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Notes: Taguchi gets starting nod

Notes: Taguchi gets starting nod

DETROIT -- A day after Cardinals manager Tony La Russa joked that the emperor of Japan had personally requested that So Taguchi find his way into the Cardinals' lineup, La Russa made it happen. Taguchi, 4-for-4 coming off the bench thus far in the postseason, got his first playoff start on Saturday night as the St. Louis left fielder in Game 1 of the World Series.

At spacious Comerica Park, Taguchi got the call to patrol the vast expanses, with Jim Edmonds in center and Juan Encarnacion in right. Chris Duncan started as the Cards' designated hitter. Scott Spiezio and Preston Wilson, the other two primaries in the team's rotating left field/right field setup, found themselves on the bench.

"I think Chris in the two hole in front of Albert, that's a reason we got into the postseason," La Russa said. "Early on I was thinking Spiezio, and I checked the lineup card from our game here in June and [Tigers Game 1 starter Justin] Verlander was really tough on Scott, so why push it? So had walked a couple of times and competed well in that series, and he's swinging well, and I think you get his potential offense plus great defense."

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Spiezio went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts against Verlander at Comerica Park in June. Taguchi was 1-for-2 with a walk against the hard-throwing rookie, while Duncan did not face him. Duncan homered in two at-bats in his only time as a designated hitter this year.

Take cover: Both La Russa and Game 2 starter Jeff Weaver spent parts of their pre-Game 1 news conferences addressing things that were written in the papers on Saturday. In addition to Tigers closer Todd Jones' negative comments about Weaver, La Russa was irked by a reference to Duncan as a "butcher" in the outfield. The comment was made by an anonymous scout in a USA Today preview of the series.

"If somebody [is here] from USA Today, I would suggest them staying away from [pitching coach Dave Duncan, Chris Duncan's father], because they called Chris brutal," La Russa said. "And I would fear for their safety, whoever is associated with that scouting report, because he would hurt them."

Quick turnaround: The Cardinals are hoping that lessons learned from the 2004 World Series will help them this time around. They have a hotel much closer to the ballpark in Detroit than they did in Boston, they arrived in town earlier, and the hope is that it will add up to more early success than in 2004.

"In '04 we won [the NLCS] at home," La Russa said. "So we celebrated until 4 or 5 in the morning and then you had to kind of stumble around the house packing. We didn't get to Boston until early evening and it was just a mess. And then the first game was there and it was a rush. We won [this time] in New York, we got here at 5 [a.m. ET]. We were packed. We think we've slowed everything down and we've really worked hard to put that one behind us and concentrate on this one. So there's a couple of differences, we'll see how it plays out."

The Cards got to Comerica Park early on Saturday, allowing them plenty of time to get settled in and have their normal pre-series meetings.

"When it happens last minute and you've got all the excitement going on of winning the series and then the immediate turnaround to the World Series, it can get a little chaotic and fast-moving," Weaver said. "Sometimes your head is spinning and you're not concentrating fully on what you should be, the task at hand and putting those things behind you and starting fresh and moving in the right direction.

"So [La Russa] did a good job of slowing things down for us a bit, getting over to the ballpark early today so we had plenty of time to get everything out of the way and get our head on for the game in front of us. He tried his best to slow it down a bit so we wouldn't be scrambling to get things done and get out there. Like I said, being through that experience before, you can make some adjustments, so hopefully they work in our favor."

This date in Cardinals history: On Oct. 21, 1987, Tom Lawless hit a three-run homer to help send the Cardinals to a 7-2 win over the Twins in Game 4 of the World Series at Busch Stadium. Bob Forsch pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief for the win, and Ken Dayley's 2 2/3 shutout innings delivered the save.

Coming up: Game 2 of the World Series is set for Sunday at Comerica Park. Former Tiger Weaver will face off against Kenny Rogers, with first pitch set for 7:23 p.m. CT.

Matthew Leach 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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