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October 26, 2006

Tony La Russa


Q. Tony, how clutch would you say David Eckstein was at the plate tonight?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, he's the definition of a clutch player, and then you try to give an example of what that means, game-winning hit against a guy throwing 100. That's all you need to know. A guy with that talent, he's the toughest guy I've ever seen in uniform.

Q. Could you talk about the grinding out of at-bats during the game against Bonderman and how important that was as the game turned out?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, he's very, very talented. You saw -- he went through a lot of our really good hitters. The only way you beat a guy like that is you have to -- everybody goes up there has to really try to fight their at-bat and make him work for everything. And maybe he makes one mistake, somebody runs into something. But it's your only chance.
If we had given in because he has the stuff that he has, we wouldn't have had a chance.

Q. Not just for Game 4, but how important have your starters been not just throughout the World Series, but really throughout this whole entire playoffs?
TONY LA RUSSA: I saw some place where we were hitting .200 as a team. I think we've only had one or two games where we put together a lot of hits. A lot of that has to do with the postseason pitching you face. But our pitching beginning to end has been the most consistent thing, and that's what wins, when you start playing good teams, anytime of the year, especially October.

Q. Jim talked about how it's just baseball, the close plays, the pitching, throwing errors and the ball off the glove. You talk about how it's the small moments that sometimes can make a championship run.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I'm not sure the ball was wet when Rodney picked it up, who knows. But I think it's the one thing that our club has done really well. Here in this series we've been doing it the whole time, is tuning out distractions, just trying to play the game. We're just trying to play really hard and really well and that's why we're in this position, just trying to play good baseball.
And we did some good things together advancing runners, got clutch hits, Preston's hit, Rodney is walking right through it and he gets a clutch hit. We did some really good things and did enough things to come through in tough situations. But in the end it's just baseball, that's what it is.

Q. Your team came into the playoffs with the least amount of victories of all the teams, but you're having the most success. What are you doing now that maybe you weren't doing consistently during the season?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I refer to Jim Leyland made a comment, if you look at the key guys that missed a lot of playing time, that's why he didn't disrespect our 83 wins. We went through a lot of issues this year, it was a very difficult year in a lot of ways. The biggest thing, most consistent thing we had was heart. But all of a sudden we go to San Diego and there's Jim playing center field and David is playing shortstop, and Scott's playing third. So our team was more intact. When we put that team out there, we're capable of being a very good team.

Q. Could you please talk about all the clutch hitting with two outs.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think I brought the card with me, but how many runs did we score that were not with two outs, any? All four were two outs. I mean, that's one of those formulas, recipes, guys on base against you with two outs, if you can get the out you've got a better chance to win. If you get the hit it's a real momentum swinger, four against you, and today it swung for us.

Q. How gutty of a performance would you say that was out of Supp tonight?
TONY LA RUSSA: Typical Supp, in the sense that he's going to give you what he has. I thought early on probably didn't feel like he was real sharp and had the same kind of stuff he's had lately and try to be more careful with it. He got more aggressive and he got us into the second half of the game. So give him all the credit he deserves.

Q. How much do you feel your team will draw from its experience to not get too excited being up 3-1 and being able to face adversity throughout the season to get itself to this point?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, when the game was over and Jim was passing out the game balls, right after the game balls, that's the comment that was heard most often, we're just close. We have too much respect for the Tigers and get ready to play tomorrow and take our best shot and see what happens. That was exactly what happened.

Q. I'm sure Red Schoendienst was thinking of 1968 when Northrup hit that ball and one of the best defensive Cardinal center fielders in history, Curt Flood, slipped. And I wonder what your thoughts were on that play? It was somewhat of a payback for all those Cardinals fans that were here.
TONY LA RUSSA: I think the final payback would be if we get that fourth win. But that was a break. Granderson covered so much ground and it ended up being an important run. But you get to '68 and the same situation, 3-1. We know the history and we know how good the Tigers are. Just come out tomorrow and play as good as you can, hard as you can, and see what happens.

End of FastScripts...

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