With time did you realize that you had a nice find in Cory Wade, and what's been the key to his success?
In Spring Training we had Cory and, if I'm not mistaken, I think we had to add him to the roster, the 40-man, when we brought him up.
He's one of those guys when you have, like, 30 pitchers in Spring Training, he's one of those guys, okay, you bring him in, you know he's going to throw strikes. You don't pay a lot of attention because you're trying to make your mind up with other people.
Bob Schaefer, my bench coach, when we were looking to do something different in our bullpen, mentioned Cory's name a number of times. And it came to the point where we made a move and brought him up.
And what he does, he's able to change speeds. He can throw changeups and curveballs, he's got enough of a fastball to keep people off that other stuff and the fact that he's able to throw strikes and seems to have pretty good command with it.
He's been pretty good. I think left-handers hit .210 off him all year, and he's been very reliable for us and, again, today I'm not sure two innings is what we'd do, but he is available.
Joe, you talked about how important momentum is in the postseason. Do you think that yesterday swung the momentum back to your boys and do you sense a change in the clubhouse?
You know, I think the change, you feel good when you win a game. Whether it's 162 or a seven-game series. Obviously, it's more immediate and more necessary in a seven-game series to get that momentum back on your side.
I don't sense as much of an anxiousness in the clubhouse, with the off-day and losing two straight, I think we were ready to get it going yesterday and we were fortunate to come out in the way we did against Jamie in the first inning.
But, again, right now I'd like to believe the momentum is on our side. But again, you're playing against a good ballclub, and it's going to depend on how well we pitch, how well they pitch, and the team that has the fewer turnovers, as they say, I guess.
Could you talk a little bit about [Hiroki] Kuroda's performance last night and from that what do you expect from Derek [Lowe] tonight?
Kuroda was terrific. What can I say? He had a great outing against the Cubs when we clinched. And obviously we needed that game very badly last night. And he pitched certainly up to expectations and maybe beyond.
And Derek, you know, he pitched a good game in the first game. That one inning with a couple of home runs, the game was over at that point. We didn't realize it at the time, but that was the final score. But Derek, we're aware he's pitching on short rest. He's pitching in this ballpark where he's had success; he's pitched against this ballclub where over time I think he's had pretty good success.
So we'll see. We'll see. Our bullpen should be ready to go if we need help early. So we'll just have to wait for the game to start and see what we have.
How much of a relationship do you see between the fact that you and the Phillies have the two best bullpens during the regular season and that you're the only two teams standing now, and what are the aspects of the bullpen that has helped make it so successful the entire year?
I think variety. When you come out of the bullpen. Early in the year, that was one of the things that we struggled with out of our bullpen. We seemed to have the same guy coming out of the bullpen, guys threw hard and it really wasn't much of a variety. And I think that's what Cory Wade gave us.
And the fact that there's lefty, righty, especially in the Phillies bullpen, they have good balance out of that bullpen. And we haven't had a lot of success against them these first few games.
But the starters are important, there's no question. But when you can bring numbers out of that bullpen that will be able to match up I think is hugely important and it's probably a big reason why clubs get to this point in the season.
Any lineup changes today vs. [Joe] Blanton?
Yes. We have [Juan] Pierre playing center field instead of Matt Kemp. Matt's been fighting himself a little bit. I just told him just take a day and we've done this before. So we'll send Juan out to center field and Matt will probably be a part of it before the day is over. But that's the way we're going to start.
Some players from your generation believe that pitchers in your day knew how to throw inside more effectively and even throw purpose pitches more effectively. None of this over-the-head and behind-the-back. Do you agree with that and, if so, why do you think there's a difference?
Well, I think we've become a lot more sensitive -- I think it's more sensitive, umpires more sensitive, players are more sensitive these days. Back when I played, I can just give you my personal experience where I came to the big leagues and the first week I got knocked out four, five times just to see how I was going to handle it.
And it was usually under the chin where your legs leave and you go down, stuff like that. I don't think anybody wants to throw at anybody's head. Again, I think every time a ball is at somebody's head it's on purpose. And when there's a ball down the middle that you don't want to get down the middle and it goes out of the ballpark, for some reason that's not on purpose.
So I don't think pitchers are able to throw the ball exactly where they want to throw it all the time, but at the head is not something that I think any of us try to preach to anybody.
That was true in your day, too?
My day it was usually here (pointing), right in this area, which is upper shoulder. But the only way you get out of the way is your feet had to leave and you just went down. And that was it.
Normally, if you were going to hit somebody, you threw it behind them, because how do you get out of the way of that type of pitch.
Brett Myers had mentioned last night in talking about the incident that it was kind of an eye-for-an-eye thing, if, in fact, the Manny [Ramirez] thing is what started it. So does that mean it's over? Does everybody just move on from what happened last night and you don't see any more flickers of that or are you still worried that that's under the surface still?
I think it's over, because I think each game takes on its own personality. And, again, Brett threw behind Manny that first day. Nothing came of it. Nothing happened. I mean, last night wasn't a product of that. It was a product of a couple of guys going down early for us.
After 11 games, how odd do you find it that no road team has won the regular season and now?
This is rare. Of course, World Series in the past that this happened, it happened to us in Arizona in '01, and I know it's happened to Minnesota and the Cardinals, wasn't it, home-team stuff? But those were indoor/outdoor ballparks. You can understand more of a difference in that situation.
I can't explain this one. Both clubs have good bullpens, which indicates that you can win on the road. But hopefully that's going to change.
What was the difference in [Chad] Billingsley between his two playoff starts?
Well, I think the last time out he may have tried to overprepare. That's just my opinion. Looked like he was trying to do too many things or think about doing too many things, as opposed to just going out there and staying with his plan of using his stuff and changing and the variety that he has.
I didn't think he changed speeds enough. He did early on in the game, and then all of a sudden it became hard, hard, hard and he paid the price for it.
I want to talk about the crowd here. What's the atmosphere been like at Dodger Stadium over the last two weeks, particularly the two playoff games, and what kind of impact has it had on the team?
It's nice, Philadelphia they have great, passionate fans. No question they make a lot of noise. But to me and people who -- and I wasn't here last year, but people who were trying to compare, say, that the passion that has been in this ballpark during the late season and the postseason has been extraordinary, which makes me feel good, because I know the players certainly like playing here and the fans have been really supportive.
Joe, forgive me if I'm spinning ahead too far, but I wonder if you would comment on what you would like to see from your guys in terms of approach with Hamels the second time around?
Well, again, Cole Hamels, he's a guy that likes his changeup. There's no question. He's got a breaking ball. He can get the fastball up in the 90s, which certainly keeps you from dismissing that and looking for something else.
I still think the key for us is to go up there and just have a plan individually on what we want to go up there and look for and hit, because it's tough to go up there and decide that you're going to do this and do that and come back empty, because he's able to command his pitches.
I think the big thing is to make him work and try to select pretty much one side of the plate and one pitch to put your mind to.
Again, with Derek, you saw firsthand in '04 him pitching on short rest in the playoffs. I'm sure you trust him because of his experience. Does any part of you ever flash back to that game, thinking how he's done this on short rest in big spots before?
Again, yes, I do. I flash back and I remind him about that, too, what I had to go watch out there.
He's a competitor. I think when you're managing a club and you start talking about soldiers in the foxhole, he's one of those guys.
Sure, you can run statistics out, and you can do a lot of things, but I think the type of player and the type of pitcher that you want in games in October are Derek Lowe type guys. Guys who are going to take the ball and give you what they have. It's good enough, it's good enough. If it's not, well, we did everything we could.
And I certainly saw that from the other side of the field, and it certainly felt reassuring to watch him all year and see what a good teammate he's been.
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