October 16, 2004
HOUSTON, TEXAS: Game Three
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Tony LaRussa.
Q. As it became clearer that Roger (Clemens) was getting stronger, what kind of things were you hearing from your hitters coming back into the dugout?
TONY LaRUSSA: Just quality pitches, especially location. Good movement.
Q. Just as a follow-up to that, you've seen him in so many big situations year after year after year. Does it ever cease to amaze you at his age he can still throw a game like that?
TONY LaRUSSA: No. It's kind of what you expect from him. I mean, he's got a lot of credits on his resume and he's earned every one of them. Got the two early runs. I mean, we had a great chance to win it because Sup (Jeff Suppan) was outstanding. I kept thinking we'd break through and could never put anything together and that's a credit to Clemens and then to Lidge at the end, the last two innings.
Q. I'm not sure that Jeff Suppan has ever been in a game this big before. Gave up three runs in the first inning. Could you talk about his mental state and how he was handling the pressure of this game in the first inning.
TONY LaRUSSA: Very cool customer. I'd disagree with you, the game he pitched in LA to end the Division Series had a lot of significance, much like this one. Maybe more, because if you lose that one, it goes to a deciding game. I think he's a very cool guy. I don't mean the way he talks or dresses, but on the mound. He doesn't get fazed. He made a pitch, made a great pitch to Bagwell, thought we might get out of it. Then, boom, two swings, three runs. But he was outstanding after that. He gave us a terrific chance to win.
Q. Are you surprised with all the home runs in this series in three games? And why are the Astros playing so well at home?
TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I think that's a great question to ask the Astros when they come up here. They know more than we do. I think if you look at the home runs that have been hit by both sides, they've been all hittable pitches, not really what the rest of the pitches -- they've been getting a bunch of outs. I mean, all three pitches that we threw today were up in the zone. Larry (Walker) hit a first pitch. I think Jim (Edmonds) hit a fork ball that was up. I'm not sure he took too many more fork balls that were up. Dangerous lineups and mistakes, guys are punishing. They're not popping any of them up. Today there were not a whole lot of mistakes.
Q. Did you consider turning Beltran around?
TONY LaRUSSA: Yeah, we thought about it. Then you face Bagwell, Berkman. But Haren had an impressive sixth. The way I look at it, with that short porch, I think Beltran is hitting a better average than the right-hand side. So he got a fastball up in a fastball count.
Q. The Astros were saying when they got here that even though they were down 0-2, they had Clemens and Oswalt; they thought they could get back in. Where do you look at it from your standpoint, where you are?
TONY LaRUSSA: Well, if I was in that clubhouse, that's what I'd be saying. In our clubhouse, we played ourselves into an edge in the series, and I mean, I was really pleased with what I saw today. We were grinding those at-bats like we needed to. We pitched well enough to give us a chance to win, late two home runs. I feel like we've earned the edge, and somewhere, somehow, we'll make that edge pay off because we're going to play the same way tomorrow.
End of FastScripts...