Notes: Edmonds faces another lefty
Despite struggles, center fielder in lineup against Perez
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals keep facing left-handed starters. And Jim Edmonds keeps starting in center field.
If you followed the Redbirds down the stretch in September, that's more than a little surprising. Edmonds struggled badly against lefties during the regular season, and shortly before the playoffs started, manager Tony La Russa indicated that Edmonds would not play regularly against southpaws in the postseason. Edmonds received only one plate appearance against a left-handed pitcher in September.
St. Louis faced its third lefty in eight playoff games on Sunday night, with the Mets' Oliver Perez. Edmonds has started every one of those games, and he's gone 2-for-9 against lefties thus far. La Russa said on Sunday that Edmonds will likely continue to start every game, unless St. Louis faces a southpaw starter who's particularly hard on left-handed hitters.
"Once in a while, if there's a real wipe-them-out left-hander in the postseason, then it's a little different deal," La Russa said. "But mostly it has to do with health. He's not a platoon player."
The manager took issue with the way his late-September comments were reported, arguing that he never considered Edmonds a platoon player.
"I didn't say that," La Russa said. "I said it had to do more with health than anything. If you're going to spot him a game, you're not going to play him every day, then you're not going to spot him against a left-hander."
Another different look: The Cards did some more shuffling in their lineup on Sunday. Scott Spiezio got a second straight start in left field, batting second, while Juan Encarnacion returned to right field after a night off. Preston Wilson had been receiving the majority of the starts in left against left-handed pitchers, but La Russa felt he couldn't keep Spiezio's bat on the bench.
"The reason Preston is not playing left field is that Scott is," La Russa said. "That's what it came down to. It came down to Scott or Preston. ... It was really a tough call. I'm always thinking about a guy as excited about the postseason as Preston is, but it's hard here tonight, with the lift that Scott has given us in games that he's started."
Old friends: If the Cardinals are able to advance to the World Series, La Russa will go against one of his closest friends in baseball, Tigers manager Jim Leyland. The two skippers spoke on Sunday morning, after Detroit won the American League pennant on Saturday evening.
"When you have teammates, you have a special bond, and when they become friends, it's even more special and you feel great for them," La Russa said. "But the big thing about the success of the Tigers is ... the franchise and the fans. You have a personal relationship with somebody, just like our players can have a friend on one of the winning clubs. But the significance is the Tigers as an organization, what it means to their fans."
Leyland was particularly grateful to the Cardinals, who employed him as a Major League scout in Pittsburgh before he was hired to manage Detroit. Leyland managed the Pirates, Marlins and, briefly, the Rockies before taking a hiatus from the job.
"I think one of the most responsible [factors] about my coming back, they're playing right now [against] New York, and that's the St. Louis Cardinals," Leyland said. "I worked for them for five years. I was around that ballclub in Spring Training. I helped out. I was around Tony La Russa. I helped his veteran players, bought into the program. I never had a finer boss.
"They kind of inspired me to get back in, and I kept getting closer to it and closer to it. I think probably the reason I got back in is because of the St. Louis Cardinals."
This date in Cardinals history: On Oct. 15, 1946, the Cardinals closed out their third World Series championship in five years with a 4-3 win over the Red Sox in Game 7 at Sportsman's Park. Harry Brecheen, who pitched a complete game for the Game 6 win two days earlier, tossed two shutout innings in relief for the victory.
The game is most famous, however, for Enos Slaughter's "mad dash" in the eighth inning. Slaughter scored all the way from first on a ball that was credited as a double by Harry Walker. The ball was short enough that it's widely believed to have been a single. Slaughter's run provided the tiebreaking and World Series-winning tally.
Coming up: Game 5 of the NLCS is scheduled for Monday at 7:19 p.m. CT. Both teams will start pitchers who will be working on three days' rest -- Game 1 starters Jeff Weaver for St. Louis and Tom Glavine for the Mets. However, with heavy rain threatening the St. Louis area for just about the entirety of Monday, the series could be in jeopardy of another postponement.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.