10/13/2002 9:21 pm ET
Morris ready for second chance
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Morris refuses to calm down.
Well, he'd refuse if he had a choice.
Morris, the St. Louis Cardinals' pitching ace, was off in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants -- seven runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings of a 9-6 Cards loss. Morris observers note that his pre-game adrenaline got the best of him.
But, Morris said, he doesn't want the adrenaline taken away.
"I think being nervous is natural," he said. "If you're not nervous, you're not human out there in these kind of games. I'm going to be nervous, but nervous energy is good."
The problem in Game 1 was nervous energy was mixed with extremely poor location.
Morris tended to struggle early during the regular season. Batters hit .353 with three home runs and 24 RBIs during the first inning, but he settled down enough to go 17-9 with a 3.42 ERA.
Usually, he'd make a key pitch or coax a key out, then settle into his rhythm. But Morris struggled throughout his Game 1 stint. He walked leadoff man Kenny Lofton and watched him score in the first, then gave up four runs in the second. Lofton homered in the third and Morris trailed, 6-1.
"Some games that I pitched this year, I was able to see one pitch that I could take back and it might change the outcome of the game," Morris said. "That first game, there were too many pitches that were mistakes.
"There were no easy innings, and I think in a situation like that you want your defense to get off the field and pick up the bats and score runs. I put them in a hole right off the bat."
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa expects better on Monday.
"Matt is a high-energy type guy, and when he comes into a game he's got an aggressive mentality," La Russa said. "You can see that June 1, if it's a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday afternoon getaway day. He gets himself ready to go.
"What he's learned to do more and more is to collect himself and kind of amp down a little bit. It's just in that game it got away from him early."
Now it's up to Morris to keep the next game, and the series, from getting away from the Cardinals.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.