October 13, 2001
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI: Game Four
Q. Tony, what was bigger? Vina's pick off or the home run?
TONY LaRUSSA: Tied for first. The home run was really big, but we were in some jeopardy there and I thought Bud was getting a little vulnerable. That's classic daylight play, and they pulled it off beautifully.
Q. Can you talk about Bud Smith just kind of in general terms of the game he pitched today?
TONY LaRUSSA: I think he showed us why he got the assignment. It's a difficult circumstance. I don't know if it's any more difficult than resuming play Monday after the interruption or having a no-hitter and having to get three outs in the 9th. This guy just has the ability to concentrate. He has another thing he does really well, to win a lot of those games. He did it in the no-hitter, I think Duncan and I felt around the 4th sometime he was really starting to lose it a little bit, get real vulnerable. He got through it. He knows he needs three outs in the 5th and he got that extra and made the pitches and got through it. That's really classic winning stuff.
Q. Tony, the overall team performance, they did a lot of things right throughout the game.
TONY LaRUSSA: I always feel you get what you earn. And I think with our fans, they should have learned when our heart gets broken, the next day we've come out and been a tough ball club. We've never had a carryover where we're out there depressed, discouraged. We're ready to play. We did a real good job of coming out there and competing. We've got some big, big production from Vina, he had a great day. Jim Edmonds, Bud Smith -- I'll tell you, there are some games you have a special memory of. My special memory today would be Dustin Hermanson. He was a real trooper when we talked about setting up and going to the bullpen. And by the fourth game he hadn't made an appearance and he comes up with the importance of getting back in the game and he makes nine outs. We're so happy and thankful, we're going to take his two labs with us on the plane back to Arizona.
Q. Talking about Vina's pick-off and the home run, what about the stolen base?
TONY LaRUSSA: You know, our style is aggressive. We try to be aggressive. You've seen they've pitched out two or three times. They've got their reports, they know we're pushing. His base hit, the fact he tried to make something happen, it sends a message. We don't spend a lot of time trying to send messages to the other side. We mostly try to take care of our own business. And we tried to send a message to our club: The guy at the top of the lineup was ready to play. Come on.
Q. Can you envision a scenario where Hermanson might be one of your closers next season?
TONY LaRUSSA: When?
Q. Next season.
TONY LaRUSSA: I think Hummel has a story tomorrow. If we don't win tomorrow, I won't be here next season. I thought you meant a closer tomorrow night, and hopefully against Atlanta. He has had experience both ways. I think he has got a very durable arm. You can see why. To me, you know, most of what I think of Felipe Alou, and most of you can see why Felipe Alou did it. Those qualities are good to a starter. He is in great shape. He can throw a lot of pitches. You feel he can take the ball 30-some times a year. I think he's just a hell of an asset.
Q. Was that essentially your plan going in? Getting five outs from Smith and then bringing Hermanson in for Smith?
TONY LaRUSSA: It was more of a hope than a plan. Our plan was to play one inning, two innings, three innings. You didn't know for sure what to expect with Bud. That's what I admire about him. I know what I was thinking and I checked with Duncan, around the 4th, it looked to me like he was starting to labor, so the plan was -- he's pitching effectively, when he starts to lose it, let's go to somebody else.
Q. How much did Dustin benefit from the contrast following Smith into the game?
TONY LaRUSSA: That's a good point. I mean, that's one of those nice things that you try to do some times. Like Nolan Ryan, you pitch Charlie Huff behind him, that kind of stuff. I think it helps and it probably -- you know, maybe a couple, three hitters looking at the difference, but I think the most important thing Dustin did -- I think I only saw two pitches that really got away from him. I think he was really together making good pitches and he had some terrific outs.
Q. Even though Bud has been extremely cool under pressure this year, with this four-hour rain delay, do you have any reason to think he might be more tensed up than usual? Was it a concern for you?
TONY LaRUSSA: It was the opposite. I was worried we weren't going to wake him up in time. I don't know if he was sleeping or not. If you're going to have a rain delay, it's nice to have it on a weekend. We were watching college football. We had a lot of things to do.
Q. Was there any thought of getting somebody up in the first when Smith was laboring in the first?
TONY LaRUSSA: With the attitude that we had about planning, it wasn't too much longer before you would have seen someone out there, probably Hackman.
Q. How soon before you stress how important Game 5 is to the guys?
TONY LaRUSSA: One of the easiest decisions that whether it's Bob Brenly or myself has is not having to worry about that stress. These guys know exactly what's at stake. Everybody wants to play in Atlanta on Tuesday. I just --
this has really been a neat club to be with because of this. It has not been an easy year and we keep bouncing back and playing like champs. So hopefully Sunday night we can officially be Champs of something.
Q. Tony, McGwire had a couple of good swings tonight, a base hit. You've got everything on the line tomorrow night. Do you plan to go with him?
TONY LaRUSSA: I thought he did have some good swings. I played him in that game against Schilling last time. A lot of guys struck out and he had one decent at-bat to put a runner in scoring position. I think he'll have a chance to play.
End of FastScripts....