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Torre pushes all the right buttons in Dodgers sweep

Oct 10, 2009, 9:40 PM EDT

Two future Hall of Fame managers matched up in the NLDS, and the end result was a no contest. Everything Joe Torre touched this week turned to gold. Tony La Russa, who had more options with his flexible roster, opted to stay the course and came up well short.
Torre’s biggest successes:
1. Going to closer Jonathan Broxton early and often.
With his team down 2-1, Torre called on Broxton to begin the top of the eighth in Thursday’s Game 2. He saw Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday due up and knew Broxton was his best hope to keep the game close. Broxton responded with a perfect eighth, George Sherrill followed with a scoreless inning and the Dodgers came back to win in the bottom of the ninth.
2. Choosing Vicente Padilla to start Saturday’s Game 3
A healthy Hiroki Kuroda likely would have gotten the call, but the Dodgers didn’t have that option. Torre had Padilla, Chad Billingsley and Jon Garland to pick from. Padilla was 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance for the Dodgers, while Garland was 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA. Billingsley, of course, had struggled throughout the second half, but he did rebound with back-to-back quality starts to end the regular season. Padilla proved to be the choice, and he responded with seven scoreless innings, his longest outing as a Dodger.
3. Using Ronnie Belliard over Orlando Hudson at second base
Torre chose to sacrifice some defense and start the hot-hitting Belliard in all three games against St. Louis. Belliard responded by going 3-for-11 with two RBI and two walks. He drove in the tying run in the bottom of the ninth on Thursday.
La Russa, on the other hand, will look back with regrets. Pulling Adam Wainwright after eight innings in Game 2 was a defensible decision. Sticking with Ryan Franklin until he lost the game in the ninth wasn’t. Going to Jason LaRue as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of a 5-0 game on Saturday was terribly foolish. The idea was to save Troy Glaus for a bigger situation, but the Cardinals’ best hope of putting themselves in a position to win the game was to get someone on base to lead off the eighth and Glaus was a lot more likely than LaRue to make that happen.
Of course, it’s not La Russa’s fault that his team didn’t hit. The Cardinals never scored multiple runs in an inning in the three games against the Dodgers. Their defense was shaky as well. Besides the dropped liner from Matt Holliday that cost them Game 2, they had two miscues in Game 3. Joel Pineiro made an error, and Brendan Ryan failed to handle a grounder from Casey Blake that was wrongly ruled an infield single. It was two bad games and one unlucky one at the wrong time for a team that seemed about as good of a bet as any to come out of the NL.

  1. kejji - Oct 10, 2009 at 10:24 PM

    did he push Hollidays button to drop the ball that caused the cardinals to lose? you give him to much credit.

  2. bob - Oct 10, 2009 at 10:44 PM

    dodgers suck

  3. bob - Oct 10, 2009 at 10:47 PM

    you got that right brother

  4. bob - Oct 10, 2009 at 11:04 PM

    you suck….now go buy some red towels and wave them… add the word suck them wave them……lol

  5. Peter Michielini - Oct 10, 2009 at 11:29 PM

    Congrats to Joe Torre.
    If Joe ends up in the Bronx, I’m not sure who to root for. The greatest team or the greatest manager.
    You are still held in high esteem around here Joe!
    What a great baseball season 2009 has been.

  6. Paul H. - Oct 10, 2009 at 11:33 PM

    Give the Dodgers some credit. If they did win the NLDS in three they would have won it in four or five. They are the class of the National League. When Kemp goes in a slump Andre comes out and hits a homer, triple, and double. They have had timely hitting and are lead by a class guy.

  7. megsdad - Oct 11, 2009 at 12:11 AM

    I couldn’t agree more. Torre is a class act and as a die-hard Yankee fan I’ll be the first to admit that he got a raw deal at the end in NY. Even though he did cost us the pennant in 2004 when we blew the 3-0 lead over the Red Sox. To this day I still can’t understand why he didn’t run more late in game 4 when Veritek was stuck trying to catch Wakefield’s knuckleball. His arm isn’t that good to begin with and when you consider he had no idea how to catch Wakefield it was a golden opportunity wasted. The rest is history. Very sad and painful history.

  8. in5in06 - Oct 11, 2009 at 12:58 AM

    As a Cards fan who sat through Game 3 – my hat goes off to the Dodgers. JT, you’re still loved and very much respected around here. Good luck the rest of the way.

  9. cardsfan#1 - Oct 11, 2009 at 1:23 AM

    bob, where have you been man? Our team $ucks big time. I’m joining the Dodgers bandwagon.

  10. phil - Oct 11, 2009 at 6:51 AM

    bob,bob, you are way to angry, take a deep breath and say, the better team won, cause they did. Oh, and to the other Card’s fans thanks for bringing the towels, to wipe those big tears off your cheeks, boo hoo. GO DODGERS.

  11. bh0673 - Oct 11, 2009 at 8:23 AM

    Was it Torre pushing all the right buttons or a Cardinal team that was just over matched. Look at the NL Central a pathetic division strength wise, the Mets probably could have clinched that division and with the unbalanced schedual the Cardinals played 90 games against 3 sub 500 teams and one .518 team.

  12. bh0673 - Oct 11, 2009 at 8:25 AM

    4 sub 500 teams, my bad

  13. bh0673 - Oct 11, 2009 at 8:34 AM

    While I agree Torre is a class act and got a raw deal in NY, lets face it he made some bad calls in the series against Cleveland in both choosing a fading Wang to pitch a crucial game to stay alive and not forcing the Umpires to delay the game when Joba was coated in midges. Plus add in the fact he burnt the bull pen in the last few years and really didn’t do enough in his last few years in NY to rally the Yankees when they needed it most. Class guy yes, good at controling players ego’s and bs yes but always pushing the right buttons no.

  14. bh0673 - Oct 11, 2009 at 9:25 AM

    Lets disect the Cardinals vs the Dodgers, look at the division they play in one team over .500, 3 under .500 and one under.400 so 90 games were played against loosing teams. They should have clinched the Division in early Sept.. Now look at the NL West 3 teams ver .500 and the Wild Card team in there as well not LA had to face it’s division rivals only 72 games. The unbalanced schedual makes all the numbers and standings a joke, how would have either team have fared in a balanced schedual where they each faced the same teams the same number of times. Would the Dodgers look even better, would good players in the NL Central look as big as they do? Now lets throw in the interleague games. They played Kansas City (65-97) 6 games and Cleveland and Detroit. Cleveland with a DH and Detroit the stronger team in St. Louis without. Now the Dodgers faced the Angels (97-65) 6 games, Oakland, White Sox and Seattle. Forget steroids skewing the numbers the unbalanced schedual and interleague matchups skew it more.

  15. Bob - Oct 11, 2009 at 9:28 AM

    Agree, agree, agree. We love the “new” Joe (G), but miss the old Joe too.

  16. b0673 - Oct 11, 2009 at 9:34 AM

    Bob I would have said the same thing early in the season but as the Yankees began to win and Girardi kept the Yankees focused I began to feel different and stopped missing Torre. Girardi handled the bull pen better then Torre ever did and just seemed to be in the game more then Torre ever did. Torre was a class guy, he handled the media well but after seeing Girardi take control this year I think the Yankee brass made the right call.

  17. Dan - Oct 11, 2009 at 10:50 AM

    Wouldn’t be something. LA Vs. the Yankees in the World Series? The press will have a field day on Torre and his split from the Yankees.

  18. bh0673 - Oct 11, 2009 at 10:57 AM

    True the Torre story would be a media delight but you know what I would rather pass on that and make the big story be baseball and baseball only. I do not want to have to listen to every sports news show concentrate on that part of the story and that will be the focus. The sports writers can’t help themselves they can’t really write about the sport most of the time just the off field drama.

  19. Lizardman - Oct 11, 2009 at 3:33 PM

    I think the real story here is the fact that the Dodgers are the class of the National League. They stumbled near the end of the season but ended with the best overall record in the NL. Before the last month of the year they never lost more than two games in a row!
    Looking at a few other stats, they had the best ratio of scoring over their opponents in both leagues including the Yankees. Take into account they had the best ERA and the best overall hitting team in the National League and how could you bet against them.
    One last point. Right now the Dodgers have eight starters that would be in any other teams rotations and their biggest problem is deciding which one to use. Oh, and if you get past the starters you have to deal with the best bullpen in the National League as well.
    This all done in arguably the best division in the National League with a weighted schedule playing San Fransisco, Colorado, and San Diego 18 games a piece.
    Thanks, Lizard

  20. Rodger Dodger - Oct 11, 2009 at 4:54 PM

    St. Louis was simply overrated. The Dodgers won on all fronts – great hitting, great pitching, great coaching and great fielding :-). Enjoy the long cold winter Cards fans.

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