Well, he's already chimed in on Game One. The Tigers weren't good, the ump helped out, and Duncan got lucky. Oh, and pitching to Pujols with an open base was the right move. I kid you not. Read it for yourself.
Anthony Reyes pitches the game of his life (so far, at least), and the Tigers show their inexperience as the Cardinals win a laugher.
After a shaky first two innings, Reyes morphed into a strike-throwing machine once the Cardinals gave him a little breathing room. He was trying to work off his changeup his first time through the Tigers' order, a bizarre approach for any pitcher not named Jamie Moyer (or Doug Jones, I suppose). But in the bottom of the third, he went to the traditional approach of pitching off his fastball, spotting it extremely well for the next six innings, working on the outside corner early in the count and coming inside with either his fastball or breaking ball if he got ahead, with only the occasional changeup to finish a hitter off.
Tigers starter Justin Verlander had sharper secondary stuff than he'd had in his two earlier starts, but continued to have trouble with command that cost him, particularly in his last inning. He had a good pitching plan, but didn't execute as consistently as Reyes did, hanging a two-out, 2-1 changeup to Chris Duncan (who swung and missed at roughly 183 changeups Saturday night, but hit the one hanger he saw) that knocked one run in and led to two more when Albert Pujols came up and murdered a slightly misplaced fastball, crushing it to deep right.
Verlander unraveled along with the game in the sixth, when Detroit handed the Cardinals three gift runs through their own miscues. Verlander was obsessed with runners on first base all night; throwing over to check on Pujols, who has a gimpy hamstring, and is no burner at his best, is pointless. His throwing error put Pujols on third, and he scored when Jim Edmonds was given a fourth strike by the third-base ump and capitalized with a base hit. After Scott Rolen's ground-rule double, the Tigers got the groundball they wanted, hit to the right guy, slick-fielding third baseman Brandon Inge, who bobbled it, then made a terrible decision to come home anyway, throwing the ball several feet wide of the plate, which allowed Rolen to come home after Edmonds. Once Inge bobbled the ball, making the play at the plate was out of the question; he probably should have gone to first, although he had a chance to tag Rolen out behind him as well. That sequence of events, with just two hard-hit balls by the Cardinals, meant three runs and the ballgame.
The Tigers' decision not to intentionally walk Pujols in the third inning (with first base open) will be second-guessed from here to eternity if the Tigers lose the series. I was comfortable with that decision; it was early in the game, and you don't want to put Verlander into a situation where he's got two on and is facing the Cards' best left-handed hitter, especially when you're already down a run and Verlander had struck Pujols out in the first inning. The homer hurt, but it wasn't the reason the Tigers lost.
Detroit's hitters deserve their share of blame as well; for the first time since the regular season ended, we saw some bad hacks from Detroit hitters, including some very lackadaisical at-bats and swings in the seventh and eighth innings. If this Tigers offense has reverted to its September form -- impatient, fastball-happy and unwilling to force pitchers into hitters' counts -- the Cardinals will turn all predictions of easy Detroit victories on their heads.
Tony La Russa went against the current book by leaving Reyes in through the start of the ninth inning, which was the right decision for both this game and for the rest of the series. Reyes threw just 90 pitches, and by leaving him out there until the Craig Monroe homer in the ninth, La Russa avoided using any of his four best relievers in a rout, meaning that none of them will be pitching on less than three full days of rest on Sunday.
The decision didn't affect the outcome of this game, but Jim Leyland's bizarre inclusion of Sean Casey on his World Series roster is worth a mention. Casey is Jose Valentin's bat with Cliff Floyd's legs. If nothing else, Leyland should have learned from watching how the Mets' decision to carry Floyd on their NLCS roster destroyed their flexibility when he turned out to be nothing more than a pinch-hitter, and a weak one at that. Even if Casey's at 100 percent, he's not a good enough player to run the risk that he aggravates the calf injury or blows it out entirely, which would leave Leyland with no good pinch-hitting options on his bench.