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The first two games you guys got really good starts. How key is that to giving you guys a long stay in the playoffs?
It always starts there. You know, you hear about it all the time that pitching and defense is what's going to win championships. This time of the year, pitchers seem to be on their game a little bit more, so it forces you to have to do maybe some things you wouldn't do, manufacture runs, which is something we do pretty well as a team, because we have speed. But that guy on the mound controls the game. If he's on, he's going to beat you most of the time.
So it always starts there, but on the other side, you've got to counter that by being able to manufacture runs, putting together good at-bats. If we can do that on both ends, we'll do pretty well.
I guess it's time to brag on not just yourself but the whole team. In addition to the speed, you guys have a lot of power. How tough is it to match up against your lineup?
I don't know, I've never been on the other side of the field. You know, Charlie writes in the lineup, and sometimes it is a power lineup, depending on the personnel on the other side. Like when we faced CC the other day, he went with more of a speed lineup at the top. We ended up getting some power, which never hurts.
But I would have to assume it's probably pretty difficult because you have two switch-hitters, you can bat at the top, or drop one down in the middle to give you that lefty-righty combo to equalize your bullpen. Look at the numbers, Ryan Howard, 47, 150, 180, was it 200? All those RBIs, that is pretty intimidating.
After sweeping the Brewers in Philadelphia, now taking the first two of this series, do you have to kind of fight being overconfident? You know you can beat them, and do you have to fight that desire to keep from getting overconfident?
I don't think that's anything that we have to worry about. We know that they're a potent team, and if they wake up and their bats come around, they can strike fast.
This time of year, I don't think you really take anyone for granted, no matter what the situation is, no matter how many times you beat them. You look at what happens in the Anaheim and Boston series, Anaheim crushed them in the regular reason, but Boston owns them in the postseason. They don't take them for granted. They go out there and they know they can beat 'em, but you have to make it happen on the field, not just on paper, and not in the past. Forget what happened yesterday. Don't look forward to tomorrow. Handle what's going on today.
Can you talk about the importance of closing this series out today?
The importance is winning the series. You know, bottom line, you have to win three games, and it would be nice to get it done today, there's no doubt about it. You get a couple more days' rest. You don't have to worry about tomorrow, who are we facing and what's on the line. But we just want to win the series. We want to get to the LCS, and today we have a chance to do that. So our goal is definitely go out there and get it done today.
Fortunately, look at his record, Jamie Moyer has been that pitcher for us on close out day, and here he is once again with a chance to do it. So hopefully, his track record holds true.
You know Chase [Utley] and Ryan [Howard] and Pat [Burrell] probably better than anybody. They're 1-for-17 in this series. Do you think anything has to do with them maybe pressing a little bit after kind of struggling last year in the playoffs, or is it kind of a match up with CC kind of affecting things, as well? Do you see anything in those guys that they haven't been able to get on base as much?
You take the two lefties, Chase and Ryan, and the big lefty in C, in the words of my brother, everybody knew they weren't going to get a hit except for them two. (Laughter). It'll hold true. CC is throwing the ball at 94 miles an hour, and he has a slider cut or whatever he calls it, and it breaks twice. If you're a left-handed hitter and he's throwing 96 in, and he throws a slider that starts at your hip and ends up in the other batter's box, it's going to be a tough day for you. So you have to rely on the other guys.
Hopefully, today is a new day for them. We're definitely going to need them. You can almost say they're overdue. That's how I like to look at it. Ryan isn't going to stay silent for long, and Chase, he finds a way. Pat, if he finds a rhythm, he can hold it for a while. So they're going to get four-to-five at-bats today to try to make things happen. Hopefully there are guys on in front of them, and they get a pitch to hit. If not, then they'll just have to do it on their own.
I'm just wondering, can you sense a difference in your team between this year and last year and how the playoffs are, not just for you guys, but also for the fans in Philadelphia? Last year ended a long drought, and this year, second year in a row.
Last year, coming into the playoffs, we were kind of -- there is no kind of; we were definitely new to it, not knowing what to expect, do I go out there and lay it all out on the line or do I pace myself because it is a five game series? I think that is honestly how we looked at it as a five game series, not if you lose three you're going home that quickly. I think that's kind of what happened. This year, we came in knowing the situation, knowing how things are ran in the postseason, that every single game counts, every inning, every pitch. You can't take time off. And we were prepared for that. Once we qualified to make the postseason, we were prepared for that, we were ready, and last year we didn't know what to do. There were a lot of questions, how do we do it, what about this, what about that. There weren't those questions this year.
Crowds, home, away, we write a lot about it, we talk a lot about it. You guys will mention it in between games and such. Inside of the game, can you feel them changing the game or them affecting the game, or do you even concede that happening?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. If everything is going well and the crowd is energized, which we definitely expect them to be like that tonight, they can have an effect on the way the momentum goes, yes. But ultimately, it's the guys on the field that change it. You know, we write the story.
Crowd can get into it all they want, that's not going to get the guy a hit. If he gets a hit, it can inspire the next guy to maybe go up there and concentrate a little bit more, because he wants that feeling and make the crowd stand up. But at the same time, that guy hits into a double play and ends the inning, it takes the crowd out of it temporarily. Next time they get a hit they'll be right back in it. We go out there and you hear it, and it's kind of more like background noise. And when you're on the road, there's no better feeling than a silent crowd, and when you're at home, there's no better feeling than a loud, obnoxious, crazy crowd.
If things don't work out today you might have [Joe] Blanton pitching tomorrow, big addition at the trade deadline. Can you talk about what you've seen in him and what he's brought to the team and the confidence you have in him if you need to use him tomorrow?
Blanton is a competitor. That's something right before we got him, we got to see him in Oakland. He pretty much just blanked us. When he first came over, I think he was trying to prove that he could play here, the type of player that he was. He didn't really get off to a great start, but lately he's kind of settled in. Brett Myers, of all people, has kind of taken him under his wing. I know they have a good relationship.
He's been throwing the ball well. He's been throwing that phantom ball, like he throws a fastball at 88, 89 miles per hour, and you find yourself swinging over or swinging through it. Then he has a good changeup and a good slider.
He's been throwing that well. His last outing he was throwing it at the hitter's front hip, coming right back over the plate, and they throw their hands up and it's a strike. That's what he does, he pounds the zone, he tries to work ahead, gets ahead often and try to put a hitter on the defensive.
How does Brett take somebody under someone's wing?
I don't know, but he's done it. He sits right in front of him on the airplane. They're always talking. Sometimes Blanton looks over at us like, does this guy ever stop? But he doesn't move, so he must like it.
I'm just wondering what, if any, ribbing goes on in the clubhouse with Jamie Moyer and then later on Matt Stairs, just being the fact that those guys are a generation ahead of most of you?
They're old? (Laughter). Well, I got to see a lot of Matt Stairs in an Oakland uniform, just being from the Bay area, and I've always known him as a professional hitter. That's how I see him. He's a strong guy, he takes that big swing, the first one is always for the fans, then he settles in and takes the rest for the team.
Jamie Moyer, on the airplane the other day, he was asking how old my parents were, and I was like, "They're pretty much about your age." (Laughter). And he said it really makes him feel old. But I was like, "You're pretty good. When I'm your age, I won't be playing baseball, I'll tell you that much. But somehow you've found a way to do it, so that's a good thing."
There's a lot of respect. The pitchers listen to Jamie. Matt has come over and he's been giving us tips about hitting, things he sees on pitchers. So he's been a team guy. That's all you want from your veterans to teach you knowledge of the game, and they've both been doing that.