Did Tony LaRussa and the Cardinals engage in some deception with the weather forecast last night? Reds manager Dusty Baker curiously commented after the Reds 4-2 loss to St. Louis last night that the Reds, “received different information than they received.” Baker was being questioned about his decision to warmup announced starter Edinson Volquez while LaRussa opted to switch his starter at the last minute to reliever Miguel Batista.
Baker’s comment seems to be confirmed by umpiring crew chief John Hirschbeck, who told the St. Louis Dispatch that his crew was told “they had a window of an hour” by the Cardinals’ officials. “That turned into two minutes,” said Hirschbeck. When the Reds telecast began, commentator Jeff Brantley seemed surprised by the suddenness of the downpour which came during the top of the 1st inning with the Reds second batter, Brandon Phillips, at the plate. He commented that the storm had arrived well before he anticipated.
Did the Cardinals engage in a misinformation campaign in order to save their starter, Kyle McClellean, while allowing the Reds to burn Edinson Volquez in the bullpen? After the two plus hour rain delay which also included several tornado warnings, the Reds were forced to use long reliever Matt Maloney while the Cardinals brought out McClellan who was originally slated to start.
If true, the Cardinals actions would be yet another log on the fire of an already heated rivalry. The question out there is why did the Cardinals, since the home team has control over whether a game starts or is delayed, start a game when they knew an impending downpour was just minutes away? Was this just gamesmanship from the Cardinals? Did LaRussa merely “outsmart” Dusty Baker, or is this something that goes beyond that?
I would imagine the league might be interested in what LaRussa knew and when he knew it. It wouldn’t be beyond Tony LaRussa to utilize such tactics to gain a competitive advantage. Whatever the case, the Cardinals took game one of the series, and took over first place. The next two nights ought to be pretty interesting, weather permitting.