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10/15/08 12:29 AM ET

Joe Maddon postgame interview

Manager talks about Rays bats coming to life last two games

It began like last night, the guys got a lot of runs, but the story seemed to be pitching.

JOE MADDON: Yeah, Andy set the tone for us, once again, really threw strikes. I always pay attention to the radar gun readings with him. He was a lot of 87, 89, which was really good, actually a lot of 88s and 89s.

When he's pitching at that velocity, there's a bigger disparity between that and his off speed stuff and that's when he does really well. But primarily pitched with his fastball again, which I really love, just like Garza did last night.

Two questions: Talk about your offense; and number two, talk about your confidence going into Game 5.

JOE MADDON: Well, first of all, the offense. I know our bats have gotten better. They've gotten a lot better, obviously. You get Carl back in the middle, Carl had a spectacular day today and so did Willy.

You could talk about everybody up and down the lineup, J.B.'s triple to right center, but Carl and Willy really set the tone for us today, also.

It's so nice having Carl in the middle of everything, and then of course, Willy is such an unsung part of this group, very good in RBI situations for us, has had a lot of big hits, and of course, the other guys just having good at bats. We all talk about good at bats.

We are at the point now where we are swinging at strikes. We're not expanding our strike zone, which is one of our hugest goals coming into this Spring Training, and I'm loving that part of it. But right now it's kind of contagious. Just like the lack of something is contagious, when you're actually doing something that well, then it becomes contagious in a positive way, and the at bats have been good.

Going into the next game, we're going to take tomorrow off, we're going to come back out, and I want to see us go after it the same way. It was one of our more complete games tonight I thought in regard to all facets. I thought we made some really good defensive plays. B.J. in center field really roamed well, and you got to see his arm strength when he threw that ball to first base, J.B. on that slow chopper. A lot of really good things, and I was obviously very pleased with tonight's game.

Like I've been saying all along, I don't want us to do anything differently.

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I know you're the manager, you see this team every day, but when you have games back to back like yesterday and tonight, over the defending World Series champs in their ballpark, do you allow yourself to just be a little blown away by what you're accomplishing?

JOE MADDON: Well, you're watching the whole thing unfold, and it's very unusual to be able to do that here. They are so good, and they are the defending champs, and we have had so much trouble here in the past.

I'll tell you, before the game begins, I've really liked the way our guys have gone about their business. I'm really into that. I'm really into watching how guys are interacting in conversations, if they're relaxed or not.

I'm sure a lot of people are that way, but I've really been paying attention to that. Outside of that very first game against the Red Sox our guys have been very good. We're kind of healthy right now. That's another part of it. We played a lot of the last two months of the season being not healthy, without Carl, without Longo and without Percy, and we're still playing without Percy right now.

Guys have come together in regard to health, and the at bats have just gotten better, and the pitching has maintained, and so has the defense.

It seems like throughout the postseason a lot of guys have had their special nights, B.J. and Evan. What was it like for you to see Carl have his night?

JOE MADDON: I love it, and I did really latch onto that internally. I was really thinking about that. I was really wanting him to get that last hit. I'm not into stats all the time. I'm not a symbolic kind of a person, but I really liked what he did tonight, for him and for us.

He has grinded through some pretty difficult moments, and right now he's playing as well as he's played all year. I mean, at bat wise, great at bats, the hit against Lopez, the softy to left field, great at bat, stealing bases, playing the outfield like he can. It's great for him and it's great for us.

So I really believe, again, he's been well rested. A lot of our guys are coming off of injuries, so right now he's playing at the top of his game about as good as I've seen all year.

Do you think you'll be inclined to mention to any of these guys the next two days that the team you're playing was in the same kind of hole last year?

JOE MADDON: No, it's a whole different set of circumstances right now, and I don't want to compare it to a past experience. I just want our guys to be themselves and play our game. I know a lot of times in these moments you're always going to draw the parallels and comparisons, et cetera, but every situation is unique into itself.

So for me I prefer us to continue playing our game and not worrying about what's happened in the past.

Just to refer to what you were talking about, the way your team went out prepared, in what way did you notice how Carl prepared that might have led to the type of night he had? Did you notice anything in particular about him?

JOE MADDON: Well, Carl has been into this. Carl really expedited his return to the lineup just for the playoffs with his hand, post surgery. This guy is coming off surgery. You have to understand that. It's not just an injury that he was on the DL rehab. He actually had surgery.

To come back as quickly -- he actually beat the doctors' timetable in a sense and really wanted to participate. He played in a couple instruction league games prior to the playoffs against the White Sox and wanted to show us that he was well and ready to do it.

I was concerned. I didn't want this guy to be hurt long term, no way. So we really were very cautious about it, but in watching him take batting practice, you could see the bat speed was there; you could see there's no favoring of the hand, so I was okay.

Right now he's excited about being able to participate. Like I said, this is about for this 2008, this is at the top of his game right now.

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The one pitcher that has given your team problems is Daisuke. What challenge does he give you guys? What did he do maybe the first game? And what is the approach going at him tomorrow?

JOE MADDON: The last game out he changed his pattern. I thought he did a nice job. Primarily I see him as a breaking ball pitcher, and last game he started throwing his fastball for a strike. Primarily likes to pitch around the strike zone with his fastball.

He's been very good. I read the notation regarding his pitching with the bases loaded because he never gives in. He never gives in. He's always going to attempt to make his pitch, to his credit, and for us, you just have to mentally match him pitch for pitch, because he does not give anything at any time, and I really appreciate that about him.

He's very calm, he's very confident, and he's good. With him, he's going to try to adjust to us, again, and we have to just really watch what's going on out there primarily. And with him, you also have to take advantage of those situations. He's very good at winning out of that. If we get him in those moments, we have to take advantage of it.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

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