BOSTON -- And now it is the turn of Matt Morris to attempt to reverse the direction of the postseason while pitching on short rest.
The Cardinals right-hander, who is not coming off his finest season, will start Game 2 of the 2004 World Series on Sunday night at Fenway Park. Not only will he be facing a Boston Red Sox team that has won five straight postseason games, but he will be opposed by Curt Schilling.
Ordinarily, Schilling, pitching on a right ankle that contains a dislocated tendon, would be the focal point of this matchup. But with Morris on three days' rest and the Cardinals needing to get on the board, there are obviously other issues in play.
Morris had expected to work Game 3 on normal rest, but was told Friday night that his start would be moved up. The St. Louis World Series rotation now looks like Jeff Suppan in Game 3 and Jason Marquis in Game 4. Morris was asked how often he had pitched on short rest and he replied with a smile:
"I think the last time I pitched on short rest was a Whiffle Ball game when I was 10."
But Morris said that he was not overly concerned about this novelty.
"There's nothing to rest for; this is 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."
Why was the change in the rotation made? Manager Tony La Russa said that an opening was created for this move because Morris did not throw an inordinate amount of pitches in his last start, Game 6 of the NLCS.
"We had an edge, and we decided to play it," La Russa said. "He pitched 80 pitches, tomorrow will be four days, three days' rest. If he had pitched a normal game and had to reach deeper, we couldn't have done it.
"But he had a lot of road postseason experience. And 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 [Game] 4 in as another hitter in our lineup."
Matt Morris / P
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
This move could also be seen as something other than a vote of confidence in Marquis. After what was a breakthrough season for him, he produced substandard starts in both the NLDS and NLCS. The manager obviously isn't going to say that, but at this point, Morris at least has postseason experience on his side.
The two most reliable St. Louis starters in this postseason had been Suppan and Woody Williams. But Williams was rocked by the Red Sox in Game 1. So now, it's Matt Morris on short rest, standing between the Cardinals and a 2-0 deficit.
The Red Sox, for the moment, at least, seem to have much brighter prospects. Beyond Schilling, there is Pedro Martinez in Game 3. Martinez is always a candidate for a superior start. And then there is Derek Lowe in Game 4. Lowe, with his performance in the ALCS, has done no less than revive his career, not to mention his standing in all of New England.
Curt Schilling / P
Weight: 235 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Schilling, of course, has already worked his way into legend and lore with his ALCS-turning, on-one-ankle, Game 6 performance. One of the questions to Schilling in his appearance before the media on Saturday referred to him as "almost a mythical figure."
"That's a setup," said Schilling, who is a shrewd dude when it comes to these matters.
But the thing is that after Schilling was shelled in Game 1 against the Yankees, there was the question whether he and his ankle would even appear again in this postseason. Now, the expectations are almost off the charts in the opposite direction, that he will remain the king of October, even with an ankle that will require surgery in November.
After a 20-run contest Saturday night, there is also the expectation that one or both of these pitchers will hold the opposition at bay, at least for more than a couple of innings. Either way, this intriguing matchup holds the key to the short-term future of this Series -- Matty Mo on short rest vs. King Curt, medical marvel.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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