10/02/08 7:45 PM ET
Shields, Longoria postgame interview
Team believes being relaxed is key to handling postseason jitters
By / MLB.com
EVAN LONGORIA: I was nervous. I think if you're not nervous in this situation, you're really not soaking in the moment. I mean I was anxious to get up there and, you know, he made a couple mistakes and that's what you're supposed to do as a good hitter is hit the mistakes.
I knew he was going to try to get ahead early in the first at bat, so I was planning on swinging first pitch no matter what. Then the second at bat with me hitting the fastball on the first one, I kind of figured he was going to throw me something off speed and just left one up over the plate.
James, I wanted to ask you about Evan. You obviously saw him come in this year as a kid. How long does it take you to see that he had star quality?
JAMES SHIELDS: I think from day one. I mean as a pitcher you look at hitters and you see these guys approach at the plate, the way they turn their heads and the way they stop their shoulders and everything. He's amazing.
The way he stays back on breaking balls and the way he makes adjustments throughout the at bat. The guy might throw a breaking ball and fool him the first time, but you ain't going to fool him the second time. So he's been doing a great job all around. With defense, he's been amazing.
You're the first player in postseason history to hit home runs in your first two at bats. With the transition, never having experienced before in the playoffs, did you not realize the enormity or magnitude of the stage you're on?
EVAN LONGORIA: Just to correct you real quickly, the second, I don't want to take away any credit from Gaetti, that's my man. But I really tried to do everything the same as I do every day. You know, my preparation was the same. Didn't get to the ballpark any earlier, didn't do anything different.
You know, you could sense that there was a different feeling about the game, you know, the energy level in the ballpark. But other than that, I mean, I was able to settle in pretty quickly.
Are you going to expect a call from Gaetti or give him a call and let him know that he's not the only guy now, since he was your hitting coach in Triple A?
EVAN LONGORIA: Yeah, I probably will give him a call after this whole thing's over. He's probably out hunting right now or doing something. But I'm sure we'll touch base.
So much is made about the value of the postseason experience. From your perspective, how did you and your teammates handle this moment?
JAMES SHIELDS: From my perspective, we did pretty well. We've been the type of team all year long that we've been relaxed. We've got some veteran guys that kind of keep us cool. We don't have that much experience in the playoffs, but sometimes that's a good thing. It's more exciting for us than anything. Our approach today and the last couple of days and come practices has been great.
My whole approach today was just stay relaxed, try to pitch my game and do my thing out there. I'm the type of pitcher who likes to keep us in the ballgame as long as I can, and that's what I did today.
Joe always talks about how you settle in later in the game after a couple of runs early on. Did you feel more comfortable after the first couple of pitches got through and everything?
JAMES SHIELDS: After the first thing was over, I think my jitters started to calm down a little bit. I was a little pumped up in the first inning. I thought I did pretty well as far as controlling my emotions. This is exciting times for us as a team. You know, this is where we wanted to be. You know, I felt I made one bad pitch today. Unfortunately there were a couple of runners on base and that's just the way the game goes sometimes.
I felt I did really well coming back late in the game, and the guys did an amazing job coming back and taking the lead back over. It makes my life a lot easier when these position players are doing what they're doing out there, and the defense is doing what they're doing, so...
What was your mindset pitching against a team that you know every swing can be a run?
JAMES SHIELDS: You know, I had a game plan going in, and I just stuck with it. Me and Navi really talked about it beforehand. And we had a good approach. These guys, like you said, they can win a ballgame in one swing. And I was trying to execute every one of my pitches, trying to be efficient with my pitches and go deep in the game and try to get the bullpen where we needed to be.
Grant and JP and Wheeler came in and did an unbelievable job to close it out.
That second home run, was that the hardest you ever hit a home run?
EVAN LONGORIA: No, I think it only went into the second row, it was high.
No, it hit the catwalk, though.
EVAN LONGORIA: I think it was just more high than anything. I've hit some further than that (laughing).
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.