Tuesday, October 17, 2006


To those fans driving the 30 miles on Interstate 70 from O'Fallon, MO to Busch Stadium in St. Louis--as well as the Fox TV audience nationally--for Game 5 of the National League Championship Series Thursday the chances seem really good they will see onetime River City Rascals hurler Josh Kinney take the mound at some time against the New York Mets.

We have been telling you both here and in our last Independent Baseball Insidercolumn about the rookie reliever coming from Independent Baseball and working his way into prominence in the Cardinals bullpen.

But St. Louis Manager Tony LaRussa seems more likely than ever to want Kinney on the mound once he has to relieve Jeff Weaver in Game 5 or when the series returns to Shea Stadium Wednesday and possibly Thursday.

It is a combination of Kinney's effectiveness this entire postseason, and the pounding most of the bullpen took in Game 4, when the Mets thumped their way to a 12-5 series-tying win.

Kinney was the winner in Game 2, but beyond that his four postseason appearances have seen him throw strikes (two walks) and limit opposing hitters to a .091 average. Fans should especially watch for the 27-year-old when righthanded hitters Paul LoDuca and David Wright or pinch-hitter Julio Franco are up in key situations in innings five, six, seven or eight.

Kinney can make Independent Baseball proud once more.

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