10/03/06 8:42 PM ET
Cardinals postgame interviews
Pujols, Carpenter and La Russa discuss Game 1 victory
By / MLB.com
ALBERT PUJOLS: Actually, I thought the ball was in the stands, obviously came back. But I think people were saying it hit the net. Kind of hit the net a little bit. But gave me another chance to hopefully put a good swing like I did and gave the lead to the club.
Q. Tony, two part, obviously, you know, you answered a lot of questions about this yesterday and the way that this has played out with Carpenter. But your decision to hold them for the first game obviously worked like a charm. That's the first question. Second was: Edmonds, too, you know, you said you were going to talk to him about whether he's healthy enough to play. Now you see him dive out in the outfield for a ball, he gets couple of hits. Your thoughts on that?
TONY LA RUSSA: We worry about Thursday. He dove. I don't know if he jarred himself or whatever. I know he had an outstanding game, and he said he felt good to go. I think the shot hit the spot with his toe so his toe felt good, and he's always been a rise to the occasion guy.
The other thing, not pitching Chris on Sunday, that's probably got more attention for the easiest decision I've ever been called to make. That was just so straightforward, and if there's a way of pitching him today, our club plays better when he pitches. Nobody in the league is better than he is.
Q. Two questions. First one is for the manager, Tony La Russa, and the second one is for Albert Pujols. Tony, you know, seven straight games ever since dating back to 1996, what's the confidence level going out to game two and then get back home to Busch for this team against the Padres? And second one for Albert: How important you have been part of the Cardinals post season 2001. How important is it for the team to get the first win?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I mean, the other two Division Series are in the book. It has no relevance. This is a different team for them. We got a lot of the same guys, but the Padres have shown over and over again, especially here in the last six weeks, they're a very tough bunch, very resilient. So I think we just you gotta win three. And we've got one, and that's all it is. No more than that.
But it's nice to get off to a good start, but believe me, the Padres will be very tough from here to the end.
ALBERT PUJOLS: I think Tony answered the question. It's not a one game series. It's three out of five. Whoever wins three moves to the next round, and obviously it's always good to get your first win. But we need to come back on Thursday and get ourselves ready and hopefully score enough runs for Weaver.
Q. Tony, you went out and got Chris, tell us what tell us what you saw when you made that decision to go get him, the reason why you did?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think you look at a couple of innings, he really had to work hard. It's the old thing, you do it once, you do it twice. Your gas tank gets tapped a little bit. If you have to do it again, you're asking an awful lot, especially when you have a bullpen that's fresh. I just think anyway, we punch out three guys, just keep that in the back of our mind. Duncan watched them closely and just didn't think we had to push him. Could have but didn't seem like it made sense.
Q. Chris, two years in a row now in the opening game of the series you've outpitched Peavy. It's been Peavy is, what, 13 runs, you let up 1. Coming into the game today, what's your mind set out there? And seemed like your curve ball was really working and the particular one inning when the Padres, you know, could have scored some runs against you, that seemed like your outpitch?
CHRIS CARPENTER: Jake is obviously one of the elite pitchers. I met him last year in the All Star game. Great guy. Comes out and competes. He's going to compete every time he comes out. In turn, so am I, and I'm going to go out and give it my best shot.
And my mind set is to go out and get the Padres hitters out, not concern myself with what Jake Peavy is doing. Fortunately for me today I did.
And you know, my stuff was good. My location was good. And, yeah, my breaking ball was very good. And sometimes during the game there I was using it a lot, able to get out of some situations with it. That's what it takes to pitch and compete.
Q. What would separate this team from the previous two you pitched, the last two in the regular season? Was there anything markedly different for you?
CHRIS CARPENTER: Yeah. I've said this before: It's executing pitches in the last few games. Before that, you know, came down to a couple of pitches that could have turned around the outcome and I wasn't able to execute the big pitch in that situation. Obviously in that one inning today I was able to execute some big pitches and pitch out of a jam.
And that's the only difference between the last two and this one. It's making pitches in key situations to get out of jams. You're going to get into situations during the game where you have to do that.
And fortunately today I was able to.
Q. You know, just continuing it, it's interesting watching when you're this on because you obviously have a clue what you're doing with each hitter and you're watching the clock and you're going 95, 95, 78, 77, 98, and then you come back with 77. And it leaves the hitters completely off balance. It's a beautiful thing to watch.
CHRIS CARPENTER: I appreciate that. It's called pitching. You go out, keep people off balance, back and forth on each side of the plate and execute. You don't do that, you'll get beat. If you do that, you'll have success.
And I was able to it today.
Q. Chris, last time the Padres when they beat a couple weeks ago, that was obviously a big victory in how their season ended up. You were able to get out of the middle part of that lineup today, the same part of the lineup that beat you. Did you take anything from that that worked today in that situation?
CHRIS CARPENTER: You know, again, I can go through that whole situation, you know, last week, when I faced them. I get a couple guys on and told me to pitch to Bard. First of all I walk Gonzales, don't make a pitch to Bard. Get a chance to get out of it. Striking out Randy, don't make a pitch to Cameron when it's 0 2. I'm leaving balls in the middle of the plate. Today I didn't leave balls in the middle of the plate. That's the only difference.
Q. Albert, there was a lot of discussion that they would pitch around you and try not to let you beat them. And they did not pitch around you, went after you. And wonder if you were surprised by that. And also on the 3 2 pitch when you hit the homerun, Jake said obviously that was a mistake that left it out over the middle of the plate. How big were your eyes or how excited were you when you saw that pitch coming where it was?
ALBERT PUJOLS: It was a slider. Actually, my attitude is to come to the ballpark, what can I do to help my team to win? I don't think about if they're going to pitch to me or if they will because I want to be aggressive. If I start thinking a lot of things like that, that's going to take my aggression away. I just take whatever they give me, you know. And if they give me a good pitch today, I'm going to try to put my best swing and hopefully help my team out to win.
I got guys behind me. They've been driving me all year long, and they can get the big hits like I have in the past.
I just thank God he's using me this year to get some big hits for my team and helping my team get big wins. 3-2, I knew he was going to go to the slider. I know the runner from first was going. I just tried to put the ball in place. Tried to stay inside the ball as deep as I can, improve my best swing, and that's what happened.
Q. What are your thoughts on the foul ball that wasn't caught? What goes through your mind as a batter whenever you get a second chance like that?
ALBERT PUJOLS: I just answered that question. Like I said, I thought the ball was way out, understanding, obviously came back and I look up and I just have a second chance, you know. And I gotta remember, it kind of flashed me back to 2003 2004 when I hit it out when I faced Peavy. That happened two, three years ago. That came back to my mind.
At the same time I said relax, don't try too much, see the ball and put a good swing. That's obviously what happened, put a good swing and it went out of the park.
Q. Tony, if we figured this out right, I think the eight position players you had on the field today was the only second time you have been able to start those eight guys. I think maybe August 15th against the Reds, how neat was it for you to affect, kind of have your team out there, what you wanted out there, but couldn't have because of injuries?
TONY LA RUSSA: I'll answer that but I'll put a PS on it ahead of time. That is we're here because when those guys were missing, the guys that played in their place did a good job.
You know who they are. Spiezio and Miles and guys like that. That's a team we like to compete with because it's an all around team. I mean, the defense is outstanding. They're all competitors. They all run the bases and they will take the at bat, whatever it takes to win the game. The key is: Is Jim healthy enough to go, is David healthy enough to go? The schedule kind of works out for us. Got a day off, play, got a day off. On paper it's a nice looking team, especially when you got a nice looking pitcher.
Q. Albert, you always hear how important it is when your team scores to go out in the next half inning and put up a 0. Given the team scuffled the last couple of weeks, how important was it for Chris to work out of the jam with all these four count pitches to be executed?
ALBERT PUJOLS: Like you said, he couldn't be stopped today. He was making some pitches out there. He punched some guys out. When you have your ace out there, the main thing -- and they have their ace out there. You want to get those guys right away. That's what we did. We came up and be ready to swing.
And he makes some mistake, Peavy, and we took advantage, and obviously we scored first and gave Chris some opportunity too, so he can make this pitch. And obviously he got in trouble in the fourth inning but he got out of there quick and he was pumped up. I think that's the first time I seen him say yes! It was really sad. We came back and Jimmy got a big hit with two outs and everybody just contributing. That's why this year we haven't contributed as a team and today we did a lot of things.
We played defense. Chris pitched a great game and that's what we need to do if we want to go all the way.
Q. I was just wondering, the play that Belliard made during the seventh inning and the play you make in the eighth inning, that's potentially three runs there if the two balls get through. How do you see those two plays affecting the game there late?
ALBERT PUJOLS: If that ball gets through, you have 5 1, 5 3. It still may be first and third, you know. We're two outs, and having Roberts leading off, I mean coming with two outs, and he's been seeing the ball really good.
But that's the key, you know. When you're out there and you have that, you have to play defense. Obviously, you know, Ronnie is just a great player. He makes the plays, unbelievable. When that was hit, I never thought he was going to get to the ball and he had a good jump and he caught it and we got out of the inning. That was a big inning to us. And I think Johnson did a great job, and Wainwright. What can I say? He came up firing and got those three outs.
TONY LA RUSSA: In the clubhouse, the fellows gave Belliard the game ball for that play.
Q. This is for either player. Can you tell us how the clubhouse changes during the playoffs? Is there a certain sense of, okay, here we are, this is a new year, new season?
CHRIS CARPENTER: I think that, you know, I said it yesterday and I've said it, I'll say it again today. I think that no matter how you get here, you're here. You got one of eight teams. You've got a chance. You get a couple guys hot, you get a couple starting pitchers throw the ball, get them hot the way they can.
And you never know what can happen. Maybe you've seen it in the past with teams that
Once you're here you come into the clubhouse and ready to go. You know, you've got a shot. You just go out and play a few games in a row as hard as you can and do the things you can to win. You have a good chance, and it's a new season.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.