By Ron Griffitts
In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals 83-78 (similar to the Reds’ record this year of 83-79) still managed by Tony La Russo with general manager Walt Jocketty met the Detroit Tigers 95-67 managed by Jim Leyland with general manager David Dombrowski.
While it was the Cardinals second appearance in three years the Tigers had not been to the Fall Classic since the Sparky Anderson managed 1984 World Series champion team.
Albert Pujols 49 HR, 137 RBI, .331 BA, 119 RS led the Cards in offense together with Scott Rolen 22 HR, 95 RBI, .296 BA, 94 RS, while Jim Edmonds and Juan Encarnacion both added 19 home runs each.
They also had 23 year catcher Yadier Molina who was then playing in his third season and who just finished his 18th season as the Cards’ backstop.
Their pitching staff was led by Chris Carpenter 15-8 and Jeff Suppan 12-7 with Jason Isringhausen 33 saves and Braden Looper 9-3 in the bullpen.
The Tigers were led on offense by catcher Ivan Rodriquez .300 BA, Branden Inge 27 HR, 83 RBI, .320 BA, Carlos Guillen 19 HR, 85 RBI, .320 BA, 100 RS, 20 SB, Craig Monroe 28 HR, 92 RBI, Magglio Ordonez 24 HR, 104 RBI, .298 BA, and Marcus Thames 26 HR.
Their pitching staff was led by Jeremy Bonderman 14-8, Kenny Rogers 17-8, and 23 year old Justin Verlander 17-9 and in the bullpen Todd Jones 37 SV, Joel Zuhava 6-3, 1.94 ERA and Fernando Rodney 7-4, 7 SV.
The 104th World Series opened in Comerica Park in Detroit with Justin Verlander opposing Anthony Reyes. The Cards got to Verlander for home runs by Scott Rolen and Albert Pujols while Anthony Reyes allowed only four hits in eight innings and the Redbirds win game one 7-2.
Craig Monroe added a home run for Detroit.
In game two the Tigers got two first inning runs off of starter Jeff Weaver including another home run by Craig Monroe and that is all that Detroit would need as Kenny Rogers pitched eight innings of scoreless two hit baseball and the Tigers even the series at 1-1 with a 3-1 win.
For game three the teams switched to Busch Stadium III in St. Louis where Chris Carpenter held the Tigers scoreless allowing only three hits and Braden Looper pitched a scoreless ninth for a 5-0 Cardinal win and 2-1 series advantage.
The big play came on a two run double by Jim Edmonds scoring Pujols and Rolen in the fourth inning.
In game four the Tigers took an early lead on a solo home run by former Red Sean Casey and led 3-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning but the Cards got two runs to take 4-3 lead.
The Tigers tied it in the top of the eighth as Brandon Inge singled in Ivan Rodriguez but St. Louis answered as David Eckstein doubled in Aaron Miles for a 5-4 Cardinal win as they go up three games to one.
In game five Justin Verlander was back for Detroit to face Jeff Weaver and both pitchers pitched well but Weaver pitched eight innings allowing only two runs and Adam Wainwright came in for the save and in spite of a two-run home run by Sean Casey, the Cards win the game and the World Series 4-2.
David Eckstein got the series MVP and Detroit was back in 2012 while the Cards returned in 2011. For Tony La Russo it was his second title in four WS appearances as he won with Oakland in 1989.
Adam Wainwright is still pitching for the Cards as he started the recent wild card game against the Dodgers.
Justin Verlander sat out the 2021 season with Tommy John surgery but is expected to be back playing in the 2022 season.
Sean Casey spent eight years with the Reds and finished his 12-year major league career with a .302 batting average and was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2012.
Statistics for this article were from baseball-reference.com. baseball-almanac.com and mlb.com.
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for The Daily Advocate.