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Chess Match: Glavine comes up big

Chess Match: Glavine comes up big

NEW YORK -- With Cards ace Chris Carpenter looming in Game 2, matched against relatively inexperienced John Maine, the pressure in Game 1 was squarely on the Mets to get a grip on the NLCS behind their ace, Tom Glavine. Keeping Albert Pujols in check, Glavine delivered, and so did Carlos Beltran, giving New York a leg up with a 2-0 Shea Stadium verdict.

Navigating treacherous waters
The situation: The Cards' Preston Wilson singles with one out in a scoreless sixth inning, and here comes Pujols with his first chance to take the life out of the Mets, just as he did to the Padres in Game 1 of the NLDS. Padres manager Bruce Bochy was hammered for pitching in similar situations to Pujols, who was 5-for-8 as the Cards won the first two games in San Diego.

The decision: Mets manager Willie Randolph has Glavine go after Pujols, who gets ahead 2-0 in the count with tension rising at Shea Stadium.

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The outcome: Pujols takes a fastball down the middle for a strike, and the crowd exhales. The next pitch is one of the few curveballs Glavine shows all night, and Pujols lines out to short. The inning ends with a Juan Encarnacion fly ball, and in the bottom of the sixth, Beltran's two-run homer against Jeff Weaver has New York in front.

The analysis: "That's why Glavine is a Hall of Famer," Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca said. "In that situation, you don't want to put the tying run on, but at the same time you don't want to give Pujols anything good to hit. We got a 2-0 fastball away for a strike, and then he hit a hanging breaking ball right at Jose [Reyes]."

Mota comes through for Randolph
The situation: Glavine sails through seven shutout innings having thrown 89 pitches, allowing only two Cardinals to reach scoring position.

The decision: With complete faith in his bullpen, Randolph lifts Glavine -- who figures to start Game 5 on three days' rest -- and summons hard-throwing right-hander Guillermo Mota.

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The outcome: Mota rolls through the first two hitters, then runs into trouble. He walks David Eckstein on four pitches and falls behind 3-0 on Wilson, with Pujols in the on-deck circle representing the potential winning run. Mota throws five straight mid-90s fastballs, Wilson lifting the last one harmlessly into foul territory for the third out. Pujols will have to lead off the ninth.

The analysis: Lo Duca: "That was a key out in the game, getting Wilson there. We didn't have to see Pujols in a situation where he could have really hurt us. The way Tommy was throwing, he could have probably gone all nine innings. But he might have to come back on three days' rest, and it's good to save bullets this time of year."

Floyd can't go
The situation: Mets left fielder Cliff Floyd showed he could swing the bat with his strained left Achilles, but he didn't know if he could run through the pain running from the ankle to the calf.

The decision: The Mets put Floyd on the postseason roster, and Randolph had him playing left and hitting sixth.

The outcome: Rounding first on a foul ball in his first at-bat in the second inning, Floyd came up hobbling. After flying out, he was replaced in the third inning by Endy Chavez, whose diving backhanded catch robbed Ronnie Belliard of a hit in the fifth with one on and one out. Floyd should be able to pinch-hit, but his availability in the lineup looks highly doubtful.

The analysis: "They weren't pushing me, telling me to go out there," Floyd said. "They asked me, and I told them I could. It's unfortunate. People are saying, `They should have left him off the postseason roster,' but there's no sense in that. I hope there's positive news [Friday]. But at this point, it's about doing whatever is necessary to help win that ring. I'll pinch-hit, whatever they need."

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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