I did guess that the starting pitchers would do well, given the large strike zone that the home plate umpire allowed. And Suppan and Perez both pitched well, giving up a run each.
I didn't expect that Rolen, who had been having trouble driving the ball due to a sore shoulder, would hit a ball over the left-field fence. Nor did I expect that Endy Chavez would haul it back into play and double Edmonds off first. Ick.
When Rolen threw a ball away in the bottom of the same inning for a two-base error to set up runners on second and third with one out, I feared the worst. And when Chavez subsequently came up with two outs and the bases loaded and the score tied, I fervently hoped that he wouldn't get a hit, because we would have been hearing about him forever. Fortunately, he didn't.
The second-guessers complained about Randolph leaving Heilmann in to pitch the top of the ninth, but it made perfect sense. He was facing the Cards sixth, seventh, and eighth place hitters. all righties, and was due to bat third himself in the bottom of the ninth. So you want to save Wagner to face the top of the order in the tenth and maybe even pitch the eleventh. And if Heilmann got in trouble, you could still bring in Wagner. The strategy was good.
Of course, home runs beat the living bejeezus out of strategy. And when Rolen singled to start the ninth and Molina followed with a homer that was far out of Chavez's reach, well, it was a little late to bring in Wagner.
So with a two-run lead, Wainwright made it exciting by giving up singles to the first two hitters he faced. But he then struck out Floyd, pinch-hitting for Heilmann, got Reyes to line to Edmonds in center, and walked LoDuca to load the bases. This brought up Beltran who single-handedly killed the Cards in the 2004 NLCS.
And Wainwright struck him out on three pitches, leaving him looking at a curveball to end the game.
So much to my surprise, I find the Cardinals playing the Tigers in the World Series.
I'll keep my fingers crossed.