10/17/2004 3:49 PM ET
Tony La Russa pregame quotes
Cards manager talks about changes to the lineup
Q. Are Molina and Mabry playing because of matchups?
TONY La RUSSA: First of all, catching, we put so much on our catchers, I think it's something we've done quite a bit during the year just to keep Mike (Matheny) fresh. He'll be back out there tomorrow.
We really like getting Molina involved in the series. He and Jason (Marquis) have had some good games together. Same thing, just get an extra left hand bat in leftfield.
Q. You guys have not made a lot of errors in this series. There also have not been a lot of groundballs. What has the strike zone been like in this series?
TONY La RUSSA: If you get the ball down, they look at them all. Clemens got the ball down; he got a lot of strike calls in the bottom of the zone. One thing that Dave (Duncan) focused on in spring training is we were way too much up in the zone the year before. We got penalized. Even though we gave up some home runs, I think we were right near the league leaders for groundball outs.
Just inconsistent a little bit. I say, "little bit," we've given up a bunch of home runs so it's more. But it isn't the strike zone, it's just doing a better job of getting the ball down there.
Q. There's been a high percentage of runs scored on home runs. Have you detected any change in the way of managing or more American League style?
TONY La RUSSA: You'd have to ask Phil (Garner) about his changes. But our side, we just try to play the game on whatever's there. We've run a couple times, started to run a couple of times.
Fact is that a lot of runs are scored on extra base hits, especially home runs.
But to just speak for ourselves, we're not going to sit around and wait for somebody to hit the ball out of the park, especially against good pitching. That's tough to do.
Q. The earthquake was 15 years ago today. What is the biggest memory you have of what happened that day?
TONY La RUSSA: Oh, boy, I got a whole bunch of them.
The whole day thinking about being two up, two wins from a World Championship. I remember Roger Craig had promised after the two losses in Oakland that the fans would cook up something special for us when we got to Candlestick. That's what I thought when I heard all that booming, I thought it was just fans pounding their feet. Then I saw the light stand was waving. I said, "They're enthusiastic, they're not that enthusiastic."
But mostly it got to a lot of things happen where you realize you're playing a game for your living; it's your work. But still it's not real life, and the tragedy that was involved; it was just really distracting from the series. We were away 11 days. By the time we got back, it wasn't the same. You realize how serious the issues were people losing a life, losing property. It's bad stuff.
Q. I asked Phil the same question. The steroid thing has come up again in the last few days with Caminiti's death and now this Bonds thing. I know you don't want to think about that in the postseason, but it is an issue in the game. Does something need to be done, and what needs to be done?
TONY La RUSSA: Well, whether it's postseason or whatever, it's always appropriate. It's about the game. This is our game, the fans' game.
I mean, there have been players to step forward and say they've used them. It's a fact that has to be addressed between MLB and the union. They've taken some steps whether people think they're adequate or not.
All I know is that I'm a fan of the game more than anything else, and I want the same certainty they do, that you're seeing players out there like the old days, without any enhancement.
So I just think generally we got to clear that up. And there isn't any stance too tough to make sure we've got everybody's confidence that we're doing it right.
On an individual basis, though, I mean, I shy away from saying anything because I think some of the spectacular names get included and that's really unfair. Nobody should be prejudged. Everybody's due their chance to set the record straight themselves.
Q. You guys are obviously still trying to figure it out, like everybody else in baseball, but pitching to Beltran, does he have any holes?
TONY La RUSSA: Well, I'll tell you what one of his strengths are, that fastball when he's looking for it, it's up there, says, "Hit me." He hasn't been missing it.
He's a real good hitter. There are other real good hitters with the Astros, others in baseball. What you have to do is you got to mix what you do and you have to make location pitches. Even if you make a location pitch, if you repeat a pattern, he's smart enough to look for it.
He does what good hitters do, and the only thing you can do is mix up what you do and make sure what you mix is executed.
Q. This year you were fairly aggressive going after Bonds, unless it was a total game deciding situation. Are you close to handling Beltran pretty much the same way?
TONY La RUSSA: Well, I think we treat Beltran as a very dangerous hitter. But one of the things that works in the lineup, like today, if you look at what Bagwell, Berkman and Kent are hitting against Marquis, it's pretty tough to say, "Hey, you're on base."
I think we treat him like a dangerous hitter. We're going to go after him, but we're going to try to make quality pitches. And he's not the only dangerous hitter they have. I think that's one of the standout things of the series. We have dangerous hitters that both pitching staffs have to face. You're seeing the damage that happens when anybody misses.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.