Cardinals dismiss Gonzalez's Mickey Mouse ears

If the Cardinals had a problem with Adrian Gonzalez flashing Mickey Mouse ears after homering in Game 5, they're not letting on.

''As far as getting under our guys' skin, our guys want to compete,'' Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Thursday, an off-day in their series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. ''We're not out there to make friends.

''We're not out there to do anything except win,'' he said.

The Cardinals lead the Dodgers 3-2 in the best-of-seven series. Game 6 is Friday in St. Louis.

Dodgers leadoff man Carl Crawford thought it was a gesture the Cardinals wouldn't forget.

''I'm pretty sure it rubbed them the wrong way and they're going to use that as some kind of fuel,'' Crawford said. ''So, you might as well keep doing it, Adrian.''

And what does Gonzalez think? He was just having a little fun.

''It's just something that doesn't need to be talked about,'' Gonzalez said. ''I don't need it to get out of hand here, because it shouldn't be.''


READY TO SERVE: Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander threw in the bullpen a few hours before Game 5 of the AL championship series, saying he's preparing as if it will be necessary for him to pitch in a deciding Game 7 on Sunday in Boston.

Verlander told a reporter not to read anything into the session that took place beyond the left field wall at chilly Comerica Park.

''It was just a normal bullpen,'' Verlander insisted Thursday.

Earlier in the day, Verlander was informed he will be honored on Nov. 6 in Washington at the United States Navy Memorial as a recipient of the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award for possessing the values, integrity and dedication to serving the country as Feller did.

Verlander welcomes guests from Veterans Affairs medical centers in Michigan to watch home games from his Comerica Park suite. He also has committed to donating $1 million to start Wins for Warriors, an organization that attempts to help the mental health of veterans in Detroit, Richmond and Norfolk, Va.

''My first cousin, Christopher Verlander, served in Afghanistan a couple times, but the main reason I try to give back is because I appreciate the men and women of the military and what they do for me and our country,'' he said. ''I firmly believe that I wouldn't be here playing the game I love in this country if it wasn't for them.''

Feller, a Hall of Famer, who died in 2010 at the age of 92, voluntarily enlisted in the Navy soon after Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Hall of Famer Yogi Berra and U.S. Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman Garth Sinclair will also be presented with Bob Feller Act of Valor Awards. Berra is scheduled to get his award during a ceremony Oct. 19 at the Yogi Berra Museum in Little Falls, N.J.


MISSING BAT: The Cardinals are hopeful injured cleanup man Allen Craig could be a contributor if they get to the World Series. They could really use him, too.

St. Louis has been leaning heavily on pitching to overcome .193 hitting in the postseason.

Craig has been out since early September with a left mid-foot sprain, a fluke injury sustained stepping off first base. He had been scheduled to take batting practice Thursday but that was pushed back to Friday.

Lefty Jaime Garcia, coming off shoulder surgery in May, is among the pitchers Craig was scheduled to face.

''Just really felt like today would be a good day for guys to shut down and stay away from the yard,'' manager Mike Matheny said. ''We've spent a lot of time together.''

Craig led the majors with a .454 average with runners in scoring position and was among the league leaders with 97 RBIs.

Rookie Matt Adams' helped the Cardinals surge in September to the NL Central title, but Craig's replacement is hitting .237 in the postseason with a homer, three RBIs and 12 strikeouts in 38 at-bats.


FAMILIAR FOE: Skip Schumaker came up through the Cardinals system and played for them in four postseasons, including the 2011 World Series title team that was down to its last out - or even last strike - several times.

Facing them as a member of the Dodgers in the postseason for the first time, he knows the Cardinals are not panicking after a loss in Game 5 Wednesday - even if St. Louis blew a 3-1 lead last year in the NLCS.

''They've been through a whole bunch of stuff over there the last few years, so I don't think they're shaking at all as far as what's going on,'' Schumaker said. ''They're still winning 3-2. I think they're going one game at a time, too.''

Schumaker predicted a seven-game series before the NLCS started.

''I hope I'm right,'' he added.


GOING THE DISTANCE: Jack Morris was in Detroit to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 5 against Boston.

He pitched for the Tigers when they won the 1984 World Series, but perhaps his most famous postseason moment was his 10-inning shutout of Atlanta in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, when he was with the Minnesota Twins.

That type of performance is rare these days. Detroit's starting rotation has been mostly outstanding in this postseason, but the Tigers have not had a complete game.

Morris says an increased emphasis on pitch counts leads to shorter starts - and means pitchers can throw harder when they're in the game. He's not a fan of the trade-off.

''I'm old school. I haven't bought into it at all, and I never will,'' Morris said. ''My prayer and hope is that I live long enough to see pitch counts thrown out again. I think for 90 years of baseball it worked out just fine.''

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