ST. LOUIS -- It's still hard to fathom what happened at the end of Game Five and how Tony La Russa spent Tuesday afternoon trying to explain it away. Was this is all a staged show so La Russa could protect pitching coach and dear friend Dave Duncan? Did La Russa really make the calls to the bullpen like he said he did? Was bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist to blame for hanging up before La Russa -- or Duncan? -- were done giving instructions?
This is Game Five of the World Series, for God's sake. In the eighth inning of a tie game. This isn't March 15 in Jupiter, Fla. But in one of the more cataclysmic braincramps of recent times, the Cardinals somehow butchered the use of their bullpen, be it via a wonky phone, Lilliquist's inability to hear in the noise or whatever.
Be sure to read my column in Wednesday's paper comparing La Russa's fiasco to the job Ron Washington has done so far. A few secondary thoughts:
---Albert Pujols: La Russa was asked how long Pujols has had the right to call a hit-and-run on his own and his answer was "It's been three or four years. It could have been his rookie year, maybe not his rookie year, second year." Seriously. That was La Russa's answer. Pujols was a rookie in 2001. So did he get this privilege in 2001 or 2002? Or 2007-08?
More La Russa on Pujols: "So as long as baseball has been played, when you have a player that really understands the game, that player gets a lot of leeway and ability to be involved, based on how he's reading what's going on. It happens to pitchers that are really smart, Tom Seaver. It happens to catchers that when the benches are defending the running games. And you have a catcher like Yadi [Yadier Molina], he can call a pitchout because they're really smart and they sense it."
Memo to La Russa: A catcher calling a pitchout is hardly the same as a batting calling a hit and run and getting his team run out of an inning in a tie game.
Derek Lilliquist: Why didn't the Cardinals bullpen coach ask La Russa if he really wanted Lance Lynn up when he was supposed to be on emergency-use only? Because coaches clearly don't have that right to question La Russa. Said the skipper: " I would be disappointed if Derek would have been saying, 'You know, Tony, I mean, do you know what you're doing?' "
Offense: La Russa has got to do something here. The Rangers are going to walk Pujols and let no one else beat them. Lance Berkman (7-18) is the only Cardinal doing anything, so he's going to protect Pujols in the No. 4 slot.
Photo: Associated Press
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