PHILADELPHIA -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa didn't call old friend Jim Leyland once on Thursday night. He called the Tigers manager several times.
Leyland is one of La Russa's closest friends in baseball, if not the closest. They talk frequently during the season. So it was to be expected that following the Tigers' Game 5 American League Division Series win over the Yankees on Thursday, they talked. What might not have been expected was that La Russa also called repeatedly before the game even finished.
"I talk to Jim [more than] I talked to my family, I think," La Russa said. "We're close, so I was watching the game closely. And when they went to the bottom of the seventh, I left him a message on his phone, you've got nine outs to go, then six, then three. He called me back around 2 or 3 in the morning, so we talked, and he talked to me a little bit ago."
The two veteran managers don't always talk baseball, but this time around, they noted the similarities between their clubs' positions. Just as the Tigers did on Thursday, the Cardinals face a heavy favorite on the road on Friday night.
"We both agree that one thing we have in common is that the home club -- there are a lot of expectations," La Russa said. "The Yankees have expectations; the Phillies won 100 games. They've got a great club, representing the league, and that's a tough burden, but we also agree that they have Roy Halladay."
Jay sits; Schumaker, Punto in lineup
PHILADELPHIA -- Jon Jay was held out of the Cardinals' Game 5 lineup on Friday, as manager Tony La Russa made a tactical switch against Phillies ace Roy Halladay.
In Jay's place, second baseman Skip Schumaker moved to center field, while Nick Punto got his first start of the National League Division Series, filling in at second base. Jay is 1-for-11 against Halladay in his career, but La Russa pointed more to how Jay has swung the bat than to the actual results.
"The pat [on the back] that Jon deserves is that he's been really good all year in a lot of key situations," La Russa said. "But a guy that's carved him up and made him look not effective is Halladay. And then at the same time, you've got Nick there, [who] would have a better strike zone. He may strike out four times, but I think it's fair to analyze going in and expect that Nick will give you better at-bats. And then you pick up a defensive plus."
The defensive advantage comes at second base, where Punto is a superior defender. The Cards may be giving up some defense in center field, but it is likely less than they are gaining at second base.Schumaker followed Rafael Furcal's leadoff triple with an RBI double in the first inning. But after lining out to left in the third inning, he left with an injury and was replaced by Jay.
Plans made but arms available for Game 5
PHILADELPHIA -- If the Cardinals are to advance to the National League Championship Series, they know who their Game 1 starter will be, regardless of opponent. That doesn't mean manager Tony La Russa is going to disclose his plans just yet.
The main thing, as far as La Russa is concerned, is getting to the NLCS. So if a situation arises where that Game 1 starter would be valuable in relief, he'll pitch Friday night in Game 5 of the NL Division Series. And the team will adjust when the time comes. La Russa said that he and pitching coach Dave Duncan laid out a plan on Friday, for a series that would start Sunday.
"Dave and I have settled [on a rotation], because it was exactly like Houston [at the end of the regular season]," La Russa said. "We waited till the last day, and just so we had an idea going forward, we know how we would set the rotation through the first four games. But you can't think about that.
"Our Game 1 pitcher, we know who would start the first game no matter where it is. But we wouldn't avoid using him if it meant getting by tonight. Arizona or Milwaukee, no matter where it is, the same guy is going to pitch."
Every Cardinals starter is potentially available to pitch in relief, but the preference would be to use none of them. That includes left-hander Jaime Garcia, who could be valuable to get Ryan Howard or another of the Phillies' dangerous lefty hitters.
"If we have to go early to a lefty, that means that Chris [Carpenter] is not faring really well," La Russa said. "And that wouldn't be good at all for us. Unless we were really scoring runs."
Traps set for squirrels around Busch
PHILADELPHIA -- After appearances in Games 3 and 4 of the National League Division Series this week, the Busch Stadium "Rally Squirrel" could be on the move soon.
Not by choice, either.
Joe Abernathy, vice president of stadium operations, told The Associated Press that there is a public safety issue and that stadium officials don't want play interrupted again in the future.
A squirrel ran onto the outfield grass at Busch Stadium in Game 3. On Wednesday, in the fifth inning of Game 4, one raced across home plate just after the Phillies' Roy Oswalt delivered a pitch to Skip Schumaker, causing a short interruption in play.
KMOX Radio in St. Louis reported that seven traps have been set to catch the squirrel or squirrels. Each trap includes peanut butter as bait, with the gate closing once the squirrel has entered.
The squirrel(s) will then be removed from the stadium and set free.
The Cardinals and Phillies have had a good time talking about the squirrel sightings since Tuesday.
"There's not too much I can do about a squirrel running across the field. I don't know what I can do about that," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said after Game 4. "Of course, being from the south and being a squirrel hunter, if I had a gun there, [I] might have done something. I'm a pretty good shot."
Not surprisingly, a Twitter account -- @BuschSquirrel -- has gathered more than 17,000 followers since Wednesday.
A post on that Twitter account Friday read: "Note to the trappers at Busch Stadium, I can not be caught ... and I am not in STL, I'm in Philly. You can't catch what's not there."Prior to Game 5 at Citizens Bank Park, a squirrel was caught inside the stadium and released outside.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.