What were the Tigers watching during their week off?
Who throws Scott Rolen a changeup when he can’t get around on a fastball? Why pitch to Pujols with first base open? Did the Tigers get a hold of the Lions’ scouting tapes?
Nevertheless, still feeling the burn of Endy Chavez’s catch to rob him of a home run, Rolen felt a little goofy when describing his homer that snapped his World Series oh-fer.
"The ball was in the air and I was trying to figure out how was this one going to get screwed up," Rolen told reporters. "What's going to happen here? Hit a tree? I wasn't sure who was going to catch that ball. I figured somebody would. I was just happy a fan did."
Rolen also doubled in a 2-for-4 outing in which he scored twice and knocked in his first post-season RBI of 2006. After the well-publicized “feud” with manager Tony La Russa in the NLDS and NLCS, Rolen says he was happy to get the World Series and turn the page.
“It was a challenge. The NLCS was a challenge for me mentally,” Rolen said. “It was nice to turn a page on that and get a new series, a new environment and a new everything. Felt like tonight I had a little fight in me again.”
Pujols also homered, which came on a curious decision from manager Jim Leyland. Though the Tigers’ says his team is going to pitch to Pujols as if the count were 0-2, according to Fox’s Tim McCarver, Tigers’ rookie Justin Verlander grooved a fastball that Pujols smacked on a line over the right-field fence.
Leyland knew it was a mistake and told the announcers so during the inexplicable in-game interview segment.
"I have to take full responsibility,'' Leyland said. “Verlander tried to get one outside but it tailed. Obviously we weren't supposed to be pitching to him.''
But therein lies the rub. Pujols is Pujols. He’s the reigning MVP and the game’s best hitter, so the Tigers know what they are going to get with him. But if Rolen and Edmonds start swinging the bats just a notch better than the combined 10-for-43 in the NLCS, everything changes. Suddenly, the Cardinals aren’t the 83-victory team that limped into the playoffs and surprised both the Padres and Mets.
If Rolen and Edmonds have rebounded as they showed in Game 1, buckle up.
On another note, do you think that guy with the handheld camera had a difficult time keeping up with Rolen during his home-run "trot."
More World Series stuff
According to Baseball Prospectus’ list of the 10 biggest World Series mismatches – based on regular-season winning percentages – two of the series went to seven games, while three underdogs won.
The most notable underdog? The ’69 Mets over the Orioles.
The 2006 World Series is only the seventh most mismatched series, tied with the 1975 World Series, which lasted seven games and featured one of the most memorable games in baseball history.
Beginning in the 1987 World Series, only three teams have won Game 1 and lost the series.