CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Notes: Taveras back in lineup

Notes: Taveras back in lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Willy Taveras was back in the lineup on Wednesday for Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, playing center field and batting second.

Taveras did not start any of the three games in Houston after manager Phil Garner went with the hot bat and inserted Chris Burke into Taveras' slot in the lineup.

Garner didn't say much about the decision before the game. He just smiled and said, "Felt good."

More

The nod toward Taveras didn't mean Burke would sit on the bench. Burke started in left, batting sixth. Because the Astros were facing Mark Mulder, a left-hander, Garner went with an all-righty lineup, moving Mike Lamb to the bench.

"It's the same way we've always used the lineup when we faced left-handed pitchers," Garner said.

Taveras, recently voted by his peers as the Rookie of the Year in a poll taken by The Sporting News, said Garner didn't tell him ahead of time that he would be starting Wednesday night.

"I was happy to see my name in the lineup," he said. "I just have to play hard and try to make things happen. [Not playing] was a little hard, but it's about winning. I just had to sit back and be ready to play, try to make things happen."

Monday redux: Garner, always affable and accessible with the media, did not mind rehashing the events on Monday that led to the most disappointing loss in franchise history.

He hasn't been reading the newspapers and didn't watch a lot of television, so he missed the numerous replays of Albert Pujols' three-run homer in the ninth that gave the Cardinals the Game 5 win.

That said, he isn't pretending it didn't happen, either.

"It happened," Garner said. "We all lived it. We'll all relive it a dozen times. It was an exciting ballgame, we come ahead and the place was hopping. That's what we wanted to see. The other team came back on us.

"I wish we had a [game] clock at this moment, because we could have run the clock out. But we don't have a clock. We have to play the last out. It's one of the things that makes this game great.

"As Yogi [Berra] said, 'It's not over 'til it's over.' It certainly wasn't over. It's a tough loss, a hard loss. But it certainly doesn't mean anything today. That's what our club's been good about doing. It doesn't carry over."

Momentum overrated? Fans and reporters love to talk about momentum, but ask any Major League manager or player and they'll say momentum is only decided by the next day's pitcher.

Remember, it was this time last year that the Astros hit the dramatic ninth-inning three-run homer to sent the series to a Game 6, and after Jeff Kent's heroics, the club had to be feeling pretty good about itself.

Any momentum was halted pretty much from the first pitch in Game 6. The Cardinals won both games.

"It didn't play out like I thought it would play out," Garner said. "We won the ballgame on the strength of that three-run homer and then came in here and lost a couple of games. That doesn't necessarily mean it's over in our favor, and it doesn't mean it's over in their favor, either."

Past history: Astros players are, for the most part, aware of franchise history, but the fact that they were 0-for-5 in games that could have clinched a World Series berth heading in Game 6 this year doesn't carry a lot of impact.

They respect the history of the team, but quite frankly, what the 1980 and 1986 Astros did, or didn't do, isn't much of a concern to this club.

"I wish I could change it, but I had nothing to do with 30 years ago or whatever," Lance Berkman said. "And so from a player's standpoint, yes, you recognize that the history is there, but really, I feel like I'm 0-for-2 instead of 0-for-5. I had a hand in two of those games, and we didn't come through and do it."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less