Edmonds makes up for lost time
After injury-marred season, center fielder provides boost
ST. LOUIS -- It's all about timing for Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds.
For 11 postseason games before the World Series, Edmonds batted .257 with one multi-hit game, but he had six RBIs with all but one coming in Cards victories.
His timely hitting has continued in the Series, and that's one reason the Cards have the upper hand after three games with the Tigers. With the bases loaded in the fourth inning of Game 3, Edmonds delivered a two-run double that started the Cards toward their 5-0 victory Tuesday night.
Edmonds has driven in runs in each Series game. Now he has lifted his average this postseason to .295. His .444 (4-for-9) mark with four RBIs in this round gives him early consideration for MVP honors.
With a .288 career postseason average, it's clear Edmonds does his best hitting at the biggest time.
"I don't really know the stats or anything," Edmonds said. "I don't really pay attention, but I just think that when you play in the postseason, you have to focus a little bit stronger and a little bit more -- stay calm, stay under control, and those are the only things I really try to do, and not to get too excited."
Edmonds sparked the excitement of the sellout crowd in the first World Series game at the new Busch Stadium. Displaying patience with one out and a 2-2 count, Edmonds went with a low inside pitch from Nate Robertson and grounded it inside the first-base bag past Sean Casey to send Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen home.
It was more than enough for Cards right-hander Chris Carpenter, who struck out six and didn't walk anyone in eight innings.
"He obviously had a big hit tonight," Carpenter said. "It's fun to watch him play. He's the best center fielder I've ever seen play. And he can hit, no question about it, and he's done it so far this series. It's fun to have him on my team."
Edmonds, who came to the Cardinals in a trade with the Angels before the 2000 season, entered the playoffs wondering if he'd possibly finish his Cardinals career without a postseason in which to make big hits.
Edmonds spent the end of the season trying to recover from a concussion that he suffered on June 21 when his head hit the turf after he hit the center-field wall at U.S. Cellular Field trying to grab a fly ball hit by Joe Crede of the White Sox.
The Cards placed Edmonds on the disabled list on Aug. 15 with post-concussion syndrome, and he made just four starts in the final six weeks of the regular season. Staying off road trips and off planes helped him recover. But Edmonds, who is eligible for free agency after the Series, worried because the Cards nearly blew a large lead in the National League Central.
"We were struggling at the end, so I didn't know how long ... if we were going to make the playoffs, or how far we were going to go," Edmonds said. "I just wanted a chance to get back on the field."
Edmonds, who also has shoulder issues, skirted a question about how he feels, saying, "I'd have to lie." But a less-than-whole Edmonds is quite enough for manager Tony La Russa.
"He really is a prime-time guy," La Russa said. "And when you consider how he finished the season -- sore, not playing much -- there's no reason for him to have this kind of time."
His postseason stats defy regular-season reason.
After struggling against left-handed starters all season -- 23-34 in the regular season, 3-3 in the postseason, including the strong performance by the Tigers' Kenny Rogers in his Game 2 victory -- the Cardinals needed a spark against lefties. The left-swinging Edmonds provided it, going 7-for-21 (.333) with a home run, a double and five RBIs.
Edmonds entered the season batting a respectable .264 against lefties, but during the 2006 regular season he hit an alarmingly low .156 with three home runs and 32 strikeouts in 96 regular-season at-bats against southpaws.
"I don't really try to do too much," Edmonds said. "I just try to swing at strikes."
Edmonds has picked the perfect time to do just that.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.