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World Series 2011 Game 5: Tony La Russa Answers For Questionable Decisions, Sort Of

In a critical Game 5 World Series loss to the Texas Rangers, the St. Louis Cardinals and Manager Tony La Russa are under fire for the team going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. The biggest questions surround La Russa's decisions to involve Allen Craig, the man hitting in front of slugger Albert Pujols in the lineup. In the third inning, Craig was asked to sacrifice bunt Rafael Furcal to third base, leading to an intentional walk for Pujols. In the seventh inning, Craig was thrown out at second base attempting to steal with one out and Albert Pujols at the plate. La Russa defended the seventh-inning decision, saying:

"I trusted Albert could put the ball in play. I liked sending him (Allen Craig) and having a chance to open that inning up, and it didn't work." Via Ken Rosenthal, Fox

La Russa called the play a "mix up," but insisted that "[o]n our team, nobody gets thrown under the bus, so it was just a mix up." But that wasn't all for mix ups in the loss. A bullpen mixup may have cost the Cardinals the game, as La Russa and Bullpen Coach Derek Lilliquist failed to communicate on who should be warming up to face Rangers slugger Mike Napoli. With two runners in scoring position and two outs in the bottom of the eight inning, Manager Tony La Russa expected closer Jason Motte to be warm and ready for a showdown with Napoli, but instead discovered he had to stick with Marc Rzepczynski. The matchup was unfavorable, and Napoli hit a game-winning double as a result, but La Russa still felt it could have worked, saying this after the game:

"We had a chance with Rzepczynski's stuff to get Napoli on the first pitch, and then he put a nice swing on a breaking ball."  Via ESPN Dallas 

a Russa didn't quite know how to explain the gaffe after the game, saying "that phone in a loud ballpark, it's not an unusual problem."

For more coverage on Game 5 and a preview of Game 6, make sure to check out Viva El Birdos and SB Nation St. Louis