Flashback: Tigers' lone win in 2006 Series vs. Cards
The Game 2 win for Detroit at Comerica Park came with some controversy. Remember that smudge on Kenny Rogers' hand?
Editor's note: With the Tigers and Cardinals beginning a three-game interleague series tonight in St. Louis, we look back at the only bright spot from their last World Series against each other. This story originally was published Oct. 23, 2006.
Babe Ruth simply and respectfully referred to him as "the great Mathewson."
And right-hander Christy Mathewson was never greater than in the 1905 World Series, when he started three games for the New York Giants and in each of them pitched a shutout against the Philadelphia Athletics.
Now, 101 years later, Kenny Rogers has done something similar.
The Tigers left-hander has made three starts this postseason and hasn't allowed a run in any of them. On Sunday night, he pitched eight scoreless innings and pitched the Tigers to their first World Series win since 1984.
Rogers allowed two hits and, after Todd Jones survived a scary ninth inning, had a 3-1 victory over the Cardinals in Game 2 of the World Series at Comerica Park. The Series is tied at a game apiece as it heads to St. Louis for the next three games.
Jones relieved Rogers for the ninth. He retired the first two hitters, then allowed a single, booted a comebacker by former Tiger Juan Encarnacion and gave up Jim Edmonds' bloop RBI double. That put the potential tying run at second. Jones hit Preston Wilson with a pitch before Yadier Molina grounded into a force-out, shortstop to second base.
For the second straight start, Rogers allowed two hits, both singles, one on the infield. He allowed a runner past first base only in the first inning. After St. Louis put runners at first and second with one out in the first, he got Encarnacion on a comebacker. Rogers, who had never won a postseason game before this month, has pitched 23 consecutive scoreless innings this postseason.
And for his second straight start, the Tigers won by scoring twice in the first and once in the fifth. On the night Rogers was imitating Mathewson, the scoring began when another Tiger was checking in with a different Hall of Famer. Craig Monroe caught Hank Greenberg for the most career postseason homers by a Tiger when he launched his fifth long ball of this year's October tournament to start the scoring with one out in the first.
With two outs in the first, Carlos Guillen drove a double to deep left-center off ex-Tiger Jeff Weaver to score Magglio Ordonez from first.
The Tigers then went hitless in their first seven at-bats off Weaver with a runner in scoring position. The streak finally ended in the fifth, when Guillen tripled (his fourth hit of the World Series) and scored on Sean Casey's two-out, line single to right.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland has often said that it was his good friend Tony La Russa, the Cardinals manager, who taught him to put a power hitter in the second spot in the order. That's a spot traditionally reserved for a hitter with bat control, not necessarily power. But La Russa's theory is that you don't have a lot of speed atop the order (and the Tigers don't), you might as well put a power hitter in the second spot and hope for some thunder.
Monroe smacked Weaver's first pitch to him over the fence in left-center. He had done in 35 postseason at-bats what Greenberg needed in his first 67 at-bats in the postseason to accomplish: five homers. Greenberg played in the days when the postseason consisted only of the World Series, and he hit at least one homer in all four World Series in which he played: 1934 (against the Cardinals), 1935, 1940 and 1945.
In the ninth inning of Game 1, Monroe set a club record with his fourth homer in one postseason. He'd been tied with Alan Trammell and Kirk Gibson, who each hit three homers in the 1984 postseason.
"Wow," Monroe said before Sunday's game. "That's pretty good company. I'm honored. That is something to be proud of. But right now my focus is just being good for this team and doing things to help us win games. But yeah, what an accomplishment."
While the Cardinals had no runners from the second through the fourth, the Tigers had seven in the same span. They couldn't get any home. Curtis Granderson grounded into a double play to end the second. Pudge Rodriguez grounded out after the Tigers put two on with two out in the third.
Then the Tigers loaded the bases with none out in the fourth on a hit batter, Inge's single and first baseman Albert Pujols' bobble of Ramon Santiago's sacrifice bunt. But Weaver fanned Granderson, got Monroe to pop up, produced a grounder from Placido Polanco, and ran off the field with his right hand in an exultant fist.