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Cris-tal Ball

So it looks like Tony La Russa has left the door ajar for the Mets to beat Chris Carpenter in walk-off fashion. Following the announcement of Monday's rainout, La Russa indicated that he'd stick with Jeff Weaver in Game 5 and save Chris Carpenter for the possible clincher/eliminator in Game 6, a move that makes sense since it allows both pitchers to start on normal rest. It also prevents Weaver from pitching in a scenario such as that he was in against the Marlins in the 2003 World Series, when Alex Gonzalez beat him in Game 4 with a walk-off home run.

You get the feeling in that such a big game that La Russa might hang with Carpenter for as long as he possibly can. There's precedent for that from earlier this regular season when Carpenter lost a couple of leads late in games. This is the pitcher that La Russa trusts the most and for good reason, based on his record the last three seasons.

If you told Willie Randolph right now that his team might be in walk-off position against Carpenter on Wednesday night, he probably wouldn't object. And if he thought about it, he might remember a time when the Mets walked off against a pitcher with the same name.

We harken back to the calm before the storm that was April 22, 1992, when the worst Mets that money could buy, were 7-7 and hosting the Cardinals at Shea Stadium on a particularly foggy night in New York.

Dwight Gooden had beaten the Redbirds the day before and David Cone tried to follow up that effort with a solid start against Cardinals righthander Bob Tewksbury. The Mets grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Howard Johnson doubled in Bobby Bonilla, and made it 2-0 in the fifth on the 3rd of Todd Hundley's 202 career big-league home runs.

The Mets had a chance to add to that lead with the top of the lineup coming up. The afforementioned Randolph, playing second base and batting first that day for the Mets, singled. He was subsequently erased by a double-play ball.

The Cardinals tied the game, scoring once in the sixth on Todd Zeile's sacrifice fly off Cone, and then again in the eighth on Pedro Guerrero's sacrifice fly off Wally Whitehurst. Jeff Torborg's decision to pull Cone in the eighth, with runners on the corners and one out, was one of the intriguing stories to come out of this game.

The Mets and Randolph had another chance in the last of the eighth. With one out, Randolph and Dick Schofield drew back-to-back walks, but Bobby Bonilla killed the rally by hitting into the Mets third double play of the game, against Todd Worrell.

Cardinals manager Joe Torre pulled Worrell, who was no longer the closer after two years of injuries, after his team failed to score in the top of the ninth, in favor of Cris Carpenter. This odd speller was a well-thought of pitcher in St. Louis, as he was a first-round pick in 1987 who put up respectable numbers as a middle reliever in his tenure with the team, though I imagine that the hope was that he'd be nearly as good as the Cardinals current version of this moniker.

The now-retired Carpenter at last check is a history teacher and high school baseball coach in Gainesville, Georgia, so hopefully he'd have an appreciation for our appreciation of what happened in the last of the 9th inning. With one out, Eddie Murray launched his first Mets home run, a line drive through the fog over the right field fence, giving the Mets a 3-2 victory. It was a victory that Jeff Torborg deemed significant because it showed that the team could come thrown in late innings. But it won't be quite as significant as getting one against the other guy in a couple of days.

True Metpenters know...Chris Carpenter twice started games this season in which the Cardinals lost in walk-off fashion. They got beat on a Dave Ross home run off Jason Isringhausen on August 9 against the Reds and lost to the Nationals on September 6 on Jose Vidro's 2-run single against Isringhausen.


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