Sports Outside the Beltway

Opening Night: New York at St. Louis

Let the games begin!

Baseball season returns to the scene of triumph, one of baseball’s truly great cities and its newest ballpark to open the 2007 campaign with a rematch from last season’s National League Championship Series. The New York Mets who had the best record in the National League are visiting the Cardinals, winners of the 2006 World Series.

Sunday night will be a night for the Cardinals to celebrate their Series victory one last time. The rings will be handed out and the new players joining the Cardinals roster can get a taste of the triumph from the previous autumn. The Mets will get an idea of what they missed and it will make them hungry.

Tom Glavine faces Chris Carpenter in the mound matchup. Glavine who gave the Cards fits in October will look to miss bats and keep the potent St. Louis lineup at bay. Carpenter meanwhile wants to pickup where he left off last season, shutting down batters and getting easy outs.

The Mets bats showed signs of clicking, thumping a split squad Dodgers team yesterday but have been more pedestrian in other clashes as the spring season has worn down. New York needs their lineup to carry them. April poses significant challenges for hitters. Pitchers benefit from colder weather typically and it is easier to disrupt a hitter’s timing int he days immediately following the trip north.

For the Cardinals the hope is to get out to a quick start. Their starters have looked strikingly good this spring, and while the games don’t count, the amazing rotation of Carpenter and four other guys has produced an ERA of 1.89 in 119.3 spring innings. Those four other guys have been Kip Wells, Adam Wainwright, Braden Looper and Anthony Reyes. Wells’ sparkling 1.16 ERA is only bettered by Wainwright’s 0.98.

St. Louis has used internal promotion, crafty trades and bargain free agents to good effect. This rotation may be the best example of Walt Jockety’s work to date. Staff ace Cris Carpenter rewarded the early patience of St. Louis, who signed him to sit out a season after Tommy John surgery, four years ago. Wells was a relatively cheap signing this past November. Looper worked out of the bullpen last year, the first of a three year contract he had signed in 2005. Reyes, a home grown Cardinal, has been touted by Baseball America and other propsect watchers for the last few years. Wainwright, who may be the best of the lot, came over from Atlanta when the Cardinals dealt J.D. Drew to Atlanta in 2003. Four years in the making, this rotation has potential to be great.

Sunday’s game is the first one to mean anything since October for either team. Welcome Back Baseball.

Related Stories:
Recent Stories:

Comments are Closed


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.