NEW YORK -- Second-year Mets manager Willie Randolph gave Tom Glavine a high-five as the two passed on Thursday night at the postgame interview podium. Randolph was done for the night, and the always-eloquent Glavine was about to start talking.
"This man is the man," Randolph said about the 40-year-old left-hander and veteran of 10 postseasons, the first nine with the Braves.
Glavine was certainly the man in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, spinning seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball in his club's 2-0 victory over the Cardinals that gave the Mets a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that continues on Friday night at Shea Stadium.
Considering that the Mets' starting rotation is short Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez, a big start from Glavine was critical to New York's chances of going to the World Series for the first time since 2000 and the fifth time in franchise history.
"I understand the importance of when I pitch now," said Glavine, who at 290 regular-season victories is only 10 wins shy of the 300-win mark. "But at the same time, I'm trying my best to mentally play games with myself and dismiss that. I don't want to go out there with any added pressure than there already is.
"And so, the best thing for me to do is to understand that, when I pitch, it's an important game. But it's an important game when everybody pitches. I just want to do my best to give us a chance to win, and so far in this postseason, I've been able to do that."
Including his Game 2 victory against the Dodgers in the NL Division Series, this was the 34th postseason start in Glavine's 20-year career, tying him with Houston's Andy Pettitte for the most in history. Pettitte is 14-9, while Glavine is 14-15 -- 6-9 in 10 NLCS. It was Glavine's 16th NLCS start, the most ever, but his first NLCS victory in five years.
Glavine has been lights-out so far in this postseason, having giving up no runs, while allowing eight hits and four walks in 13 innings.
The shutout was the third combined postseason whitewash of his career.
"He had everything working for him tonight," said Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca. "A good fastball, cutter and changeup. That's why he's a Hall of Famer."
Glavine had the Cardinals' hitters off-balance all evening.
"He was totally different," said Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen, who went hitless again and is 1-for-14 in the postseason. "In the past, he lived and died away, and tonight he was throwing in and throwing strikes. He was pitching in there to me. That's a little different. That's an adjustment I had to make. He changes speeds in there. When you can throw a fastball and changeup inside and throw them both for strikes, it's going to be a tough night."
Career LCS innings pitched
Tom Glavine moved into first in all-time LCS innings pitched.
Career LCS strikeouts
Glavine is tied for fourth in all-time LCS whiffs.
Career LCS wins
Glavine is tied for second in all-time LCS wins.
Career LCS starts
Glavine is first in all-time LCS starts.
And when Glavine needed it most, sharp liners were snared by his infielders, one that was turned by third baseman David Wright into a key double play that ended the third inning.
Even Albert Pujols, who went 0-for-3 with a walk, was nabbed at first on a double play to end the fourth inning when he seemed to misjudge Juan Encarnacion's fourth-inning pop to center and couldn't backtrack to first base in time to beat the throw.
Endy Chavez, who replaced an injured Cliff Floyd defensively in left field, made a diving, one-handed snare of a Ronnie Belliard base-hit bid that blunted a possible fifth-inning Cardinals rally.
"Our defense was great, and obviously I needed it to be great," Glavine said. "I'm relying on those guys a lot. They know that. And I think they accept that."
Glavine struck out only two, meaning the Cardinals consistently put the ball in play. The economy of pitches -- Glavine threw only 89 -- will help him dearly if he has to come back and start Monday's possible Game 5 in St. Louis on only three days of rest.
"There's no question I feel better about coming back on three days' rest with a small pitch count like I had tonight vs. going over the 100 mark," Glavine said. "They seemed to be real aggressive early in the count, keeping my pitch count down.
"Certainly in that situation where I came out of the game, it's an opportunity to save some pitches, give me a chance to be a little bit stronger if I do have to come back on three days' rest."
Three days' rest, five days' rest, certainly Randolph won't care.
"He has a lot of experience in the postseason, and he's a guy that wants the ball in a big spot," Randolph said. "He got us started on the right foot. He's a superb pitcher, we all know that, but you always feel real confident when you give him the ball, because he's prepared and ready to go."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.