ST. LOUIS -- The bench played a critical role in the outcome of Game 1 of the World Series. And both managers had opportunities late in the game to use them.
St. Louis skipper Tony La Russa took starter Chris Carpenter out of the game and sent up pinch-hitter Allen Craig with runners on the corners and two outs in the sixth. The flame-throwing Alexi Ogando, almost automatic this postseason, appeared ready to blow another fastball by Craig. The outfielder was late on a couple of swings, but hit a 98 mph fastball the other way to right field and watched it drop in front of a sliding Nelson Cruz.
"It's a cold weather game, sitting on the bench, World Series, Ogando -- it's not a very good situation," LaRussa said. "But he's got a history in our system. That's why we like him so much. He's got a history of taking great at-bats, especially with runners in scoring position."
The RBI put the Cardinals up, 3-2. But in the next half-inning, the Rangers had their shot. With two on and one out, the No. 8 hitter David Murphy was due up. Manager Ron Washington opted to go with Craig Gentry, the right-handed hitter, once La Russa brought in the lefty Marc Rzepczynski. Gentry struck out.
With right-handed hitter Yorvit Torrealba still on the bench, Washington went with Esteban German, who hadn't had a postseason at-bat. Torrealba was 4-for-12 this postseason, but 0-for-5 against lefties. And he hasn't hit particularly well with runners in scoring position this season. Washington didn't go with his experience, instead sticking German up there.
"I thought [German] had a good chance against Rzepczynski with the breaking stuff he threw," Washington said.
Rzepcyznski stayed in and got German out on three sliders. That ended the Rangers' threat. They didn't put another base runner on in the next two innings.
Washington was asked four different questions about that decision.
"Can you guarantee me that if I used Torrealba he would have done anything different?" Washington said. "I used the guy that I thought could get me the base hit."