- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2006

NEW YORK — The St. Louis Cardinals needed all three of their veteran starting pitchers to get through the National League Championship Series against the New York Mets. In the World Series, they will have no choice but to hand the ball to a far less-proven hurler.

Manager Tony La Russa wouldn’t say yesterday who his Game 1 starter against the American League champion Tigers would be, but the choices appear to be either rookie Anthony Reyes or struggling veteran Jason Marquis.

“We’ve talked a little bit about it,” La Russa said. “Whether it would be Jason or Anthony, that’s the question.”

Neither right-hander is particularly appealing, especially when compared with the Cardinals’ three other starters: Chris Carpenter, Jeff Weaver and Jeff Suppan.

Reyes had an unspectacular rookie season, going 5-8 with a 5.06 ERA and he lasted only four innings in Game 4 of the NLCS, allowing two runs against New York.

“I threw too many pitches to every hitter, and I got forced out of there,” Reyes said. “They were putting the bat on the ball, trying to make something happen. I was trying my best to put them away early, but they just kept fouling them off.”

Marquis, meanwhile, has more experience and owns a 56-52 career record. But he went 14-16 with a 6.02 ERA and was left off the NLCS roster in favor of Reyes, reportedly causing some friction between him and his manager.

Not So

The Cardinals’ most-productive hitter remained on the bench last night. La Russa saw no reason to switch things up at this point.

So Preston Wilson, who had just five hits in 22 at-bats and one RBI in the postseason, got the start in left field, while So Taguchi sat again.

Taguchi has been a bench player for the most part, but he has come through every time La Russa has called upon him this month. Entering last night, the slight Japanese outfielder was a perfect 4-for-4 with two homers and a double in the playoffs. He produced St. Louis’ only runs in Game 6 with a ninth-inning double off closer Billy Wagner.

“It’s hard; the guy’s got a base hit every time he’s gone to bat here in October,” La Russa said. “I go for the energy that Preston’s given us and the possibility that he can run into something. And with his live bat, it would be special. Very close call.”

Taguchi entered Game 7 as a defensive substitute in left field in the eighth inning and did not have an at-bat.

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