“If we’d have won a World Series, I might have pulled a La Russa,” Johnson said, referring to Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa’s retirement after winning the title in 2011. “I think I’ve accomplished what was needed to this point. Is there some unfinished business? Yeah, there’s some unfinished business. But that’ll be up to ownership. That ball is in their court. I don’t have a bad feeling, and I don’t mind waiting until November like last year.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Johnson returned a reporter’s phone message. At the end of the conversation, after answering questions about decisions from Game 5, Johnson said, “If I knew you were going to second-guess me, I would have called back sooner.”
“Let me tell you something,” Johnson said. “Any manager in baseball, they will tell you, if you can get to your closer with a lead, you’ve done good. I don’t give a rat’s [behind] what anybody else thinks. If it’s a one-run lead, a two-run lead, you did it.
“One thing, in all the years I’ve been managing, if I think about all the options I have in every minute of that game, I never second-guess myself. Anytime you get to your setup guy and your closer, you get a lead with your closer in there, you’re good to go.”
Two of Johnson’s decisions drew the most debate. In the seventh inning, Johnson chose Game 3 starter Edwin Jackson over reliever Ryan Mattheus, his typical setup man against a right-handed lineup. Jackson had been battered in Game 3, the first inning was his worst this year and in his career he owned a 5.70 career ERA as a reliever.
But Johnson believed Jackson would have better stuff than Mattheus. He also thought Jackson had a strong history against the top three hitters in the lineup, whom he would be facing. Jon Jay was 2 for 8 against him, Carlos Beltran was 2 for 9 with three walks and Matt Holliday was 7 for 23 with a walk and a homer.
“I thought that he was good to go through the heart of the lineup, he was the best choice,” Johnson said. “I value starters’ stuff over a reliever’s stuff. He gave up one run. He struck out two guys. He did the job.
“Of the guys that I think, at the time we had a three-run lead, I’ve got Jackson on his throw day and he’s nasty, him facing [the top of the lineup], that’s what I want. He’s nasty on the middle of the lineup. He did his job. Just like [Jordan Zimmermann the day before]. All things considered, it was the right time for him.”