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“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.

“We had a chance with Rzepczynski’s stuff to get Napoli on the first pitch,” La Russa said. “And then he put a nice swing on a breaking ball.”

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.

Rzepczynski and Motte didn’t even know there was a mix-up until after the game.

“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?

“When Lance Lynn walked out,” Motte said. “I don’t need a whole lot of time anywhere.”

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’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.

Relievers have given up eight runs over their last 11 innings. Motte lost Game 2, Mitchell Boggs allowed a game-breaking three-run homer _ to Napoli _ in Game 4 and Dotel was the loser in Game 5.

Story Continues →