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Garner workout day quotes
10/08/2004 6:10 PM ET
Q: Did you forget how much you missed the second-guessing?

A: I think that's part of the deal these days. But, you know, you always replay games in your mind. You always replay them when you're driving home. You wake up in the morning, sometimes you replay them -- especially when you lose a tough ballgame.

I did exactly what I wanted to do. I had made my mind up with Lidge, that I was going to use him in the situation, and he did exactly what I wanted him to do, strike out the guys. I didn't want the ball put in play. He got the strikeouts for us.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen the rest of the way, but we got out of the inning with the lead. I did not want a tie ballgame, as you might imagine. That's why I brought him in.

Q: What do you think Backe might have learned from pitching in a pressure situation last Sunday that would help him tomorrow?

A: Well, he's pitched well for us down the stretch, and particularly well at home, so I think he feels comfortable here. When you watch him, you look at him, he looks like he's somewhat nervous, but he has this exuberance and he has a lot of youthful energy. I think that's good.

I do believe that he knows what he wants to do, he has an idea of how he wants to pitch guys. I think when he goes out there, I think he's focused.

One of the things that happens when you get into these playoff situations, all the excitement, everything, you can actually ... the game speeds up on you, and you can forget what it is you want to do. I think that having pitched in the big game here at home when we clinched the wild-card position, he's ready for this, I think.

Q: Much was made of having Roger and Roy go back-to-back. Is there any downside that you didn't come out 2-0 with them?

A: Absolutely not. The last couple of months, our team has come back when we've had our backs against the wall. I wouldn't say our back's against the wall right now.

Had we lost the first game, won the second game, everybody would be coming home with a different attitude. If you would have said, worst-case scenario, what do you have to have coming out of Atlanta, I'd say 1-1.

Our glass is half full; it's not half empty. I think we're looking at it in a good way. It's a shame to lose the ballgame when Roy pitched so well. Obviously, we would have liked to have won the ballgame. The way I managed, I wanted to keep the lead, no question; that's why I brought Lidge in when I did.

That game was very, very important. I didn't want it to go four games. I would have liked to have been able to close out that game. It didn't happen. It has nothing else to bear on tomorrow's game as far as I'm concerned. They feel pretty good about the win, we feel pretty good about our first-game win.

Our offense is going to get clicking, and our pitching is going to do well, too.

Q: Is there any concern about Craig not having success in the postseason? You pinch-hit for him yesterday.

A: Are we talking about Biggio?

I did not pinch-hit for him yesterday. I didn't pinch-hit for him. I made a switch with him defensively, which has been my pattern for the last at least six weeks, I want to say. Particularly when we have the lead, I'll do a defensive switch.

So, no, I'm not concerned about Craig. As a matter of fact, when we're in a situation -- don't remember the inning, if it was the fourth inning or not -- when we had had a couple of walks and a couple of guys on base, and Hampton had gotten behind Craig, I anticipated a fastball being thrown. Craig's a very good fastball hitter. We took a bunt off and let him swing the bat. He hit it right at Chipper Jones.

They're going to start falling for him, and you never know what's going to happen in the postseason. One big hit can turn things around for our team. If he goes 2-15, that one hit, that next hit he gets may be the biggest one in his career, may be the biggest one for us.

Q: Considering the Astros' history and considering the way you've been playing so well at home, is the mood of the city that this is "the big weekend" for the Astros?

A: Well, I think it's a big weekend for the Astros and for the fans for a lot of reasons. I think people want to see us win. And judging by how quickly the playoff tickets left the door, I've got to believe that our people, our house is going to be rocking, and I think it's going to be rocking because people are going to be excited. It was rocking when we clinched.

For me, I think everybody's very excited. I don't think people are looking at this as what's happened in the past. I think they feel very comfortable with us. I think they're confident. I think our players are confident. There's no question in my mind that everybody's excited because we believe we can get it done. And so I'm looking forward to it. I think it's going to be fantastic.

Q: The energy from the crowd last weekend -- do you think that will really help your team this weekend?

A: Yes. I think our crowd is partisan, there's no question. I think you always feel better in your own ballpark. I think this ballpark is probably a little better suited for us in one sense of the word. But playing on your home turf is certainly an advantage, I think, for our team.

No, I don't think our club needs re-energizing. We didn't get a lot of hits yesterday. We really didn't get anybody past second base. We had really only one opportunity, and it was snuffed out with a double-play.

So as has been the case, we can have a down day; then look out, our offense can get clicking and we can put a bunch of runs on the board. I don't see it as -- yesterday -- as necessarily a bad thing. There's no question when we're back in our house, the place is going to help us.

Q: With Furcal yesterday, did that bring back painful memories from '86 with Dykstra?

A: I wish you hadn't brought that up. I hadn't thought about it. It is kind of disgusting when I think back about it (laughter).

I give Furcal credit. We had a couple strikes on him, threw the pitch we wanted to, didn't go exactly where we wanted it to. But he hit the ball out of the ballpark. Sometimes that's going to happen, and you tip your hat to him.

Q: Are you set up for the weekend pitching-wise? Will Roger definitely go Sunday, or will it depend on what happens tomorrow?

A: I spoke with Roger last night, and Roger feels that he can come back. He's going to prepare to come back on Sunday, and I will plan to use him on Sunday. I've not gone beyond that.

We will look to start -- of course Brandon goes tomorrow, and Roger will go on Sunday.

Q: You haven't lost a game at home in over a month. What does this do for your confidence, the way the team feels in the ballpark? Can a streak like this do something for a team, and is there something you can point to that's let that happen?

A: Well, certainly we've played our best ball at home, in my opinion, but we've played pretty good ball on the road, too. We've had to win when we've had our backs against the wall, and we've done it. I believe that that has bred a lot of confidence. I think we're very comfortable at home, very confident at home, and it's to our advantage to be at home -- no question. So when we come back here, I think our players are looking forward to that.

What causes it to happen, you would like always to win at home, obviously, in front of your crowd, because I think they're into it and I think we feed off of it a little bit, too.

The crowd, I can't say enough on the day we clinched, last Sunday when we clinched, it was deafening and it was very exciting. I think it does help us, as we talked about earlier.

Q: You gave Biggio the green light instead of bunting, giving him the green light to swing. Is that a move to help boost his confidence?

A: It was not a move to boost his confidence. But does it help him with his confidence, it's not the situation, we were saying.

I mean, if I ask him to bunt in a similar situation again, it's not that I don't have confidence in him, it's that the situation requires that. I actually have confidence in him to bunt and get the ball down, too. Sometimes that happens. It just happened in this particular situation I switched because I felt like he was going to try to get a fastball over. It seemed like for the previous two batters that when the batters squared around, for some reason he was having trouble locating.

I felt like in that particular situation, he was just going to try to throw the ball right down the middle of the plate just to get the strike. He did not want to go 3-1.

The reason I switched was just a matter of a tactical move. I felt like we were going to get a pitch, and I felt Biggio would hit it well -- and he did, he just happened to hit it right at the third baseman.

Q: With all the home runs hit, is your offense a little one-dimensional, and is Biggio key to getting something going?

A: I do believe that we do better when the top of our lineup gets on base, and that's not only Biggio, that's Beltran as well, and it's also Baggy. When all three of those guys are somehow on the base, then it gives Berkman and Kent something to work with.

But you also have to have all portions of your lineup working. It's not just home runs that you need. When we can, we like to take advantage. We'll run. We have hit and run on many occasions down this stretch. We will do that, we will continue to do those things.

We like the home runs, obviously. I like three-run home runs. I'd just as soon have three-run home runs every inning. That would be nice.

I certainly would not want to forgo the home runs and say, "All right, we got to get on, steal a base, get a guy to third and squeeze." That's not exactly what we want to do either, although we'll do all those things.

I think we're capable of doing a lot of things. We just didn't really generate anything in yesterday's game where we could generate any offense in any way.

Q: You emphasized that you are a tough out at the plate. Did you get away from that a little yesterday, or was it the circumstances of the game?

A: Circumstances of the game. We're still tough outs. Our guys are battling, and they have for quite a while now. So our games, you pick any one game out of any one stretch, and you would say, "Gee, whiz, what's going on? You can't hit." If you picked out any one game.

If you picked out 12 games, you'd say, "These guys are world beaters." We were hitting the ball all over the place. That's the way the game goes sometimes.

I think our guys are battling. You know what you want to do; sometimes you just don't get it done.

Q: Will Mike Lamb be used? Is there any reason why he hasn't been used recently?

A: Our plan is to start Morgan Ensberg again tomorrow. I have not lost confidence in Mike Lamb. I put him up in a situation last night to win a ballgame, and I will do that again. I have started Morgan Ensberg because he's been swinging the ball quite well -- actually, very well.

So I think it's better off to start him. But I will use Mike Lamb in a game-winning situation again.

Q: With the Astros having never won a playoff series, is there a feeling of getting over a hump? Is there something that you can emphasize to the team, even though they know it's important?

A: I had a team meeting the first day, and we did not address that particular issue, we addressed some things that we'd been doing quite well, we reinforced that. This ballclub has gotten the way we are because we have adhered to a plan that we felt was workable, and it has worked. We will continue to do just that.

There's several guys on this team that have been beyond just the first round of the playoffs. So when we refer to our past Astros misfortunes and not getting there, I don't think it has anything to do with this team. We have guys that have been there, done that. I'm reminded of the World Series in 1979. We were down 3-1. It looked awful because we were facing Baltimore's 20-game winners. All we did was come back and win in seven games. I'd rather do it in the next two games here, obviously. But whatever happens, however how you win, doesn't matter, just got to get it done.

But I don't think anybody is sitting around thinking, "Oh my goodness, this has happened to us in the past, this is going to happen to us again." I think everybody's focus is exactly what it needs to be, and that's tomorrow game.

Q: When you consider the 18-game home winning streak, what does that do for your confidence coming back home?

A: Well, I think we are a confident team, there's no question in my mind. What we did a month ago or what we've done in the past 10 days doesn't have anything to do with tomorrow other than the fact that you go into it feeling confident.

Having said that, you still want to be prepared, you still need to do the things that you have to do. But we've definitely shown that we can play here, and we can play well here. I fully expect that our ballclub will go out tomorrow with the same feelings that we've had here for the past month -- that we can win this ballgame. We know we have to do the things to win that we can do, and I believe we feel that we can.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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