilson gets in this whole Series) to load the bases.
Jones induced a game-ending groundout of Yadier Molina, but the threat of a classic World Series ending was there.
And can you ask for anything more in a World Series game than a good ninth-inning rally?