NEW YORK — The New York Mets might have to face Chris Carpenter sooner than expected.
Game 1 of the NL championship series between New York and St. Louis was postponed Wednesday night because of a steady rain, giving the Cardinals a chance to pitch their ace on full rest in Game 2.
The best-of-seven series will now begin tonight, and Game 2 at Shea Stadium is to be played Friday, which was supposed to be an off day in the series.
Carpenter had been slated to start Game 3 on Saturday, when the series shifts to St. Louis. But the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner would be working on his regular four days of rest if the Cardinals decide to bump him up to Friday.
“That is his fifth day. You’ve got to seriously think about what that means. It’s up for grabs in my opinion,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. “My first 30-45 minutes of looking at it, I said I’d probably stay with it. Sitting here for 15, there’s more there. There’s a decision to make, no doubt about it.”
The Mets will stay with Tom Glavine in the opener, and the 40-year-old left-hander said he expects to come back and pitch on only three days’ rest in a potential Game 5.
“I’ve done it before. I know what to expect, how to prepare from tomorrow’s start to my next start knowing it’s going to be on short rest. But you still have to go out there and do it,” Glavine said. “The most important game for me is tomorrow, and trying to win that game for us, then worry about starts I may have after that.”
Jeff Weaver will get the ball for St. Louis in Game 1, as originally planned.
Rookie right-hander John Maine is slated to pitch Game 2 for New York. Jeff Suppan had been penciled in for the Cardinals, but he could be pushed back.
Minutes before the game was called, La Russa said a rainout probably wouldn’t alter his rotation, explaining that he didn’t think there was any benefit in switching and he thought Carpenter was a better choice for Game 3 and a possible Game 7.
But after the postponement, La Russa sounded as though he might change his mind.
“There have been times an important decision was made because of coincidence, and the coincidence is we got rained out, and it’s Chris’ fifth day,” La Russa said. “So that’s why you can’t dismiss it lightly.”
The Mets and Cardinals will play five straight days now.
“That’s really the importance of not playing today, is that you play five in a row,” La Russa said. “Actually, it’s a better test because that’s kind of what you do throughout the season.”
The starting time for Game 1 will be 7:19 p.m., according to the Cardinals’ Web site.
MARQUIS OUT: Tony La Russa chose a rookie over a 14-game winner to start in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series for the St. Louis Cardinals.
It wasn’t a close call.
Anthony Reyes was 0-2 in his past four starts, but had strong outings in two of his last three appearances without getting a decision. And in his last start of the season, he worked on three days’ rest for the first time in his life and on short notice in the regular-season finale after La Russa decided to gamble and hold ace pitcher Chris Carpenter for a potential playoff opener.
Reyes found out he was pitching the finale only a few hours before game-time.
“He didn’t have a lot of time to get ready,” La Russa said.
La Russa said he informed Marquis by telephone Wednesday before the team left for the stadium for the NLCS opener that was postponed. The manager said it might have been a tougher call had Game 4 been scheduled for New York instead of St. Louis.
Marquis lives in Staten Island, N.Y., and is from 2-2, 4.38 in 11 games against the Mets at Shea Stadium.
“I told Jason if Game 4 was here instead of there, he’s been really good in this ballpark,” La Russa said. “As it was, Anthony’s the guy that should pitch the game.”
Reyes, 5-8 with a 5.06 ERA in 17 starts, will oppose the Mets’ Oliver Perez on Sunday in St. Louis. The rookie was plugged into Mark Mulder’s spot in the rotation with the left-hander dealing with shoulder woes all season that eventually required surgery.
“It’s going to be another baseball game,” Reyes said. “I’ll enjoy going out there and try not to think about how big the game is, and go out there just to have fun and pitch the way I can pitch.”
Reyes was not on the roster for the first round. Marquis was, but he never even warmed up.
“My role for that series was to be supportive on the bench,” Reyes said. “Now I get my chance to play, and I’m excited.”
Reyes, 24, got knocked out in the first inning of a 5-0 loss in the regular-season finale. The Cardinals clinched their third straight NL Central championship anyway when the second-place Astros lost earlier that day.
The major factor, though, was the unreliability of Marquis, who was 14-16 overall and 0-4 with a 7.25 ERA in five September starts. Only two pitchers since 1900 have finished with higher ERAs than Marquis’ 6.02, and won 14 or more games.
Wes Ferrell was 15-10 with a 6.28 ERA in 1938 for the Senators and Yankees and Guy Bush was 15-10 with a 6.20 ERA in 1930 for the Cubs.
La Russa said there was no thought of removing a reliever to make room for Marquis, who declined comment.
“Who in the bullpen would you take out?” La Russa said. “There isn’t anybody in that bullpen that doesn’t figure to be critical in a seven-game series.
“They’re all throwing the ball well.”
La Russa said it was a tough telephone call, given that Marquis, who is eligible for free agency after the season, has been in the rotation for three years and has totaled 42 wins.
“He has a lot of respect and admiration of his teammates, and that weighed in the decision,” La Russa said. “What’s clear is the obligation to give your team its best shot to win.”
FLOYD STARTING: Cliff Floyd was listed in the starting lineup for the Mets in Game 1 of the NL championship series against St. Louis despite a strained left Achilles’ tendon.
“They asked me if I could hit, and I feel pretty good hitting right now,” Floyd said.
The Mets kept Floyd on their active roster Wednesday morning but did make one change from the first round, dropping left-handed reliever Royce Ring and adding infielder Anderson Hernandez. That left them with 11 pitchers for the NLCS.
Floyd was set to bat sixth and play left field in the opener against the Cardinals.
The oft-injured Floyd was on the disabled list twice this season. He batted .244 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs in 332 at-bats.
But he found his stroke during a first-round sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers, going 4-for-9 (.444) with a home run, two RBIs and three runs. Floyd left Game 3 in pain after scoring from first on Shawn Green’s third-inning double, hobbling from third base to home plate.
Floyd limped into New York’s clubhouse on Tuesday, then labored through a workout in left field. But the Mets said they liked the way he swung during batting practice, and they think he can be useful.
“The guy wants to play, man. He said he felt pretty good. And I was happy to hear that,” Randolph said Wednesday. “It’s really just a matter of dealing with some of the discomfort, and Cliff feeling like he can go out there and not hurt the ballclub.
“He’s one of my big boys and I’d like him to be out there with us so we can get this first win under our belt.”
The 33-year-old Floyd, who can become a free agent after this season, said it was important to him to remain on the roster.
“I had a couple of questions for the doctor. They reassured me about a couple things, and here we are,” Floyd said. “I told them how I felt. I told them I would love to be on the roster and help this team. I feel pretty good. I don’t feel great.
“It might be my last season playing for the Mets, so I don’t want to go out that way.”
Ring did not pitch in the three-game sweep of the Dodgers. Hernandez hit .152 with one homer and three RBIs in 66 at-bats this season.