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Cardinals bullpen provides no relief in Game 5
Turns out it was anything but simple.
What happened after the call was a comedy of errors that played out like something from the “Can you hear me now?” cell phone commercials.
Cardinals bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist thought La Russa only asked for Mark Rzepczynski to start throwing, when the manager really wanted both left-hander Rzepczynski and right-hander Motte to get loose.
La Russa realized the problem once he put in Rzepczynski and saw no one else warming up, so he called back and ask for Motte again. This time, Lilliquist told Lance Lynn to start throwing, even though he was only supposed to be used in an emergency.
The series of miscommunications left Rzepczynski on the mound against Mike Napoli with the bases loaded, a lefty-righty matchup that clearly favored Texas. The Rangers’ catcher delivered with a two-run double that sent Texas to a 4-2 victory Monday night.
“That phone in a loud ballpark, it’s not an unusual problem,” La Russa said. “I mean, it doesn’t make it right, but … “
As the pitchers came and went, La Russa’s deployment seemed curious. But he’s the winningest active manager and he’s known for his unconventional use of the bullpen, which is probably why nobody questioned whether there might be something wrong.
“I go out there, the phone rings and we get going when we’re told,” Motte said. “I started throwing when I was told to start throwing.”
And when was that?
Lilliquist said the problems were caused by noise from the fans.
“It was loud,” he said. “A lot of places are like that. The phone is as good as any phone anywhere.”
La Russa also said the noise problem is not unusual with bullpens “that are right amidst the fans and excitement.” The visitors’ bullpen at Rangers Ballpark is in left-center field, with fans on either side.
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