PrintPrint © 2004 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

Cards' Morris gets Game 2 start
10/24/2004 2:53 AM ET
BOSTON -- Matt Morris will be on the mound for Game 2 of the World Series on Sunday because he's been there before.

No, not because the Cardinals right-hander has pitched on three days' rest before.

"I think the last time I pitched on short rest was a Wiffle Ball game when I was 10," Morris said Saturday, when it was announced that he is the Cardinals' choice to face Curt Schilling in Game 2 at Fenway Park.

And, no, it's not because Morris has vast experience at Fenway Park.

STL /  BOS / News / Video / Audio / Photos

"Well, I played in the Cape Cod League as a freshman when I went to Seton Hall University," Morris said, referring to the college summer league played in the Northeast. "We came up here for a day off. Actually (Red Sox catcher Jason) Varitek was my catcher in the Cape Cod League in Hyannis. That was quite fun."

OK, so what's the experience that has Morris in the big spot of Game 2 starter, on three days' rest, no less? It's postseason experience, which he holds over the rest of St. Louis' starters, including potential Game 4 starter Jason Marquis. Morris has 12 postseason pitching appearances, although none have come in the World Series.

Trailing 1-0 in the Fall Classic after Saturday's 11-9 loss to the Red Sox, the Cardinals need Morris to deliver a quality start and send them back to St. Louis with the Series tied.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Saturday that he made the call based on Morris' experience factor and the fact that he only threw 80 pitches in his Game 6 start against the Astros in the National League Championship Series.

"We had an edge and we decided to play it," La Russa said. "He pitched 80 pitches, (Sunday) will be four days, three days' rest. If he had pitched a normal game and had to reach deeper, we wouldn't have done it.

"But he has a lot of road postseason experience and that's this one, if it goes to Game 6, that's where he would be and we felt like he was the best shot. Plus you get Jason in as another hitter in our lineup."

Marquis shifts to the Game 4 start at St. Louis, where the lefty-swinging right-hander will have the opportunity to show off his considerable hitting skill along with his pitching. Perhaps another reason was so the younger Marquis would not get thrown into the hostile environment of Fenway Park.

That puts Morris in new territory as far as rest goes. But whether it's on short rest, long rest or regular rest doesn't matter to Morris.

   Matt Morris  /   P
Born: 08/09/74
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

"There's nothing to rest for, that's the whole point," Morris said. "It's all or nothing right now. I'm not saving myself for anything. I don't know what to expect but I expect that I'm going to go out and make pitches. My body doesn't know at this point what short rest is."

Morris, who had a 15-10 mark and 4.72 ERA in an inconsistent season he attributes to his pending free agency and some shoulder issues, had said on Friday that he figured to be slotted into the Game 3 start at Busch Stadium. But he got the word that night that he'd be making the Game 2 start.

Other than getting a little less sleep than he might have with his first World Series start only two days away, as opposed to four, Morris said he made the adjustment to the news pretty quickly.

"You know what? After the game I pitched against the Astros, I thought it might be a possibility to pitch the second game here and let Marquis pitch at home," Morris said. "I don't know why, I just felt comfortable with that.

"I was trying to prepare myself, but after we clinched and won the National League championship, they had told Marquis that he was throwing. So I was able to take a deep breath and relax a little bit and last night the news changed. It's no different, I'm not unprepared, that's for sure."

With the world championship on the line, Morris is nothing but fully focused on the job at hand, not the whys or wherefores that have him stepping onto the mound at Fenway Park.

"Wherever they think the best chance of winning, I'm going to take that shot," Morris said.

He'll be doing that in a place that wowed him as a college student and he knows very well to be one of baseball's most hallowed grounds.

One thing's for sure: He's not in the Cape Cod League anymore.

"The history here, the fans, the organization, it's a lot like St. Louis but with, I think, a deeper hole to fill," Morris said. "I get a great opportunity to come here and pitch in a World Series game and I'm going to try to take advantage of it."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cardinals Homepage   |