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October 10, 2011

Tony La Russa


Q. Can you talk about the difference it is playing the series split 1-1 as opposed to being down 2 games to 1?
TONY La RUSSA: Well, it's -- I mean, it's an urgent day for us. It's not quite as urgent when it's a five-game series. We are going home for maybe three. And we had one of those with Houston a few years ago.
But the key is win the game you're playing. And I know that stuff about splitting on the road. I think you try to win every game you can. But if we come out here and win today, I mean, it's important for making this a real series. We'll take our best shot.

Q. Is it strictly a numbers thing with Punto against Marcum or is there anything else about starting him in second?
TONY La RUSSA: Early on I thought, yesterday I thought Theriot was a better choice, and pencil in Punto for today. It could have been changed if Theriot had one of his days. But I think it's a better matchup. They're both good players.

Q. Saw Lynn warm up yesterday on the first inning. How do you imagine him being used in this series, and the versatility he brings? What do you think kind of clicked with him as a reliever that made him a weapon in the bullpen this season?
TONY La RUSSA: I think we were going to be a little bit careful, if we could afford to, for his first appearances because he hadn't pitched. In the first inning, the time we got him up, we would have been behind in the game. But that really -- he was just up playing catch. He was available to come later.
But he's been so impressive in the workouts that there really wasn't a big hesitancy. I mean, we would have used one of the other guys that have been so good late if we had to.
A lot of confidence in him. I think it's the same thing with the starters as relievers, he's very competitive and doesn't appear to be affected at all by Major Leagues.

Q. Last night you're down by three, but you had 2 on and nobody out and Albert at the plate, takes a pretty good rip. What's going through your mind at that point, and how do you think he's swinging it right now?
TONY La RUSSA: Well, you know, we had a great execution by Jay. It's the roll of a dice a little bit when it's first and third and you've got 3, 4 and 5 coming up and we were looking at a crooked number.
He had a real good pitch to hit and had a great swing to follow it off. I think Albert goes in every game and he works his stroke. If he's a little bit off, he's good. And if it's right on, he's great. If he misses -- he gets pitched so tough. I mean, rarely do they say, here, hit it.
I think he could be the hitting starter today and nobody should be surprised.

Q. What impressions have you got of the way your bullpen is throwing this postseason as compared to the end of the year and how much do you anticipate they'll play a big role the rest of this series?
TONY La RUSSA: Well, I mean, they were an important part of that last rush. I thought one of the reasons we were a better ballclub once we got to August was that we had Jackson to trade and we got Mark and all of a sudden we have McClellan in the bullpen, we also added Dotel, and it just deepened us. I know it was important because we lost Lynn and then we got Arthur [Rhodes].
So they've been very good. And I think they'll be very good here. But the ideal way is turn it over to them no earlier than the 7th and hopefully the 8th.
But we have innings out there if we need them. And we have a lot of options. I think it's a strength in our club.

Q. Braun fielded a lot of damage on first pitches yesterday. Is it a matter of pitch execution of your guys or are they ambushing you a bit?
TONY La RUSSA: They have a reputation for being aggressive hitters. And we've -- in St. Louis or wherever, we talk about that a lot, about working pitchers and building up pitch counts. The way you do that is you hit like they do. You let them know if you throw one down the middle, they don't cut loose, and the guys start working the edges, it's ball 1, ball 2.
And if we get the ball on the edges and they swing, a lot of times they don't get the hard contact or the count goes against them if they take it. But it's a great way -- all -- I'm not saying "all," but most of the hitters that you see over the years that are productive, they go up there with a ready-to-swing attitude, but they mix in a good strike zone. They just don't swing.
So we know they're aggressive, you've got to avoid the middle.

Q. When you started off this season, Spring Training, losing a guy like Adam Wainwright, how big a hole did you think that would leave in your team?
TONY La RUSSA: I don't think anybody ever replaces the loss of a No. 1. I don't care if you have another No. 1 like Chris. That's a major hit. But what is one of the subjects you cover every year, all coaches, all managers cover every year? Nobody goes through a season where everything falls into place. Adversity, slumps.
And how you separate yourself as a club is you just understand it's going to happen and then you concentrate on the guys that are playing, and hopefully you have the depth to cover.
And early on we caught a real good break because Kyle McClellan came along and Kyle Lohse was healthy.
But it's going to happen to everybody. We were hit, so was a lot of other clubs. And just can't let it become an excuse, because nobody cares.

Q. Edwin Jackson has been a nice piece to the rotation. Last time in Milwaukee he was hit pretty hard. Have you looked back on that at all, have you talked about a key for him?
TONY La RUSSA: You're talking about the time he gave up a bunch of runs? He pitched since then, too. He pitched another time and he pitched effectively.

Q. Yes.
TONY La RUSSA: That time there his control was erratic and he had trouble getting his delivery together. What you do normally is you get them out. Except we were stretched and we had a lot of games coming up, so he took the beating.
But what he's done consistently, is he's been able to make adjustments. He may be off a hitter or two or an inning, and come back and get it together. He's been very good.

Q. How big a factor in the series do you think ballparks are? Neither is really extreme. But you guys seem to have a lot of 9-7 kind of games against them here. Do you think that that's different environments to play in?
TONY La RUSSA: I think human nature, which includes confidence, and they're very confident in this ballpark, so it's a factor.
I mean, the history of our season this year against them, especially the games we got beat, is a crooked number. We lost maybe nine times, at least. How many did we lose here? Four or five of them, four of them we were sailing along and gave up four or five or six. Once they get rolling, we have done a poor job of stopping it at one or two. That's something we can control.
But it's a better ballpark for hitters than St. Louis. That's why I like ballparks that play a little tougher. We have good hitters, but we hit here, too, and we like hitting here.

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