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Heart of Cards' order missing10/25/2004 1:02 AM ET
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
BOSTON -- The St. Louis Cardinals won 105 games during the regular season for a number of reasons. The biggest, of course, being that just about everyone on their roster had a career year. But part of their success centered around the notion that if one element of their game wasn't working, the other picked up the slack. When the offense was off, the pitching was good enough to win. When the pitching struggled, the Cardinals simply outslugged the opponent. But what if the pitching is ineffective and the offense doesn't produce? The Cardinals are quickly discovering it's pretty hard to win that way, as evidenced by their 2-0 deficit in the 2004 World Series.
Not everyone is struggling. No. 2 hitter Larry Walker is 4-for-9, and hitting behind him is Albert Pujols, 3-for-7. But the 4-5-6 hitters are struggling in a way that no one thought possible, considering the way they've contributed up until this point.Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds and Reggie Sanders are a combined 3-for-22 in the first two games of the Fall Classic. They have stranded nine runners on base and struck out seven times. It wasn't until the eighth inning on Sunday that Rolen recorded his first World Series RBI, and that came via a sacrifice fly that only narrowed the Red Sox lead to four in a 6-2 Cardinals loss. The Cardinals, receiving a dismal outing from Game 1 starter Woody Williams and one only slightly better from Matt Morris the next night, scored 11 runs in two games. But amazingly, it wasn't enough, even with the aid of eight Red Sox errors. Missed opportunities were more likely to keep St. Louis manager Tony La Russa awake at night than lack of offensive production from key players. "It's more frustrating because it's something that we can control," La Russa said. "I thought we had a bunch of terrific at-bats. We did enough offensively to get more than two runs.
"Now, they did enough to get four, so we would lose 6-4. I'm not saying we win the game. But I thought our guys took terrific at-bats from (the first) to ninth inning, hit some hard balls and the inches went against us."Edmonds agreed. "We've hit some balls right at their guys," he said. "It happens. Terry Francona has done a guy job of bringing in his guys from the bullpen every time we seem to be on the verge of getting something going." Rolen and Edmonds are the biggest disappointments thus far after the two were spectacular during the NLCS. Rolen hit .310 in that series, and Edmonds maintained a .292 average while providing a game-winning homer in Game 6. Edmonds hopes to capture some of that LCS magic when the Cardinals head home to play in front of their fans, considered among the best in baseball, along with Boston's. "We're down [2-0], but we're going home and hopefully we'll take advantage of it," Edmonds said. "I haven't had too many good at-bats in the series. On the other hand, it's only been two games, so I wouldn't worry about it. It's nice to have a day off and we'll start over when we get to St. Louis." "We didn't get our offense going here like we'd hoped," Tony Womack said. "You know we're a better offense than we've shown. We did some things, but we also didn't make the most of all our opportunities. We'll get it going when we get back home."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.