TONY La RUSSA: I thought so. Really going after hitters, and little -- well, not so little, but getting in situations and making pitches and staying away from the big damage. I mean, that's what he's been doing consistently.
Just wanted to know what you think of your defense as a whole tonight.
La RUSSA: That was such a typical game that we played all year long. I mean, our guys, that's why we are 100-62. It's really an enjoyable club to be around because of the way off the field, but on the field they pay attention to everything.
They really try to run the bases well and really try to defend well. Those are two things that nowadays, it's hard to get guys to concentrate on. Our guys, they pay attention, they play defense. Now, we may go out tomorrow and make a half a dozen errors, but we really play good defense and they try to.
What are you feeding Reggie Sanders?
La RUSSA: Whoever is feeding him, I'm going to talk to Wendy and make sure it's that same breakfast and lunch that he's been having, because what a lift he's given us, four straight games now. He's been so clutch against good pitching, really good pitching. I heard the last part of his comments, we have a long way to go, so I don't want to pat him too much.
This is four straight games that you've played out the same script, getting an early lead and playing on with good starting pitching. When you can play four games of this caliber against this type of competition, does it say anything that has not already been said about this club?
La RUSSA: I think I said it, and I'm sure Phil feels the same way. The best feeling that you can have as an organization whether you're a fan or front-office manager or coaches, when you think the club is going to play. We know we're going to play. Whatever happens, happens. If you get beat, you get beat. But it's really clear that we're going to come out and we're going to play. We've been able to get off to a good lead because our pitchers have shut them down and our offense has done something. But we're ready for any kind of game.
Along the line of the defense and the double play, just in general this season the team seems to have a knack for doing whatever it needs to do at the exact moment it needs to do it. Can you just comment on that and how that's been a trend all year long, and it seems to continue here in the playoffs?
La RUSSA: Well, I'm almost paranoid about chirping too much before you get to the end.
I'll say it again, we pay attention -- well, not we -- our players, they pay attention on defense. You watch, you don't see any bad body language. You don't see guys standing around. They are moving, they are ready, moving on counts. Guys take a lot of pride. If you watch our workout, everybody is getting ready every day, our infielders, outfielders, catchers.
I give a lot of credit to our pitching staff and our pitching coach; he does so much work, we don't do it with computers. He does it by hand, so we position our defense, and our pitchers pitch to the defense. So when it works, it's a beautiful thing to see.
We all know about the Sanders home run and the bigger moments in the game, but when you replay this game in your mind later, what are the smaller moments that matter in this game to you?
La RUSSA: Well, once again, our biggest man is our leadoff guy, and that's David Eckstein. Bottom of the first, he singles to get something going. He has an RBI base hit. So I would look at our eighth-place hitter, Núñez, was involved with two hits in rallies. I mean, the big stuff, we can take care of. Albert had a great at-bat on that fifth run.
The guy at the top of our lineup, I told somebody before the game, he's the toughest guy I've ever been around. He's tough as nails. That's probably the part of the game that I really appreciate and I think a lot of our fans appreciate.
Can you talk about the confidence you had in Carp to get that squeeze bunt down?
La RUSSA: Well, our guys work on the little game. You saw that later on, he had a sacrifice. That's all it is is a sacrifice, just, he started the runner. You saw, you know he's thinking about it, they get a runner on third and you know he's thinking about it. All you do is flip a coin, and he pitches out, you know Phil is thinking about it, so in the end, what you count on is the execution with the runner on third not tipping it, and then Chris putting it down if he gets something to handle.
He's worked hard, any of our pitchers will tell you, the bunting side of the game has not been the easiest thing for Chris, and he's worked really hard, and today he laid down two perfect sacrifices.
When Núñez got thrown out at home in the fourth, was he going home the whole time, or was he initially going to throw to first to get the out?
La RUSSA: No, I think the way he plays it, if he happened to get -- I mean, you think about where the ball could be hit. The ball is hit to his left, he doesn't do that. If you get the ball hit right at you, it's got a little firmness to you, I mean, you can save the run. He reacted because he's a smart defensive player. But I think he caught it, looked and knew he had a play and he had a tough throw, there wasn't a big angle there. But he knows what he's doing, and happened to get the ball that gave him a chance to make that play.
Can you just talk about how big it is to win Game 1 of a seven-game series?
La RUSSA: Well, in our history, we've been here five times, this is only the second time we win the first game. I think it's huge. The format with 2-3-2, you know, you let this one get away from you, and who knows what's going to happen tomorrow, and then you have three at their place.
So this is important, probably more important for us to win than it is for them to lose, and I'm glad we got it and hopefully, we can build on it.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less