St Louis Cardinals Win The 2006 World Series
Favored by few, the St. Louis Cardinals used an unlikely cast of characters to win their first World Series in nearly a quarter century.
Jeff Weaver dominated, David Eckstein drove in two runs on balls that didn’t leave the infield and the Cards took advantage of another wild throw by a Tigers pitcher to beat Detroit 4-2 on Friday night and won the Series in five games.
Manager Tony La Russa’s Cardinals had just 83 regular-season wins, the fewest by a World Series winner, and nearly missed the playoffs after a late-season slump.
But the Cardinals beat San Diego and the New York Mets in the playoffs, then won their first title since 1982 by taming a heavily favored Tigers’ team that entered the Series with six days’ rest.
On a cold Midwest night more suitable to football than baseball, the Tigers made two more errors, raising their Series total to eight – three by third baseman Brandon Inge and a record five by their pitchers. Eight of the 22 runs allowed by the Tigers were unearned, the most by a team since the 1956 New York Yankees against Brooklyn.
While the Tigers tossed the ball to the tarp, the Cardinals’ were mostly crisp, with the notable exception of right fielder Chris Duncan, who dropped a fly ball just before before Sean Casey’s two-run homer in the fourth put Detroit ahead 2-1.
St. Louis came right back to take a 3-2 lead in the bottom half as pitcher Justin Verlander threw away a ball for the second time in two starts, and Scott Rolen added a big run with a two-out RBI single in the seventh off relief Fernando Rodney, extending his postseason hitting streak to 10 games.
It was the 10th World Series title for the Cardinals, their first since 1982. La Russa, who led the Oakland Athletics to a sweep in the earthquake-interrupted 1989 Bay Bridge Series, joined Sparky Anderson (Cincinnati and Detroit) as the only managers to win Series titles in each league.
It marked the first time since the 1912 Red Sox at Boston’s Fenway Park that a team won the Series at home in a first-year ballpark. And the Cardinals (83-78) almost didn’t even make it to the postseason. They had a seven-game NL Central lead with 12 to go but lost eight of nine before recovering to finish 1 1/2 games ahead of Houston, the defending NL champion.
Minnesota, in 1987, had set the previous low for wins by a Series winner, going 85-77.
As the Tigers failed in their bid for their first title since 1984, their season ended with Kenny Rogers rested and ready with no place to pitch. Rogers, who threw 23 shutout innings in the postseason, was saved by manager Jim Leyland for a possible sixth game Saturday in Detroit.
Weaver, cast off by the Yankees three years ago after a World Series flop, allowed four hits in eight innings, matched his season high with nine strikeouts and walked one before Adam Wainwright finished with a one-hit ninth for the save.
Casey doubled off Wainwright with one out in the ninth for his third hit, and Placido Polanco walked with two outs to put runners on the corners. Inge then struck out.
Verlander gave up three runs – one earned – and three hits, recovering from early control problems to give the Tigers a decent effort.