The NLCS goes back to New York, at least geographically speaking. With their 4-2 win tonight, the Cards have taken command of this hotly-contested series. Credit for the win has to go to the Cardinals' bullpen. Cards' relievers flirted with danger in the 8th inning, but held the Mets scoreless for the final three innings. Some credit has to go to whoever has been pitching in Jeff Weaver's uniform during the playoffs this year. Is it possible that it was really Jeff's younger brother, Jared, who was 'lights out' as a rookie starter for the Angels this year?
The real drama of the game came in the eighth inning. David Wright had a tough at-bat against Brad Kinney, but finally stroked a double to the left-field corner, to put runners at second and third with one out. Reliever Randy Flores got Shawn Green to hit a weak fly that centerfielder Jim Edmonds barely reached running in towards the infield. Then came a classic at-bat as Adam Wainwright threw curveball after curveball to Jose Valentin before finally striking him out. In the home half of the inning, the Mets' Guillermo Mota was able to strand Adam Miles at third after a one-out triple. Earlier in the game, Chad Bradford and Pedro Feliciano had combined to get all three outs, after the Cards' had loaded the bases in the fifth inning. Unfortunately for the Mets, they already were trailing 3-2.
So, it's on to Queens for Game 6, as the Mets battle for survival. What can they take from this game? The best sign for the Mets is that the Cardinals' bullpen may be a little arm-weary. Tonight Kinney and Wainwright both pitched more than an inning. With a little luck and stronger hitting, the Mets might get to Chris Carpenter, and then put up some more runs against a depleted bullpen. Otherwise, Cards' fans will be looking forward to a World Series that ought to be a little tighter than the sweep by the Red Sox in '04.