On April 3, 2006, the road to a championship began with a 13-5 Cardinals season opening win over the Phillies in Philadelphia. The game featured Chris Carpenter on the bump from the start, as well as two home runs by Albert Pujols. Jim Edmonds drove in the first run of the contest with an RBI double in the first, then sat and watched Albert lift his first long ball into the seats with a big blast in the third. The Birds then exploded with eight runs in the fourth, which began with an Aaron Miles triple, and ended with a grand slam off the bat of Scott Rolen to make the score 10-0. Miles was making his regular season debut with the club, and he along with the rest of the Birds were flyin' towards victory. And little did they know, they were also flyin' towards a Championship.
The Fightin' Phils finally got to Carpenter in the bottom of the fourth with a solo shot by Pat Burrell, however, the Redbirds were in the driver's seat in this one. David Eckstein got the run back with a sac fly in the fifth, before Albert connected with his second big fly of the day. The three run shot made the score 13-1, and the Cardinals were well on their way to victory. With that said, the Phillies would not just lay down. Chase Utley drove in a run in the bottom of the fifth, then Ryan Howard did his best Pujols imitation by taking on deep to lead off the sixth. Carp walked the next man, then handed the ball off to Randy Flores who watched another run cross the plate before the sixth was in the books.
Flores handed the ball off to Josh Hancock after allowing a one out single in the seventh, before Burrell knocked in the fourth and final Phillies run of the day with a double. Hancock settled quickly, picked up the next two outs, then watched Adam Wainwright toss the eighth, before Brad Thompson finished things off in the ninth. Win number one of what would turn out to be an 83 win team was in the books.
This club like each club on opening day had questions that would be answered, as well as adversity that would be faced. They would go through valleys and peaks. The peaks seems to have come early in that '06 season, as they were on fire from the start, then seemed to be drowning near the end. They had to overcome injuries, as well as players that did not perform up to expectations. In the end they took advantage of what was a weak Central Division and took first by 1 1/2 games over the Astros. With just 83 wins most probably did not believe in the team. However, the men in the locker room believed in themselves, and once the playoffs began the regular season was a thing of the past. It was time to make a run, and make a run they did. For the first time since 1982, the St. Louis Cardinals would be World Champions.
Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI200604030.shtml