Blog Entry

Pujols called hit-and-run, not La Russa

Posted on: October 25, 2011 7:32 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 8:45 pm
By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa confirmed that Albert Pujols made the hit-and-run call in Game 5 Tuesday. Remember, this was the one where Mike Napoli threw Craig out by a country mile at second base, clearing the way for another intentional walk to Albert Pujols. At the time, the game was tied, 2-2.

Monday night, La Russa would only say the following about the mishap:

"It was a mix-up, and on our team nobody gets thrown under the bus. So it was a mix-up."

Some players in the locker room had told reporters that Pujols was the one who made the call, but La Russa wouldn't do so.

That fact had obviously been weighing heavily on La Russa, because upon entrance to the interview room in Busch Stadium Tuesday afternoon, he said he wanted to talk first (usually the manager sits down and waits for questions). And he had plenty to say, speaking for several minutes about Albert Pujols and the seventh-inning caught stealing play.

Evidently Pujols has the privilege to call hit-and-run on his own. Obviously La Russa wouldn't reveal the sign Pujols uses, but he used it Monday night in the seventh inning with Craig on first base and Alexi Ogando on the hill.

"I think it's important to be accurate and then everybody has to be fair as they want to be," La Russa said. "If you look at the history of baseball or sports, I don't care what your sport is, when a player shows that they really have a feel for the game, coaches give them a lot of well-earned ability to influence what goes on. So Albert has that ability. (He) picked a 1-0 pitch, Ogando threw it out of the strike zone, and it didn't work. But it has nothing to do with Albert having special privileges or not being as great as all of us have seen him be for years, and a lot of us that know him on a daily basis say he is."

World Series Coverage
As La Russa mentioned, Ogando threw the pitch well out of the strike zone and Pujols neglected to swing. Remember one of the fundamental parts of a hit-and-run is that the batter is required to swing.

"Well, they teach you to swing if you can get -- and he can reach a lot of pitches, but that one (would have) just wasted a strike," La Russa said in defense of his star. "There's no way he could have reached it, although you try to protect the runner the best you can."

Craig was then thrown out and Pujols was then given a free pass for the third time of the game. It's surprising someone with the bat control of Pujols wouldn't just attempt to foul the pitch off -- especially since he was sure to be intentionally walked once first base was open. Basically, it was pretty obvious Pujols just didn't think the entire situation through. If he had, he would have realized it was a bad idea.

As Craig entered the dugout, La Russa could be seen questioning Craig. The manager was simply figuring out who called the hit-and-run.

"I thought, holy smokes, sometimes you have a regular sign, sometimes you have a flash sign, and I thought, crap, did I put it on?" La Russa said. "Is that the normal hit-and-run? What was that? And he told me. So then I said, 'okay.' I was just glad I didn't put it on."

Now, it might appear La Russa contradicted what he said Monday night -- regarding not throwing people under the bus -- in telling the media that Pujols made the ill-advised call. We didn't get an answer on this front, but the best guess is La Russa discussed with Pujols that he was going to come clean while also defending Pujols. It wouldn't make any sense to alienate your star player before Game 6 of the World Series -- especially when said star is about to be a free agent.

La Russa also defended himself for allowing a star player to have the kind of leeway Pujols does during the World Series, specifically pointing to Ian Kinsler having a green light to steal bases -- which directly led to the Rangers winning Game 2.

So there you have it. Pujols made an ill-advised hit-and-run call while the bullpen phone messed up La Russa's plan for how to attack Mike Napoli. If nothing else, the combination of the bullpen phone snafu and this botched hit-and-run attempt have shown the Cardinals certainly haven't lost a step in the drama department.

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Since: Oct 26, 2011
Posted on: October 26, 2011 1:20 pm
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Since: May 26, 2011
Posted on: October 26, 2011 12:09 pm

Pujols called hit-and-run, not La Russa

It was a bonehead move that probably cost the Cardinals the game or at least a tie and a chance to win.  But if this play occurred during the regular season, no one would even remember it.  And, to some extent, you can't start playing the game completely differently than you have all year.  The factor Albert didn't take into account was Ogando's recent lack of control (recent meaning since start of the World Series) - no one would ever question whether Albert could handle a pitch anywhere near the strike zone.  It's a shame for the Cardinals and there is no doubt it was a poor play.  But no game really hinges on one play, one pitch, one anything - you get 27 outs for cryin out loud!  And in a 7 game series, there is an ebb and flow to all this. Hoping this goes to 7 as it will be fun to watch.

Since: Jul 27, 2011
Posted on: October 26, 2011 10:29 am

Pujols called hit-and-run, not La Russa

Before I start, I am not a St Louis fan (or Texas).

It is hardly a surprise that someone as good as Pujols has the ability to call a situation. In any organisation, a manager knows that sometimes one (or two) members of staff should be trusted to make a call.

As with all calls, sometimes they are wrong. I am a major fan of Albert and I hope after the WS is done he admits he made a call that was wrong. Nothing wrong with this - quite the opposite. The ability to admit (and of course learn from) an error is a sign of strength.

The bigger issue is surely Albert's WS batting. Four games of very little, and one game of history. I guess if he single-handedly wins a second game in this series, and St Louis win, then he becomes MVP.

One of the hardest to call, and intriguing, Series of some time. Fascinating to watch as a neutral.

I for one think Albert has something left for the St Louis fans before the inevitable contract talks...

Since: Apr 11, 2009
Posted on: October 26, 2011 9:52 am

Pujols called hit-and-run, not La Russa

Pujols - best baseball player of our generation.

LaRussa - best baseball manager of our generation.


Just saying.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: October 26, 2011 8:31 am

Pujols called hit-and-run, not La Russa

This is the true albert.. all of you who says he is full of himself should shut the fuck up and stop being a hater !!

Since: Sep 3, 2006
Posted on: October 26, 2011 12:39 am

Pujols called hit-and-run, not La Russa

@Ees110  Pujols already won a World Series with the cards, so clearly you can win with him.  Also he does not care only about himself as you say, if you believe that then you should watch the 60 minutes story on Albert. Not only is he the best player in baseball, he's a class act off the field.  He is a true role model in a sports world currently lacking in that department. 

Since: Oct 11, 2007
Posted on: October 26, 2011 12:26 am

Pujols called hit-and-run, not La Russa

I'm so tired of LaRussa!  Let's see - his mantra is "we don't throw anybody under the bus"...  But lets look at the last game.

With the score tied 2-2, this is what Tony stated after the game regarding Pujols' decision to hit and run:

"I was just glad I didn't put it on."   WOW!  Really?

Then, he rather publically states that his bullpen coach "didn't hear him" when he told him to warm up Mott to pitch to Napoli. 

Hey, Tony - guess what?  Not only did you throw Pujols under the bus for calling that hit and run but ALSO the bullpen coach for not getting Mott up when you requested.

LaRussa is a walking contradiction and I can't stand the man.  Rangers - take it to these guys in St. Louis!!!

Since: Dec 17, 2006
Posted on: October 25, 2011 11:34 pm

Pujols called hit-and-run, not La Russa

Hey La Russa,  thanks for not driving a bus over your player......If that was true you would have stepped up and said you did it and wouldnt blame your management of the bullpen on the crowd. But after you get out of your mini van that you did drive the bus over you may want to kiss up to Al the lack of support is another poor move as he is a free agent to be!

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: October 25, 2011 10:20 pm

Pujols called hit-and-run, not La Russa

Not a player you can win with???? What????? Big Al has got them this far. I say you can win with this guy. So what a bad thing happened? You got to take for shot. Jordan didn't sink every basket and Albert won't always win but take the shot! <br />

Since: Jan 14, 2008
Posted on: October 25, 2011 10:13 pm

Pujols called hit-and-run, not La Russa

They must be able to win with Pujols, THEY ARE IN THE WORLD SERIES!!!

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