The Cards were better. They hit better, (they were like 15 for 50 with runners on), and they pitched better, (the Mets were like 4 for 50). Twice, in Shea Stadium, the teams went into the 9th inning tied, and both times the Cards hit home runs and won, while the Mets took called strike threes. The Cards seemed to have tougher at-bats, made better pitches, I mean, overall, they were the better team.
As for Game Seven, I’d say that I was surprised that the Mets took so many first pitch strikes from Suppan, never seeming to adjust to the aggressiveness of the Cardinals game plan. I was definitely surprised to see Beltran take strike three with the season on the line. But, in the end, the Cards were better.
Lupica gets it right, with this season-ending piece:
…. The Mets had one last chance in the bottom of the ninth, had a great chance to make that inning like the bottom of the 10th against the Red Sox 20 years ago. Valentin got the hit he didn’t get in the sixth, Chavez got the hit he didn’t get in the sixth, Paul Lo Duca walked with two outs. Beltran at the plate. Heilman at least tried to make a pitch.
Beltran watched the season go by with the bat on his shoulder. He went to the dugout. The Cardinals go to Detroit for Game 1 tomorrow night.
That seems a little harsh, but I will say, I sat here and said to all the people in the room, the minute the count went to 0-2, “He absolutely HAS TO SWING, at any pitch remotely connected to the strike zone. I was expecting him to battle back to 2-2 or at least foul a couple off. But Wainright was able to do what the Mets pitchers were not; finish a hitter off. Beltran seemed to have no chance, really. Even though the Mets loaded the bases, Wainright never seemed to be in trouble, right? Didn’t it seem that way? Seemed like even the guys who got the hits weren’t really hitting him hard And think about what happened then. Game Seven, 9th inning, bases loaded, one out, up two runs, and LaRussa not only didn’t pull him, it never even occured to me, (or Fox’s announcers, really), that he should have.
It really was a great game, and a pretty damn impressive series.
And let’s not forget that before Pujols pulled that oblique, the Cards were looking like the best team in the NL, after coming out the gate something like 31-13. They pulled it together just in time, and they pitched their asses off against the Mets.
Meanwhile, the Mets pitching staff gave everything you could possibly give, with the injuries to Pedro and El Duque. They just didn’t quite have enough. Seemed like the Cards had a lot more 8 and 10 pitch at-bats, at-bats where the Mets pitcher simply could not get strike three, (whoever it was, it hardly seemed to matter). At the same time, there were many Mets at-bats that seemed like mistmatches, where the Cardinals pitcher had the upper hand, (again, whoever it was seemed irrelevant).
Perhaps Randolph could use a strategist on the bench, someone to be his Zimmer. I don’t know, maybe it was just execution. One thing’s for sure, that was a hell of a series, and a hell of a Game Seven.