October 13, 2004
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI: Game One
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Tony LaRussa.
Q. Two-out hits come up big again tonight in the fifth and sixth inning.
TONY LaRUSSA: If you get them, it's a great way to generate some momentum and take some away from the other club. I don't think you can take anything away from those guys.
Q. You must feel pretty good about Izzy (Isringhausen). After Biggio got the double, he had to be worried?
TONY LaRUSSA: Well, we know they play the game like we do; you play the full nine innings. That's why we were separating every inning and had guys ready to finish the seventh, the eighth and finally Izzy got the ninth. You don't ever expect anything easy when you play the Astros.
Q. Obviously, you guys hit for average, hit for power. One thing that gets overlooked is you go deep into the counts. That seemed to work for you tonight.
TONY LaRUSSA: Sometimes a lot, that's an important part of having good at-bats. Our guys, they compete, everybody competes. And even if you make an out, you know, if you've got six, seven pitches, you made a step forward as far as wearing the guy out a little bit. But our guys really compete for their at-bats. That's one thing that happens.
Q. Does it satisfy you that you gave up four home runs and still win, or does that worry you at all, that they're that powerful?
TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I think certainly not the ones Woody (Williams) gave up. It was close after that. You get a lead, what you don't want to do is walk anybody. It's tough to hit a home run. You think they pop up or hit one at somebody. But you're in a little bit of a rock and hard place. You can't throw the ball down the middle but if you miss, you have to come after them. They took advantage of it. I felt like we pitched a winning game. So I feel good about Woody, and I feel good about our relievers.
Q. Earlier, Albert Pujols talked about the composure of this year's club. When they get down, there's no panicking. Is that something you're pleased with?
TONY LaRUSSA: That's part of what I think all of us that watched the club play this year really enjoy. I mean, they just are going to play nine. I wouldn't oversimplify it, but nothing shakes them up. Playing nine. If we get ahead, we play nine. If we fall behind, we're going to play nine. We do it every day. That's hard to do. I said this a few times, I admire a lot of things about our club, but that quality where they play every day is what I admire the most.
Q. Is there any one at-bat in that sixth inning that you thought was the key?
TONY LaRUSSA: Yeah, I could pick out one that was tied for first with one other then another one and another one (laughter). I mean, they ended up getting seven. They were all, I mean, I don't know anything that, you know, Tony's (Womack) ground ball, it happened after that with Larry (Walker). I mean, just Jimmy (Edmonds). It's just they were all big. So tied for first.
Q. Would you say that's a first for all of them to be big?
TONY LaRUSSA: No, I'm being a politician. I'm saying all hits were tied for first as the most important. I wouldn't choose between any of them.
Q. How important was it that Woody didn't crumble after giving up a couple two-run homers? Does it show his veteranness?
TONY LaRUSSA: Yeah, I mean, our club likes playing behind him because he's a competitor. We never have any trouble giving the other side credit, you know, Beltran got a ball up. He smoked it. Kent got a curveball. I mean, you tip your hat to the other guys. But Woody is never going to stop competing, and that's why he's a good choice whenever he pitches.
Q. How important is it for you guys to make the statement that you did, scoring as many runs as you did in the sixth? That reminded me of the third inning against the Dodgers.
TONY LaRUSSA: Well, it reminds you because that was the key to winning that game. There's nobody in the dugout saying, "Let's make a statement by scoring a crooked number here." You just try to score as much as you can as often as you can. It's likely to be that kind of a ballgame. So I just think the way today was played, you know, we were behind, we tied, then broke open with that one inning, it was just the way you had to compete to win this game.
Q. I realize it takes four to win a series, but after losing Games 1 in 2000, 2002, how significant is it to win that first game, especially at home?
TONY LaRUSSA: Well, you said it, I mean, that's a good answer. It's only one, you need three more. But, you know, with what we've done in those other two other Championship Series at home, you lose the first game, it's disappointing. You go 0-2, it's bitter. It really makes it difficult. So this was, I mean, a little different history for us. Don't know exactly how to handle it except I know we have to get three more wins. But you mug the home field advantage and you make it real difficult to win the series. At least now we're in better shape than we were in the other two.
Q. Mike Matheny's bunt, everybody's getting credit for the hits, but that was a big one.
TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I've heard our fans say they enjoy our club. We have really good base running. That was an excellent execution of the bunt. Our team plays good baseball in all facets. It's fun to watch.
Q. Explain your rotation with Matt (Morris) going tomorrow and Suppan and Marquis for Game 3 and Game 4?
TONY LaRUSSA: We try to put together several things, but one thing is probably more important than just about anything, the postseason you have so many interruptions with off days or you have to wait for the next series to start or whatever that whenever you can get a pitcher going on his normal day, that's an edge. You have to seriously consider playing him. Tomorrow is Matt's fifth day, he pitched Saturday in LA, that's five. Wasn't anybody else in our staff that that worked for. We like Matt pitching at home and all that other stuff. But I think that's one thing that we look to, and, you know, obviously Jeff's been good on the road. We kind of slot him there. Just wanted to upset Jason a little bit so we moved him to Game 4 (smiling).
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