WS2011 Gm6: Freese's walk-off shot sends it to Game 7

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa participated in an interview following Thursday's 10-9 win over the Rangers in Game 6 of the World Series.

Q. This team has just come back all year long, hasn't given up. But come on, tonight, unbelievable.

TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, you know, we had some in that rush there, to go from way back, to get closer, and we had but that one, we had some like it but not like it, you know what I mean. What happened today, I just think it's -- you had to be here to believe it. We never quit trying. I know that's kind of corny, but the fact is we never quit trying. The dugout was alive even when we were behind, and sometimes it works.

Q. So you're ready to name Chris Carpenter as Game 7 starter?

TONY LA RUSSA: Just barely started to think about tomorrow, but actually it'll be fun to think about it now because there is a Game 7. Might just roll Jake back out there, who knows.

Q. You've been managing for 31 years. You're closing in on 70 years old. Have you ever seen anything remotely close to that?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I feel like I've managed about 50 years, but I feel like I'm only about 40. After a game like that you feel like just show up at the park some day and you won a game and you enjoy eating pizza or something.

Yeah, they asked me right away, I said something about Edmonds' home run in the Championship Series in '04. But no, when you're thinking -- in fact, I had to remind a couple times, they wanted us to say thanks to the fans if we got beat before the Rangers did the rings, so there was a couple times in the ninth and 10, I was forced with two outs, I was forced to say, go down to the bullpen, I told some of the guys, we've got to do the fans right. So we went from that to celebrating. That's a big emotional change.

Q. You've never had the opportunity to manage a Game 7 in the World Series. With having such a deep appreciation for the history of the game, what does that opportunity mean to you?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, when you're a kid I had the very good fortune of being in the Championship Series, Game 7 against the Mets, and it's not the World Series, but believe me, it felt just as good. But when you dream, you dream about seventh game all the heroics.

There's a lot of reasons I'm really pleased. For one thing, even though it didn't look good, we competed better than to get bounced out in six. It's been an even series and now it's winner take all. There are a lot of guys in our club that are really enjoying the World Series, especially the first-timers or second-timers, and the experience of Game 7 is something they'll never forget. It's just as exciting as it's supposed to be, and I'm sure they'll represent, but we will represent ourselves well.

Q. Twice, the game was within one strike of Texas celebrating the World Championship. Did that ever creep into your mind that perhaps you guys weren't going to be able to do it this time?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I thought when you're down two runs to their closer in the ninth, I mean, this guy is a legitimate 1-2-3 and they're shaking hands. But what you try to do is get something started. You don't try to hit three-run home runs. Our club does a real good job of just trying getting something started, and once they get something started, the other club worries. Another mistake, this and that, I mean, we've been in the same situation ourselves. Once it got started it's much more fun to think, hey, we can do this, and then think, "Oh, (expletive), it's not going to work."

Q. The first part of the game Garcia struggled, you guys had errors all over the place on very makeable plays. It just seemed like it was not going to be your night. At what point did you realize, maybe we can pull this thing out?

TONY LA RUSSA: Because of the score. The one thing with Jaime, he didn't have his normal stuff. There was no use to push it. But what was the score all along? It wasn't a perfect game defensively for both of us, and sure, we botched a couple of fly balls that led to runs, but as long as the score is -- it was close until they scored the three. But as soon as the guys came off the field, I heard it ten times, nine outs. So I mean, the guys were into it. That's what happens when you give yourself a shot. Hard way to go, I would prefer not to do it this way.

Q. Any update on Holliday?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, we thought at first he had fractured it, but I was told by the trainer Greg later on that it's not a fracture, but I think it's swelling, and he's got a pretty good bruise there. So it may be we need to replace him for tomorrow.

An interview with Lance Berkman, David Freese

WS2011 Gm6: Freese discusses his huge walk-off homer

Cardinals right fielder Lance Berkman and third baseman David Freese participated in an interview following Thursday's 10-9 win over the Rangers in Game 6 of the World Series.

Q. Have you ever been part of a game like this tonight?

LANCE BERKMAN: The only thing that comes close is that 18-inning game we played against the Braves in the '05 NLDS, and we won that also on a walk-off by Chris Burke. I mean, to be able to do it twice against a tough closer, it's just -- it's special.

Q. Is there a way to put into words to have the season riding on your shoulders with one strike left, and then to hit the tying single there?

LANCE BERKMAN: I actually felt pretty good about it because I figured I was in a no-lose situation. If you don't come through right there, it's only one at-bat and it's over with, and they might talk about it for a couple days, but it's not that big a deal. If you come through, it's the greatest, and plus you've built a little bank account of being able to come through, so that if I don't come through tomorrow I can be like, "Well, I came through in Game 6, what do you want from me?" (Laughter).

Q. David, obviously the first part of the game defense wasn't a specialty for you guys. To come back and be such a pivotal part to the victory, how does that feel?

DAVID FREESE: It feels good. You know, I felt like I was part of a circus out there bouncing balls off the top of my hat a little bit. But man, I just wanted an opportunity to we tied that up, we had some good ABs and we tied it up and just kept battling. That defines our team, that game, the way we just kept coming back. We've been doing that for a long time, and this guy next to me, from day one, has taught me so much as far as just how to go about this game. It's incredible to be a part of this.

Q. Can you describe the range of emotions? You mentioned the ball bouncing off your head. Go from that moment when you were standing alone, the ball bounces off your head on the field to the heroics later on.

DAVID FREESE: When things like that happen, you've got to understand that it's not the first time and it's not the last. I mean, that's the way I kind of view stuff like that. It was earlier in the game and I knew we were going to have plenty of opportunities to bounce back, and when things like that happen, you've just got to stay focused. That's what this game is about. There's so many different ways to win a ballgame, and we kept battling and sneaked this one out tonight.

Q. David, almost every kid in America grows up having to have that game tying or game winning hit in the World Series. How big was your backyard? Was it a whiffle ball or tennis ball? And how many times did you imagine it?

DAVID FREESE: Yeah, you imagine in that scenario, and I'll be honest with you, I was running around the bases, and Edmonds popped into my head, that moment, because I remember when he did that in Game 6

LANCE BERKMAN: So do I (laughter).

DAVID FREESE: But seriously, growing up or whatever, and you see stuff like that happen, those become memories. I've said it time and time again as far as being a part of this comeback, but it wouldn't be as sweet if this group of guys weren't with me. This is cool to have this group doing this kind of stuff.

Q. David, can you describe the double in the ninth, the pitch you got, the sequence, what you remember about it, and then also the home run, too?

DAVID FREESE: Yeah, against Feliz, I went up to the dish saying what a great way to have my first career AB, off Feliz, and I just told myself stay short. He started me off with some off speed, so I was like, now what's coming? I just said, heater, that's the way I hit. I just looked for something out over and swung through a heater and then kind of got the same pitch and didn't miss that one.

And then the home run, just worked the count, and I was worried about getting on base, leading off an inning, taking a walk, breaking a bat, single, whatever, and full count came, and I knew he had a good change up. So I kind of had that in the back of my head. But sitting here, he threw a change up, he shook to the change up, and I got the head out.

Q. Did you see the ball drop?

DAVID FREESE: Yeah, I saw the usher trying to keep everybody off the grass, but that obviously didn't work.

Q. Can you just talk about what you were thinking when you were walking towards the batter's box heading into your ninth inning at bat. And does coming through in that spot give you even more confidence heading into your extra inning at bat?

DAVID FREESE: Yeah, when you haven't seen a guy ever, you've really got to go back to the basics and just try and hit. It's all about seeing the baseball, give you the best opportunity to hit. I just worked and tried to wait for something out over, and I got something, battled with two strikes and got something to hit.

And then the home run just tried to do the same thing, just tried to get on base.

Q. It seems like when you guys come into these playoffs and stuff you've always said all along, you play like you don't have anything to lose, you play pretty loose. Does that change going into a Game 7? Are you loose now? Is there a momentum? What's the feeling going in now to a Game 7?

LANCE BERKMAN: Well, for me, and really coming into this game, these big games, loose is not the right word. You know, and I'm not I don't like to try to over spiritualize stuff, but I'm a Christian, and I don't pray for hits and stuff like that, but I definitely prayed today and will again tomorrow just for a calmness and an ability to compete because I think that's all you can ask for.

The tendency in these big situations and these big games, your emotions get going, you try to do too much. If you're a .300 hitter all you can reasonably expect to do in big situations is hit .300. I mean, you can't be better than you are. I think that's how I view these games. I mean, I'm definitely not loose. I don't think this is fun. I mean, it's obviously fun when you win, but going into the game it's not fun. It's not fun to go up there with a season on the line.

But you know, I think the experience is incredible. But loose is not how I would describe myself.

Q. How do you keep your emotions in check in those two at bats in the ninth and the 11th?

DAVID FREESE: It's all about knowing that this is the same game as when you're six years old. It's just elevated on a stage, and everyone is watching. But you've just got to keep reminding yourself, it really is the same game and you have a job to do and you try and execute. Sometimes you don't and sometimes you do.

Q. David, two quick things: Do you have the ball in the ninth? Did you think Cruz had a play on it? What was your reaction as you saw it taking off the bat? And do you have any perspective on the fact that your at bats are going to be basically replayed forever?

DAVID FREESE: First question, you know, I thought I got a good piece of it. I saw Cruz break back, and then about rounding first base I thought he was going to catch it.

LANCE BERKMAN: Playing anywhere else that game is over with right there. That's a home run for sure in Texas but in 99 percent of the ballparks in the league, that's the walk off. He just went and did it here.

DAVID FREESE: Yeah, it was just I hit it pretty good. It was a tough play, and fortunately it fell. It's just great to be a part of this, as far as the second question. You know, if it's going to be replayed over and over again, I don't know, but it's really cool to be a part of this and to force a Game 7.

Q. (No microphone).

LANCE BERKMAN: Well, he's been doing it -- the left handed starter has pitched and he bats Matt fourth, if he's a right handed hitter then I bat fourth. So I think it was luck of the draw. I don't think there was anything more to it. Since Matt hurt his hand and he missed some time there leading into the playoffs and he missed some time in the first round of the playoffs, I think Tony did that because his timing has been a little off, and so he kind of mixes it up.

And tomorrow if Matt plays, he'll probably be hitting fourth because they're going to start that lefty. I don't think that there's much to that. But I mean, I guess it's good that I didn't hurt my finger before that last at bat.

Q. David, you rehearsed this moment as a kid, your mom, your family shared the story. Now that it's become a reality, how does it compare to the dream?

DAVID FREESE: We've got one more game. I remember in the Division Series after the Oswalt game, people were talking about memories and replaying this over and over again, and I said, "I don't dream about doing this, winning the DS. I want to win the World Series." I hope we're the ones smiling 24 hours from now.

LANCE BERKMAN: By the way, when you're a little kid and you're out there, you don't have a bunch of reporters and fans that are ready to call you a choking dog if you don't come through. (Laughter) So when you're a kid, you don't realize what a big moment that is. I'm just going to caution all little kids out there, be careful what you wish for. (Laughter).