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Cardinals Take World Series Game 1
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Cardinals Take World Series Game 1

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Cardinals Take World Series Game 1

Cardinals Take World Series Game 1
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The Detroit Tigers are favored to win the World Series, but the St. Louis Cardinals walked away with game one, scoring seven to two.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

Tonight, the Detroit Tigers will try to get even in the World Series after losing Game 1 to St. Louis. The Cardinals surprised Detroit 7-2 last night on the Tigers' home field. St. Louis got a dominating performance from a rookie starting pitcher and plenty of offense from veteran players.

From Detroit, NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

TOM GOLDMAN: Here's a World Series math puzzler. When is five greater than 40,000? Answer: when Anthony Reyes is pitching. Before last night's game, five was the number most associated with the Cardinals' rookie right-hander. It was the woeful amount of wins he had during the regular season, the fewest of any Game 1 starting pitcher in World Series history.

But by the end of the game, the roughly 40,000 Detroit fans at Comerica Park were left shell-shocked by what Reyes did to their Tigers. He defanged them, de-clawed them, turn them into pussycats who only got four hits and two runs. With his Cardinal-red socks pulled up high the old fashioned way, and wearing his cap with the most unfashionable flat brim, Reyes at one point retired seven team straight Detroit batters. You don't do that by being excitable. And sure enough, the 25-year-old who started the year in the Minor Leagues calmly explained afterwards how he zeroed in on his catcher at the beginning of the game.

Mr. ANTHONY REYES (St. Louis Cardinals): You know, I just focused on the mitt. And the first couple of pitches I threw out, I knew that, you know, it was going to hit the corners a little bit. I wasn't going to throw everything down the middle. So I mean, right after then I kind of knew it was going to be a good day.

GOLDMAN: It helped when teammate Scott Rolen and Albert Pujols hit homeruns off Detroit's starter Justin Verlander, the rookie phenom who was supposed to dominate the game. The Cardinals roughed up Verlander for seven runs in a five inning stretch and took the lead in a World Series Detroit was supposed to dominate.

In his clubhouse after the game, Reyes talked about the pre-series predictions of a St. Louis annihilation.

Mr. REYES: I'm sure, and I'm sure some of these guys had read the paper and saw that. But I try not to and I didn't really hear about that. So I knew we were - I know we are a good team. We beat some good teams to get here. So I think we deserve to be here.

GOLDMAN: Two years ago, St. Louis was swept out of the World Series, losing four straight games to Boston. Cardinals players say it all happened so fast, they never really got their bearings. According to shortstop David Eckstein, this time around, manager Tony La Russa successfully changed the pace of things after his team qualified for the Series.

Mr. DAVID ECKSTEIN (St. Louis Cardinals): And you know, you have the ceremonies, you have all the extra meetings, you have everything like that, you know. So one thing that Tony wanted to make sure we did, we slowed everything down and made sure we had plenty of time to get everything done, so we were not rushing on anything.

GOLDMAN: The Cardinals succeeded at least for one night in burying their immediate past. Conversely, Detroit fans embraced the past in a pre-game ceremony that would end up being one of the high points of an otherwise dismal evening.

ANNOUNCER: We direct your attention to the playing field for tonight's ceremonial first pitch. We are pleased to welcome to the mound two legends of Detroit baseball...

GOLDMAN: Former Tigers Al Kaline and Willie Horton strode onto the field and transported fans back to 1968. The two men helped Detroit beat St. Louis in the World Series that year. It was a victory that also eased the pain of the deadly race riots that had ravaged Detroit a year earlier. Simian Kinney(ph) was 10 when the Tigers won. The Detroit native was working the counter last night at one of Comerica's food stands.

Mr. SIMIAN KINNEY (Comerica Park Employee) For that one moment everybody forgot about color, race and violence, and there was clapping and hugging and kissing and holding hands and dancing in the streets.

GOLDMAN: Thirty-eight years later, this new Tigers team also has been a balm for the city. The Tigers' success has come during tough economic times in Michigan, primarily due to the crisis in the auto industry. The magical ride through the playoffs, which up until last night featured seven straight victories, might still end with hugging and kissing and dancing in the streets. But now it's evident that any Tigers dance to the championship certainly won't be a waltz. Tom Goldman, NPR News, Detroit.

(Soundbite of song, "Dancing in the Streets")

MARTHA AND THE VANDELLAS (Musical Group): (Singing) Can't forget the Motor City. Dancing in the streets. All we need is music, sweet music. There'll be music everywhere. There'll be swinging, swaying and records playing, dancing in the streets. Oh, it doesn't matter what you wear, just as long as you are there. So come on every guy, grab a girl, everywhere around the world, they're dancing, they're dancing in the streets. Dancing in the streets. Way down in L.A., every day, they're dancing in the streets...

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