2006 National League Championship Series
|Dates:||October 11 – 19|
|MVP:||Jeff Suppan (St. Louis)|
|TV announcers:||Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and Luis Gonzalez|
|Radio announcers:||Dan Shulman and Dave Campbell|
|Umpires:||Tim Welke, Jim Joyce, Jerry Layne, Fieldin Culbreth, Jeff Kellogg, Gary Darling|
|NLDS:||New York Mets over Los Angeles Dodgers (3–0)|
|St. Louis Cardinals over San Diego Padres (3–1)|
|2006 World Series|
The 2006 National League Championship Series (NLCS), the second round of the 2006 National League playoffs, began on October 12 and ended on October 19; it was scheduled to begin on October 11, but was postponed a day because of inclement weather. The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the New York Mets in seven games to advance to the 2006 World Series against the Detroit Tigers.
The Cardinals and Mets took the series to the limit, reaching the ninth inning of Game 7 tied at 1–1, but the Cardinals benefited from Yadier Molina's two-run home run in the ninth to win the game, 3–1, and earn their second pennant in three years. St. Louis captured the seventeenth NL pennant in club history, placing them one behind the New York/San Francisco Giants and the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers for the most in the league in the modern era (since 1903). The Cardinals were making their third consecutive appearance in the NLCS; manager Tony La Russa, who led St. Louis to the 2004 pennant and previously won AL titles with the Oakland Athletics from 1988–90, became the first manager in history to win multiple pennants in both leagues.
The Mets had defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers three games to none in the NL Division Series, while the Cardinals had defeated the San Diego Padres three games to one. The Mets had home-field advantage due to their better record in the regular season (the Mets were 97–65, the Cardinals 83–78). The Mets and Cardinals previously met in the 2000 NLCS, which the Mets won in five games.
New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis won the series, 4–3.
|1||October 12†||St. Louis Cardinals – 0, New York Mets – 2||Shea Stadium||2:52||56,311|
|2||October 13†||St. Louis Cardinals – 9, New York Mets – 6||Shea Stadium||3:58||56,349|
|3||October 14||New York Mets – 0, St. Louis Cardinals – 5||Busch Stadium (III)||2:53||47,053|
|4||October 15||New York Mets – 12, St. Louis Cardinals – 5||Busch Stadium (III)||3:31||46,600|
|5||October 17‡||New York Mets – 2, St. Louis Cardinals – 4||Busch Stadium (III)||3:26||46,496|
|6||October 18||St. Louis Cardinals – 2, New York Mets – 4||Shea Stadium||2:56||56,334|
|7||October 19||St. Louis Cardinals – 3, New York Mets – 1||Shea Stadium||3:23||56,357|
†: Game 1 was postponed due to rain on October 11. Game 2 was subsequently pushed back a day as well.
‡: Game 5 was postponed due to rain on October 16.
|WP: Tom Glavine (1–0) LP: Jeff Weaver (0–1) Sv: Billy Wagner (1)
NYM: Carlos Beltrán (1)
On a game pushed back a day by rain, both pitchers pitched magnificently. Tom Glavine earned the win with seven innings of shutout baseball. The only two runs came from a two-run homer by Carlos Beltrán off losing pitcher Jeff Weaver. Weaver pitched 5 2⁄3 shutout innings before giving up a single to Paul Lo Duca and then the home run by Beltrán. Glavine was aided by his defense, as the Mets turned two double plays. In the third inning, with runners on first and second, third baseman David Wright caught a line drive off the bat of David Eckstein and threw to second to double up Yadier Molina. In the following inning, Juan Encarnación flied out to shallow center to Beltrán, who threw to first on the run, doubling up Albert Pujols, who went 0-for-3 with a walk. Left fielder Endy Chávez also made an excellent diving play on a flare hit by Ronnie Belliard. He replaced Cliff Floyd, who left in the second inning when he reaggravated his injured Achilles tendon. Following the game, Albert Pujols was critical of Glavine's performance, saying that the Cards would have dominated him if they were on their "A" game.
|WP: Josh Kinney (1–0) LP: Billy Wagner (0–1)
STL: Jim Edmonds (1), So Taguchi (1)
NYM: Carlos Delgado 2 (2)
In an exciting back-and-forth game, the Cardinals erased three deficits en route to a 9–6 victory. In the first inning, Carlos Delgado hit a three-run home run and added another home run in the fifth, both off the Cardinals' ace, Chris Carpenter. Yadier Molina then drove in two runs with a double in the second inning. José Reyes and Paul Lo Duca added an RBI each, but Scott Spiezio, who started the game at third base in place of an injured Scott Rolen, had two hits and three RBIs, including a two-run triple on an 0–2 pitch in the seventh inning to tie the game at six. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Julio Franco pinch-hit for Mets pitcher Aaron Heilman, which made obvious that lefty closer Billy Wagner was coming into the game in the top of the ninth inning. Left fielder Chris Duncan, a lefty hitter, was due to lead off the top of the ninth. So, Duncan was pulled in favor of So Taguchi, a right-handed-hitting outfielder who was a better defensive option than Duncan. Taguchi led off the top of the ninth with a solo homer off Mets closer Billy Wagner to put the Cardinals ahead, 7–6. St. Louis would go on to win the game, 9–6.
|WP: Jeff Suppan (1–0) LP: Steve Trachsel (0–1)
STL: Jeff Suppan (1)
Back in St. Louis for the next three games, St. Louis starter Jeff Suppan pitched eight scoreless innings and hit a home run himself, as the Cardinals defeated the Mets, 5–0. Scott Spiezio hit a two-run triple (his second two-run triple in as many games) in the bottom of the first inning to put the Cardinals ahead, 2–0. St. Louis would add three more runs in the second to finish the scoring for the game. Mets reliever Darren Oliver pitched six shutout innings, after Mets starter Steve Trachsel only lasted one inning before being pulled after getting hit by a line drive off the bat of Preston Wilson, leaving with a bruised thigh. After the game, the Mets had not scored in twelve consecutive innings, making it fourteen before scoring in the third inning of Game 4.
|WP: Óliver Pérez (1–0) LP: Brad Thompson (0–1)
NYM: Carlos Beltrán 2 (3), David Wright (1), Carlos Delgado (3)
STL: David Eckstein (1), Jim Edmonds (2), Yadier Molina (1)
Game 4 was a pivotal game for the Mets, who were faced with a two-games-to-one deficit. They sent young Oliver Pérez, who was picked up at the trade deadline from the Pittsburgh Pirates, to face the Cardinals' own young starter, Anthony Reyes. In a game that would see an NLCS-tying record seven home runs, the Cardinals grabbed an early lead in the bottom of the second on a Yadier Molina single. It seemed to be a repeat of the night before, but in the top of the third the Mets hit two home runs, one on Carlos Beltrán's second of the series and sixth against the Cardinals in NLCS play, and another on David Wright's first hit of the series and first homer of the playoffs. The lead was short lived, as Juan Encarnacion hit a two-out RBI triple that tied the game. The game would stay tied until the top of the fifth inning when Paul Lo Duca reached on an error by Cardinals second baseman Ronnie Belliard. Beltrán managed a walk, and then Carlos Delgado scored an opposite-field three-run homer, his third of the series, to make it 5–2. David Eckstein pulled the Cards back in the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff homer. But, in the top of the sixth, the Mets extended the lead. José Reyes and Paul Lo Duca hit back-to-back singles, and Beltrán walked to load the bases. Delgado then hit a ground-rule double to drive in two runs, and then Wright walked. Shawn Green singled to drive in one run and José Valentín, who, at that point, was only 3-for-20 in the playoffs, hit a bases-clearing double down the left field line to make it 11–3. The Cardinals got solo home runs from Edmonds and Molina to make it an 11–5 game, but Mets manager Willie Randolph then pulled starter Pérez and bought in submarine pitcher Chad Bradford to try and limit the damage. Beltrán would tie the NLCS record of seven home runs with another in the seventh en route to a final score of 12–5. Beltrán also tied Babe Ruth for the all-time postseason record of home runs against the Cardinals hitting a total of seven home runs. He hit four home runs against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 National League Championship Series while playing for the Houston Astros.
|WP: Jeff Weaver (1–1) LP: Tom Glavine (1–1) Sv: Adam Wainwright (1)
STL: Albert Pujols (1), Chris Duncan (1)
After Game 5 was pushed back a day by rain, giving their starter now four days' normal rest instead of three days' short rest, the New York Mets sought a 3–2 lead in the NLCS. However, pitcher Tom Glavine could not stifle the Cardinals' offense. After the Mets jumped out to a 2–0 lead, the next half-inning Albert Pujols struck for his first home run and RBI of the series to cut the Mets' lead in half. After tying the score in the bottom of fourth inning and later taking the lead in the fifth by virtue of a Preston Wilson double, the Cardinals increased their lead thanks to a pinch-hit solo blast by rookie Chris Duncan that made the final score 4–2, Cardinals. The win moved the Cardinals within one win of their second National League pennant in three years.
|WP: John Maine (1–0) LP: Chris Carpenter (0–1)
NYM: José Reyes (1)
Facing elimination, the Mets' sent John Maine to start Game 6. He allowed no runs in 5 1⁄3 innings, earning the win for the Mets. José Reyes hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first, giving the Mets a lead that would never be relinquished. Reyes became the first Met to lead off with a home run in the first inning of a postseason game since Mets' former outfielder Lenny Dykstra in Game 3 of the 1986 World Series against the Boston Red Sox. The Cardinals stranded several runners against Maine. In the top of the first inning, with runners on second and third and one out, Maine struck out Jim Edmonds. After hitting Juan Encarnación with a pitch to load the bases, Scott Rolen flew out. In the top of the third, with a runner on second and nobody out, Maine struck out Scott Spiezio and intentionally walked Albert Pujols. Edmonds then flew out and Maine struck out Encarnación to finish the job. Shawn Green hit an RBI single in the fourth and Paul Lo Duca added two more with an RBI hit in the seventh. Billy Wagner came on in the ninth and made things interesting, giving up a two-RBI double to So Taguchi before retiring David Eckstein to end the game.
|WP: Randy Flores (1–0) LP: Aaron Heilman (0–1) Sv: Adam Wainwright (2)
STL: Yadier Molina (2)
In the decisive Game 7, the Mets sent Game 4 winner Oliver Pérez to the mound against Jeff Suppan. The Mets jumped out to an early 1–0 lead when David Wright drove in Carlos Beltrán in the first with a bloop single into right field. The Cardinals tied the game in the second when Ronnie Belliard hit into a squeeze play that scored Jim Edmonds from third. In the fifth, with runners on first and second and two gone, Albert Pujols came up to the plate. Even with Chad Bradford warming up in the bullpen, Willie Randolph decided to stay with Pérez. He got Pujols to pop out. Pérez ran into some more trouble in the sixth with a runner on and one out, when Scott Rolen hit a long fly ball to left field.
The ball cleared the fence but Endy Chávez brought it back with an amazing catch. He snow-coned the ball, jumping from the edge of the warning track to grab what looked to be an easy home run. He then threw the ball into first base quickly to double off Jim Edmonds, who had rounded second on his way to third, to end the inning. He received two curtain calls from the Shea crowd. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the sixth, José Valentín and Chávez failed to get the go-ahead run in.
With the score 1–1 in the top of the ninth, Yadier Molina hit a deep fly off Aaron Heilman, in the same general direction as the one Rolen hit in the sixth. This one was too high to allow Chávez to make another circus catch, and it went for a two-run home run, giving the Cardinals a 3–1 lead with only three outs in the bottom of the ninth separating them from a pennant. The whole stadium became dead quiet after Molina's home run. However, the Mets would not go quietly. Rookie closer Adam Wainwright yielded singles to Valentín and Chávez leading off the ninth. After getting a strikeout and a flyout, Wainwright walked Paul Lo Duca to bring up Carlos Beltrán with the bases loaded and two men out. All involved, including the capacity crowd at Shea, were acutely aware of Beltrán's history against the Cardinals, and the tension mounted accordingly. Down 0–2 to the rookie Wainwright, Beltrán looked at a called strike three, a curveball on the outside corner at the knees, and the ballgame was over. The whole stadium became shocked in disbelief as the Cardinals won their seventeenth National League pennant. This was the last playoff game ever played in Shea Stadium and currently the last postseason appearance for the Mets.
|St. Louis Cardinals||2||7||3||2||2||3||2||0||7||28||56||4|
|New York Mets||5||1||2||3||4||9||3||0||0||27||54||4|
|Total attendance: 365,500 Average attendance: 52,214|
- This series was the first time since the 1975 World Series that a home team lost Game 7 after winning Game 6. This is also the most recent series where the road team won Game 7.
- The seventh game of the series was the second Game 7 played at Shea Stadium; the only other seventh game was in the 1986 World Series in which the Mets beat the Boston Red Sox 8–5 to win the World Championship.
- Mets' left fielder Endy Chávez earned a 2006 "This Year in Baseball" Award (TYIB), in the category of "best postseason play of the year" for making the leaping grab at the left field wall in Game 7 robbing a home run from Cardinals' Scott Rolen and afterwards turning it into a double play.
- The Mets' record in seventh games is 1–3. Their last Game 7 loss was the seventh game of the 1988 National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers as a 30-year old Orel Hershiser pitched a complete game shutout at Dodger Stadium. They also lost Game 7 of the 1973 World Series to the Oakland A's.
- "2006 NLCS Game 1 - St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "2006 NLCS Game 2 - St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "2006 NLCS Game 3 - New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "2006 NLCS Game 4 - New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "2006 NLCS Game 5 - New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "2006 NLCS Game 6 - St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "2006 NLCS Game 7 - St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- 2006 NLCS box scores and play-by-play at Retrosheet
- 2006 NLCS statistics at Baseball Reference
- "Cardinals win unlikely pennant", ESPN.com
- "Seventh Heaven", Sports Illustrated