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Cards need Suppan to put the squeeze on Astros

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  • Cards need Suppan to put the squeeze on Astros

    QUOTE
    Cards need Suppan to put the squeeze on Astros
    By Derrick Goold
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    10/15/2005

    HOUSTON — To swing a series that is slipping away, the Cardinals turn to a starting pitcher who has not thrown in nearly three weeks, did not pitch at all this season against Houston, has mostly been squeezed at Minute Maid Park ...

    And just may have been their best pitcher down the stretch.

    Jeff Suppan, having not started a game since shutting out Milwaukee for eight innings on Sept. 25, will make his 2005 postseason debut this afternoon in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. Opposite the righthander will be Houston's Brandon Backe, a Texas native whose last start in the NLCS was the electric Game 5 at Minute Maid last October. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning that game and put the Astros' one win away from the World Series.

    Suppan halted that rocket by winning Game 7.

    "He's been a clutch guy and that what (Game 4) is, and I think he'll be clutch again," said manager Tony La Russa. "Jeff will have a plan and he's risen to the occasion before for us."

    Suppan, over two years as a Cardinal, has quietly developed into the true stopper of the Cardinals' staff. Including last season's playoffs, in which he pitched and won both of the Cardinals' series clinchers, Suppan is 13-5 in starts after a Cardinals' loss. He won eight of his final 10 starts this season on days after the Cardinals lost.

    In his final 10 starts, Suppan was 6-2 with a 1.98 ERA. He threw 63 2/3 innings over that span and struck out two for every one he walked.

    Pitching coach Dave Duncan said he was "more aggressive" during that run, more feisty, pounding the strike zone with his stuff as opposed to tickling its edges looking for fringe calls.

    "There's a lot of different ways that you can look at being aggressive," Suppan said. "That's been said to me a few times in my career. At one point, I though being aggressive was trying to throw as hard as I could. Obviously, that's not the case now. I know what aggressive means. I think any time as a pitcher when you're aggressive in the strike zone your pitches are going to have better movement, your curveballs are going to have better break. Sometimes you have to pitch a little more careful.

    "I think you have to have a balance of both."

    Suppan has gone 20 days without chucking a pitch in competition, a hiatus that essentially amounts to skipping three starts. It's an adjustment for a stickler for process and preparation. In between, he's thrown a progression of bullpens - more heated and harder than he usually would, and, once he warmed up to throw in relief. That spike of adrenaline was welcome, he said.

    Be it through a quirk of scheduling or by a combo of happy luck and design, Suppan did not throw an inning against the Astros this season. He started seven times against them in 2004, including twice in the playoffs, and was 1-4 with a 4.11 ERA. At Minute Maid Park, he 1-2 in four games with a 6.23 ERA, 15 earned runs allowed and more walks (nine) than strikeouts (eight).

    Backe, a native of nearby Galveston, Texas, is a homebody.

    This season at Minute Maid, the righthander is 6-2 with a 3.41 ERA - about 2 1/2 runs better than his ERA on the road. He missed about a month of the season with a chest muscle strain, but is now back on the familiar footing. Throwing in the NLCS against the Cardinals with a chance to put his team one win away from the World Series.

    [email protected] 314-340-8285 [/b][/quote]

    "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
    Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
    -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

  • #2
    this is not a question.
    Sometimes elections have positive consequences!

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    • #3
      The thing I love about Suppan is that while he may not have the stuff of Carp or Mulder, you get the guy with the biggest balls on the staff.

      Other than Carpenter, who we'll have going tomorrow, I wouldn't want anybody else throwing today.
      The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life. -TR

      OFFICIAL LOUNGE SPONSOR OF NEW YORK CITY, TEDDY ROOSEVELT AND THE MARYLAND TERRAPINS

      Madyaks2 Thought Of The Day: I'm just as dumb as madyaks1.

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      • #4
        that is exactly it.
        Sometimes elections have positive consequences!

        Comment


        • #5
          QUOTE(lasvegasreb @ Oct 16 2005, 01:21 AM) Quoted post

          The thing I love about Suppan is that while he may not have the stuff of Carp or Mulder, you get the guy with the biggest balls on the staff.

          Other than Carpenter, who we'll have going tomorrow, I wouldn't want anybody else throwing today.
          [/b][/quote]
          glovey should be warming up in the pen by now, Dunc [img]style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif[/img]

          "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
          Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
          -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

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          • #6
            Suppan not having pitched since Sept 25th worries me, but I fully expect him to pitch his ass off tomorrow.
            Official sponsor of Mike Shannon's Retirement Party

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