and we're about back to even: 3 wins apiece; 8 homers apiece; mets with 26 runs to the cards' 25.
it comes down to suppan vs all the rags and tags of the new york pitching staff. heading into the series, i thought suppan had a chance to play a decisive role; now more so than ever. a win tonight and he's the series mvp. the cardinals don't have any other candidate for that honor -- albert's still stuck on 1 rbi (though he's got his batting avg up to .350); he got his 2d at-bat with RISP of the series last night and was intentionally walked. aside from him and molina, every cardinal regular is hitting .250 or lower.
rolen finally got an extra-base hit last night, his first of the postseason. i think he'll be in there tonight vs perez, to the chagrin of much of the fan base; his understudy, spiezio, has never hit left-handers with authority -- only 3 extra-base hits (no homers) in 87 at-bats vs them this year -- and he went 0-3 vs perez in game 4. he's a big-game player, to be sure, and he's healthier than rolen, but it doesn't set up particularly well for speeze tonight. rolen, impaired though he is, has still managed a .350 obp in this series; i'd start him, bat him 7th, and be prepared to pinch-hit should the circumstances warrant. in the outfield, la russa might be tempted to start the suddenly unstoppable so taguchi over preston wilson; gooch has more plate discipline and better on-base skills than wilson, and he's swinging the hotter bat. he is 5 for 17 lifetime against perez.
the cardinal franchise has appeared in 13 game 7s, second only to the yankees; st louis is 9-4 in those games. toss in the do-or-die game 5 in the 2001 nlds, and the team has gone 9-5 in series deciders. this will be the fourth game 7 for the met franchise; they've won once in 3 previous tries. many of the guys on the cardinal roster have already played in -- and won -- at least one winner-take-all game. the list begins with tonight's starting pitcher, mr suppan, the winning pitcher in game 7 of the 2004 nlcs. the mv3s all played behind supps in that game 7, and molina and gooch watched it from the bench. spiezio and eckstein played in game 7 of the 2002 world series; encarnacion appeared late, as a defensive replacement, in game 7 of the 2003 nlcs in chicago. for the mets, i think beltran is the only position player who's been in this position before; he appeared against suppan in game 7 of 2004 (he went 0 for 3 with a walk). tom glavine is the dean of game 7s -- he's pitched in one (1996, beating the cardinals) and been in uniform for three others.
miklasz likes the tone la russa is setting for his players:
they will play one tonight, and i'll be glued to the set just like you; here's hoping our boys win it.