Making the first pitches for that trophy will be Detroit's Justin Verlander and the Cards' Anthony Reyes, in what will be the first all-rookie Game 1 duel in World Series history. The last rookie Game 1 starter was Florida's Livan Hernandez, in 1997.
To Magglio Ordonez, his pennant-winning, three-run walk-off homer against Huston Street feels so dated, it already qualifies for nostalgia.
"It's been really boring," Ordonez said, summing up the Tigers' vacation. "I've been counting the days and the hours until [Saturday]. It's tough when you're used to playing every day."
This will be the Renaissance World Series. While the Tigers can apply their own definition, getting here three years after losing 119 games, the label refers to both teams having turned the Second Season into second lives.
Both stumbled into the playoffs by playing sub-.500 ball after the All-Star Game, but have been the clear class of the postseason.
"Once we reached the playoffs, we just realized it was another season," Wainwright said. "Everyone starts with a clean slate. It hasn't been easy: We've played two fantastic teams (the Padres in the Division Series prior to the Mets), but we're still going."
So these are two teams able to relate to each other.
"I don't want to dwell on what happened at the end of the year," said outfielder Craig Monroe, whose Wild Card Tigers lost on the last day of the season an AL Central race they had led all season. "We are a pretty good team. What you're seeing right now is the way we've been playing all year. All teams go through slumps. The Cardinals went through it. We just did it at the end of the season."
The Cardinals, to be clear, have not
done it the way they had all season. They upset all convention by downing the Mets while getting a total of one RBI between Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen, who drove in 232 during the regular season.
The Tigers count on seven days of rest not having doused their fire. With seven straight wins, on Saturday they can tie the record for most consecutive wins in a postseason (2004 Red Sox, 2005 White Sox).
Such a run neither dismays nor impresses the Cardinals, who knocked off a Mets team that had an overall winning streak of eight after taking the NLCS opener.
STL: RHP Anthony Reyes (0-0, 4.50 ERA postseason)
Reyes, a rookie, scuffled through four tough but ultimately effective innings in his playoff debut, allowing two runs in Game 4 of the NLCS. The Cards believed that Reyes was tipping his pitches, but even so, he kept the damage to a minimum against a dangerous lineup. The right-hander throws a riding fastball, a curveball and a plus changeup that is his out pitch. He shows excellent poise on the mound for such an inexperienced pitcher.
DET: RHP Justin Verlander (1-0, 5.91 ERA postseason)
Verlander hasn't put up stellar numbers in the postseason, but his ability to produce swings and misses has helped keep the Tigers in games long enough to rally ahead. He allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings against the Cardinals back in June, but it was enough for an eventual 10-6 win.
Card to watch: Albert Pujols
Pujols is like -- excuse the expression -- a caged tiger who hasn't been fed for a while. Reverting to the last two games of the Division Series, he has one RBI in nine games. Sure, this is the postseason, with more incentive to pitch around him, but he's still big-time due.
Tiger to watch: Curtis Granderson
He may have sent a limo to pick up the St. Louis pitchers at the airport. He torched them in Tigers' late-June Comerica Park sweep of the Cardinals by batting .538 (7-for-13) and scoring six runs in the three games.
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Official game notes
Sunday: Cardinals (Jeff Weaver 2-1, 2.16) at Tigers (Kenny Rogers 2-0, 0.00), 7:30 p.m. ET
Tuesday: Tigers (Nate Robertson 1-1, 5.91) at Cardinals (Chris Carpenter 2-1, 3.70), 8:00 p.m. ET
Wednesday: Tigers (Jeremy Bonderman 1-0, 3.00) at Cardinals (Jeff Suppan, 1-1, 1.86), 8:00 p.m. ET