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October 2, 2019

Kevin Kiermaier

Austin Meadows

Oakland, California

Q. Austin and Kevin, there's been a lot of talk today about what kind of atmosphere they anticipate here. I know you went through Dodger Stadium recently, Fenway, Yankee Stadium. But do you have any sense of what impact that could be if it's as wild as it's being billed?
AUSTIN MEADOWS: Yeah, it's going to be a lot of fun, a lot like -- I feel like a lot like a football atmosphere. Like you said, we've played in those atmospheres this year, so we know what it's going to be like. Probably going to be a little bit more than that. But we're going to go out there and have fun and compete, and that's what we've been doing all year.

KEVIN KIERMAIER: Yeah, I'll piggy back on that. All of us at some point in our career have played in electric atmospheres. Might not replicate what we're going to see tonight with 55,000 plus from a numbers standpoint, but at some point through all of our careers, we've played in front of a full stadium, 30, 40,000 plus. And one thing I can promise you is that we're ready, we're prepared, and we're ready to take that field.

Q. Kevin was just mentioning how Yandy took ground balls at third and first and got himself ready and over the last 48 hours made some real progress. What does it mean to have him in the lineup and his bat in the lineup and just him being able to play first base and being so versatile?
AUSTIN MEADOWS: Yeah, we're excited. We're excited to have him back. He's been a force for us, especially early on in the season. You know, he's very versatile. He can play anywhere out there on the diamond, so we're excited to have him back. He's going to be a force out there for us tonight.

KEVIN KIERMAIER: Would you like me to piggy back on that, as well?

Q. Only if you want to.
KEVIN KIERMAIER: Yandy is just one of those guys, he just wakes up out of bed and rakes. Everyone knows him for his muscles and what he can do in the weight room and stuff like that, but the guy finds the barrel so much throughout this whole season, and any time we're able to have him available, we're happy.

Q. Kevin, you have the perspective of having been here for a while, with the last playoff team. I want to ask you, what do you think distinguishes the Rays from a lot of the other teams that tear it all the way down to build it back up? You guys haven't really done that. You're always kind of competitive. What makes it work in Tampa but not so much for other teams?
KEVIN KIERMAIER: Yeah, you know, there's some organizations, teams out there that they know what they're going up against. But for us, you know, those other teams, they might want to rebuild and have a four or five-year plan of -- just throwing a random number out there. But for us, we've had a lot of talent in our clubhouse each and every year. I make my debut 2013, that was a great team. And then I think from 2014, '15, '16, '17, we had a ton of talent there. We just -- we play in a really, really tough division, and you always think of the Yankees and Red Sox, and they're winning the division throughout every year of that. I think Baltimore did it one year. I know Toronto has had a little bit of success. But we have never just started the -- we're not going to rebuild. We just had too many pieces where obviously didn't have the success that we wanted for those years where we were just hovering right around .500, and you know, that, I think, is part of the reason why we have the roster we do today.

I always say, our front office and management, they have created a heck of a roster through trades and certain things like that, home-grown guys, but this is the most talented team I've ever been a part of, and our record speaks for itself. I always tell people, we're not done, and it's a beautiful thing having the lowest payroll in baseball and having the success we did. It always feels good to stick it to the man any time you're able to in this game, and that's something to be very proud of.

Because, like I said, we don't have the guys who get paid the most, but we have a lot of guys who can play this game at a high level. They might not be household names, and then you have emerging stars kind of like this guy here to my right and then many other guys who contribute to the team, and it's an absolute joy to be a part of.

Q. You guys have both had success against lefties this year; for each of you, why do you think you have, and what makes Manaea, from what you've been able to gather, particularly tough tonight?
AUSTIN MEADOWS: Yeah, Manaea is a great pitcher with the crossfire he's got going on out on the mound. I personally don't think I've faced him before. I don't think many of us have. But I think just for me and Kevin, I think for me just the simplicity. I just try to simplify my approach against left-handers, not try to do too much. It's been a pretty good year against those guys, and hopefully we get to him tonight. We'll see what happens. But yeah, just a simple approach, and try to stay up the middle and not do too much, so hopefully we can continue to do that.

KEVIN KIERMAIER: Yeah, I'm going to do the same -- have the same answer as Austin right there. It's one of those things where I just have a much more simple approach. You pretty much have two pitches to worry about, one that's straight and one that starts at you and goes away from you, whether it's a slider or a breaking ball. And I know he'll mix in a changeup there every now and then, but it's been like that the whole season for me.

I'm pumped that a lefty is starting. It always feels good to feel locked in off them because obviously we're always going to see the ball better off righties when they choose to bring those guys in. But when you're feeling locked in off a lefty being a left-handed batter, that's a great feeling, and we plan on keeping that approach again tonight.

Q. Something I was asking Kevin about, the uniqueness of some of the things that he does, maybe more matchups than usual, taking a pitcher and moving him to first base for a couple at-bats. Kevin is somebody who has been around for a long time. Was there a long-term process of the players buying in to that? And Austin, as someone who came from a different organization, what was your reaction when you first saw stuff like that?
KEVIN KIERMAIER: I think when Kevin Cash first came over to us in 2015 and managed us, it was one of those things where he probably wasn't as creative as what he is now, but those are opportunities that you earn over time. Yeah, like you said, I've seen us use lefty specialists at first base. Sergio Romo, three time World Series champ, I've seen him over at third base last year. And we're not afraid to spice things up. And any time you do something like that and it works out, you're going to look like a genius.

Thinking off the top of my head, those situations did work out for us each and every time, and those are the thing that Cashy is just -- he's not afraid to be unorthodox in many different ways throughout managing a game each and every night.

All he asks us to do is buy in. We talk about the opener, how we kind of introduced that to the Big Leagues and now there's a lot of other teams doing that. There's certain things that you kind of -- you have to have the right roster to formulate these kind of plans and certain things like that. But he's done a great job, and like I say, here we are with 95, 96 wins. I honestly forget what it was. But unorthodox is becoming the normal now. And as long as we're winning games, you're never going to hear anything from us, and we buy into the system, and we love being a part of this whole thing.

AUSTIN MEADOWS: Yeah, I mean, just -- that's what it's all about is winning games. You know, things he does, he's not afraid to do them, and that's what's contributed to our success this year.

Hopefully we can continue to keep it going, and we're definitely all on board.

Q. Kevin, you've talked to us over the last week or two a lot about the pulse of the team and how some of the young guys are handling it, even some of your own. What is kind of the pulse or the mood in there today as you head into a winner take all or loser go home type of thing?
KEVIN KIERMAIER: Everyone is ready to get on that field, I promise you that. Most of us were on that first bus at 11:00 and we're just excited to get to the field, excited to move around. On days like this where you have a ton of different emotions running through you, happiness, nervousness, so excited, so anxious, you're just ready for 5:00 to get here. This time leading up to the game can just be over because you just have so many different things on what's going to happen throughout the game and certain things like that.

But it's a great vibe to be a part of, and you kind of feel it amongst each and every one in that clubhouse, and that's a great feeling because it's new to a lot of us. It's been a long time waiting for a lot of us. Myself, it's been six years since I've been presented with this opportunity, and this is what you play the game for. This is what it's all about. We're just ready for 5:00 to get here and go play the game that we love playing, and may the best team win.

Q. For either or both of you, getting back to Kevin Cash's unorthodox approach, wondering, I think it makes the Rays unpredictable to people. Does he surprise you, or do you have a pretty good read now from day-to-day during a game and before a game what you think he's going to do?
AUSTIN MEADOWS: Yeah, going back to what I was saying, it's just about winning games. Obviously -- we tend to go out there, we do some different things, but obviously it's a recipe for winning. We just continue to support him, and obviously there's certain things that happen out there that obviously we can't control. But things that he does, it's definitely different, but it's fun to be a part of. We're winning games, and that's what matters.

KEVIN KIERMAIER: Well said. Well said, Austin.

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