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October 22, 2011

Tony La Russa


St. Louis Cardinals 16
Texas Rangers 7

Q. You've been a part of many, many games, many postseason games. Where does Albert's night ranks for you among your highlights.
TONY LA RUSSA: There was a couple times in that dugout about the middle of the game somebody kept saying, he's having a day he'll never forget, and that's kind of what he did. What did he get, five hits, three home runs? And against that club, there wasn't any of that production we didn't need. He's the latest example of how great he is. You saw it tonight.

Q. Do you remember who was saying that, have a night --
TONY LA RUSSA: I don't know. One of the things that we talk about on the road is to make sure there's a lot of noise in the dugout, that way you feel -- you know there's 40,000, 50,000 for them, so I'm not sure who said it.

Q. And Albert said something to the effect of he thought about maybe asking you, give Gerald Laird an at-bat but he said you would keep him in. Did that ever cross your mind for that last at-bat, maybe give someone else a chance?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, actually Gerald was going to hit for Berkman. He was on deck when the last out was made. I don't think we as a team can give the Rangers more respect than leaving Albert and Holliday -- I mean, it wasn't -- I will say in the ninth with a nine-run lead, I felt like we were -- before that, they're so explosive. That's why all those guys stayed in and kept trying, because we knew how dangerous they were.

Q. The first two games were very low-scoring games and then this slugfest by both squads. How do you assess that? Was it just time for both teams to break out? Was it the ballpark? What is your assessment?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think the weather in St. Louis the first two games, it wasn't easy to pitch because the ball was slick, but you get warmer than the hitters do. There were some balls that were hit hard that did not go out of that ballpark. So that cold weather definitely benefitted the pitchers, worked against the hitters. And here, I mean, when it's warm like this and not really humid, the ball has a lot of carry. For both teams, but you don't get away with much in conditions like this.

Q. I guess congratulations for you are in order, too, because you passed Bobby Cox into second place in all-time postseason wins tonight with only Joe ahead of you. I know you don't like to talk about yourself much, but what kind of perspective does that put on your entire career?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I wasn't really aware until somebody congratulated me, one of the owners. The same one I get all the time. I've never been in a bad situation. Not one, in 30 years of ownership, front office, players, so I really don't take it personal. All the guys that I know that I really respect in my situation, that's what they would have. So I've been lucky, and I don't take it for granted.

Q. Where is Jon Jay at for you right now? It looks like he's struggling at the late in the playoffs here.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, he's facing some good pitching. But his stroke is good, he's got a ton of confidence, he never panics. He'll face another one tomorrow and the next day. I watch him close, and there isn't anything about him that he's hanging his head. He's just get being pitched tough and tomorrow he's liable to get a big hit to help us compete.

Q. Your thoughts on your bullpen tonight? Looked like they settled things down after a while.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, it's been the story a lot in the postseason. Our bullpen did it. I mean, I really thought a guy that we've pitched someone that's got great guts is Salas. And you could tell that it just wasn't a day to push him. I don't think he was quite as strong. Lance was well rested, and even though they came in and got a run, they didn't give it the big number. Lance won't pitch until we go back to St. Louis. But that's a big challenge because you cannot make a mistake. I mean, they kept swinging. And Dotel did it again today, he got five outs, and he has done that ever since he joined our club.
It turned out great. We saved some pitching for tomorrow. But there were some very pressure-filled innings for Salas and for Lynn and even with Dotel in there there was no certainty. They have been doing that so consistently. That's why we have a shot.

Q. In the context of how this happened tonight, do you think this might have been Albert's greatest moment yet of his career? I mean, 14 total bases in a World Series game.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I mean, I can remember Game 1 in '06, he takes Verlander. That was a big one to say, hey, we've got a shot. You're talking about the World Series, but he hit that Lidge home run, we were done. But I just kind of reclaim for all of us that he's been great for a long time. But this has got to be the greatest, at least one of the great -- his story to pull it out, but has somebody had a better day than this ever in a World Series? Babe Ruth did? He got more than five hits?

Q. He had three home runs twice, and Reggie had three on three successive pitches.
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, with Babe and Reggie, that's good company right there. That's a first, right? How does the total bases rank? I'd say that's World Series history.

Q. As balanced as your team is, obviously to get as far as you guys have, deep lineup, bullpens pitched well, how much more dangerous do you guys become to beat now if something has kicked in with Albert, and this is not just a one-day thing, to be able to see him carry a game like that?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, it's the kind of postseason he's had. He had a terrific September. Right there the last few days he was one hit, one RBI short of continuing his amazing streak, but the whole Philadelphia, Milwaukee, he's been a real good hitter. I do think -- I wasn't in here a lot when he was talking, but he always gives credit to the table setters, but especially Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, and now David Freese is making his mark. You have to go after Albert. You put him on base, and you're going to give up a crooked number.
He's been swinging well the whole postseason.

Q. What have you seen from Kyle tonight? You guys had a lead and then the fourth inning he kind of gave some of it back.
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, what Dave and I always look for, you see the guy that comes out at the start of the game, and if it's good, then you watch and watch and watch. In the fourth inning he was different. I don't know why he was different. I just saw that he was different, and that's what you decide on. I don't know how to explain it.

Q. In his three postseason starts, all three have kind of had the same pattern where he's had a couple good innings and then it's kind of fallen apart for him. Is there any trend?
TONY LA RUSSA: Here again, you get one scoreless inning in the postseason against one of the best clubs in Major League Baseball, you've got to be good, and he's done it more than once. But he was different in the fourth inning. It would be a good question for him to ask himself, and I'm sure Dunc will talk to him about it because he wants to be able to build on that.

Q. My apologies if you've been asked this specific question, but you've been in the game a long time, you've seen many things. I know you don't like to overstate things, but in a World Series is this the greatest single offensive performance you've seen by Albert?
TONY LA RUSSA: By Albert? Well, I just -- we just went through this in the sense that according to some of the stats, it's the greatest of any World Series in 120 years. 14 total bases and the five hits, four innings in a row and five hits? I mean, this is -- yeah, I'd say it's -- well, I think the best thing to do is you make that statement and ask somebody, okay, show me one that was better. I think it would be hard to do.

Q. When you see what he does tonight, and knowing the uncertainty what's going to happen once this is over, how difficult is that for you to --
TONY LA RUSSA: Are you talking about 2012?

Q. Yes.
TONY LA RUSSA: We have a pact. When we put our hands together, we're not thinking about anything except the 2011 season and the postseason. I don't want to get spanked when I get in there.
I'll tell you, and it's a real good P.S. to this, and I've learned it over 11 years with Albert, he will probably think about this and enjoy it, and he should. If you see him tomorrow, you would never, ever suspect that he did this tonight. He will be into his routine, getting ready. He is so strong in his mind, and we'll see. I know Holland has got real good stuff, but Albert will go about it in a way that is why -- that's part of his greatness.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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