A major force down the stretch after arriving from Cleveland, Mota -- who served up Scott Spiezio's game-tying two-run triple in Game 2 -- has yielded five earned runs in 5 2/3 postseason innings."I feel OK," Mota said. "I think I can pitch whenever they need me. In a short series, you have to go with your best." Bravado aside, the Mets' bullpen has not been nearly as effective as the Cardinals' less-heralded collection of relief arms in the postseason. With Adam Wainwright replacing injured Jason Isringhausen as the new closer -- and with kids named Josh Kinney, Josh Hancock, Tyler Johnson and Brad Thompson getting the ball to him along with veterans Braden Looper and Randy Flores -- the Cards have yielded only one earned run across 19 2/3 innings of six postseason games. That computes to an ERA of 0.46. "We're not even thinking about [comparisons with the Mets' bullpen] -- we're just focused on what we have to do, and that is execute pitches," said Kinney, who retired Carlos Beltran on an inning-ending double play in the eighth right before So Taguchi and the Cards staggered Billy Wagner with a homer, two doubles and a single for three decisive runs. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, ever respectful and wary of the opposition, hurled nothing but praise in the direction of Randolph's arms. "All the credit, recognition of the Mets' bullpen is well-earned," La Russa said. "Around our league, they are really tough. They have got so many different looks." If one of those looks in St. Louis is beleaguered, the formidable forces of New York could be in trouble.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.