© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

10/17/08 3:20 PM ET

An interview with Joe Maddon

Rays manager breaks down Game 5 and looks toward Game 6

People are already talking, this is one of the most extraordinary games in postseason history. How is your team handling it right now?

JOE MADDON: Great. You know, they came back and beat us last night. I think that the thing that's been overlooked is we played really well last night. We played well for three games in Fenway under very difficult circumstances, and furthermore, won two out of three games. So all of that I really think is the positive.

The negative is for our bullpen, which has been one of the strongest aspects of our team all year, had a tough night, and that's going to happen on occasion.

They're defending champs, they've got the heart of a champion, and they came back last night and they beat us. But that's where it's got to end. We have a game to play tomorrow night. We have a very good pitcher pitching for us tomorrow night, we're looking forward to the game.

complete postseason coverage
What time did you get to sleep, and how well did you sleep?

JOE MADDON: 7:00, and slept really well actually. Just had to set the alarm to get up to here. Got up about 1:15, was not able to get the bike ride in yet. Hopefully will get that done when we get back up on the bay shore and then go out for a good dinner tonight. Maybe if there's any college football games on TV, might catch one of those. But yeah, I slept you can't not sleep well. You get on the plane at 2:00 in the morning, you land at 5:00, and then to get back and just get some sleep was kind of nice.

Would you talk about how you feel the image in your mind of Shields going out to pitch in what we would agree would be the biggest game this franchise has ever played?

JOE MADDON: First of all, nobody is talking about how well Kaz pitched yesterday. That was a great performance by Kaz. It's unfortunate the way the game played out, but Kaz did a great job with the two hits over six, and that permits Shieldsy to come back today.

Just talking to him or just listening to him post game yesterday, I know he's eager to get out there. I feel very good about him being out there. Again, I know he's up for the challenge.

Possibly obviously possibly the biggest game in the history of this franchise, that's great, but it's nice having Shieldsy out there with the appropriate amount of rest, and we'll see what happens.

Shields is going on seven days. Did you guys change his between starts routine to compensate for that?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, once we were going through this whole process, he I had been talking to him and Kaz about the potential of switching them up so their throwing was monitored by Hick. And yeah, he's fine.

Actually I like him getting a little extra rest right now. He's exceeded his number of innings last year by a bit, although I think the number of pitches are pretty close, the number of pitches he actually threw last year over the course of the season. So I kind of like where he's at right now.

My experience with him more recently is that even when he gets a couple extra days, it doesn't impact his command at all. He's all about his command.

I think the velocity will be there, and he's going to be fine. That's I like him actually with a day or possibly two extra days' rest right now. I know he might tell you otherwise, but I know he's going to be strong.

You mentioned the tough and abnormal night last night by the bullpen. What issues did you see why they weren't as effective?

JOE MADDON: Well, you know, I thought Grant had good stuff. The part that concerned me the most was the length that he had to spend in the bullpen before coming into the game.

Between the time the inning was over when Kaz left and when the next inning began for him was a lot of time. They switched pitchers when Papelbon is in there, he takes a lot of time in between pitches, and then this whole inning kind of dragged out. So that was my only concern.

But looking at him when he came in, physically he was fine, and Papi just got him. It's just one of those things. But I didn't see anything wrong with him.

Danny, again, his numbers on the board were appropriate regarding velocity, so I felt good about him, too. And between the two of them I was really looking to get nine outs somehow, five and four, four and five, then keep J.P. and Chad behind them, it just didn't work out.

Forgive me for not looking this up ahead of time. Were you with the Angels in '86?


Can you compare the emotional jolt of last night to game 5 in '86?

JOE MADDON: In '86 I was sitting behind the first base dugout area underneath the overhang, and everything was going swimmingly, and all of a sudden the one handed home run to left central, and things changed. I do remember that.

But quite frankly, as I've said before, every situation is unique unto itself, and it always depends on how you react to the moment, always.

From our perspective, I think during the course of the season we've reacted well to adversity, some difficult moments. The fact that we're coming home is a difference regarding that series compared to this one, if you want to make comparisons.

But it's easy I understand why people do, and I get it, but I truly believe every moment is unique to your group, and for us, we feel good about coming out tomorrow. We have everything set up appropriately and we'll see what happens.

It's difficult to really draw complete comparisons between something that happened over 20 years ago.

It seems from what you're saying, you have no concerns about your team's psyche after such a difficult loss like that.

JOE MADDON: Agreed. I feel good. I mean, our guys if you walked around the clubhouse last night, for those of you that were there, you saw how they handled it.

I'll tell you one thing I'm really pleased about our group is the class with which our guys have handled themselves and how they've been forthright in answering questions.

The moments I've had a chance to watch our guys participate in the interviews on TV, which has been minimal, but I've seen it, I'm really proud of our guys.

I know we're young, and again, I know we lack experience in a lot of ways, but we're gaining it right now. My experience with our group is that we've been very resilient all year. And furthermore, like I said, I've talked about this just being the beginning, and I'm really liking the way our guys are going about this whole process right now.

Can you talk about I know it's kind of obvious to say it, your pitchers are better when they get ahead of hitters, but your staff has struggled at times to throw strike one. Can you talk specifically about what it means for your guys to be able to throw strike one and how that helps them to battle this lineup?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, I mean, strike one is obviously the best pitch there's times when strike one isn't so good, like against Papi last night, you know?

Sometimes it depends on the situation. You might you've got somebody on deck. There's different reasons why you either flirt with the strike zone or attack it.

For the most part we've had really good command all season. Again, I have no issues with that. I know Kaz probably, more than anybody, has had a little bit more difficulty. I know the last time out Garza has really pounded the zone with strike one a lot this year, so that is not an overt concern of mine at all.

I like the way we've pitched, and again, we're reducing it to three innings. Last night we played really well in Boston and we pitched really well in Boston. I was really pleased with or guys.

It was unfortunate what happened last night, and from my perspective, again, I've been asked this question a lot I don't want to say a whole lot to our guys. I would much prefer an intuitive game tomorrow night to one that's going to be over thought.

You had a lot of success last week against Beckett. Did you notice anything different about the way he went about it that game versus other times you've seen him this year?

JOE MADDON: You know, primarily the only thing that stood out, maybe his velocity was down a bit. I still saw the tenacity. The delivery looked good. Breaking ball, et cetera, some good sink. I just thought if I could recognize one difference from the side only because there was a gun is that maybe the velocity was down a bit. But again, I've been talking about Papi not trusting him. This guy is one of the better big game pitchers of recent times, and you know he's going to be up for the challenge.

I'm a big fan of his, always have been, and I think it's going to be a great match up between him and Shieldsy, but primarily if there was one difference, I would say, only because there was a gun there, I could see there was a difference in velocity possibly.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.