Nobody loves working pitching matchups like Tony La Russa, so it was a bit surprising when he let lefty Marc Rzepczynski in to pitch to Mike Napoli with the bases loaded last night. Napoli knocked a double off him, scoring what would be the two winning runs. But what happened next was even weirder—La Russa brought in Lance Lynn, had Lynn issue an intentional walk, and then immediately replaced him with Jason Motte, MLB.com reports. Was this some bizarre tactical error? No, La Russa explained afterward—it was a communication breakdown.
When La Russa first called the bullpen, he’d told the coach to have Rzepcynski and Motte warm up, he explained. But thanks to the rowdy Rangers crowd, the bullpen coach only heard Rzepcynski’s name, so when Napoli came up, there was no one ready to replace the lefthander. When La Russa realized that Motte wasn’t throwing he called the bullpen again, but this time the coach thought he’d asked for Lynn—who was supposed to be unavailable after throwing 47 pitches in Game 3. La Russa didn’t realize until Lynn jogged in to the game. “I went, ‘Oh, what are you doing here?’” he says. (Click for 10 reasons why the Rangers will finish off the Cardinals in Game 6.)