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October 12, 2017

Joe Maddon

Washington D.C. - pregame 5

Q. You've been on both sides of it. What is the suddenness of moving on or going home like for a manager, a team? What is that all about?
JOE MADDON: It's either exultation or being a bug on a windshield; it's one of the two things. You feel great and it's euphoric, it really is, when you win that game and you move on to the next round. Just to get to the playoffs in the first place always feels that way, too.

So yeah, it's all about that, but then when you don't get 'er done, it's abrupt. It's very abrupt. I've actually done it, being the last game of the year during a World Series also, so it's never any fun. There's always the retrospective involved when you don't win, regarding what a great year, and you talk about all the positives.

And then when you do get it accomplished, you talk about being together as a team, as a family, as a group. It's always the same rhetoric, and it's cool. That's the way it just works.

For us, for today, like I talked about, I want us be to the same. Just go play. Kyle, go pitch, try to work good at-bats. We've been facing a really good pitching staff and so have they.

I just found out, 34 total hits in the series. That's absurd after four games. We've scored eight runs and won two games. That's also absurd. It's a classically old-school kind of series we've played and I think it's great. I think it's good for baseball.

It also shows how 2-1 can be exciting and desirable in a Major League Baseball. It shows 1-0 -- last night was 1-0 until that home run. I hope and believe that baseball fans don't need a bunch of runs scored to understand how cool our game actually is.

Q. What went into your decision not to start Zobrist tonight, and also with Gio going and knowing that Roark and potentially Scherzer are in the bullpen, how does that impact the use of your pen?
JOE MADDON: First of all, Zo -- let's look at the body of work for the year, the right-handed side has not been as effective as his left. Anybody could find that information.

Jon Jay has been. So I really think that Jon Jay, among all of our guys, has been really good at the top of the batting order for right now. And then the other side is to not -- you want -- Javy does hit lefties, and you want Javy on the field with Kyle Hendricks pitching.

And that's that. And then could it come down to Jason Heyward, although again, breaking it down to, Jason had pretty much had better at bats than Zo at this point versus lefties, right now as of this moment.

Saw it the other day when we did it the first night, game in progress, I questioned myself, whether or not I should have done it differently, saying if I had a chance to do it differently, and that's today.

Q. Obviously you make decisions for pitchers, taking them out after 80, 90, 100 or whatever. And also things like using starters like Jon Lester. Are these things important because it's all hands on deck, as you say, but also because you either have a feel for it or it's science? Is it all those things?
JOE MADDON: I think the player matters a lot. I mean, the feel is just, you know, in game situation -- like yesterday, for instance, had Jake not gotten the punch-out against Werth, then Montgomery would have faced Harper, as opposed to Jake and not Lester.

But once the inning was concluded, Jake had 90 pitches after four or something like that. So now you could go either way; you could go Montgomery or go with Jon Lester. But why not use Jon Lester right there? He's done it before, he's one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, and I could tell before the game he was ready to do it.

How? If he walked up to you the way he walked up to me before the game and the look in his face -- he never comes up and gives me a fist pump before the game, never. Johnny's different tonight. I thought that's the feel part of it.

The science part of it, his matching up against his team is a good thing. Also thought that he was going to bat third the next inning; not bad, not bad. Because even if somebody got on, he could bunt him over. Even a 1-0 game you have a chance to utilize him in a positive way. So Jason gets on, double-play by Javy, here comes Jon, two outs, nobody on. It's a push anyway. Those are the kind of thoughts you have in that moment.

So to me it was a good gamble. If it was 3-0, 4-0 against us, Jon would not have pitched it. Would have been Montgomery and a cast of thousands. But the fact it was 1-0, I thought that's tantamount to 0-0, why not use Johnny right now? That's what he was there for, and that's what we had talked about. That's the thought process.

Q. The fist pump made the difference?
JOE MADDON: It really enforced to me how ready he was. I could see him in the dugout talking to everybody else before the game. He knew he was in the bullpen, he knew that, but the way he was going about being in the bullpen spoke differently to me last night.

Q. I know part of the answer to this is what you just alluded to. You're facing very good pitching, but Kris Bryant and the rash of strikeouts, what do you see?
JOE MADDON: They are pitching him well, they are. With KB, what I've learned with a lot of young, good powerful hitters like that, for as many times as he can strikeout, he could also turn that right around the very next day. Fish, Tim Salmon, I had the Fish out in California, and Timothy would do that, so I had a lot of really powerful hitters.

Aaron Judge has done that recently with the Yankees. You just live through it because you know at any moment it can turn. It really comes down to their guys making great pitches.

Don't get so difficult on KB. Just sometimes you've got to give credit. For as much as you hate to do it, give credit to the other side. Sometimes you've just got to. Their guys have been that good. They have been that good. They have been hitting their spots.

His combination of velocity and location with fastball, talking about Strasburg, which we've seen him two games, we've seen him two games, not one, and we've seen Scherzer. Three out of the four games, we've seen Scherzer one, and Strasburg two pitching as well as they possibly can. That's the reason, honest to God, that's it.

I don't look at it more deeply than that. There's been historically some great pitchers that give hitters a hard time. That's what you're seeing right now.

Q. When a team sees a starting pitcher twice in a week, outside of a Strasburg-monster type like that, is it advantage hitter or advantage pitcher, because it's not often done?
JOE MADDON: I don't know. I don't know. My thought has always been, it should be the pitcher based on his command. I mean, if the pitcher is throwing the ball where he wants to, he's still going to have the advantage, always does, I think.

It's hard if a good pitcher, which Gio is, if he's making his pitches, if he's getting ahead in the count and he's getting his curveball and changeup, he's difficult. Now if he's off at all with his command compared to the last time, the advantage may roll back to us because we have seen what he has.

I always give the advantage to the pitcher, first, always; if, in fact, he's well, he's hitting his spots, fastball command is present, the pitcher is normally going to be in control of the situation.

Q. The eye test of seeing the guy twice in 5 or 6 days --
JOE MADDON: A little bit, but look at how oppressive the other guy was yesterday. Again, I'm so big into fastball command and what plays off of that; if a pitcher is able to get ahead of good hitters by throwing the ball where he wants to, the advantage I still think lies with him.

So we'll see today where Gio is command-wise. If we are able to stay in our lanes -- I've talked about that the last couple days. If we're able to stay in our zone, you know, swing at what we want to, make sure that it's put in play, when it's a pitch that we can handle, that's what you've got to be able to do. And if you are, then you have a chance to get on the right side of this thing.

If you're taking your strike that you should be swinging at, if you're fouling it straight back and that's the pitch you wanted, that's when you get in trouble.

Q. You've used C.J. in all four games, eighth-inning situations. Any hesitation to use him there again tonight?
JOE MADDON: No, not at all. You know, you've seen it. He's had one bad pitch, really, and that was the homer to Harper, hanging curveball. Otherwise, he's throwing the ball great. And yesterday, he's done that before, where all of a sudden he might lose the plate. Did not anticipate that yesterday at all.

So he didn't throw that many pitches overall, I think maybe 10 to 12, 13 pitches, so he's fine. No, I'm not concerned about using him.

Q. I know the past few days you said you want to simplify the message at this point in the season and act like it's another game. Is the message any different knowing your back is against the wall?
JOE MADDON: No, if anything, I'm going to be totally silent today. In our game, you know, to go out there and try to make this rousing, stirring, whatever, it gets lost very quickly if their pitcher is really good. That's why if you have team meetings, if you ever do, always have them before your best pitcher is pitching and hopefully their best is not. Then you can actually look good. Otherwise if your best pitcher is not pitching and theirs is, don't even have that meeting. You're going to look like a fool.

Right now our game, it's played best -- how can I say this, without emotion, where you're not so over-amped where you can go up there and be more in a tension-free situation. Hitters need to be tension-free. When you throw a baseball, you need to be tension-free. You need to able to go out there and wind up and throw it. And as a hitter you have to have those nice, loose hands and see better. It's a tension-free game.

Individually, I might say certain things to certain guys, but as a group, stirring messages to me, that's where Friday night, Sunday afternoon, maybe Sunday before the game -- that's where the stirring message might have a little bit. And again, it's only going to matter for the first or ten minutes of the game, I promise you. If the other team hits you a little bit harder than you're hitting them, that message goes away very, very quickly also.

All that stuff is overblown, I believe. It sounds very good, reads good in Hollywood, all that kind of stuff. I want our guys to go out there with their mind intact. I want us to play our normal game hopefully, and if Kyle pitches well, we have a pretty good shot tonight.

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