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October 14, 2000

Tony La Russa


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Tony LaRussa.

Q. Tony, first two games out there, obviously they got the jump early. How crucial was it for you guys to come out and steal a page out of their book and set the same tone?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, I think it was very important for us. I mean, I don't think it did a whole lot to them because they're going to play a good nine. I think it did a lot for us, but we were looking at more than two. The way the inning was set up, to only get two, I thought we did a terrific job. The inning's over, we didn't make more, but let's keep playing. But getting off to a start, scoring the top of the first, that gave us a lift.

Q. By bringing McGwire in when you did in the fourth inning, were you hoping to tell the Mets that no lead -- bury the Mets knowing that no lead was big enough against them?

TONY LARUSSA: Trying to add to the lead. They had a lot of game left. But that's one of the situations that works best with Mark, there's two outs, you don't have to worry about a double play. I'll hit it with one out one of these days. He had a lot of things going for us, I thought, so I took a shot.

Q. You were talking before about the absolutely enormous pressure it would be on your team if you had gone down by three in this series. What can you say about Andy Benes, what he did today, considering he came into this game, never won a post-season game, hasn't pitched particularly well in the post-season.

TONY LARUSSA: Well, I know it's kind of dangerous to disagree with a legendary writer and analyst (laughing) but in 1996 he pitched the first game against Atlanta and gave us a great chance to win. Then he pitched with three days' rest and we ended up winning that game late. So for us, he's been clutch a lot. I feel very good, because I don't think Andy gets the credit that he deserves. I mean, he's such a super individual that I think some people forget that he's a very talented pitcher and a great competitor. You forget. But like Doug pointed out, I don't know that there are a lot of pitchers that wouldn't shut it down with the way his knee was swelling, the discomfort. He pitched a lot of starts. But to do what he did today, this is a terrific mark. Hell, this gave us a chance in this series. But I think personally for him, he can stand up and be proud and he made a heck of a statement.

Q. Did you wince when he slid home like that?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, he was actually -- it's a dangerous play. It would have been more dangerous for him to slide the other way for his knee. That's why he did it. We both thought we saw one time he made a pitch, looked like he made a grimace or something. It was after that. We kept checking with him. He was good to go.

Q. The way he pitched and the way Rick struggled, was there any chance you would bring Andy back on three days' rest for Game 6?

TONY LARUSSA: You got no chance to get an answer for that one. (Laughter.) We're going to play games 4 and 5 for sure now; we'll think about Kile for tomorrow. We'll watch Rick pitch.

Q. Did the double play seem to really relax Andy and your ballclub?

TONY LARUSSA: I don't think relax is the way we played the game. I think it was a huge play at the time to get a double play there. When that double play was over, the score was only 2-1, so it was not the time to relax. We wanted to keep pushing. We had the two double plays, really defensively that's as important as anything as far as besides Andy Benes.

Q. You had to use a lot of your middle relief in Game 2, was Andy working without a net a little bit?

TONY LARUSSA: I mean even with the day off yesterday, Reames, Morris unavailable, we had James, which is a short guy, we had Timlin, which is a short guy. We got Christiansen and Veres, we had four short guys. If we had to pitch a lot of games, Hentgen, who will start now on Monday, did not take a throw yesterday to get ready for it. We held him till today just because you don't know how it's going to go. So we were, even with a lead, you can see that we could have problems if Andy didn't sparkle. We were short.

Q. What kind of impact, if any, is all this talk about a Subway Series?

TONY LARUSSA: On us, on St. Louis, they're not talking about the Subway Series, they're talking about St. Louis. You come to New York, obviously they're going to pull for their home teams. But this is our chance, we're going to take our chance. Somebody like the Mets are going to beat us, we'll tip our cap. We're not going to give in and we're not going to give up. They certainly don't want anybody to lose in this area, they're hoping to see both their teams come in. We come from the Midwest, that's not what they're hoping for there.

Q. I read where you're looking for the two-out hit to open up an inning, but you got 14 hits and four of those were leadoff hits. You have to be very satisfied with your offense tonight.

TONY LARUSSA: Well, I think that I would make sure I say it again, because we talk about it before the game. The single biggest thing that we needed was for Andy to pitch like he did. But, on the other side, we played, to me, a typical ball game that this club has played all year long. We did a lot of good things. We got guys over, we put the ball in play with two strikes, we got guys over, got them in. I mean, it was just a good baseball game from everybody that played. So a lot of times you get inspired, your starting pitchers are out there sparkling like that, we really played well, we enjoyed it for a little bit and we'll try to play well tomorrow.

End of FastScripts....

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