Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sup'd Up!

National League Championship Series:

Cards - 3
Mets - 1 FINAL

Cardinals win NLCS 4-3

What can I say about Jeff Suppan? The man is money in the postseason. I can forget about how he gets tagged in April, May and June. Come July, the man is on the money. By postseason he's incredible. They've got to re-sign this guy. Find a way to keep him around. A guy who pitches like this in the big time situations is priceless. He's the anti-Marquis.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Molina's lightning bolt against a drizzly Queens night stunned a crowd of 56,357 but didn't come in time to make a winning pitcher of series MVP Jeff Suppan for his seven-plus innings of two-hit ball. It didn't have to. Suppan already had established himself as an October rock by starting the Cardinals' third clinching victory in three years.

"I never thought I'd be in a situation like this," said Suppan, who has risen from an "innings eater" to a certified big-game pitcher in three years with this current team...


Suppan, a guy who reached the Cardinals via free agency three Decembers ago as a 62-75 pitcher, dueled for six innings with enigmatic lefthander Oliver Perez, a Pittsburgh Pirates castoff deemed too excitable and too much an injury risk to ever match his sizable potential.

The Mets reached him for a 1-0 lead with two outs in the first inning.

Beltran beat left fielder Preston Wilson's throw for a two-out double. Suppan then walked cleanup hitter Carlos Delgado for the first of three times before third baseman David Wright flared a single short of right fielder Juan Encarnacion.

The Cardinals' first chance came after Edmonds led off the second inning with a single. Advanced to third base by Molina's parachute single to left, Edmonds was in position to score when No. 8 hitter Ronnie Belliard perfectly executed a safety squeeze on a high fastball.

There the game froze as Suppan didn't allow another hit before being lifted in the eighth inning.

The Mets loaded the bases with one out in the sixth when Delgado walked, Rolen threw wildly into the first-base stands on Wright's ground ball and right fielder Shawn Green was walked intentionally.

Adopting a soft, softer, softest approach, Suppan struck out second baseman Jose Valentin as his velocity decelerated through the at-bat. Chavez, poised to join New York's line of October icons, instead ended the threat with a fly ball to center field.

Thursday's performance left Suppan with one run allowed in 15 innings this series. In five NLCS starts for the Cardinals, Suppan has allowed six earned runs in 32 innings for a 1.69 ERA.


And then there's the poetic justice. This frozen moment:

Now, I ask you, what's better than that? Carlos Beltran has been killing us in the postseason for years now. It's like he's Godzilla and Cardinal pitching is Japan. I hated seeing him come to the plate in that situation but now, given the way it worked out, I'd wouldn't have had it any other way. That was PERFECT!

PS - Adam Wainwright is a beast.

PPS - And, like Jeff Suppan, Cards catcher Yadier Molina is the "It Guy". He's that guy, the one who comes from out of nowhere to dominate the postseason. Other "It Guys" from past years include Mark Lemke of the Atlanta Braves of the early '90s, Jim Leyritz of the San Diego Padres & NY Yankees in the mid-90s, Mickey Hatcher of the Los Angeles Dodger in 1988 and Billy Hatcher of the Cincinnati Reds in 1990.