Game 5 of the NLCS Postponed by Rain

Tuesday, October 17th 2006, 5:04 am
By: News On 6

ST. LOUIS (AP) The starting pitchers are rested and the days off are done. Now, the NL championship series comes down to a best of 3.

Daylong rain caused Game 5 between New York and St. Louis to be postponed Monday, meaning Mets lefty Tom Glavine and Jeff Weaver of the Cardinals will start Tuesday night on full rest.

The teams are tied at 2 games each in the best of 7 playoff. Game 5 was rescheduled for 8:19 p.m. EDT at Busch Stadium.

“I think this next game is probably the pivotal game of the series,” St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen said.

For the second time in the NLCS, the clubs will travel without a day off. They'll play Game 6 at Shea Stadium in New York on Wednesday night, as scheduled, with a potential Game 7 the following night.

Glavine and Weaver had been slated to start Monday night on only three days' rest after rain pushed back the series opener by one day last week.

But another washout eliminated the need for that.

“It's certainly not a bad thing,” said Glavine, who has tossed 13 scoreless innings in two playoff starts. “It's just something in this day and age we're not conditioned to do.”

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa played down the issue of regular rest, saying Weaver and Glavine both knew the task at hand all along and had been preparing for it since Game 1. La Russa thought a bigger concern Monday was the drenched field.

“I think both guys have been gearing themselves to go, so they are ready. I think the position players would have had to deal with the elements,” he said. “It would be dangerous and a lot to ask.”

Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter is slated to start Game 6 against rookie John Maine. Both will be on full rest, as well.

Glavine threw 7 shutout innings of 4 hit ball last Thursday night, beating Weaver 2-0 on Carlos Beltran's 2 run homer.

“I'm turning into the rain man this series,” Glavine said. “Hopefully, the results will be as good as they were the last time we got rained out.”

After consecutive victories by St. Louis, the Mets evened the series by winning 12-5 Sunday night. They got several big hits from Carlos Delgado and Beltran, and a respectable start by erratic lefty Oliver Perez.

Now, the second rainout of the series gives Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols a chance to rest his sore right hamstring, and St. Louis' young bullpen gets a day to recover from Game 4. Five relievers were tagged for 10 runs, 9 earned, and 11 hits over 5 innings Sunday night.

Maybe that's one reason manager Willie Randolph and a few other Mets sounded a little disappointed about not playing Monday, even though it put the 40 year old Glavine back on regular rest.

“It's good for Glav, but also it helps out their bullpen. We got in their bullpen last night, they threw a lot of pitches, so it gives their bullpen an extra day. A pretty even matchup,” New York's David Wright said. “You're prepared to play, even when you wake up in the morning and it's raining, and you come to the park and you're ready to go, so it's kind of a mental letdown.”

In the end, does the washout favor either team?

“I'll tell you in nine innings,” Cardinals outfielder Preston Wilson said. “I'm not smart enough to know all of that. All I know is we've got an extra day off.”

Glavine is 8-6 with a 3.53 ERA in 25 regular season starts on short rest, but only 2-5 with a 6.75 ERA in 7 postseason starts without full rest.

The loose and lanky Weaver, 30, has never started on three days' rest in his major league career.

“I don't see where this necessarily makes a big difference,” Randolph said. “It's one game and sometimes guys go and do real well on three days. You want to look at the bright side of it, you want to stay on schedule.”

The Mets did get good news about their injury depleted pitching staff, though.

Orlando Hernandez, who has missed the entire postseason thus far because of a torn muscle in his right calf, threw 72 pitches in an encouraging bullpen session Sunday and could return in time for the World Series if New York gets past the Cardinals.

“Now I can dance,” a cheerful El Duque said. “I threw every pitch. I think I'm ready for next week.”

Mets starter Steve Trachsel, knocked out of Game 3 in the 2nd inning with a bruised thigh after getting hit by Wilson's hard comebacker, was feeling better, too, according to pitching coach Rick Peterson.

If healthy, Trachsel could be in line to start a potential Game 7 in New York against Jeff Suppan. Trachsel was roughed up for 5 runs, 5 hits and 5 walks in 1 plus inning in Game 3, while Suppan allowed only 3 hits in 8 scoreless innings.