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  • Cards in 6

    Cards on another level By Phil Rogers
    Special to ESPN.com


    Why St. Louis could win: It's been a long time since the NL has had the most dominant team in the majors for any extended period of time -- not since the Big Red Machine, to be exact -- but these Cardinals could change that with a World Series victory. They've already won 225 games the last two years and have a chance to push that to 233. No other team has won more than 204, and the Astros have won a mere 190. The Astros are good, but they're not on the level of the Cardinals, who can win games just about every way you can win games. The Astros won't be able to stop the lineup that scored at least six runs in all three games against San Diego.

    Why Houston could win: Look no further for your sentimental favorites. In Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, the Astros have a terrific collection of veterans trying to bring the World Series to Texas for the first time. All are capable of coming up huge when they are called on, as Clemens showed with those three shutout innings of relief in Sunday's 18-inning classic against Atlanta. Biggio and Bagwell, previously known for postseason futility, are hitting a combined .292 with four homers and 15 RBI in Houston's 16 playoff games the last two years.

    Late innings: Conventional wisdom gives Houston the closer edge over anyone it plays, but we don't. As strong as he is, Brad Lidge will have to pay for throwing 85 pitches in a four-day span, including 45 on Sunday. The surprising reality is that Lidge has been outpitched by St. Louis' Jason Isringhausen over the last two seasons. Izzy has piled up 86 regular-season saves in 2004-05, 15 more than Lidge, and held opponents to a .202 average this season, better than Lidge's .223. Getting leads to Isringhausen is not as simple as it once was, however, as the Cardinals are without Ray King and Al Reyes, their top set-up men. The bullpen allowed eight runs in 8 1/3 innings against the Padres, giving Tony La Russa something to worry about. That's OK. He's a man who needs something to worry about.

    Style points: Look for the Cardinals to come through with the big at-bats. They led the NL with a .290 batting average with men in scoring position. So Taguchi (.407), David Eckstein (.373), Yadier Molina (.330), Albert Pujols (.329), Mark Grudzielanek (.308) and Abraham Nunez (.300) have been rock solid in those situations. ... The impending implosion of Busch Stadium could heighten the angst of St. Louis fans if the Astros take a lead in the series. ... Will La Russa use Jason Marquis as a pinch hitter? He was 6-for-12 with one homer against Houston pitchers this season. ... The Cardinals miss the injured Scott Rolen in the field. They allowed 74 unearned runs, the most in the NL. ... The Cardinals are 6-5 in postseason series under La Russa. ... Pujols could be ready to explode after finishing second in the NL with a .330 batting average, third with 41 homers and second with 117 RBI.

    Head-on: The Cardinals made the Astros wear it this year, going 11-5 in the season series, and have a 23-18 edge over the last two seasons. ... Chris Carpenter and Marquis were a combined 8-0 against Houston this season. ... Phil Garner has shied away from using Chad Qualls the last two postseasons but ought to consider a heavy dose of Qualls in this series. The right-hander is 4-1 against the Cards the last two years, as many wins as Clemens and more than Roy Oswalt.

    Writer's block: If the Astros keep knocking on the door, don't they have to get admitted to a World Series sometime? This is the ninth time the franchise has gone into the postseason and its fifth time in the championship series. It has won only two of 10 playoff series. It's time to bring a World Series to Texas.

    Prediction: Cardinals in six
    Official Lounge Sponsor:
    The New Orleans Saints, Blue Moon Belgian Ale, Peter Gammons, and Cardinals GM John Mozeliak

  • #2
    Wasn't this posted like infinity ago?

    In.
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    Former Lounge Sponsor of:
    The Hebrew Hammer, BBZ, Foods that start with the letter 'Q', Paul 'Visor' Mitchell, FBBHOFer Brett "William" Wallace, BBFHOF, THE LALPHABET: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N I Z M N O P Q R S T U V Z T U V X Y X Z, The Return of MarkD.

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    • #3
      This is old, but it's an analytical classic.
      "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
      --Albert Einstein

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      • #4
        vINny testaverde has old balls.
        Official Lounge Sponsor of Candy.


        "When you say 'radical right' today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye."
        -Barry Goldwater

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