Q & A with Scott Proctor
Even without his best stuff, reliever worked out of jam
NEW YORK -- Scott Proctor admittedly didn't have his best stuff on Tuesday night, but he got the out when he and his team needed it the most.
The Yankees reliever entered Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Tigers with two outs in the seventh inning, his team leading, 7-4. Placido Polanco and Sean Casey hit back-to-back singles against the right-hander, bringing Magglio Ordonez to the plate, representing the tying run.
Ordonez flied out to center field on a Proctor curveball, allowing the Yankees to hold the lead. New York went on to record an 8-4 victory, taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Throughout the 2006 postseason, Proctor will take part in an exclusive Q&A with MLB.com, sharing his thoughts after every Yankees game. On Tuesday, Proctor talked about watching his offense go to work in Game 1, seeing his first action of the postseason and what to watch for on Wednesday in Game 2.
MLB.com: We talked before the series about this being your first postseason series with a meaningful role in the bullpen. What was it like to be out there in a close game?
Proctor: It was good. The advantage that we have here is that we basically play postseason games all year long. It was nice to get in there today, because I didn't really feel like I had great stuff. I was able to trick them and get out of there.
MLB.com: Can you take us through the Ordonez at-bat?
Proctor: The biggest thing was trying to not press; just make my pitches. That's the key for any at-bat. I was glad that I could make the pitch with a curveball when I needed to and got him to pop out.
MLB.com: What was it like to sit out in the bullpen and watch your team break out for five runs in the third inning?
Proctor: That was nice, especially to put up as many runs as we did to give Chien-Ming Wang some breathing room. You can't always count on that, though, because five-run innings are hard to come by. It was nice in Game 1 to get some early momentum, give us a little bit of relaxation.
MLB.com: How important is it, especially against a young team like the Tigers, to make a statement like you did in that third inning and not allow them to gain confidence?
Proctor: You could tell when we turned that double play [in the top of the third], it was a big turning point in the game. If they draw first blood, all of a sudden they get a little confidence and things can change. Getting the five-run lead, it put all the pressure on them.
MLB.com: What did you think of Wang's outing?
Proctor: I thought he looked good. At the beginning, his slider wasn't where it needed to be, but like Wanger always does, the more pitches he throws, the better he gets. Once he gets that sinker moving, he's tough to hit.
MLB.com: Joe Torre has said that he doesn't plan on pitching Mariano Rivera for more than one inning at a time. Does that put more pressure on you and Kyle Farnsworth?
Proctor: Not at all. If we do our jobs, he shouldn't have to pitch more than one inning. You shouldn't put more pressure on yourself, so I'm not looking at it that way.
MLB.com: Are you happy to get the first one out of the way?
Proctor: You got that right; especially on a night when I didn't have my best stuff. It was good to get it out of the way, get my feet on the ground.
MLB.com: What are you looking for from the Mike Mussina-Justin Verlander matchup?
Proctor: The biggest thing is just to come out and put the chokehold on them. Hopefully we can go out, score some runs early and try to throw as few pitches as we can, get some quick outs.
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.