Skip to content

Tony La Russa and the Cards bullpen shine as St. Louis beats Philly 5-4

Oct 3, 2011, 12:24 AM EDT

St Louis Cardinals v Philadelphia Phillies - Game 2 Getty Images

This was maybe the most Tony La Russa game ever.  Some mind games early, 125 double switches late, and a close game was won by the Cardinals, 5-4.  What did we learn, kids?

  • You can fall behind one of the Phillies’ aces 4-0 and still win.  I didn’t go back and look, but man, I bet that didn’t happen very often in 2011.
  • I’ll have some praise for La Russa below, but if that 4-0 had held up, a lot of people would have been asking why he pitched Chris Carpenter on short rest when he had never done so before.  He was probably wrong to run Carpenter out there, but he was right to have the quick hook on him too (though it did look like Carpenter was settling down a bit right before he left the game).
  • The strike zone was cause for some beefing.  Tony La Russa came out to argue about it early, thinking Carpenter was getting squeezed. Then, suddenly, it seemed like Cardinals pitchers were getting more calls and Cliff Lee was getting a bit squeezed. Little-known fact: La Russa knows how to use the Jedi mind trick.
  • Squeezed or not, Cliff Lee was able to strike out nine dudes. His problem was the death by a thousand cuts. Lots of bloops and balls that could have been caught but weren’t. It wasn’t bad defense, just great fortune, ground balls with eyes and broken bat singles for the Cardinals. It happens. Especially when you’re around the zone like Lee is. You can’t escape allowing 12 hits in the postseason, but nor can you really draw much of a negative conclusion about Cliff Lee because of this outing. Just one of those things.
  • As the game wore on, La Russa really went, well, La Russaian with his double switches and calls to the pen. Little known fact: he is allowed a 37-man roster in the postseason.  OK, not really, but seriously, he used a lot of players, with Jake Westbrook being the only guy remaining in the pen when the game ended. If it had gone extras, it could have meant trouble for him, though I suppose Westbrook is able to go forever considering he’s a starter by trade.  But let’s give some credit here: it worked.
  • And why it worked? Because the Cardinals bullpen was fantastic. Easily the weakest part of the team this year, so if you would have told me before the game that Chris Carpenter would be pulled after giving up four runs on five hits in three innings, I would have guessed that Philly won in a walk. Kudos to the 18 relievers who came through for the Cardinals. OK, it was only six, but they shut the Phillies out over six innings and allowed only two baserunners. That, my friends, is serious strength from an apparent weakness.
  • There was a great moment in the top of the eighth when Allen Craig was almost hit in the head and the Phillies fans cheered like it was the best thing ever. Never change, Philly fans! Never, ever change.
  • But at least cheer up a bit, guys. Tied 1-1, heading to St. Louis with Cole Hamels on the hill isn’t the worst thing in the world. Except for the fact that you’re going to face Jaime Garcia, and he has been tough on Philly over the past two years.

We have ourselves a series, everyone.

Latest Posts
  1. Yasiel Puig to begin rehab assignment Thursday

    May 6, 2015, 7:56 PM EDT

    puig getty Getty Images

    Some very good news here for the Dodgers …

  2. J.D. Martinez dropped to sixth in Tigers’ batting order

    May 6, 2015, 7:04 PM EDT

    Screenshot 2015-05-06 at 5.20.02 PM Getty Images

    Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez had batted either fourth or fifth in his first 26 starts this season, but he is 2-for-25 with 16 strikeouts in his last six games …

  3. Carlos Rodon to make first MLB start Saturday

    May 6, 2015, 6:18 PM EDT

    rodon getty Getty Images

    Jeff Samardzija officially dropped the appeal of his five-game suspension on Wednesday, temporarily opening a spot in the White Sox starting rotation.

  4. Cardinals reliever Jordan Walden out 6-10 weeks with shoulder injury

    May 6, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT

    walden getty Getty Images

    Acquired from the Braves as part of the Jason Heyward trade this offseason, Walden posted a 0.87 ERA and 12/4 K/BB ratio in 10 innings for the Cardinals.

  5. Four teams are in on Jarrod Saltalamacchia

    May 6, 2015, 3:43 PM EDT

    Miami Marlins v New York Mets Getty Images

    Diamondbacks, Royals, Indians and Mariners.

  6. Must-click link: Barry Bonds’ second act

    May 6, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Photo: Barry Bonds' Instagram Photo: Barry Bonds' Instagram

    Bonds is a sponsor of a women’s cycling team. And, in cycling, is finding more acceptance and peace than he’s found in baseball in a long, long time.

  7. Happy Birthday, Willie Mays! Good luck, A-Rod!

    May 6, 2015, 11:32 AM EDT

    Willie Mays AP

    There’s a chance for some history on the Say-Hey Kid’s 84th birthday.

  8. Can the Royals’ bullpen get even better? Luke Hochevar set to return from Tommy John surgery

    May 6, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Luke Hochevar AP AP

    Two years ago Hochevar a 1.92 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 70 innings.

  9. Brook Jacoby and umpire Doug Eddings were in a “loud, obscenity-laced, nose-to-nose exchange”

    May 6, 2015, 9:01 AM EDT

    Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays Getty Images

    A new report on the incident suggests that the umpire was just as much an aggressor as Jacoby was.

  10. And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

    May 6, 2015, 7:04 AM EDT

    Carlos Perez Getty Images

    This is easily the most photo and video-heavy ATH of all time. Mostly because pitchers did things with bats and teams wore throwbacks last night.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. A. Rendon (3869)
  2. A. Cobb (3290)
  3. J. Hamilton (3161)
  4. D. Wright (3048)
  5. A. Colome (2976)
  1. H. Ramirez (2856)
  2. D. Span (2726)
  3. A. Pujols (2723)
  4. G. Holland (2715)
  5. Y. Puig (2645)