When La Russa should pinch hit

Tony La Russa can't be timid with his pinch hitters and relievers in an elimination game. Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies are playing the last game of their Division Series today, with each team's ace (Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay) taking the mound. The game -- and thus the series -- may very well be settled by which team's ace pitches better. But it might just come down to which team's manager has the audacity to sit his ace down on the bench.

One game in this series has already been strongly influenced by a decision to pinch hit (or not) by each manager. In Game 3, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa allowed starter Jaime Garcia to hit with runners on first and second and two outs in the bottom of the sixth, and he struck out. Then, in the top of the seventh, Phillies pinch-hitter Ben Francisco hit a three-run home run to put his team ahead for good.