Cards kick off MLB season against Mets at Busch

Cards kick off MLB season against Mets at Busch

Cards kick off MLB season against Mets at Busch
April 1st, 2007

(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Cardinals will raise their World Series championship banner this evening, as they kick off the 2007 campaign against the New York Mets in the opener of a three-game set from Busch Stadium.

This series is a rematch of last year's National League Championship Series, which St. Louis won in a dramatic seventh game, vaulting the Cards to the Fall Classic for the second time in the last three years. St. Louis then continued its improbable postseason run, as it claimed its first title in 24 years by knocking off the Detroit Tigers in five games.

The offensive catalyst for the Cardinals, as he has been each year since breaking into the league in 2001, remains Albert Pujols. Perhaps the most complete hitter in the game, Pujols is coming off yet another stellar season in 2006, hitting .331 with career highs in home runs (49) and RBI (137). He played in a career-low 143 games because of injury, and was the runner-up for the National League MVP to Phillies' budding star Ryan Howard.

The pitching staff will again be anchored by Chris Carpenter, who will be on the hill tonight. Carpenter gets his third straight Opening Day assignment with the Cardinals and the fourth of his major league career.

The 31-year-old right-hander followed up his 2005 Cy Young season with a 15-8 year in 2006 to go along with a 3.09 earned run average. Carpenter, who finished third in Cy Young voting, also went 3-1 in the postseason.

Carpenter did not face the Mets in the regular season last year, but was 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA against them in his two NLCS starts. For his career he is 1-2 versus the Mets with a 4.24 ERA in three starts.

If St. Louis has any plans on repeating it had better get a big season from Carpenter, because the rest of the rotation is a huge question mark. Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver were both a big part of the Cardinals' championship run a year ago, but both left via free agency. Instead manager Tony LaRussa will have former closers Adam Wainwright and Braden Looper along with Anthony Reyes and Kip Wells in his rotation alongside Carpenter.

The Mets, meanwhile, have their own concerns in the starting pitching department with Pedro Martinez on the shelf with a torn rotator cuff until at least after the All-Star break. So manager Willie Randolph will use a patchwork staff that consists of tonight's starter Tom Glavine, Orlando Hernandez, John Maine, Oliver Perez and rookie Mike Pelfrey.

New York had issues with its starting staff a year ago, but rode an incredible lineup to an NL-best 97 wins. The amazing Jose Reyes headlines New York's lineup which also features burgeoning superstar David Wright, as well as Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and newcomer Moises Alou.

Glavine gets the call tonight, as he hopes to move one step closer to his 300th victory. Glavine begins the 2007 campaign 10 wins shy of the magical number after going 15-7 a year ago with a 3.82 ERA. This will be Glavine's seventh Opening Day assignment and his fourth with the Mets. He is 4-3 all- time in season openers and 2-1 with the Mets.

Glavine defeated the Cardinals in his only regular season start against them last year and is 18-6 lifetime against them with a 3.61 ERA in 35 starts. He was also 1-1 against them in the NLCS.

New York took four of six from the Cardinals last season, but St. Louis is 12-7 in the series since the start of 2004, including wins in eight of the last 10 at Busch.

The two teams enjoy an off day on Monday before resuming their series on Tuesday.

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Re: Cards kick off MLB season against Mets at Busch

Mets stifle Cardinals in season-opener
April 1st, 2007

St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - Paul Lo Duca drove in three runs and Tom Glavine threw six strong innings, as the New York Mets used solid defense to beat the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1, in the first game of the 2007 season.

The opener of the three-game series, a rematch of last year's National League Championship Series, which St. Louis won in a dramatic seventh game, proved to be a defensive clinic run by the Mets. They surged to a 5-0 lead by battering 2005 Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter, and then used spectacular defense, turning four double plays, to quell the Cardinals.

Carlos Delgado knocked in two runs and Carlos Beltran had the other RBI for the Mets, who topped the NL with 97 wins last season. Every Met that came to the plate got a hit.

St. Louis finished its great run by besting Detroit in five games in the World Series last October, but couldn't solve Glavine (1-0), who quieted the Busch Stadium crowd with controlled pitching. The left-hander scattered six hits, allowed one runs, walked two and struck out three.

David Eckstein had three hits and the lone RBI for the Cardinals. Yadier Molina added two hits for St. Louis, but Albert Pujols, the runner-up in last year's NL MVP voting, went 0-for-2 and walked twice.

Carpenter (0-1) surrendered nine hits and five runs, walked one and struck out three through six frames.

Eckstein's double down the left scored Skip Schumaker in the sixth, and the Cardinals loaded the bases later in the inning after Scott Rolen was hit by a pitch from Glavine. However, the crafty lefty induced Molina into a broken-bat pop out to Jose Reyes at shortstop to end the inning.

The Mets turned another twin-killing to end the seventh, and then escaped another bases-loaded jam in the eighth. A pair of walks and a single by Eckstein loaded the bases. Aaron Heilman was then summoned from the bullpen to replace Joe Smith. Rolen hit a screaming grounder up the middle, but Jose Valentin dove to stop the ball, flipped it to Reyes to start the inning-ending double play.

Lo Duca singled in David Newhan in the ninth.

There was a one-hour ceremony before the game to honor the Cardinals for their first title since 1982, but the Mets weren't bothered by festivities.

The Mets struck for two runs in the third and three more in the fourth. Glavine singled to lead off the third, and two outs later Beltran was hit by a pitch. Delgado followed by doubling off the wall in left field for a 2-0 contest.

The Mets loaded the bases in the fourth after singles by Shawn Green and Valentin, and a walk to Reyes. Lo Duca smacked a two-run single up the middle, and Beltran followed with another base hit to center field.

Game Notes

The series resumes Tuesday night...The last time these two clubs opened up the season facing each other was Tony La Russa's first year as skipper of the Cardinals on this same date in 1996...This was Carpenter's third straight Opening Day start...Glavine, who has 291 wins, is 19-6 lifetime against the Cardinals. This was Glavine's eighth career Opening Day start, including his fourth with the Mets. Only Tom Seaver (11 Opening Day starts) and Dwight Gooden (8 Opening Day starts) have made more...The Cardinals are 53-61-2 all time on Opening Day...New York has a 29-17 record on Opening Day. After losing their first eight Opening Day contests, the Mets have captured 29 of their last 38 Opening Day games.

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