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No Offense: This World Series has been tough to watch

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Chris Ruddick Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Is anyone else bored to death watching this World Series? I don't know what it is, but I just cannot get into these two teams. And judging by the television ratings I am not the only one either.

Unless you root for St. Louis or Detroit there is just nothing there. Nobody is hitting and it is brutal to watch. I cannot believe these are the two best teams in baseball.

Through three games neither team is hitting above .200. I know, I know the pitching has been great. But really has it been? Detroit has been absolutely brutal with the sticks and has gotten away from the formula that won it its first two series. The Tigers are making it easy for the St. Louis hurlers, as they are swinging at just about everything that is thrown their way.

In the ALCS against the Oakland Athletics, the Tigers lineup forced A's pitchers to throw nearly 154 pitches per game. New York pitchers averaged more than 134 in its four ALDS games. Through the first three games of the World Series, the Tigers have seen 113, 127 and 93 pitches, respectively, from St. Louis pitching, the three lowest totals of their 11 postseason games.

Detroit, which has managed just five runs in this series, is hitting just .185 against the Cardinals, including a horrific 2-for-13 clip with runners in scoring position.

Three players that certainly have struggled are catcher Ivan Rodriguez (0- for-11), second baseman and ALCS MVP Placido Polanco (0-for-10) and center fielder Curtis Granderson (0-for-13). Rodriguez is hitless in his last 23 at-bats and is batting just .125 this postseason.

St. Louis, meanwhile, has also struggled at the plate and is batting just .196 as a team. Albert Pujols has just two hits, but Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds are hitting .417 and .444, respectively.

The trend continued in Game 3 on Tuesday, as Chris Carpenter continued to look comfortable on the pitcher's mound in his own ballpark, maintaining his home brilliance with eight shutout frames in his first World Series start as St. Louis took a 2-1 series lead with a 5-0 victory.

None of the first six batters in the Tigers lineup reached base on Tuesday. The last time that occurred in a World Series game was October 8, 1956, the day Don Larsen threw a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Carpenter (1-0) struck out six without a walk and scattered three hits to lower his major league-best 1.81 earned run average at home this season. The right-hander also improved to 5-1 in eight career postseason starts.

"My job is to go out and pitch. I was trying to give my team a chance to win," said Carpenter. "We sat down before the game and came up with a great game plan. The key is going out to execute, and I executed."

Braden Looper pitched a perfect ninth to complete the shutout.

Edmonds had the key hit during a crucial fourth inning for St. Louis, breaking a scoreless game with a two-run double off Detroit starter Nate Robertson (0-1), who surrendered two runs and five hits in five innings.

"I was just really trying, like I said, swing at a strike, put a ball in play. I was fortunate enough to get a ball down the line when Sean (Casey) was playing me in the hole and that's it," said Edmonds.

LOOKING AHEAD

Jeff Suppan tries to give St. Louis a commanding lead in the 102nd World Series this evening, as the Cardinals and Tigers play Game 4 of the best- of- seven set at Busch Stadium.

Suppan was absolutely magnificent in the NLCS against the Mets, as he allowed a run on five hits over 15 innings in his two starts to earn MVP honors. Suppan was brilliant in the Cards' clinching Game 7 win, but did not factor in the decision of the 3-1 triumph despite surrendering just a run on two hits in seven innings.

The 31-year-old right-hander is no stranger to Detroit and is 8-6 with a 4.63 ERA against the Tigers in 20 career starts - the most he has made against any opponent.

"I was always a Jeff Suppan fan," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "I'm not going to jump on that bandwagon and take credit for it. I know Walt (Jocketty) was a big fan of Jeff Suppan. It's obvious that he's done a tremendous job for them. He's got a real knack for staying away from the fat part of the bat. He knows how to pitch, and he makes his pitches.

"You can watch his eyes on TV. I watched the Mets game the other night, and he's just so locked in. He's got his plan, and he's one of those guys that's very capable for the most part of throwing the ball where he wants to. You hope you get him on a night when his control is not as good. But normally, it's real good."

Detroit will counter with young right-hander Jeremy Bonderman, who will be pitching on 10 days' rest. Bonderman has been great for the Tigers in his first postseason, as the 23-year-old hurler is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts.

"I have all the confidence in the world in our staff; they brought us to the World Series," Leyland said. "So if I'm worried about that now, I've got problems. So I'm not worried about it. I am concerned a little bit, as I said, because I just don't think you know quite what to expect when they have had a long layoff."

Bonderman has faced the Cardinals just once in his brief career and allowed a run on seven hits in seven innings against them, although he did not receive a decision. He will also have to bat tonight and will try to snap his career 0- for-19 hitless streak.

Should Detroit lose tonight, it will need to take the same path it took to defeat the Cardinals in the 1968 World Series, when the Tigers fell behind three games-to-one before rallying to win the series in seven games.

Of the 39 teams to take 3-1 leads in the World Series, 34 have gone on to win the title. The last team to relinquish such a lead was the 1985 Cardinals, who lost in seven games to Kansas City.


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