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NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: NATIONALS VS CARDINALS


October 11, 2019


Yan Gomes

Anibal Sanchez

Sean Doolittle


St. Louis, Missouri - postgame 1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You've been in that situation in the playoffs before in the first innings. What does it feel like?
ANÍBAL SÁNCHEZ: Every time that I'm able to do that of course I feel really good. Yeah, today, like I said most of the time today Gomes and I, we put a really good game plan today and I just tried to execute every pitch that I threw today. I don't want to over throw or even thinking of anything else. It's good when I got that kind of command and it's basically because it's easier for the catcher to call the game.

Q. You were talking about the game plan you drew up. It looked like from my advantage point like you were throwing a lot more sinkers, especially to right-handers. I don't know if that was part of the plan against the Cardinals or if that's just something that happened over the course of the game.
ANÍBAL SÁNCHEZ: Yeah, for me I just want to be out of the power zone of those guys. Every mistake -- if you make a mistake against those guys they're pretty strong, they can change the score in one swing. I just tried to keep the ball on the corners, my two-seamer was working really good today and we used it a lot.

Q. The emotion about during the game, history for the Nationals and he's not the first pitcher on this staff, just talking about emotion within the game.
ANÍBAL SÁNCHEZ: Yeah, like he asked me about how did I feel today on the game. And I said like early in the game I feel like I was really anxious or nervous, I don't know how to call that those feelings early in the game. But after that I tried to, after the innings had gone I felt really good. I just tried to keep focused on every pitch that I'm going to throw. I don't want to miss any kind of pitch in the middle in the zone against those guys especially because they know pretty good that they can switch the score like quickly.

Q. Yan, good night at the plate as well as calling a strong performance for these two gentlemen. How hard is it to keep your focus on just keeping the rhythm going for guys when they're in the zone like that and how did your offense help you?
YAN GOMES: I don't know if hard was the right way to explain it. Aníbal and I had a great game plan going into it. We were sticking to it and we were communicating really well in between innings. I would go up to him if he had anything to say to me or what we were seeing, we were going with. I mean he was tremendous tonight, hitting every quadrant any time we needed to hit a spot or something, every pitch meant something, we were setting it up for something else.

And early on in the game if an opportunity comes, you got a guy on second, you got a chance to drive in a run, you try to capitalize on it. You try to focus on not doing too much with it, get a good pitch to hit and that ended up happening and I put a good swing on it.

Q. Yan, when you're working with Aníbal, he has seven pitches he can throw, he is hitting his spots like that, what's it like to call that game, how fun is that, can you describe what that's like?
YAN GOMES: Oh, he was spot on with everything today. Anytime he was, we were throwing a pitch it meant something to set up another pitch. I think it was mentioned earlier today, his two-seamer, he was putting it wherever he wanted and we were getting early outs with it. When that starts happening you kind of start seeing a little bit of a guys trying to over-swing, trying to do a little bit more at the plate. And you just keep attacking that zone where, before they start making adjustments and we don't have to.

Q. Aníbal, can you talk about that butterfly pitch and maybe how it came about and how much it kind of seems to baffle hitters?
YAN GOMES: That feeling in your stomach, the butterfly or mariposa.

Q. Yeah, you can chip in too and help out.
(Laughter.)

ANÍBAL SÁNCHEZ: I don't know. It's a big help every time in every outing. Today it wasn't good, like the last outing, against the Dodgers, but I put one in Molina's back, I hit another one to the one of the pinch hitters. So it's -- but today it wasn't that good that I went to, but I got a couple ones that were really good. Like it just helps me sometimes to get out of a hard situation.

Q. Aníbal and Yan, everybody's talked and written about how you and Kurt Suzuki got together last year in Atlanta, worked out a new kind of way of pitching, so that you worked together logically since then. Now you can't do it in a huge game. So how did you and Yan get on the same page and do so well?
ANÍBAL SÁNCHEZ: For me it's the communication is really important. Just know how many times that Kurt has caught me in the game, but for me the communication is really important and that's why we did today, Gomes and I, before the game, just talking about every hitter, every situation. And like he said, every pitch means something to set up for another pitch. It's no big deal that we have either Kurt or Gomes. Gomes is really good behind the plate and at the end if you got a really good communication, everything is easier to call the game.

Q. Aníbal, what is it like to be a part of this rotation and was that part of the attraction to you of going to Washington, because you've been with really good rotations before in Detroit and seeing how successful that can be. What do you enjoy about that?
ANÍBAL SÁNCHEZ: I've been part of a really good rotation but I think right now the rotation that I have right now is really, it's really special. You can see the, I don't know, the Strasburg's transformation, he's been good but this year he's amazing, the way that he throws the ball this year. Scherzer, we know how good he is on the mound. Corbin, he's been like a big piece for the team. So being part of that for me, I feel proud. The team just gave me the opportunity to be here. And every time that I got the ball I just want to be competitive, especially to those guys and bring some wins for the team.

Q. For Sean and Yan, I wanted to, I know you're there so I wanted to make sure that, you know, but we have seen in a lot of cases an emphasis on relief pitching, particularly in the postseason. But the Nationals starters are great and maybe that allows the bullpen to be even better. And Yan, you in particular in Cleveland, you guys had some injuries and almost won the World Series with a lot of relief emphasis there. How different is it here with the rotation being such a strong point and how does maybe, Sean, that help the bullpen and, Yan, just help the team in general?
YAN GOMES: Go ahead, you take it. Long question.

SEAN DOOLITTLE: I think our starting pitching is absolutely our biggest strength. And take tonight for example, Aníbal comes out attacking their hitters, working quick and having quick innings. And I can't speak for the affect that it had on the dugout, but at least in the bullpen that was a very calming thing. It gave us a lot of confidence. Here we have one of our starters, one of our leaders of this team that's going out and he's setting the tone for the game by attacking their guys and working quick. And I think it just put everybody at ease. Yan gets the big hit to put us on the board and allowed everybody to take a deep breath. They absolutely set the tone for this team. And so far in the playoffs, I know it's a little bit different in a 7-game series, but it's about how do you maximize your strengths. I think that's why you saw us bring guys, bring starters out of the bullpen, at least in the first series, because they're some of, not just the best pitchers on our team, they're some of the best pitchers in the league. So I think it was just about finding a way to maximize our strengths and give us a chance to win.

Q. Yan, is it easier to win this way than the way you tried to with Cleveland, patching it together with a lot of relievers out here?
YAN GOMES: I think we all knew going into this year that our starting pitching was going to be our strength. But as we all know, going into the postseason, just starting pitching is not what's going to take you over that. You're going to need some guys in the pen to come in. We got a couple tremendous guys back there. With an outing like today, it's just like handing it over right to Doo right out of the get-go it's probably our best situation today.

But trying to piece a bullpen together you're just trying to figure out a way to shorten the game. But with the kind of starters we have now, these guys go deep into ball games, and I think with what Doo was saying, it's almost like the next guy up mentality. You get these guys going so deep in the games, everyone wants the ball to try to contribute at any point. So it's a good feeling to have and it's a good momentum, especially out there today coming in and just having the momentum on our side.

Q. Sean, when you guys found out Daniel wasn't going to be here today, did a lot of scenarios point to you having to be a one plus guy today? And given the circumstances of his absence I guess how glad were you to be able to pick him up in the manner you did?
SEAN DOOLITTLE: Yeah, he's picked us up, he's picked me up countless times in the second half of the season since he got traded over. He's been an incredible addition for us, a stabilizing force at the back end of games. We're very lucky to have him. Thinking about all those times that he's picked us up by going multiple innings -- when we were here last time in September I think he got a six-out save. So I think the mood of the guys in the bullpen, we really wanted to find a way to pick him up and allow him to enjoy a really special moment with his wife and his family. We're obviously looking forward to having him back because he's been so huge for us, but I think it went really well. I wasn't aware of any specific scenarios as far as going one plus, but I'm glad I did it in the first round. I hadn't done it since I came off the IL in August or September, whenever I came off the IL, you guys can look that up. But so like I said, it's just, it felt really good to be able to seal it and pick him up.

Q. Aníbal, curious if you, between innings, how you stayed warm, if you ducked in and out of the dugout, found a warm place somewhere else? And Yan, I'm curious if -- he threw everywhere from 66 to 93 and everywhere in between. Is that a feel thing for you or is that something, is there some sort of strategic thing in terms of what you're calling, all those subtleties?
ANÍBAL SÁNCHEZ: For me, just keeping warm, I think the cage was really warm today, so I spent my in between innings in there and that's how I kept warm during the game, I mean between innings and when I'm not pitching.

Q. Is there a TV you can watch the game on a TV?
ANÍBAL SÁNCHEZ: Yeah.

Q. Curious about all the subtleties of the velocity changes.
YAN GOMES: I think it's almost like every time he pitches, you see that. So you're starting to get, at least for us, for Kurt and I, we're starting to get used to it. I'm sure Kurt's more used to it than I am. But it just kind of shows the kind of athleticism he has on the mound. To be able to slow it down that much and still throw it for a strike and then speed it back up, I don't know of many guys that can do that. With him, it just went with our game plan. We talked about it a lot and maybe some guys you can do it. I almost think that with the mariposa he can do it to anyone. He's mixing a changeup from 80-something to 60 Miles an hour. I think that's, it's a feel for him. There are times where I kind of feel like I want it and I think we got -- started getting enough feel a little bit to where we both know, when I call it. But for an outing like today it was just masterful. He was out there hitting every spot and doing whatever he wanted.

Q. For Aníbal, you've had a lot of longevity, I'm sure there's been a few times throughout your career where you've been counted out or forgotten and you've had to evolve. How much pride do you take in being able to still be able to have a night like this at your age?
ANÍBAL SÁNCHEZ: Oh, I always enjoy that because every opportunity is special. To be able to stay, like, a strong outing for a team, it's always just special. I feel blessed all the time because for my whole career, like since that I went to the Detroit, I had the opportunity to be in that position several times. And at the end, like, to get the win for the team for me it's more important.

Q. When you see Zimmerman make that catch in the 8th what's going through your mind there because usually in a no-hitter it takes one of those plays to get to that point?
ANÍBAL SÁNCHEZ: I think that I had had it, for sure. I mean I threw a no-hitter and I remember it was late in the inning that Willingham, he caught a ball like diving in left field and that's a big play for that game. So that's not happened today until Zimmerman, he caught that ball. And I said, okay, always behind a no-hitter a good play has to happen. And I said, okay, I had it. Now I have to secure the pitch. And I think the next hitter, just one pitch -- one pitch, was it to DeJong, the next? Yeah, next pitch was out. And I said, okay, now Martinez is a big guy to get an out, but I need to execute the pitch. I put it in 1-2 quickly and we start fighting with the changeup and he was able to hit the base hit. But when he got, when Zimmerman caught the ball I said, okay, I've got it.

Q. (Question in Spanish.)
ANÍBAL SÁNCHEZ: I feel blessed all the time that I got the ball in those kind of games, having like a really good result for my team. The second thing is about the Venezuelan guy just had the hit today. And it's not about where the guy is from, but you always respect with Martinez, he's a great hitter, he's one of the top hitters for me and it's no surprise for him to get that big hit in that moment.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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