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Dale, two questions: Number one, what was the plan here? You talked about it a little before the game about having your players take more pitches at the plate and being a little bit more patient, and it obviously played itself out in the first inning.
Yeah, these guys knew what they had to do with a guy like Moyer on the mound. They knew they had to be patient, and they were. I mean, we had, I think, 60 something pitches after two innings off him. But the fact of the matter is the guy still never gave in and never really gave us anything to hit when we had all those guys on base. He still just nibbled and he nibbled, and he got out of some jams because of the way he pitches.
But the fact of the matter is I think the guys gained a lot of confidence today by their at bats. Billy Hall had some phenomenal at bats today, as well as everyone. Hopefully it pays off in the next two ballgames.
Just quickly, what was your thinking on getting Dave out of there after 70 pitches?
Well, the game shrunk to, at that time, three innings and two thirds left in the game, and we had a very fresh bullpen. We had three lefties out there for Howard. And when you, not that, Bushie, I don't have all the confidence in the world in him to do it, but when you have lefties and a guy like Stetter out there and a guy on base to keep, you can't walk him at that point. You've got to get somebody in that game that can hopefully really keep them in the ballpark.
Stetter came in and did that, and the rest of the bullpen obviously did a great job, too.
How much does it add to your satisfaction tonight to defeat the team that you've grown up following as a kid?
You know, actually not all that much. When we take the field, we take it as players. You sit in the stands, you're a fan. When I'm out on the field, I'm a player. To me it doesn't matter who we're facing. It's my first experience in the playoffs, so I would have taken it against just about anybody. It was a big thrill. The crowd was outstanding. Being out there was a great experience for me.
Dave, in May you were the least likely candidate probably on this staff to start a game in October, especially an elimination game. What's your journey been like from when you got sent down to coming in and winning the first playoff game in Miller Park?
It was an up and down year for sure. Main thing for me is just maintaining confidence in what I can do out on the mound and knowing if I stay patient with myself and give it a little bit of time, it was going to come around. I'm confident in what I do. It was always just a matter of trying to stay patient for the whole year, knowing it's a long season and never really knowing how things are going to work out.
I don't think I would have envisioned this, but as I said, keep doing what I know works for me and try and stick with it.
Is that your first argument won as a manager?
I don't know if it was an argument, but it was just trying to make sure they got the play right.
To tell you the truth, my crack coaching staff was on top of that. I can't take credit for that. Eddie Sedar, our first base coach -- I kind of watched the double play, watched Counsell turn it, and Eddie said that the guy called interference at second base, and then there was the fact of, well, if we're not mistaken, everybody has got to go back. I just asked Brian at home plate, "To make sure you guys just make sure you get it right, get together," and fortunately they got it right, and the rule was correct, and they got it right.
So I give the umpires a lot of credit for taking the time to get that play right.
I have two questions, Dale: You didn't get the argument with we Wegner on Corey's play. What were you told there?
On the play to Corey? I kind of knew what happened. I had a pretty good view of it. I got on the top step. But I wanted to make sure, and I think he got it right. Corey never did really reach in his glove to pull it out. Once you make contact with an object or another player, you have to get up and grab the ball out of your glove, otherwise it's not a catch. Corey verified it. He said he was just getting ready to go in, and he was trying to get it, and it just trickled out of his glove before he was able to grab it.
How amped up were you in that first inning. I noticed there were a couple moments where you pulled back with the crowd noise, and you started out with strike out, strike out, strike out?
That was thrilling. I know everybody here has waited a long, long time to be in that situation. So it's something I'll definitely remember for a long time. Being out there and being able to start with two strikeouts and just hearing the crowd, that was a great experience. But I also just had to step back, take a couple deep breaths and keep my mind focused on what I was trying to do and trying not to get caught up in the situation. There was a lot of outs left even after that. Yeah, it was a great atmosphere and something I'll always remember.
Dave, to amplify on that first inning, to set a tone, how important was that? And for Dale, how is Rickie Weeks, what's his status?
I went out there and tried to make my pitches right off the bat, tried not to get too caught up in the situation. When I warmed up, try to make sure to get my same routine, trying not to overthrow, not to do too much. Knowing that when I'm at my best, I'm under control. I'm throwing strikes, mixing pitches, not going to blow anybody away. So just try and maintain that same approach all through the first inning, and let myself settle down and sit for a half inning and relax a little bit.
Rickie tweaked his knee I think when he was trying to beat out that infield single, and right now we'll just find out a little bit more in the morning how it is. I don't think it's nothing major right now, but it was a little bit sore, so we had to get him out of the game.
J.J., how much did it help just being back home, particularly with the atmosphere being the way it was?
For me it was probably the first night I've ever really understood home field advantage is pretty important because those fans were awesome for us. We could tell, when their pitchers weren't throwing strikes it was getting louder, and just making that atmosphere good for us.
Dale, it looked like, especially with Mike Cameron and the whole offense in general, you were going away from the home run approach and you were playing more small ball, get the runner over, you were bunting, it seemed, more than what you generally do. Was that just the approach coming in? I know you talked about before taking pitches. Did that sort of go along with it?
Well, like I said when I got here, sometimes we haven't had some base runners or the opportunity to do some things. But when you have the opportunity to put a game -- to get three runs ahead of somebody, you know, you win 75 percent of those games -- 79, I think. If you're asking when I had Corey bunt, people can question that when you have a left hander coming up off a lefty. But the fact of the matter is, when you get more people to the plate without a double play, you've got a very good chance of scoring.
You know, Billy Hall probably has never -- I don't know the last time he ever probably hit and ran, but he hit and ran tonight, and it almost turned into a big play, just grounded the ball down the third baseline just foul, but then he came up in at the same at bat and got a base hit and we scored a run there.
So there's opportunities out there. And like I said when I took over this job, I think baseball players want to be baseball players, and they enjoy doing that stuff, whether they hit home runs or not. They enjoy doing that stuff and enjoy being baseball players.
Dave, you stranded quite a few men out there. They had a man on, either lead off man or someone, and you were able to strand them. What was working particularly well for you tonight?
I would say nothing in particular except mixing my pitches, trying to keep them off balance, which is the approach I take almost all the time, just being able to throw strikes and throw all my pitches for strikes. I had a couple situations with the lead off hitter in the fourth, but trying not to do too much with each pitch. Just with the guy on second base, nobody out, trying to get outs and not compounding the inning by giving up more base hits.
Really kept pounding the strike zone and letting the movement within the zone work for me.
J.J., could you talk about your approach tonight? It seemed to personify what this whole team did, especially with Moyer on the mound trying to be patient with him, trying to wait him out, and you obviously had a number of really good at bats.
Yeah, sometimes that's definitely easier said than done. Every time we face Moyer or pitchers like Moyer, we try to soften our approach and just try and stay on the ball, not hit their pitch, and think line drives through the middle and not try and do too much. I just got a couple pitches that I could do that with tonight, and it turned out pretty good.
Mike, do you want to take us through your day, what it's been like for you the last two days?
It's been pretty good, not anything bad. I was able to get to where I needed to go to, just haven't slept a whole lot. But I guess that's part of being a parent when you're a big league baseball player.
Turned out it was a good day. Everybody is doing good at home, so I can't I'm kind of relieved a little bit, but I know the edge is still on because I've got to turn around and do it real quick tomorrow.
J.J., you had as many hits yourself as the team had in Game 2. Do you kind of feel like the pressure is off maybe a little bit offensively for everybody?
No, I think for us we just kind of needed to get off to a good start and get a couple runs there early, and hopefully we could relax from there. And we had some base runners tonight. We had some opportunities, and like Dale was talking earlier, we played a little small ball, and it worked out for us.
Mike, can you talk about just the patience at the plate tonight, getting a couple walks and hit by a pitch on a 3 2 count? Maybe coming off of what J.J. was saying there about changing the approach a little bit against Moyer?
Well, against Moyer, he didn't really walk a whole lot of guys, so you don't want to come out and be passive, and then you get behind in the count, and then you start having to swing at pitches that he throws all the time. I played with him four years up in Seattle, so I got a chance to see it first hand. He's changed and got a little bit better.
But I just had a sense that he didn't have his best command, and the crowd was in it very much. They brought a lot of energy, and I just tried to use that to my advantage and get in a hitter's count. When I got in a hitter's count, I still was kind of being soft, trying to give myself an opportunity to get on the base any way possible, and trying to hit line drives, getting the ball in the air.
What's the mood like right now? Obviously it's not time to celebrate, but how do you turn this around and turn it into something more tomorrow?
I think the mood is pretty good. I think we all understand that we need to just worry about one game at a time, and not try and think about being down two games.
I think tonight was big for us. I think we're going to be able to relax a little bit more and come out and play early tomorrow.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.