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October 8, 2009

Tony La Russa


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Tony La Russa.

Q. Can you tell us what goes into your decision at second today?
TONY LA RUSSA: I just think that Julio has been a good early spark plug against left-hand starters for us, and we've got a left-hand starter today, went the other way yesterday, so I think he's capable of doing some stuff.

Q. Tony, during your history as manager during the playoffs you've been successful usually when you start a series. How much does that change once you're 0-1 in such a short series to win 3 out of 5?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, you always start these series and you know that you've got two critical things starting out: Number one, if you can get the jump in Game 1, it improves your chances; number two, if you don't, No. 2 is -- Game 2 is even more critical.
We want to go out there and play the best we can. I think must-win is if you're going to be eliminated if you lose.
But it's common that when guys get into -- or teams get into best of 5, the first two games, you want to win first, you want to win the second, you want to split if you don't win the first. So our attitude today is get a win so we can go home.

Q. How critical is it for you guys to find a way to keep Furcal off the bases today?
TONY LA RUSSA: He's an igniter. And he's historically -- with the Braves he's been a tough out for us and I know he played well in September. He's one of the guys that has a good history against Wainwright going into the game today. So it's one of those early matchups. Get a 0 in the first inning, that will help our chances today.
He's a big part of that 0.

Q. When you look at a game like last night or things you've had happen for a while over here, do you look at more at the half-full of getting the opportunities or more at the half-empty of not cashing in on them?
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, I was told a long time ago, and I know it to be true, half-empty is going to submit you as a loser, if you tell your club you're half-empty all the time instead of half-full.
You have to be positive. Even yesterday they had an excellent bullpen. Wolf struggled with his command some, but we had 12 hits.
So I thought that we had a bunch of good at-bats. A lot of guys left on base. But I think in scoring position we get two or three hits. So I thought offensively everybody who played had good life and took good swings, came very close.
I keep forgetting who that right fielder was, but he had a ball on that left field line that could have made it a different game. What's his name?

Q. A lot of attention on Carpenter and Wainwright, but what's your level of confidence in Joel Pineiro?
TONY LA RUSSA: Carpenter and Wainwright have been so outstanding that in comparison sometimes Joel gets lost and doesn't get the attention he deserves. But for a great majority of his starts, he's that same kind of baseball: Holding them to nothing, no walks, no home runs. So we're excited about sending him out there on Saturday. But he's had a heck of a year.
And that's true in the Big Leagues. The other sides have good pitchers, you don't score all the time. There's games we couldn't score for our starters, just like it happens to other teams. Like when our starters pitch, they didn't score for their team.
It's a tough league.

Q. Along the same lines as an earlier question about the length of the game yesterday, your bullpen, what did you think of their performance? And leading into today's game, how do you feel about the bullpen?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think Kyle hit, Martin, caused a run. The stuff was good.
Boggs came out there excited. Duncan made a trip, came back and got the outs. Miller got a big strikeout of Thome, continue his work. Reyes was upset he spun one right over the middle of the plate and gave up a hit which led to a run. He was very upset with that, but that happens.
Hawksworth I think handled himself well again. And we have fresh guys for today.
So, yeah, the key is, as always, unless you're going to score a lot of runs for our starter, to get into the last third of the game. And that's a fine way to score runs.

Q. Are you expecting to see more from what we saw yesterday in regards to the intentional walks to Albert? And if that's the case, are you planning on making changes depending on how the game goes today, changes to the lineup?
TONY LA RUSSA: Our record took off when we got Matt Holliday, and the numbers are there. People started putting Albert on base and Holliday made them pay. I thought that was a gutsy move by Joe yesterday to set up with bases loaded, nobody out. We got it once where it worked out well.
That's one of our advantages. You want to put Albert on base. You've got Holliday. You've got Ludwick. Clubs paid for that the whole second half of the year. Pitch to Albert, you've got your hands full. That's one of the neat things about clubs like ours: You have two or three guys in the middle of the lineup. It normally doesn't work to add an extra base runner for guys behind Albert.

Q. With such a heavy right-handed lineup, how do you explain how you haven't been able to hit left-handers better this season?
TONY LA RUSSA: That's a good question, because here again I think the stats are misleading at times. Check our won-loss record against left-handers; we have a winning record against left-handers.
The additions we had, DeRosa has always been one of the better hitters against left hand pitching, Holliday. That's two big additions we already had some solid right-hand bats. I think the quality of left-handers you face makes it hard to score sometimes.
But batting average, it's not a great batting average but we've been beating left-handers and I like our lineup against left-handers.

Q. How did you think you did against -- not just Wolf last night -- but Kuo and Sherrill? Was it any different than it's been this season?
TONY LA RUSSA: A part of the answer to it, here's Randy Wolf, hadn't even pitched like six or seven games where he got two runs or less and he's out in the fifth. So I think our lineup did a heck of a job yesterday.
And the way that those -- there's some relievers it doesn't make any difference whether you're a right-hand or left-hand hitter, using both left-handers against right and left, those guys are tough against anybody and no matter what side you hit against, it's one of those deals the more you see them, the better chance you have, you really hope not to see them because they usually pitch and win the game.
I like our hitters -- I like our hitters.

Q. You mentioned that ball that Ryan hit down the line. There seemed to be kind of a dearth of replay on that. Did you ever get a really good look at where that ball was and do you have any kind of what-if as to how maybe that game happens if it's either called fair or it is a few inches over?
TONY LA RUSSA: I did not see a replay. We lose it on our West TV. Don't listen to the radio either. Don't read the papers. It's not fun to relive it. I already watched it.
I know it's close. There's a lot controversy about right and left. I haven't really paid attention to it. What-if? We had bases loaded, nobody out in the first inning, we got one run. What-if? I mean, that's just that's baseball.
They had a lot of guys left on, too, they had a chance to break it over. That's why I thought as we played that game we had a real shot to come back, because we kept holding them off and we were always a crooked number away from being right there.
But what-if, that's just part of it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Tony.

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