“Maybe we need to come up with some ear mikes or something,” La Russa said.
Considering all the technology available these days, there’s got to be a better way to do this _ right?
“Yeah, smoke signals from the dugout,” La Russa said. “There are times, like what happened in Philadelphia (during the first round of the playoffs). The phone went out, and so we used cell phones. And then the Phillies brought down walkie talkies, and they fixed the phone.”
The eighth inning began falling apart for St. Louis when Octavio Dotel took over for starter Chris Carpenter and gave up a leadoff double.
An intentional walk followed, then with one out, Rzepczynski came in for a lefty-lefty matchup with David Murphy. Texas could’ve gone to a right-handed hitter, but stuck with Murphy. He hit a comebacker that ricocheted off Rzepczynski’s leg to second baseman Nick Punto. He couldn’t field it cleanly, loading the bases.
“He made a great pitch, but it happens,” La Russa said. “Sometimes it happens for us, today it happened against us.”
Rzepczynski said he wasn’t surprised to remain in because there was a lefty on deck, Mitch Moreland.
“I’ve done that all year, where if there’s a righty in between, I’m going to go out there and get the chance to get the righty out,” Rzepczynski said.
La Russa added that he didn’t think it was a matchup doomed to fail.
Napoli drove a pitch into the wall in right-center field on one hop. Rzepczynski struck out Moreland, then La Russa went to the mound and tried bringing in Motte. Only he hadn’t warmed up yet. So when he called for the righty, in came Lynn.
“I said, `Why are you here?’” La Russa said.
With first base open, Lynn was told to intentionally walk Ian Kinsler. La Russa then returned to the mound and finally got the reliever he’d wanted several batters earlier, Motte. Only now St. Louis was down by two runs and the bases were loaded.
The bearded closer struck out Elvis Andrus on three pitches, which only made the regrets of what might’ve been tougher for Cardinals fans to swallow once they learned of the wacky breakdown.
La Russa’s constant mixing and matching of pitchers was celebrated as a big reason the Cardinals overcame a 10 1/2 game deficit down the stretch to make the postseason, and his deft handling of the bullpen helped them get past Philadelphia and Milwaukee in the first two rounds. But things haven’t been the same since Motte closed out a victory in Game 1.