10/10/2002 02:32 am ET
Giants post-game quotes
Dusty Baker, Giants manager;
Kenny Lofton and Benito Santiago
Would both Kenny (Lofton) and Dusty (Baker) talk about what happened on the inside pitch?
Lofton: Just a pitch that -- first pitch after usually the guy hits the home run and people are upset, they usually throw the first pitch up and in. That's what they did.
Did you think you did anything to warrant when you hit the home run, check it out a little bit?
Lofton: This is the playoffs. You have fun and you enjoy it. No, I don't think I did anything wrong. If I did something wrong -- when Jim Edmonds hit a home run against Randy Johnson, he started pointing in the dugout. That's something that -- I didn't do none of that.
Do you think you overreacted at all, because you guys had a comfortable lead at the time and that kind of seemed to spark the Cardinals and the crowd?
Lofton: First of all, this is the playoffs and there's no lead that's comfortable. I've been doing this for a long time, and no lead is comfortable. So, no, I didn't overreact. They probably -- first pitch after the guy hits a home run and the next time they throw inside, you look at that.
Baker: See, I didn't think he overreacted at all. I know -- what are you going to do when a guy throws the ball up around your head? Tony (La Russa) said we hit (Edgar) Renteria and he was hitting .500 and I said in no way in heck were we trying to hit Renteria to load the bases up with a 1-0 lead, especially with Tino Martinez coming up, that didn't make any sense to me. Plus, we were trying to come inside, the ball got away and hit him in the leg; it wasn't like it was up around his head.
The thing that I kind of like questioned, to tell you the truth, was, you know, I very rarely have seen a pitcher taken out when another pitcher is up. So, you know, another guy can come in and get him out and can seemingly do what he wants to do with Kenny Lofton. Don't look like Matt Morris was called upon to do it. That's what I took exception to personally.
Tony and I discussed it. It's over with and we've got another game tomorrow.
You're hitting over .600 in the NLCS. Are you expecting anything for Game 2?
Lofton: I just do what I do. I don't expect anything different. I go out there and play the game of baseball and I'm having fun right now. I'm enjoying it.
Could you address the hitting that's gone on here in the postseason? For years, it's just been pitchers duels, and tonight was a classic scramble, six home runs; is there anything that you attribute that to?
Baker: Well, No. 1, these guys can hit. This is the top two offensive clubs in our league and any time you get two top offensive clubs on any given night or any given moment, you can have a big offensive game.
So, is there any explanation? Only explanation I can give is that they can hit and we can hit.
When you walked up to the plate, what
did you expect was going to happen?
Lofton: Normally, nothing. But I think when people are upset, they do things out of the ordinary, and, you know, we were kicking their butts at the time and they just had to do something to try to upset me or piss me off. But that's what they did.
The thing with Tony, is that just heat of the moment, it's over; still friends?
Baker: I mean, what thing with Tony? If there had been a thing, somebody would have thrown some blows or something. There was no thing. We had a discussion.
Yeah, we're still friends. But on the field, we're competitors. You have a heated discussion with your wife, does that mean you don't love her anymore? That's just part of competition and part of the game.
Can you just address the role Kenny has played as a catalyst for you guys, particularly in the postseason?
Baker: Well, yes, I mean, we know Kenny's background. We know that Kenny is a big-time player, big-game player. He's been in the playoffs many, many times and he thrives on being that catalyst. That's why we got Kenny when he did. We got him as soon as possible.
Kenny has been great for us, both offensively and defensively.
The incident tonight did not become physical, but it did have Barry (Bonds) in the middle there. Were you concerned that something would break out physically where Barry or one of the other guys could get hurt?
Baker: Not really. I mean, that's something that happens.
I mean, one of the guys in the front out there was Scott Rolen; he's already hurt, you know what I mean?
So, no, I'm not concerned about that. What you're concerned about is our team staying together and our team defending each other. That's what you're most concerned about. I mean, certainly, you don't want anybody to get hurt on either side.
In the second inning after you stole the base, (Fernando) Vina was very close to second on that play. Tell me what you saw on that, with him coming over; it led to a couple of runs.
Lofton: Well, at that point, when I saw Vina, he doesn't have the ball; the pitcher has the ball. So I basically was looking at the pitcher, not at Vina. A lot of times, runners try to make you go back by the second baseman or the shortstop going to the base, but he doesn't have the ball. The pitcher has the ball so I was watching the pitcher. I saw Vina out of the corner of my eye, but at that time he doesn't have the ball; the pitcher has the ball. So I was still doing what I have to do.
This whole season, you felt like you've been playing in your 20s. How have you carried that over in the postseason, especially hitting behind Barry?
Santiago: Well, let me tell you something, you said 20; I'm 26. That's the way I feel. (Laughter.)
This is baseball, and I understand that I've -- and I just try to go out and have some fun. I try to see the ball and make a good swing, and just try to put the ball in play.
Did he fool you on that pitch in the first?
Santiago: No, he didn't fool me. But you've got to understand that most of the time, you hit the ball hard and right at people. I've got to take this one. I just swing on top of the ball and anything you can do to get the RBI in, that's a plus.
Would you consider Kirk's start a strong start tonight, and if not, do you think Jason needs to be stronger for Game 2?
Santiago: Well, it's good to jump on top. The first game, it's always good to win. Talking about Jason, you people know what this guy can do. He's been pitching great for us all year long, and I expect him to be the same way tomorrow. We'll see if we can beat these guys and go home with two wins ahead.
You really made them pay after walking Barry. Can you speak a little bit to that? Both times that has happened.
Santiago: Well, let me tell you something, I've been seeing this for two and a half months, I've been hitting behind this man. That didn't start tonight.
At the same time, on the other token, I have a lot of opportunities to make some damage out there at the right time. It seems like since Dusty put me behind this man, the concentration on me is on a high level and I'm really focused on what I'm doing.
Like I said before, I don't like to see that guy go to first base like that because this is the best hitter we have. I would like to see him swing the bat so we can put some more RBIs up there.
Kenny, you've been hitting the ball so well in the postseason, kind of setting the table; can you talk about how you felt coming into tonight's game? Did you have a carryover effect from the past series?
Lofton: Since I got over here, I've been feeling pretty comfortable, and in the last month or so, once we had to focus in and compete with the Dodgers, I think that kind of turned me up a notch because I knew we had to focus. When I go out there and try to focus, I think I play well. I think this is what is going on right now, is my focus is at a high level and once that happens I figure I go out and do my job.
Since this is the first game of what figures to be a competitive series, do you feel like you drew a line in the sand in regard that if they do throw inside, you are not going to take it quietly?
Baker: No, not really. I don't draw lines. I don't knock chips off anybody's shoulder or any of that kind of stuff. We just go out there and just try to play.
We are up 1 -0. We still have potentially six games to go and hopefully we can get to four before they get to four.
As far as drawing a line in the sand with my team or whatever, our team slogan is we don't start nothing. But we don't take nothing, either. So you can just read into that whatever way you want to.
You've probably addressed this before,
but what is it about Benito that makes you so
comfortable having him in that slot?
Baker: Well, you know, we tried various guys in that slot. Number one, he's a right-hand hitter. Number two, he puts the ball in play. He knows how to hit in that situation. He doesn't feel like he really has to hit a home run to get the opposition because he doesn't take it personal when they walk Barry, and that's the thing that -- like I hit behind Hank Aaron for three-and-a-half, four years and that's the first thing he told me, was don't take it personal, number one. And number two, you don't need a home run every time they do that. What you need is some base hits, and eventually you'll have quite a few RBIs and eventually they will start pitching to him.
When you were with the White Sox, it looked like you were going to have October off. What does it mean to be back on this stage?
Lofton: First of all, I thought I would be there with the White Sox but that didn't happen. Once I had the opportunity to come over here, I was jumping up and down for it because this is something that I enjoy and something that guys want to play for. You want to get to the playoffs and have a chance to get that ring, and this is what it's all about.
Do you consider that you guys have an edge because you've had to play and focus, like Kenny said, at such a high period of time because you were battling with the Dodgers, as opposed to teams that had leads for a long time?
Baker: I'm not really sure if that gives us an edge or not. But what it does, through repetition of playing highly competitive games, games that are very, very close and to the end, you know, you tend to get used to playing those kind of games, those high-energy kind of games.
Like I said, I don't know if that gives us an edge or not, but at the same time, you enjoy playing those kind of games and in those kind of games.
You guys have a penchant for bringing in veteran players and getting the most out of them, even guys that may not have been as productive; would you talk about that?
Baker: Well, I think it goes back to scouting. Our Major League scouts that are looking for guys that are winners. You've got to give Brian Sabean a lot of credit for bringing in a certain type of ballplayer and a certain type character. You don't want everybody on your team. You want guys on your team that have that competitive desire, guys that know how to win, guys that come to win and guys that are basically unselfish for the team to win. And that's why I think we've been successful in bringing in guys. A lot of guys say, "hey, man, we want to come play for you," but you can only have 25 and you want to pick the best 25 to play for you that you can.
Three or four years ago, it looked like you were done. How difficult has it been to get back to this point, and how much more satisfying does that make it for you?
Santiago: Well, it was something bad and I went through it. In '98, that car accident put me on the sidelines for a little while, but I never gave up. I never gave up. I understand that the doctors at the hospital told me maybe that I wouldn't come back and play, but I didn't take it that way. I was always positive and I just told them that I'm going to prove you wrong, and I'm going to go home and learn how to do the right things to come back and be where I am right now.
It's good to be in the stadium. It's good to be playing baseball, and regardless about what happened, my concentration, I learned how to not take things for granted any more, and just be pleased that I'm playing baseball again. And still talking to my teammates, still bouncing around with them.
NLCS teams that won Game 1 have won nine straight NLCS's; does that mean anything to you guys?
Baker: No. Not really. It doesn't mean anything to me actually. I mean, I've been on some World Series teams that won the first two games and ended up losing four in a row.
So you've got to win one before you can win two, and then you win two and then three and then four. You've got to take them one win at a time, just like a countdown to the finish line.
We haven't won anything yet. We've got a very tough team over there. We've got a team over there that's full of pride, guys that are used to winning just like we are used to winning. It doesn't mean anything. We have a tough battle on our hands tomorrow.