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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:

"You play a Game 7 in a best-of-seven series. It's an experience you'll never forget. It will be one of the most enjoyable things, especially if you do it right as far as getting ready and doing the best you can."
the newer, looser tony; don't think too much, just play it off and see what you end up with. i like the attitude. cardnilly strikes a similar chord in this morning's post:
The beautiful and the terrible thing about baseball is that good teams will lose a third of the time, and bad teams will win a third of the time. The only thing the players can really control is the amount and intensity of effort they pour into the game. So long as the effort is genuine, we Cardinal fans (and I think most fans everywhere) are willing to accept the result for what it is. Someone has to win, someone has to lose -- all we as fans can reasonably ask for is that everyone competes as hard as he can.
amen; well said. as for me, i must simply be getting too old for this stuff. i've seen the team win in october, and i've seen them lose; and neither winning nor losing has ultimately had any real impact on my life. whatever the result, i'm always the same person on the same journey. watching the cards win is great fun; losing, not so much. but it really is only an engrossing diversion --- just a game.

they will play one tonight, and i'll be glued to the set just like you; here's hoping our boys win it.