(KMOV)-- He couldn't help himself. Tony La Russa just had to make a 9th inning pitching change. He couldn't stand the thought of not taking his starter out of the game, so he could to to his bullpen and get a lefty-lefty match-up. It was possibly the stupidest move La Russa has made in his years as the Cardinals manager.
Chris Carpenter was sailing toward a possible shutout. He had allowed the Dodgers only 5 hits through the first eight innings. He had a chance to nail down his first shutout in two years. But La Russa couldn't help himself. Carpenter hit the leadoff hitter in the 9th, and that's all La Russa needed to see. He walked out to the mound, with the crowd booing loudly, and yanked Carpenter from the game. La Russa summoned the 900 year old Arthur Rhodes to face the next hitter. I'm sure the Dodgers were happy to see Carpenter, who had baffled them all night, leave the game.
Rhodes retired the hitter he was brought into face, Andre Ethier, but La Russa was right back on the field again to remove Rhodes and bring in Fernando Salas. Salas then allowed a game tying triple to Aaron Miles. Miles scored himself with the go-ahead run when Raphael Furcal, brought in as a defensive replacement despite nursing a sprained thumb, threw wildly to the plate. Cards lose 2-1. Furcal entered the game in Lance Berkman's spot in the line-up. In the bottom of the 9th Berkman, who had homered for the Cardinals only run, was on the bench while the .208 hitting Furcal batted with the game on the line. How many wrong decisions can a manager make in one inning?
Tony La Russa has made some moves over the years that have dumbfounded the fan base. This might have been the most inexcusable blunder of them all. Why would you remove the best pitcher this franchise has had since Bob Gibson while he's working on a shutout and has a low pitch count? It makes no sense at all. None. It was a classic case of over-managing, and it clearly cost the Cardinals the game.
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