Tony LaRussa turns out to be right more often than many of us care to admit.
Last night, Jason Motte blew a save. We are all painfully aware of this. But before the actual damage was done, Tony LaRussa came out to the mound and for only one of the few handful of times I can remember, he didn’t signal for a pitching change right away (to go leftie/leftie with Arthur Rhodes). He had a conversation on the mound and then took the ball from Motte.
What was said in that 20 seconds we’ll never know.
What wasn’t said in that 20 seconds, I think we do know.
Motte had the rare opportunity to send TLR back to the dugout and finish what he started. TLR was looking for some sort of indication that Motte was confident that he knew he needed to overcome some bad defense and deal strikeouts. TLR wanted Motte to order him off the mound and do it convincingly.
It didn’t happen. And the pitching change was made. Motte is filling the role of closer, but he isn’t THE CLOSER.
The World Series is now tied at a game apiece. A beautiful outing by Jamie Garcia was wasted. Another clutch hit from Allen Craig against Alexi Ogando is for naught. And the match-up heads back to Texas with home field advantage in the Rangers back pocket.
I’m not going to lie- this one hurts.
Worse, there isn’t much to second guess. You can probably argue that a semi-botched cut-off by Pujols was the big difference. Or missed sacrifice bunts from the Cardinals were what caused a loss. You wouldn’t be wrong. But in 2-1 games, every little thing matters and the Rangers just happened to execute the little things better than the Cardinals. I wouldn’t say the Cardinals played a ‘bad’ game by any stretch… just not a good enough game.
And so does that play by Elvis Andrus. Technically, it doesn’t suck at all, but holy hell, can’t that play be saved for some other series?
STUD: Craig. For those that don’t watch AL baseball all that much, Ogando is a stud. To come off the bench twice with clutch hits is pretty much not going to happen against this guy. To do it in the World Series? Unfathomable.
DUD: Cardinals Big Bats. Pujols, Holliday and Berkman didn’t do Garcia any favors with a limp 0-every time up.
BOTTOM LINE: This series wasn’t expected to be easy, but this one stings. Let’s hope we’re not looking back in a week remembering this as the turning point.