10/05/08 6:25 PM ET
Mike Scioscia pregame interview
Manager says team is not getting eliminated tonight
By / MLB.com
MIKE SCIOSCIA: We'll have Figgie, Garret Anderson, Tex, Vlad, Torii, Rivera, Napoli, Kendrick and Aybar.
Can you just comment on how Figgins gets this machine going and his capacity as leadoff hitter?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, any grouping that's hitting in front of the lineup, whether it's your first or second guy in the order that's hitting behind or in the middle of the order -- in the front of the middle of the order has a big responsibility for continuity of your offense, and getting on base or situational hitting, moving guys along, you know, setting situations up for the guys in the middle. And even, you know, Tex has been an extension of that in the third hole in front of Vlad and Torii, and you know, guys that you want to set the table for.
So Figgie's part of that grouping. I don't think it's fair to focus on one guy and say, hey, if this guy goes, we're going to have to go. You have to be more than that, and we are. But certainly Chone has the ability to set the tone in what he does in the leadoff spot and he's done a great job of it.
Seems like the first two games, the bottom third of your order has kind of really struggled in terms of offensive production. To what do you attribute that? Is it their pitching or inability to make contact?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: They've struggled. They've done a great job for the start of the season. But we haven't found that continuity, that lineup as it gets down to the bottom end, it's a lineup we've talked about for a while, we wanted to see, because I think it's a deep lineup, we really feel it's a deep lineup, but hasn't surfaced yet in these playoffs. I think it's a combination of things.
You have to realize, we're facing good pitching. It's not, you know, a fluke that you see guys like Lester with their record and what they've done and Matsuzaka and you know Beckett. These guys are good pitchers. Some of our guys have matched up well and have managed to be productive, and some guys have certainly struggled in getting their comfort level in the batter's box.
You know, we certainly need a deep lineup for us to get to be where we need to be. But I think the thing that gives us hope is we know this stuff can turn on a dime. It can change in a heartbeat. If our lineup gets deep and gets productive, it can ride you a long ways. So we need that to surface. We're confident it will. It can't be two or three guys in the middle of your lineup that carry you through a situation. Hopefully these guys will start to contribute.
Last night the team from the National League that finished with the best record in that league was eliminated. Lou Piniella sort of lamented the fact that during those three games his team did not play anything like the team that had played through the regular season. You said yesterday that the team that you guys have been hasn't shown up yet. Do you have any theories about why things like that happen when September turns to October?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, first of all, we're not getting eliminated tonight, so I'm not going to answer that question. And we'll talk about that if it comes up, because we're not going to talk about it now.
I mean more the trend of the play being different?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: We're not getting eliminated tonight, and we'll talk about it at some point.
The Red Sox have been effective with two outs, lot of two out RBI hits. Does that give them more momentum than a one out single or two out RBI single. Is it tougher to take the two out RBIs?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: They've gotten themselves into good offensive situations. You know, as we've talked about what our needs are on our side, you know, we're a team not built around the home run. We need to get the first or second guy of an inning on base on a consistent basis to be able to set up opportunities where there's pressure on a pitcher when you're at first and second, nobody out, and they need to get three outs without getting that hit. Sometimes in situations when you get a guy in scoring position and there's only two outs, sometimes pitchers can get around that one hitter and there's a lot more light at the end of the tunnel in that situation.
So they've been able to pressure us a little more. You know, they've come up with some big hits. They've gotten some big hits with two outs and that's, you know, that's an important part of, I think, any offense. Contrary to what we've done where guys of ours are in scoring position, we've struggled with that.
They're a clutch team. They've got a lot of guys that know what they're trying to do. You have to make good pitches and with guys in scoring position, you have to make good pitches. That's where, you know, where they've made a bit of a difference.
Beckett's history in the postseason and his success in the postseason, any extra emphasis on trying to manufacture runs early against a guy that's been as dominant in the postseason?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, I think that we can do some of the things we like to do if we can get guys early on in innings. You know, it's tough to manufacture when you get the two out single, and then you need maybe a couple more hits if you're not driving the ball. Against a guy like Beckett and the way he pitches, you have to certainly take what he's going to give you and he knows what he's doing out there. He's tough.
So, we need to get early guys on in every inning and be able to press the action a little bit being able to manufacture and being able to run the bases and turn. You're on first base, a base hit, turn it into a first and third instead of a first and second. That's important to us, but it's difficult to do with two outs at times and to string together those three or four hits that will break a game open.
How is Torii's knee today?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: Torii feels great. He could have worked out yesterday and hit. We kept him out of batting practice just so we didn't want to -- didn't need to test it Gave him a little more time. He was out there running and he feels good.
You've just mentioned about Figgins, the importance of getting the leadoff guy. I think when the Red Sox maybe played you earlier in the season, one of the struggles they had was the leadoff guy and they put a lot of guys there. Ellsbury seemed to have gotten hot here at the right time. How difficult is it playing the Red Sox when Ellsbury is basically playing the way he is?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: He's an exciting player. He was not playing at this level when we played them earlier in the season. I'm sure he's had a positive impact on what they've done definitely through September. What did he hit, like 19 straight games or eight whatever it was? In September he swung the bat well.
It's not just the leadoff guy I'm talking about. I'm talking about every hitter that goes up there and leads off an inning is a leadoff hitter. And we have to get that approach where we get guys on early in innings.
With Ellsbury, it seems like whatever he's come up, whatever the situation is, he's getting on base and getting in scoring position. So he's obviously, for a guy that is maybe a little bit under the radar as far as what the Red Sox have done, I think as we scouted them and looked at film and evaluated them before this series, he's had as much of an impact as anybody over there as to why they're playing well down the stretch and why they're playing well in this series.
As you mentioned, now it's an inning by inning, pitch by pitch proposition for you guys. But at the same time, did you want this team to be loose and did you bring Aquaman with you?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: No, Aquaman, like I said, he's got cement flippers. So he's swimming somewhere with the fish right now.
But we're loose. I think there's a focus that our team has. This is not, obviously the position you ever envision being in as you get into a series, but it's where we've put ourselves.
Our guys are focused and they're going to go out there and leave it all out there on the field. You know, we talked about it a lot. We want to bring that team that we saw this summer, bring it on to the field and take our chances with that. I think we saw some glimpses of it in Game 2. We need it to emerge right now. Our guys are ready for that challenge.
You know, I think there are certainly challenges that we want to keep facing this season, and to do that, we have to win tonight.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.