Tigers aim for new outlook after rainout
Detroit (1-2) at St. Louis (2-1), Thursday, 7 p.m. CT
ST. LOUIS -- Now the Tigers may be ready to start roaring. The rains that fell Wednesday, forcing a postponement in Game 4 of the World Series, could have also dropped the green flag to get Detroit's crawling offense out of the blocks.After all, the Tigers followed up their previous rainout this postseason with seven consecutive convincing wins over first the Yankees, then the Athletics. Game 2 of the Division Series got washed out, after the Tigers' 8-4 loss to the Yankees in the series opener. They dried out and swept away New York and Oakland. "I hope we'll see the same scenario and we'll be able to come back [Thursday] and even the series," said Detroit first baseman Sean Casey. Weather or not, this 2006 World Series will eventually resume. The question will then become whether or not the Tigers can resume hitting. Lest their World Series hole become a slippery pit, the Tigers now must hope for a similar second wind. Through three games, the Cats have been declawed by St. Louis pitching, which has held them to a collective .185 average and a total of five runs in three games. The Cardinals have not been much more proficient, with a .196 team average, raising the issue of whether the cool conditions should share credit with the respective pitching staffs. The average temperature for the first three games was 46.3 degrees; the record for an entire World Series is 48.5, in 1976 for the clash between Cincinnati and the Yankees. Both teams will stay with their original pitching plans for the delayed Game 4. Jeff Suppan will be opposed by Jeremy Bonderman. "If we don't swing the bats better, they'll go up, 3-1," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "That's as simple as it is. "But, at the same time, I think we will swing the bats better. We're certainly not conceding anything." Detroit's lineup remains full of holes. Curtis Granderson (.333 in the ALCS), Placido Polanco (.529) and Ivan Rodriguez all remained hitless for the Series. Among them, the trio is 0-for-34. Leyland had contemplated shaking up his lineup, and indeed, his aborted Game 4 batting order was tossed. Polanco dropped from third to No. 7 and was replaced in the three-hole by Carlos Guillen; Casey was promoted from No. 7 to No. 5 to protect cleanup hitter Magglio Ordonez. Nothing can bolster a team in the postseason like having two hot starting pitchers, and Suppan has certainly formed that type of tandem with Carpenter. "This guy's been nails for us," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said of Suppan. St. Louis could have another slight edge Wednesday night, in the No. 9 hole of the lineups. Suppan handles the stick well enough to have homered in the NLCS, off the Mets' Steve Trachsel. Bonderman, usually spared by the DH, is a lifetime 0-for-19 hitter, with 12 strikeouts.
"I'm not a very good hitter, so I don't really worry about it too much," Bonderman said.The other Tigers are very good hitters. If they don't begin to show it, Detroit will definitely have something to worry about. Players for both teams shrugged off Wednesday night's long delay, and eventual cancellation, a lot lighter than bystanders such as fans and media. "This is football weather," said the Cards' Albert Pujols, "but I'd rather be out there playing than sitting home and watching someone else. There are no excuses. You have to go out and perform. There is no advantage to either team. This is the World series. You have to go out and play." "If I could've told it to stop raining, I would've," Casey grinned. "Rain, sunshine or snow -- we'll be OK. We're in St. Louis to win baseball games." Granderson said the delay fare in his clubhouse included good food, good music and rampant speculation. "One of the things we talked about is that we may play till November," Granderson said. "Whenever we play, we'll be ready to go. We just hope the people will keep coming out." Pitching matchup
DET: RHP Jeremy Bonderman (1-0, 3.00 in postseason)
Bonderman (1-0, 3.08 ERA postseason; 14-8, 4.08 regular season) has pitched two strong outings so far this postseason to clinch the Tigers' last two series, but both outings came in Detroit. This will be his first playoff start on the road, but he was actually stronger away from Comerica Park during the regular season. He tossed seven innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts against the Cards at home in June, part of his early-summer roll of 10 consecutive starts without a loss.
STL: RHP Jeff Suppan (1-1, 1.86 in postseason)
Suppan (1-1, 1.86 ERA postseason; 12-7, 4.12 regular season) has taken big assignment after big assignment over the past three years for the Cardinals, so this World Series start shouldn't be too big a leap for the steady right-hander. He's coming off two exceptional performances in the NLCS, pitching the Cards to wins in Games 3 and 7. Suppan battled through five innings against the Tigers in June, allowing three runs on nine hits and receiving a no-decision.
Tiger to watch: Rodriguez
What? The guy who is 0-for-11 in the World Series and in an overall 0-for-22 postseason drought, one of the longest of his career? All true, but Pudge has hit .500 in the past against Suppan (though in only 12 at-bats), and the confidence borne of that track record will get him going.
Quietly, he has been getting over his bumps and bruises, and looked to have more pep Tuesday night than he had in a long time. He is ready to not only help, but control a game with his swing and his legs. On the Internet
Official game notes On television
Friday: Tigers (RHP Justin Verlander, 1-1, 7.47) at Cardinals (RHP Anthony Reyes, 1-0, 3.00), 7 p.m. CT
Saturday (if necessary): Cardinals (RHP Jeff Weaver, 2-2, 2.90) at Tigers (LHP Kenny Rogers, 3-0, 0.00), 7:30 p.m. ET
Sunday (if necessary): Cardinals (RHP Chris Carpenter, 3-1, 2.78) at Tigers (LHP Nate Robertson, 1-2, 5.17), 7:30 p.m. ET
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.