MILWAUKEE -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa stood firm Thursday morning behind his decision to hold ace Chris Carpenter out of his team's series finale at Miller Park. In fact, the manager said he never seriously reconsidered his decision even after St. Louis won the first two games of its final series in Milwaukee in 2011.
Brandon Dickson got the ball for Thursday's game, with Carpenter to pitch at home on Friday against the Reds. La Russa did not go into great depth about his decision to give Carpenter the extra day of rest instead of pitching him against the first-place Brewers, except to say he felt it was the best way to maximize the team's total number of wins for the season.
"It comes down to my analysis about what's our best chance to win 'X' number of games from here to the end," he said. "That's what it comes down to. And that's what I decided. That's my responsibility, and everybody else can agree or disagree. And that's part of the game.
"There's a bunch of variables that went into it, and when you see how it plays out, everybody's going to get the same number of starts. When you do what you were planning on doing, when he gets an extra day, I give it to him. He's going to have a bunch of starts where he doesn't have the extra day. There were a lot of variables involved. I don't know how you even get into discussing it. Let everybody who wants to disagree, disagree."
The counter argument, of course, is that Thursday's game essentially counts twice. The Cardinals still hold out a flicker of hope to catch the Brewers in the National League Central, entering Thursday with an 8 1/2-game deficit, 26 games to play and four remaining head-to-head games against the Brewers.
La Russa chose not to frame it in those terms, though. In fact, in his mind, having won the series already argued against moving Carpenter up to regular rest. The former Cy Young winner will be pitching on five days' rest on Friday.
"I said at the beginning of the series, if we were 0-2, I wouldn't pitch Carpenter," he said. "If we were 1-1 in the rubber game, I wouldn't pitch Carpenter. We have the best case, so there's less reason to pitch Carpenter. Not more reason. Less reason. ... This is probably the best scenario to not change it, but I wasn't going to change it anyway. That's not how I looked at it."