Motte has earned title of closer … unofficially
Posted: Thursday, October 20, 2011 7:03 pm
By R.B. FALLSTROM
AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Hard-throwing Jason Motte was the fifth pitcher to audition for the St. Louis Cardinals’ closer job. He’s nailing down that role, even if manager Tony La Russa is steadfast in his refusal to make it official.
Handed a one-run lead in the ninth inning Wednesday night, Motte seemed immune to pressure in Game 1 of the World Series. He needed only 10 pitches to put away the Texas Rangers, feeding off a sellout crowd that roared more with each success.
“Those fans were behind me the whole time. I heard them cheering, heard them going, ‘Let’s Go Cards!”’ Motte said. “You have to throw strikes, that’s the name of the game.”
La Russa turned to Motte only after going through Ryan Franklin, Mitchell Boggs, Eduardo Sanchez and Fernando Salas. Motte had nine saves in September and has been virtually untouchable in the postseason, allowing one hit with seven strikeouts in nine innings. He’s 5-for-5 in save chances.
La Russa coaxed two scoreless innings out of four relievers to get the game to Motte.
“I don’t want to give up runs whether we’re up by 10 runs or whether it’s a one-run ballgame,” Motte said. “I don’t really care what the score is, I don’t want anybody to score.”
BUNDLE UP: One by one the Rangers emerged from their dugout for pregame introductions, spreading out along the third base line. Just about everybody wore an extra sweatshirt over his uniform.
Manager Ron Washington even came out with gloves on his hands.
The temperature at the start of Game 1 at Busch Stadium on Wednesday night was 49 degrees, with a brisk wind and intermittent drizzle. It matched the third-lowest game-time temperature for the opening game of the World Series since records were kept starting in 1975.
The tarp was down during the afternoon and the teams did not take batting practice on the field as the sellout crowd of 46,406 huddled for warmth in the stands.
While the Rangers looked as if they were freezing, the Cardinals trotted out for introductions dressed in their crisp, white uniforms — no extra parkas, sweatshirts or balaclavas needed.
ARTHUR GETS HIS CHANCE: After 20 years in the majors and 900 appearances on the mound, Arthur Rhodes finally got his first chance to pitch in the World Series.
He did his job, too. Brought in to face left-handed slugger Josh Hamilton, Rhodes retired last year’s AL MVP on a lazy fly to center for the final out of the eighth inning, keeping the Cardinals ahead by a run. St. Louis hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Texas Rangers in Game 1. Published in The Messenger 10.20.11