Monday, October 09, 2006


Only one of the 100 players who move on to the two League Championship Series knows first hand about Independent Baseball, but his story gives this writer added interest this postseason.

The story is that of rookie St. Louis reliever Josh Kinney, who made two key appearances in the Cardinals' three victories over San Diego and seems destined to get some spotlight time in the National League Championship Series against the New York Mets.

Kinney got his professional start five years ago with River City (O'Fallon, MO) in the Frontier League, then had his contract purchased by the nearby Cardinals after only three starts (1-0, 1.71 with 18 strikeouts in 21 innings). He worked his way up the St. Louis organization, and made his big league debut this July 3.

But Manager Tony LaRussa showed so much faith in the 27-year-old righthander that he added Kinney to the postseason roster and brought him into Game 2 against the Padres to protect a 2-0 lead with two-out in the sixth inning. Kinney got four key outs and allowed only a walk.

Then in the clincher Sunday night, Kinney came in during the eighth inning to face Mike Piazza. After making the pinch-hitting Piazza look bad on a breaking ball, he induced the future Hall of Famer to hit into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play. Kinney was lifted in favor of new closer Adam Wainwright in the ninth, but he had done his job, and had given yours truly--and Independent Baseball fans everywhere--special rooting interest as we go deeper into October.

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