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October 10, 2002

Rich Aurilia

Dusty Baker

Jason Schmidt


Q. When was the last time you called a squeeze play?

DUSTY BAKER: Can't remember. But probably five years ago. It will probably be another five years before we do another one.

Q. You've been a source of good inspiration because of what you went through physically for Jason's mom. Can you talk about how you've tried to help him, and Jason, how you have received Dusty's help?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I haven't been much help lately because we haven't talked about it much. I'll ask him every once in awhile how his mom is doing. Initially, might have been some help in spring training when it first happened, because it was fresh to me. It was like seven, eight weeks for me and I know it was very fresh for Jason and his mom and his family. Just tried to be there and supportive and just mention, you know, a few things, herbs and vitamins and different things to take. Mostly, you know, a lot of prayer in the chapel. I would say probably prayers more than anything.

JASON SCHMIDT: Like Dusty said, I think the first initial shock in spring training when you hear something like that, especially when it's family, that's the hardest part. And you feel like you're in this little room all by yourself going through the thing all alone. Then you come to the park and you realize there's so many guys on the team that have been through similar situations. And even Dusty himself in the off-season. It's a whole lot easier coming to the park every day. I don't would want to say it takes your minds off of it, but it definitely helps that guys have been there and know what you're going through and the support is there. It's a great team as far as that goes, definitely.

Q. At what point did you feel all your pitches working; was it something in the bullpen, or as soon as you got out there? It seemed like from the beginning, your split-finger, your fastball and curveball were all doing what you wanted them to do.

JASON SCHMIDT: I usually don't go off my performance in the bullpen because it's usually terrible. If I went off that, I wouldn't throw a strike. Once I got on the mound, I had to tweak a few things in my windup this time. I just tried to go out there and throw strikes more than anything. It wasn't anything special. Just kept it simple and went after guys.

Q. How important was the double play at the plate, Kenny's throw, and Santiago's catch?

JASON SCHMIDT: That was actually a play I almost forgot about. That might have been the play of the game right there. I don't want to say I had a brain cramp when Drew hit that ball. It was a ball right to second base and I looked up and there was J.T. That guy covers a lot of ground. Kenny came up firing. If we don't get that guy out it could be a whole different ballgame. Momentum could shift and everything. Kenny has been huge in this series and he's doing what we got him for, definitely.

DUSTY BAKER: That's how I feel, too. Most of the time when you make a mistake on the field, especially in championship play, it costs you. I was just glad that it didn't cost us. Jason made some quality pitches on Fernando Vina, and then Kenny Lofton kept them off the board at that point. I think it had been 1-0 and so that's a totally, totally different ballgame at that point in time. You know, that completely took the crowd out of the game. If he doesn't get him at the plate, there's a runner on second or third, and they have got the big boys coming up, and Cairo has been hot and you go to Edmonds and Pujols. And like Jason said it could be a totally different ballgame. Who knows, it could have led to a big inning.

Q. Considering the circumstances, is this the most important game you've pitched all year? And Rich, what two pitches did you hit for home runs?

JASON SCHMIDT: It's by far the most important, that goes without saying. As far as the best game, I'd have to probably say so, too, just because what the circumstances are.

RICH AURILIA: The pitches I hit out of the park, I think my first at-bat I hit a slider that was down in the zone. It was a pretty good pitch. I was just fortunate enough to get the head out there and get it up in the air. The second at-bat, he got ahead of me with two strikes. I fought off some fastballs inside, and it was a hanging breaking ball, again. I think I hit it in exactly the same spot. I think they told me the same guy got both of them. (Laughter.)

Q. Describe Jason's performance. La Russa called it overpowering.

RICH AURILIA: I think from the first inning tonight, playing behind Jason, or actually right behind him, he looked overpowering from the first inning. He had a good fastball. He was spotting it well. And he actually had a very good changeup tonight, keeping most of their left-handed hitters -- and he threw a couple changeups to right-handed hitters tonight to keep them off balance. It was just an overpowering performance, one of the best performances I've seen one of our pitchers throw all year.

DUSTY BAKER: I agree with Richie. From the opening pitch, I looked on the board and their radar gun is pretty accurate here, and he's throwing 96, 97 and locating it. If you can locate that, that kind of pitch, and especially to throw this kind of ballgame against that potent of a lineup, that's an awesome, awesome game because they had their lineup staggered right-left, right-left, and they have some guys over there that can hit. That was an overpowering performance. The name of the game is pitching. Tonight, the heroes, to me are Jason Schmidt and Rich Aurilia, and also Ramon Martinez; that play he made on Cairo and then that hard play that he made to end the game. We had a number of heroes tonight, but especially these two guys.

Q. Rich, can you talk about your getting healthy and what happened in the last month of the season that you got it going and started to feel like you were last year?

RICH AURILIA: Well, I had not felt healthy until about the middle of August. My elbow was bothering me from spring training on, and when you're in pain, your body tends to try and act in a way that you don't feel pain when you're out there. It didn't bother me at all on the field or throwing. It bothered me hitting. I could not extend. After the surgery, I came back in 14 days, which, you know, at the time was great, but looking back, I probably, you know, should have waited another week or so. Just to get back out there and play every day, you build bad habits when you're hurt. I think finally in the middle of August, beginning of September, I started feeling better again. I started feeling like myself. The way I hit the ball tonight out of the park is the way I'm used to hitting the ball. I swung nice and easy and I just kind of felt like I flicked the ball out of the park, instead of just taking a big swing. So I'm just glad that it's coming around at this time of the season.

Q. Because of what you went through, is there any sense of making the most of it for right now?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, I think any time you play in the post-season, you want to make the most of it. Especially for me, I didn't have the type of offensive year that I wanted to have or that I think people expected of me. Whether it was because of injury or because of not being able to make an adjustment at certain times, that's my fault. But to be able to contribute down the stretch, I've said all along, if you follow our team, I've said it the last six weeks, if I could have a good September and get to the post-season and contribute to our team winning, that will make up for everything.

Q. Would all three of you comment about heading home and being up 2-0?

RICH AURILIA: I think it's great. We came in here probably just, at first, you always look for a split. Once we won Game 1, you come back to the park today and you think about, hey, we can win Game 2 and go up 2-0 and go home to our home park where our fans will be rooting for us and where we play pretty well. I think tonight was a huge game for us.

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I think it's important, especially the fact how well these Cardinals play at home. They have been tough to beat here ever since I came into this league. To come in here and win two games, like the things we think about, how many times we've been heartbroken in the ninth here in this stadium here. This is one of the toughest stadiums to play in as an opposing team. So it's great to go home 2-0, but we are only halfway there. We have not won anything yet. Just looking, hopefully, at a two-out-of-three series. But, you know, these guys came in and beat us at our park this year, too. It's going to be a very, very tough three days at home, especially that first day at home because they are going to want to get on the board on us. We just have to come out and play the same, good quality of baseball and hopefully get the same kind of pitching that we got today.

Q. How does a team peak at precisely the right time?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, if I knew that, we would have peaked a long time ago. It's just a matter of us staying after it, I think. Staying after it, staying healthy, staying aggressive, and a matter of belief. All year long, we've had guys hot sporadically at different times, and a couple of guys hot almost all year, like Barry and Jeff. But we have guys that, you know, know how to win, guys that know how to play and guys who rise to the occasion of the pressure. You know, it's a matter of just a thought process and a matter of hope and belief, as much as anything, because you just can't peak exactly when you want to, which you know that every team is going to have a good stretch, a great stretch. It's just a matter of when you have it. And we had ours down the stretch.

Q. Rich, you have broken some club records set by Alvin Dark of the New York Giants. Did you know much about the history growing up in New York?

RICH AURILIA: Not too much. I know they moved out in 1958, I think. I think they have been in two World Series since then or something like that, I don't know. I don't know much about the history of the Giants dating back to New York, but I do know that it's nice to come to the ballpark almost every day and be able to ask questions of great players like Willie Mays and Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda; guys of that caliber of player. So the Giants history is strong and deep, and hopefully, we can add a little bit more to that history this year.

Q. What did you learn from the 2000 playoffs that you were in against the Mets, and how has that helped you now?

RICH AURILIA: I think I learned to treat these games on an individual basis like any other game. I think in 2000, team-wise, a lot more was expected of us than what we did, and I think guys probably put a little extra added pressure on themselves, me included. So this year coming into the post-season, I just try to relax and treat these games like they were in any other game. Of course, the magnitude means a little bit more, but that's all I've been doing is trying to approach it just like I would the 162 games during the season.

Q. How is your mom doing now?

JASON SCHMIDT: She's doing a lot better. She had a chance to come down to San Francisco for the last series. When I saw her, she's starting to look like her old self again. She's got her energy back. It's nice to see that.

End of FastScripts...

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