ST. LOUIS -- Major League Baseball confirmed on Wednesday that Cardinals reliever Julian Tavarez had been fined for an inside pitch he threw in Houston, but St. Louis manager Tony La Russa remained in disbelief.
According to Bob Watson, MLB's vice president of on-field operations, Tavarez was fined an undisclosed amount for "throwing at the head of Jeff Bagwell" in Sunday's Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. Published reports have indicated that the fine is for $10,000.
After allowing a tie-breaking -- and eventually game-winning -- home run to Carlos Beltran in the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park on Sunday, a 3-2 pitch from Tavarez to Bagwell sailed toward the first baseman's head. Bagwell was not hit, and Tavarez was not ejected. It was ball four, and Bagwell took first base.
"The umpire said he threw at the man intentionally," Watson told a group of reporters at Busch Stadium on Wednesday. "He was fined an undisclosed amount for throwing at the head of Jeff Bagwell."
La Russa, asked about the fine in a press conference before Game 6 of the NLCS, moved between disbelieving and livid.
"If it is actually fact, you know, I know I've said about how we get treated," he said before the fine was confirmed to him. "That is so much a great example. This guy didn't get even warned. He didn't get ejected, did he? They think it was intent -- he would have been banged out of the game. The umpires were there."
The Cards skipper has said repeatedly that he believes his team is treated more harshly in disciplinary matters than some other clubs are. Tavarez said after the game that he had no desire to hit Bagwell, particularly in the late stages of a one-run playoff game.
"You talk about precedent," La Russa said. "So when a ball is thrown in that area, gets away, [it's] $10,000 from now on? They're going to go back and nail guys? I mean, that is so ridiculous. In that game, he's going to do something like that? I even said it, I said it looks bad, there's a lot of balls that get thrown out there that don't look good."
After the news conference, La Russa sought out Watson on the field. The two men had a lengthy and animated conversation. After that exchange, La Russa declined further comment on the situation.
Tavarez pitched two shutout innings in relief to earn the victory in Game 6. He said the fine did not affect his pitching.
"I wasn't thinking about my fine," Tavarez said. "I'm going to pay my fine when Pedro Martinez pays his fine [if the Red Sox starter is fined for brushing back Yankees hitters in the ALCS]."
No action: La Russa considered tweaking his lineup a bit for Game 6, but resisted the temptation. He went with the same look that the Redbirds have given right-handed starters in nearly every playoff game, with Reggie Sanders batting seventh in left field and Mike Matheny catching and batting eighth.
Reggie Sanders / RF
Weight: 205 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
The Nos. 2 through 5 hitters in the St. Louis lineup -- Larry Walker, Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds -- have been producing throughout the postseason, but other key regular-season contributors like leadoff man Tony Womack and No. 6 hitter Edgar Renteria have struggled. That prompted La Russa to think about an interesting change.
"I think you have an obligation to consider things," he said. "The guys that are hitting 2, 3, 4, and 5 are getting base hits. I don't think you should mess with that too much. You have Edgar struggling. I thought about moving Edgar to leadoff, moving Tony down, but decided against it.
"I know Reggie has one hit in this series, but in ... Game 5, the best hitter on our team was Reggie. He had the best swings. So, I mean, he'll rise to the occasion."
Sanders was robbed twice on hard-hit balls on Sunday in Houston.
Bits and pieces: Hall of Famer Lou Brock threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Wednesday. ... This is the fourth time the Cardinals have come home for Games 6 and 7 of a series in which they trailed 3-2. Each of the previous times, they won the series (1946 World Series, 1982 World Series, 1987 NLCS). ... The Cardinals enter Game 6 without an error in their past 11 postseason games, dating back to 2002. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the longest such streak in history.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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