10/06/2003 12:15 AM ET
Moises leads Cubs to NLCS
Alou's clutch hitting set tone for Chicago in NLDS
ATLANTA -- Moises Alou is disappointed that the Chicago Cubs will not face his father, Felipe Alou, and his San Francisco Giants as the National League Championship kicks off in Chicago on Tuesday.
But it's probably better that way. Now he won't have to worry about his dad getting in his head and messing with his postseason mojo. Instead, he'll face the team he won a World Series with, the Florida Marlins.
Alou had an exceptional NLDS, hitting .500 over five games. He drove in three runs and reached base 11 times in the series to help boost the Cubs, 3-2, in the best-of-five series with the Atlanta Braves.
Once again Sunday night in Game 5, Alou was a huge factor, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in the Cubs' 5-1 win over Atlanta. Alou's first-inning single brought Kenny Lofton in for the first run of the contest and set the tone for the evening.
He also went 2-for-5 and scored a run in Game 1, 2-for-3 with an RBI in Game 2, 2-for-4 in Game 3 with one run scored and 3-for-4 in Game 4 with an RBI.
Alou, 37, is no stranger to postseason success. He batted .228 and drove in 15 runs for the Marlins during their run to a World Series title in 1997. Alou kept getting hotter as the postseason wore on that year, knocking in one run in the Division Series against the Giants and five runs against the Braves in the NLCS. He peaked on the big stage, hitting .321 and driving in nine runs against the Indians in the World Series. He also scored the game-tying run in the ninth inning against Jose Mesa in Game 7, which the Marlins eventually won in 11 innings, 3-2, to take the World Series title.
Alou is looking forward to squaring off with his former club.
"It's going to feel good," he said. "I wish it was San Francisco because I wanted my dad to win. Unfortunately, it didn't work out for them."
Cubs manager Dusty Baker, also no stranger to the postseason, said he thought from day one in Chicago this season that keeping Alou healthy was going to be a key to the success of the team.
After missing significant time during his first season with the Cubs in 2002, Alou underachieved and said last year he was embarrassed by his play. He had something to prove to the fans and the organization and he set out from Spring Training as a man on a mission.
The effort was not wasted, as a well-conditioned Alou appeared in 151 games, posting a .280 average and driving in 91 runs. Apparently, the offseason work with a personal trainer in the Dominican Republic paid off.
"He's our clutch RBI man," Baker said. "He's no stranger to the postseason, his history speaks for itself. He always does well in the postseason. It was big for us to keep Mo healthy and keep him on the field and strong."
Sammy Sosa was the prime beneficiary of Alou's stepped-up play. Hitting in front of Alou gave Sosa a few more good pitches each game as pitchers avoided trying to get around the slugger.
"It's not only about one guy, it's about the whole team," Sosa said. "Moises has been great. He's been carrying the team and hopefully that can continue. He's been having a great series."
Alou downplayed his postseason success and said there was a simple explanation.
"I have just been lucky or blessed to be on good teams that make it to the postseason," he said. "Unfortunately things didn't work out when I was in Houston. But it worked out in Florida and hopefully it's going to work out here."
Amy Sternig is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.
By Amy Sternig / MLB.com