With four pitching changes made by manager Tony La Russa in World Series Game 5, St. Louis Cardinals relievers have made 65 appearances in 16 games this post-season. That established a new record for most relievers used in a single playoff run.
The 2002 San Francisco Giants had the record previously, having made 62 pitching changes in 17 post-season games. The 2011 Rangers are not far behind with 58 changes – so far, with one or two World Series games remaining.
Most pitching changes, MLB post-season
|2011||St. Louis Cardinals||65+|
|2002||San Francisco Giants||62|
|2009||New York Yankees||56|
Two of Monday night’s changes have caused much conversation. The first was the arrival of left-hander Marc Rzepczynski with one out in the eighth inning. Octavio Dotel departed with two on base after a leadoff double and intentional walk.
Left-handed batter David Murphy hit a ball up the middle that bounced off Scrabble’s knee for an infield single. In a surprise to some, La Russa kept Rzepczynski in to face hot-hitting Mike Napoli, a right-handed hitter. In the play that changed the game, Napoli crushed an offering that one-hopped the wall in right center. It scored what became the two winning runs in the 4-2 Texas victory.
At least that is what I assumed, but there was an odd twist – two of them.
In his post-game interview, La Russa explained there was a reason Motte was not ready initially. A mix-up had occurred – twice. La Russa had actually wanted Motte and Rzepczynski warming, but only got the latter. Then he wanted Motte but got Lynn instead. Due to the crowd noise, the bullpen coaches did not hear and did not warm up the the closer as intended two consecutive times.
La Russa: Well, what happened was that twice the bullpen didn’t hear Motte’s name. They heard “Rzepczynski” and they didn’t get Motte. I looked up there and Motte wasn’t going. So I called back for Motte and they got Lynn up. That’s why he wasn’t supposed to pitch today, so I wasn’t going to let him throw that hitter. He just threw the warmups and walked him and Motte behind was ready. I don’t know if it was noisy, probably real noisy. They just didn’t hear the second time.
Q. Has that ever happened to you before where you had a call to the bullpen and guys didn’t hear you right?
La Russa: Yeah, well, sometimes real loud, especially when some of the bullpens that are right amidst the fans and excitement. It happens in Philadelphia. It’s hard to hear it there. So it’s not unusual. Maybe we need to come up with some ear mikes or something.
Q. Just to be clear, if Motte was ready, he would have faced Napoli?
La Russa: Yeah.
Q. So you had no choice at that point?
La Russa: He was warming up, so I said, “Get Motte up,” and they heard “Lynn”. But by the way, we had a chance with Rzepczynski’s stuff to get Napoli the first pitch, and then he put a nice swing on a breaking ball.
It was that kind of night for the Cardinals.