Fans cause confusion on bullpen changes
October, 24, 2011
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Whether it was defeaning roars of "NA-PO-LI!" or the decibel level steadily increasing as the Texas Rangers tied Game 5 and then stood poised to take the lead, the noise impacted the bullpen's ability to hear manager Tony La Russa's voice over the phone.
"It must be loud," La Russa said. "I give the fans credit."
The odd choice of relievers was apparently because the bullpen couldn't hear La Russa correctly on the other end of the phone. What if the Rangers win the World Series in part because of the noise level of the 51, 459 fans at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington?
"They all get rings," said Kinsler, though he added that he's not buying.
Instead of closer Jason Motte getting warm in order to pitch to Mike Napoli in the eighth, the bullpen had Lance Lynn throwing. La Russa said if Motte was ready, he would have pitched to Napoli.
"Twice the bullpen didn't hear Motte's name," La Russa said. "They heard "Rzepczynski" and they didn't get Motte. I looked up there and Motte wasn't going."
La Russa was then forced to go with Marc Rzepczynski against Napoli with Motte not throwing. Napoli hit .319 against lefties this season and hit a two-run double to right-center to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead.
"I called back for Motte and they got Lynn up," La Russa said. "That's why he wasn't supposed to pitch today, so I wasn't going to let him throw that hitter."
La Russa said he went out of the dugout and thought that it was Motte ready in the bullpen.
"They were yelling at me as I went out," La Russa said. "I didn't hear them. It wasn't Motte. So I saw Lynn, I went, 'Oh, what are you doing?'"
Lynn came in and issued an intentional walk to Ian Kinsler before leaving, certainly an odd sight in any game, let alone one in the World Series. That gave Motte time to get warm. But by then, the damage was already done.
"We had a chance with Rzepczynski's stuff to get Napoli," La Russa said. "He put a nice swing on a breaking ball."
The Rangers fans get a big assist, apparently, in the club's Game 5 victory.
"If that's the truth, I can believe it, because it's been incredibly, incredibly loud," Kinsler said. "I think everyone in here has said it before, we've been to Tampa, Detroit, New York, St. Louis, San Francisco and this is the loudest outdoor ballpark we've even been at. They are great fans. It's a great way to go out. Hopefully, they'll be that loud screaming at the TV when we're in St. Louis."