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another straightforward decision from la russa: he will stick with weaver in game 5 tonight. quote: "It's perfect. Jeff [Weaver] gets four days' rest, Chris gets four and Jeff [Suppan] gets four. It's our best shot."

for all the talk about the home-road splits of the cardinals' starters, i haven't ever heard anybody mention this one: glavine's era was 2 runs higher on the road than at home. he allowed 2.88 per 9 at shea, 4.72 on the road:

era avg obp slg hr/9 k/bb
road 4.72 .277 .342 .450 1.25 1.5
home 2.88 .257 .307 .390 0.74 3.1

maybe the cards can put up some runs tonight. at the very least, maybe they can get some men on base and force glavine to work, get him out of the game early enough to tax the met bullpen and soften it up for the final two games. insofar as game 7 is likely to be a bullpen game for the mets, every pitch the cardinals can force the relievers to throw before then helps.

according to the new york papers, the mets are feeling a sense of urgency to wrap up the series in 6. from today's ny daily news:

The Mets know the pressure is on to win the next two games and avoid a Game 7 at all costs. You wouldn't think Jeff Suppan could shut down the Mets again the way he did in Game 3, but all things considered, he's a better option than Darren Oliver, who probably would get the start because the Mets aren't about to send Steve Trachsel to the mound again.

Oliver pitched well in relief of Trachsel, but there's a lot less pressure when you're losing 5-0 than there is starting a Game 7, especially for a guy who hasn't made a start all season.

obviously this writer missed the cards' futile efforts to hit dave williams earlier this season . . . . any left-handed pitcher can be dangerous vs this lineup. more in this vein from the new york post:
The most likely strategy would be to have Darren Oliver (no starts since Aug. 5, 2004) and Oliver Perez (on three days) tag-team as many outs early as possible, meaning a hybrid starter, strangely enough, known as Oliver/Perez.

Just about the only certainty is that it will not be Steve Trachsel, who is unlikely to ever pitch for the Mets again. . . .

Oliver has a chance to start coming off of a bullpen-saving six shutout innings in relief of Trachsel in Game 3. But he threw 72 pitches and Glavine pointed out, "You don't know how Darren will bounce back from that." Glavine conceded that with Suppan fully rested, St. Louis would "be in a better situation than us."

glavine added that he would be prepared to face a few batters himself in game 7.

change of subject: i take the story about pujols' sore hammy with a chunk of salt. this is the same organization that assured us mulder's shoulder was fine and izzy was perfectly healthy; when it comes to injuries, we only know what they want us to know. so why would they want us to know that (quoting la russa) pujols "can still hit line drives, but it's tougher for him to generate that big power push"? i think tony's just trying to get the media to stop asking "why isn't pujols hitting? and why is he acting like such a prick?" albert has chafed at questions re his fallability since day 1 of this series, beginning with his ill-advised postgame remarks about glavine after the opener. those comments gave the media a storyline, one that la russa has spent considerable effort trying to defuse. the rainy-day revelation about hombre's hamstring strikes me as part of the manager's campaign to change the subject and give his superstar some cover, get the reporters off his back. i'm not criticizing la russa -- on the contrary, he's doing what a good manager should do. nor am i suggesting that the information is untrue; i take it at face value that el hombre's hammy is sore. but when la russa says the ailment is so bad that he might play duncan at first instead of hombre . . . . well, i'll believe that when i see it. until then, i will assume that la russa's exaggerating the severity of hombre's condition, trying to create a distraction and a little drama.

david pinto of baseball musings is not buying it either:

Why would you announce such a thing? If I'm the Mets, and I know Albert can't generate as much power, don't you pitch him differently? If you think he's going to damage you pulling the ball, you might pitch him away. If you don't, you might go inside more. Is this just a mind game La Russa is playing? Albert seems to hit the ball pretty hard. Something here just doesn't make sense.
no, it doesn't make sense at all. in the 10 games leading up to the nlcs -- the last week of the regular season, plus the 4 games of the nlds -- pujols posted a .368 / .442 / .763 line and whacked 7 extra-base hits (3 doubles, 4 homers). wasn't having any trouble generating power from his swing at that point. and following those 10 games, he had four full days off before game 1 of the nlcs. so if the hamstring wasn't impeding albert's power before this series began, why would it suddenly begin to do so now? the weather's been cold; maybe that tightened things up. but it still appears to me that albert's struggles are more mental than physical. he hasn't adjusted to how the mets are pitching him (ie, out of the strike zone); once he regains his discipline and forces them to throw pitches that more closely resemble strikes, he might get a mistake to hit -- and hit it a long way.