10/11/05 5:14 PM ET
Walker: NLCS to come down to pitching
Three days off is just about perfect in between series. It's enough time to get some of your bumps and bruises healed up and it's enough time to get your pitching staff lined up the way you want it. But it's not too much time, either. You don't want to be sitting around waiting for a week because then you run the risk of getting a little stale.The schedule worked a lot better for us than it did for the poor guys over in the American League who had to fly across the country for a Game 5 then back to Chicago to begin the Championship Series tonight, that's for sure. I wonder why they didn't have us play tonight and let those guys have an extra day, but I guess they probably had their reasons for keeping the schedule the way it is. Our series with the Astros should be pretty evenly matched. We played them 16 times in the regular season, so there's not a lot of mystery involved at this point. Both clubs know how the other club plays and what the other club is capable of doing. I anticipate it will be a well-pitched, low-scoring series for both teams. I'm probably not the only one who believes this series will come down to pitching. The starting pitchers for the Astros are all tough, just like our starters. I think I had three hits off Roy Oswalt the last time I faced him, but that doesn't make me think I'm going to have my way with him this time around. That's the last thing on my mind. Taking a Major League pitcher of that caliber for granted would be a disaster waiting to happen. These pitchers on the Astros are the type who can shut you down completely and leave you shaking your head and talking to yourself on the way back to the dugout. It's not just their starters, either. They have a deep, talented bullpen, too. So the only thing you can really do is prepare yourself. You have to come up with a strong game plan and hope it works. It becomes even more important to capitalize on your opportunities when you're involved in a low-scoring contest, so Tony La Russa's aggressive managing style could be a plus for us. Every run will be so vital that we'll need to stay aggressive. We're going to have hit-and-run plays, bunts and take some chances on the basepaths. I think we led the world in squeeze plays this season. We got back to St. Louis kind of late on Sunday so I haven't really done very much the past couple days. On Monday we had a light workout and I got some treatment on my knee, which swelled up a bit after taking a direct hit from a Woody Williams pitch in Game 3. Then today we had a mandatory workout. Our club is ready to go and we're looking forward to the challenge. Five-time All-Star Larry Walker has won three batting titles and seven Gold Glove Awards over his 17 seasons in the Majors. In 1997, he became the first Canadian-born player to win an MVP Award.
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