It really is a shock that Tuesday's game ended with a 4-2 score, because Jeff Kellogg's strike zone was the exact opposite of Tim Welke's strike zone in Game 1. Starters Jeff Weaver and Tom Glavine had to hit the heads of pins to get strikes. The scoreboard operator should have been a lot busier. But hitters on both sides were helping the pitchers out by taking bad hacks. Preston Wilson and Albert Pujols certainly took some strange swings at balls that were way out of the strike zone in the first inning when David Eckstein set the table with a base hit.
Of course, both Pujols (home run in the fourth one pitch after what should have been strike three), and Wilson (put the Cards ahead to stay in the fifth...not the best karma when Mookie's stepson beats the Mets) took better swings off of Glavine later on.
Jeff Weaver got squeezed much the same by Kellogg throughout the game, but he too was helped by Met hitters, such as Jose Reyes and David Wright, who swung wildly at bad pitches. Weaver, however, only gave up the one big hit to Jose Valentin in the fourth inning. Of course, that rally immediately preceded the Cardinal rally in the bottom of the inning, continuing their nasty habit of responding to Met runs with runs of their own.
Somehow, Kellogg's strike zone expanded in the seventh for the Cardinal bullpen, as Josh Kinney and Adam Wainright were getting calls that Weaver wasn't getting...officially making Game 5 the most frustrating of the series as the Mets couldn't capitalize with two runners in scoring position and one out in the eighth. And that was pretty much your ball game in a nutshell.
Well it's really simple now, isn't it?
Down 2 games to 3.
Two games left.
Both at Shea.
Do (win them both) or die (dead).
It's that simple.
But it's not time to panic, kids. Winning two in a row at home to take a series in seven games has been done before. And if there's a team that has the talent to do it...if there's a team that has the teamwork to make the dream work, it's the 2006 New York Mets. But if you need hard evidence, let's review some recent history:
- These very Cardinals did it in the 2004 NLCS.
- The Angels did it to the Giants in the 2002 Series.
- The Arizona Diamondbacks did it to the Yankees in the '01 Series (and did it in part with a 15 run slaughter in game 6).
- The Braves did it to the Cardinals in 1996...and they had to win the last three games of that series.
And if you go back further, you'll see the Twins of 1991, the Twins of 1987, and a certain team that also had to come home to face an ace in Game 6.
So if you've got lucky socks, wear 'em.
If you have a ritual, don't deviate from it.
If you drink, have an extra one.
If you don't drink, start.
And if you have a ticket, remember:
- Yell. Yell again. Then, yell some more.
- If you're not sure, err on the side of yell.
- And don't wait for the scoreboard to tell you to do so.
- You have all winter to sleep.