Cardinals counting on Morris to be at full strength in Game 2

Pitcher will start tonight on 3 days' rest

Womack leaves in 7th with injury

World Series notebook

Baseball

October 24, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - While the Boston Red Sox cross their fingers again tonight, with Curt Schilling on the mound for Game 2 of the World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals will counter with their own concerns surrounding starting pitcher Matt Morris.

After pitching Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, Morris will be pitching with three days' rest, one fewer than usual.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he and pitching coach Dave Duncan made the decision because Morris threw just 80 pitches against the Houston Astros in Game 6.

"We had an edge, and we decided to play it," La Russa said. "If he had pitched a normal game and had to reach deeper, he could have done it. But he has a lot of road postseason experience, and if it goes to Game 6, that's where he would be [at Fenway Park again], and we felt like he was the best shot."

Morris has been the Cardinals' Opening Day starter the past three years, but his performance slipped this season, as he went 15-10 with a 4.72 ERA. Duncan had originally told him to prepare to pitch Game 3.

"Things change in a hurry," Morris said. "I thought I was going to have a better night's sleep last night, but I didn't. It all comes down to the final seven games, winning one series, and you know, wherever they think the best chance of winning, I'm going to take that shot."

Womack injured

Cardinals second baseman Tony Womack had precautionary X-rays taken last night after leaving the game in the seventh inning with a collarbone injury. Though nothing was broken, La Russa said Womack was "very sore."

La Russa played his infield in trailing 8-7 in the seventh inning, and David Ortiz hit a smash that took a nasty hop toward Womack. He crumbled in pain after the ball hit him and bounced into right field.

Ortiz had an RBI single, and La Russa replaced Womack with Marlon Anderson.

Kline dropped

The Cardinals lost a key component of their bullpen when they dropped left-handed reliever Steve Kline from their World Series roster. Kline has been bothered with tendinitis in his left index finger, so St. Louis replaced him with right-hander Al Reyes.

A healthy Kline would have given La Russa another left-hander to go with Ray King, to face the likes of Ortiz, Trot Nixon and Johnny Damon.

"I'm dumbfounded, shocked," Kline said. "You get to the end of the rainbow and there's no pot of gold for me. I could have had surgery a month ago."

Boston's only roster adjustment from the ALCS was adding third baseman Kevin Youkilis and dropping reliever Ramiro Mendoza, giving them 10 pitchers instead of 11.

La Russa said he would have loved to add Chris Carpenter to his roster, but the Cardinals' ace came down with nerve irritation in his right biceps muscle. Carpenter tried coming back, but the most he could do was throw 60 pitches, including warm-ups.

"We could never forgive ourselves to send him out there," La Russa said. "He's been inadequately prepared physically. You're pitching for the biggest prize in baseball, and he's going to rear back because he's a great competitor, and if something bad was to happen, I think we would both walk away from the game."

A second chance

The local boy who would become general manager of the Red Sox sat at home watching Boston botch Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. He saw Bill Buckner's error lead to a 6-5 loss in 10 innings to the New York Mets.

"It was devastating," he said. "At the age of 12, it's tough."

Still hopeful of a Game 7 victory, he went to school the next day and learned an important lesson about the team's history of falling short in the postseason.

"I went to school. I said, `Don't worry, they'll be back,' " Theo Epstein said.

But the Red Sox hadn't won a World Series since 1918, losing the 1946, 1967 and 1975 Series in seven games.

Epstein's teacher quickly doused his optimism about Game 7.

"I remember my math teacher looking at me saying, `You're a fool. You don't get it. They have no chance of winning that game,' " Epstein said.

The teacher was right. Boston blew a 3-0 lead in Game 7 and lost, 8-5.

Around the horn

Besides Ortiz, pitcher Jose Santiago was the only other Red Sox player to homer in his first Series at-bat, doing it against St. Louis' Bob Gibson in 1967. ... The last Series game at Fenway was exactly 18 years ago, when Bruce Hurst beat Dwight Gooden and the Mets, 4-2. ... Cardinals All-Star third baseman Scott Rolen had a rough debut, going 0-for-5 and stranding four runners. ... The Red Sox held a moment of silence before the game for Victoria Snelgrove, the 21-year-old college student who was killed outside Fenway Park in a clash between the crowds and police after Boston defeated the Yankees in Game 7. ... Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, a Boston native, sang the national anthem, and Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski threw out the first pitch.

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