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March 21, 2017
Los Angeles, California
USA - 2, Japan - 1
Q. Hi, Tanner, we talked yesterday about this being the biggest start of your career. How did it measure up considering the way you pitched and the way it turned out?
TANNER ROARK: Well, I felt great. Arm felt good, felt nice and loose. The conditions were a little tough sometimes, but, I mean, both teams got to fight through that and deal with it, so there's nothing you can do about that.
But Japan has a great team. There are always tough outs, and I can't say enough about that team. They're very good.
Q. Were you on a pitch restriction at all, because you only went 48?
TANNER ROARK: Yeah, unfortunately, I had -- 50 was my max because I haven't thrown in nine days. I haven't faced live hitters for nine days or so, so that brought the pitch count down a little bit. I felt good enough to stay out there.
Q. That was dictated by the Nationals?
TANNER ROARK: Yeah.
Q. Tanner, obviously a lot is said about who isn't here, especially on the pitching side. For those of you that aren't here, did you pitch with a little bit of a chip on your shoulder, because the news was always about who wasn't here as opposed to who was?
TANNER ROARK: You know, we've got what we've got, and everybody in there, all the starters are great pitchers and they've done it before. They've played in big games before. It's a chip, yes, I guess you could say that. But, overall, we just go out there and do our stuff and not let things get inside our heads.
Q. Jim, you used six relievers in this game. How many of those guys will you expect to be available tomorrow? Where do you see your bullpen being for tomorrow night?
JIM LEYLAND: I think we're in good shape. We've already got some texts from pitching coaches that said because of the pitch counts that there would be some guys that we possibly didn't expect to be ready tomorrow that would be able to pitch. But I'll get a total okay, I'll get that confirmed for sure at some point later tonight or tomorrow, just to make sure. We haven't done anything foolish yet, and we're not going to do anything foolish tomorrow.
Q. What did you think of the performance of the six guys that you did use tonight?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, they got one run and it was a solo homer, so I'd have to say that was an excellent job. But the key tonight, without question, was Tanner Roark. There is no question about that. We needed some innings from him, and he gave us those innings. We stayed right in the plan with the Nationals and Tanner, but had he come out tonight and gotten off to a rocky start, we could have been in trouble.
But he was the guy that I wanted all along for this thing. I've seen him from afar quite a bit, and he was a guy that stuck with us, and I respect him. I felt great about it. I told everybody last night, I felt great about my starting pitcher tonight. For once in my life I was proved to be right.
Q. First for you, Jimmy, are you going to be able to use Stroman for 95 pitches tomorrow night?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, that depends on how he's doing.
Q. But he's available to do it?
JIM LEYLAND: Oh, he is available, but like any other game, the hitters dictate that.
Q. Well, I understand. But all I'm asking is you're not under any restrictions with him tomorrow night?
JIM LEYLAND: He's right on his scheduled day. I'll watch him close. Whether we get 95 or not, I'm not really sure. Like I said, we're not going to do anything foolish. But is he capable and ready to throw 95 pitches? Yes, he is.
Q. So, basically, you win the biggest game in U.S. baseball professional history in a tournament like this and the first thing you're getting is text messages from pitching coaches telling you who is available and who is not?
JIM LEYLAND: No, I didn't want to make that sound like that. That's not true. I'm just saying they're on top of things with their pitchers, and because of the low pitch counts, they felt pretty comfortable with what happened tonight. Nobody's really telling us who to pitch or who not to pitch. They're just giving us ideas what they want done with players that are under contract with that organization, and we've honored that the whole tournament, and we're going to honor that tomorrow.
Q. Andrew, you had a big base hit against the Dominicans that padded that game. You opened it up and knocked in the first run. Your contribution and how you're feeling about what you're doing for this team in this tournament?
ANDREW MCCUTCHEN: Yeah, man, it was good, it was big. To be able to come through and put the first run on the board, give Roark a little bit of breathing room, yeah, it felt good to be able to do that and to come through. But it definitely all started with Hosmer and that big at-bat that he put ahead of me. Getting on base, getting a big walk, to give me that opportunity to be able to come through. So, yeah, all around it was a good game.
Q. As you may have heard, this is the first time the U.S. has been in the championship game now. Just wondering, what has it been like to play in a couple of these tournaments maybe with that this is America's pastime? I don't know if it's a burden or responsibility to play with that. So I guess in that context, what's this win tonight mean?
ANDREW MCCUTCHEN: It means a heck of a lot. We've got a great group of guys on this team who have dedicated this time to be able to try and win some ballgames. Sacrifices had to be made, and there are no egos when that door opens. That's what's good about this team. Everybody's a superstar on this team. Everybody's a three-hole hitter. But someone's going to have to hit 7th, someone's going to have to hit 8th. There are no egos, even with the pitching. It's the same way. So that's first and foremost.
I think that's what's made this team get this far on top of being able to play the game the right way. Great pitching, and some good offense. It's been really good, been a lot of fun. But just being in this position, I'm looking forward to tomorrow. It's a first, so I'm just happy to be a part of that.
Q. Did you feel pressure to take this team to the finals?
JIM LEYLAND: No, I said it before, I said coming into this event I didn't really want to talk about the fact that the United States has never won it, they've never gone to the finals. I didn't think that was a big deal.
What I wanted to make this, like I said, I wanted this for the players to be a memory. And I've talked a lot about it, make a memory. Hopefully, it's a real good one, regardless of the results tomorrow. I know it is for me. It's been an absolute honor.
But, no, I did not feel pressure. A lot of people wanted to make a big deal about that. I don't feel that kind of pressure. Do you feel pressure during 2-1 games? Absolutely. Show me manager that can sit there calm and cool in this type of event in a 2-1 game, and I'll show you somebody that's not feeling well.
Q. Andrew, you've had to play and win a bunch of games to get to this point. What's your opinion of the level of play that you've faced, and specifically somebody else that doesn't have Major Leaguers on their roster, so we don't know much about that team? What do you think?
ANDREW MCCUTCHEN: Yeah, with the exception of Aoki, we weren't too familiar with anyone. But we know what the Japanese teams are all about. They're a team that's going to play the game the right way. They're going to do the small things right, a team that's not going to make many mistakes.
So we knew we had to bring our A-game. They brought theirs. It definitely was a challenge. It was a really good ballgame. We scored one more run than them, and we were able to get the win. Tanner kept us in the game, and that helped us out big time. To get on the scoreboard first, I think that helped us as well.
Yeah, it was an all-around great game, great team. It was very fun.
Q. This is arguably -- tomorrow will be arguably the biggest international game for Team USA since 2000 when Tommy Lasorda led the team to the Olympics. How meaningful is tomorrow for you personally? How meaningful is it for you guys as well?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I didn't really come into this thing trying to accomplish anything special other than to try to bring the team together, which they did that themselves, and to compete. Athletics is about competition, and when you play the good teams that we've played in this tournament, it's about outcompeting them.
Tonight the starting pitcher for Japan, he's a Big League pitcher. He's good. I mean, I was really impressed with him. All the teams. We're playing a great team tomorrow that has the best record so far in the tournament. It doesn't get easy.
But I didn't have any goal. I don't set goals. I never did as manager. The only goal I have is for the team to come every day ready to play and do the best you can. Win or lose, you get beat, you tip your hat to the other team. If you win, you celebrate.
Q. Do you think this team from Puerto Rico, have you been planning ahead for them for a finals with them?
JIM LEYLAND: No.
Q. And what do you think about what they've done already? They've been praised because of their defense and the chemistry that we've seen from them. Are you thinking about doing anything different, a lineup change or whatever for that game tomorrow against them?
JIM LEYLAND: I'm a little more familiar with the Puerto Rican team, obviously, than I was the Japanese team. I don't plan any changes. You know, we certainly weren't talking about Puerto Rico tonight. We had to beat one heck of team in Japan.
You know, a lot of the guys, Andrew and Tanner, they've played against a lot of the guys for Puerto Rico. We know it's a very good team, and we certainly have the utmost respect for what they've accomplished so far.
We've got to derail a team that's been on a roll, that's in good spirits. And we're in those same good spirits. Our guys are pretty happy right now. They'll be ready to play tomorrow.
Q. Tanner and Andrew, it didn't really look like it rained hard, but heavy mist throughout the game. Obviously, Japan had a couple mistakes. Did those conditions or the visibility bother you guys at all? And was that band or orchestra out there in the bleachers for Japan distracting at all for you guys?
TANNER ROARK: Conditions on the mound started to get a little hairy, but there's nothing you can do about the conditions. If it rained even harder and we had a rain delay, I mean, you can't control that. You can't control the weather. So you've just got to stay within yourself and stay focused and not let anything outside in the stadium or anything going on bother you.
ANDREW MCCUTCHEN: That's why this game's a great game. You never know what you're going to get. Who would have thought we'd be playing in this type of game in Los Angeles? I don't think I've ever seen this type of weather in the years that I've come here. So that's what makes this game amazing.
But I play for Pittsburgh, so I'm pretty used to that weather there. It's not always great. A lot of rain, really cold in April and a little bit in May. So used to it, as opposed to the grass being a little slick, so the ball's going to skip on you sometimes, but definitely something that we're used to.
Q. For both players, one of the things we heard a lot going into the tournament is how the U.S. fans were maybe not as into it as fans in other countries because the US team had not gotten as far as the teams in the other countries. Now that you've gotten to the final, from either coming to the game, seeing the crowds, checking your text messages, do you get the sense that the American fans are more into it, and what tells you that?
TANNER ROARK: Yeah, I mean, the fans are definitely into it. I mean, you heard it tonight and in San Diego. They were loud, and we feed off that. We love a loud crowd chanting "USA." It gets your adrenaline pumping and gets you going.
ANDREW MCCUTCHEN: Yeah, it's great to be representing the U.S., having the USA on my chest. The support's been unbelievable, they've been great. Even in Miami the fans were great. It was really loud in San Diego and of course here in L.A. as well. The support's been amazing. So it definitely makes you want to go out there and play with a little chip on your shoulder and you want to be able to get the W.
Q. Jim, yesterday during the press conference you had mentioned that you didn't have much idea about the players from Team Japan. Now that you have competed against them, competed against Team Japan, I just wanted to know from both of you what your impression was about Team Japan, including the pitchers?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I was really impressed. But we knew ahead of time. They play a little different game than we do, to be honest with you, but I thought they had a couple of errors there tonight. They're terrific defensively. They play the game right. They throw the ball to the right base. They play a combination of small ball and a little big ball. Not quite as much big ball as we play over here, to be honest with you. They bunt, they move runners, they steal bases.
They're a very fundamental, solid team. We knew that. But I can't tell you, for me, tonight, how impressed I was with their pitcher. I mean, I thought he was really good. Located on the ball on the outside corners, fastball. Threw 3-0 sliders. That's pretty impressive. They do things right. They play the game right. They're very well disciplined. We beat a great team tonight. There is no question about that.
ANDREW MCCUTCHEN: Yeah, definitely. Just piggybacking on what Leyland said, the same thing. Very impressive. Their pitching was very impressive. Not knowing any of those guys, the guys, they pitched with a lot of control. Their starter today, he pitched with a lot of control. Did a good job of locating his pitches. Didn't give you much to hit.
And the bullpen as well. The guys were really good out of the bullpen. Threw us on velocity, had control of all of their pitches. So, yeah, it definitely was a challenge. That's why the score only ended up being 2-1, just because their pitching was that good.
Q. We really appreciate your respect for the Japanese team. But in the end, U.S. won against Japan. What was the decisive point? What was the difference between U.S. and Japan tonight? What was the decisive point?
JIM LEYLAND: One run. And we happened to be going on contact on the ball. We had second and third. We went on contact, and Crawford scored. They booted the ball a little bit. They made one mistake at a critical time. We were able to take advantage of that.
But it certainly wasn't much difference between the teams. Like I said, we took advantage of that one miscue, and that pretty much summed it up.
But if you remember right, I don't know how many of you were in here before the game and they said: What is this going to come down to? Basically it comes down to what I've talked about the whole time, it comes down to pitching. Tonight Japan really pitched good, and we pitched just a little bit better.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports