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October 14, 2000

Tony La Russa


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Tony.

Q. Can you talk about starting pitchers today, what they have to do today to be successful and how they're going to match up.

TONY LARUSSA: I think it's about as even as it gets. Both guys are veterans that can work both sides of the plate. They can throw a fastball any way, they have a couple different breaking balls, and they both have a change of speed. They're very similar. I think the key against good hitters is location. So push comes to shove, you got a key situation, you get the ball where you want to. We've done that, we've got some key outs. We missed it; they haven't missed them. That's probably the key.

Q. Can you go over your line-up, please.

TONY LARUSSA: Vina, Renteria, Edmonds, Clark, Lankford five, Tatis six, Drew seven, Hernandez eight.

Q. With the Mets record the way it is at home this year, is there anything you can point to as to why they play so well at home, here at Shea?

TONY LARUSSA: That's a good question. The Giants, their park, Mets, here. We got a good home record. So did Atlanta. I guess if you get to this time of the year, you had to have played good at home. But also from our perspective, you had to have played good on the road. I like this ballpark because it's a good baseball park. There's not a lot of cheap things that can happen. You can hit the ball out if you hit it right, but you don't get a lot of cheap home runs. So if you defend well and you pitch well, you can be in every game you play. That's kind of how the Mets play. That's why they have a chance every time we play here. They pitch well. Most of the guys know how to hit situations, and they catch the ball well.

Q. Do you have a sense that it's more difficult to win here?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, I think what makes it difficult is they're a good club. We play, we had the advantage at Busch Stadium. If you're talking about the crowd, I think the crowd will pump them up. We go over, come back, we've overcome that before on the road. They overcame that in Busch Stadium. So I mean we can tune out the hostile fans here. I think the key thing is to how good does Reed pitch, how good does Andy pitch, how many at-bats do we take, they take, just the baseball game. If they had to pick, they'd prefer to play here. We'd prefer to play in Busch. But you have to win in both places.

Q. Your starting rotation was so stable all year. You had basically the same five guys. Stephenson's out, Ankiel's having control problems, Andy has a sore knee. Is it frustrating that what got you here isn't available now?

TONY LARUSSA: I think it's something that if you're not careful that you will give into and we're not going to give into it. Yes, it's kind of ironic because that was the first key to improving our club that Walt did so well, and a lot of times when clubs are playing, you get into the season and it doesn't work out. It did work out. The same five guys, it was really terrific for our ballclub, our bullpen, everything. Here you get to the middle of August, there goes Andy and there goes Garrett. But we had a terrific attitude, when we started the post-season. And the first place, sounded too much like an excuse, nobody's going to pay attention to it. So we're not going to. If you look, there's a way for us to pitch well enough to beat the Braves, there's a way for us to pitch well enough here. Just like losing Mike Matheny, I mean that's not the way we'd prefer to have been, Garrett take the ball and Andy's knee good, and Mike, all that stuff. But over the years, there's a lot of clubs that get beat up, you get in the post-season, you compete with what you got and you can win.

Q. Can you talk about the decision of starting Tatis over Polanco.

TONY LARUSSA: Well, Tatis got a big hit the other day, and when we're playing at our best, he's one of our most dangerous guys in the clutch. He does not scare in the clutch. So we're hoping that makes it a sign of what's to come. He (Placido Polanco) adds a lot to our bench. It puts -- I mean, he's such a handy guy on the bench as far as defensively where to go with him. You can hit him just any situation, and it does buy another few hours of resting the hammy because if he does something to the hamstring again, then he's done for the post-season. So there are a lot of pluses. But he is available to play.

Q. Can you talk about your situation, being down 0-2, needing to win two games at Shea.

TONY LARUSSA: Disappointed, not discouraged. We had the edge in our ballpark, to come out of there with a win or two. Our situation is win today and then come to the ballpark tomorrow. We don't want to put any limits on ourselves. We need to get a win today. We recognize that they've got some momentum, they've got good starting pitchers, they've got their home fans, but we got a real good club. That's as far as we're going with it, just today's ball game, find a way to have more runs than they do.

Q. Talk about Darryl going in with three days' rest. Do you think that will affect him at all?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, he could have been set up better for it. He had a good outing as far as the work and he came out of it feeling terrific. I compare it -- only experience we had, he pitched with two days' rest one time after he started a game, got rained, we resumed it, we banged him and he started against Cincinnati, pitched a great game against Cincinnati. So he's been protected all year long so that he'd have that little extra for this time of the year, and I mean, I think he'll go out there with his normal really good stuff and pitch like he's pitched all year where he's had really good command. But that's tomorrow. I mean, we got to give -- we got to get into this series, and that means finding a way today to have a win.

End of FastScripts....

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