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October 11, 2021

Mike Zunino

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Fenway Park

Tampa Bay Rays

Pregame 4 Press Conference

Q. You had a pretty good view of what was going on last night in the top of the 13th, being on deck. What was your take on that? You've obviously played a lot of baseball. Catchers are usually pretty familiar with all the rules. Kind of how did you see it, and what did you think of the result?

MIKE ZUNINO: Unfortunate. The first thought, I mean, I wish I could say I knew the rule off the top of my head, but it's one of those things where you see rules like that, that's why we lean on those umpires. There's a lot of rules that are garnering two bases, three bases, depending on certain things.

When it comes to that, we've got to trust umpires to put guys in the right spots. Like I said, it's just unfortunate because, if that ball ricochets, if Hunter doesn't field it cleanly, you know Yandy scores there with him being in motion. It didn't bounce our way there. Or so we thought it didn't bounce our way.

We've just got to regroup, get ready to go, and win the ball game today.

Q. This team has played in a handful of elimination-type games over the last couple of years. What's your sense of the mood down there and how the guys are prepared to handle this kind of environment?

MIKE ZUNINO: It feels like a normal day at the yard for us. I can't say we need to change much. We know we're a good team. We have a lot of trust in our lineup, in our arms, and we've got to go out there and just play.

The last thing we need to do is put added pressure on ourself. We know what's at stake. We've got to do what got us here. That is have fun, play the game hard the way we know how to play, and ultimately let the outcome speak for itself.

Q. Sounds like an all-hands-on-deck day for the bullpen today. How do you go in prepared for more or less anything at any time?

MIKE ZUNINO: It's one of those things where I had some conversations, but I pretty much know Collin is starting, and we'll go from there. Whatever situations dictate for what arms we bring in, but with all hands on deck and those guys ready and eager to get the ball, it will be an exciting day. We'll probably see plenty of arms.

Hopefully, we jump out and score some runs and help that bullpen out a little bit.

Q. On a personal level, how much do you think the elimination games that you guys played in in '19 and '20 help you tonight, that experience?

MIKE ZUNINO: I think any experience that you have in prior playoffs is huge. When you play 162, there's always a tomorrow. You feel like you can always regroup and go get them. When there's elimination games and you've been in them before, you sort of know what the atmosphere is going to be like. You know what to expect.

I think there's some guys there that have a lot of experience now, and hopefully we can use that and sort of slow down the situation and get ourselves in a good spot.

Q. And this pitching staff has done such a good job all season; Boston's collected 35 hits the last two games. What have they done that maybe has surprised you or been a little different than the regular season, if anything?

MIKE ZUNINO: Nothing. We know they have a really good ball club. I think the biggest thing is limiting damage. They've had some big swings in big spots, and we've got to continue to do our thing. We've got to control the count and hopefully be able to be on that side more than not.

We know they have a deep lineup, a very good lineup. They don't give at-bats away. We knew it was going to be a challenging facing them, and hopefully we'll be up to the task today.

Q. A lot has been made all year of how flexible the pitching roles on this team. How does calling games in that situation all year prepare you for walking into today, where you can see anyone come out of that bullpen in an elimination game?

MIKE ZUNINO: Yeah, using guys in different leverage situations in the game, realizing any inning, it could be the sixth inning, it could be the ninth inning, you don't know with certain parts of the lineup coming up, what the highest leverage is.

So I think being in those spots knowing not to give in in any given spot sort of gets us ready for a situation like this. I know it gets the guys in the bullpen ready not having distinguished roles if they're throwing the seventh, eighth, or ninth. So come a day like today, if they get a call in the fourth, say, they'll be ready to go.

Q. After catching 13 innings, is there any thought that you're tired, or does the situation and the time of year just overpower anything like that?

MIKE ZUNINO: Yeah, there will be plenty of time to rest in the off-season. It's one of those things where you work and play 162 games to get to this point, it's not very difficult to find the energy and find the strength to come out and play another game. You know there's an off-day tomorrow.

So go out there, leave it all on the table, and hopefully be able to come out on the right end of it and bring back to the Trop.

Q. I know you spoke of how good of a team Boston is. This isn't to kind of belittle them. How surprising is it, with all the expectations and the great regular season you guys had, that here you are facing elimination on day 4 of the postseason?

MIKE ZUNINO: Yeah, it just sort of speaks about the game of baseball. You play and you earn the right to get into the DS and get a five-game series, but sometimes you don't get bounces go your way. Sometimes the teams outplay you for a game.

We still have a chance. There's still games to be played. We've got to go out there and just continue to play our game.

Q. Schwarber playing with the crowd last night. You guys down at the Trop with the popcorn. For as tight and pressure-packed a series this has been, both teams seem to be staying pretty loose. What does it say about these two teams that none of this has gotten to be too much or too big or too tight?

MIKE ZUNINO: Yeah, I think it shows that the atmosphere the two clubs have created. You want guys to be themselves. The situations are big. You can't really point at one thing in a series where guys enjoying themselves having a good time has dictated an outcome.

You want guys to enjoy it. You want guys to embrace what they've earned and playing at this stake. Ultimately, when we have fun and play this game with a passion, we play to a better standard. Guys do that. We do a good job in our clubhouse of keeping guys accountable for if something gets taken too far, but I think you want guys to be themselves and play the game the right way and hard. Whatever happens in between, let guys be themselves.

Q. Does experience allow you to do that even more? Both teams have a lot of playoff experience? Does the fact you've been down these roads before, does that help you keep it all in perspective?

MIKE ZUNINO: I'm sure it does. It's one of those things where we got to that point last year without much experience. I think you tip your cap and appreciate what a manager like Cashy does for us and allows us to be ourselves, and he keeps us loose more than anybody.

It's a guy that you want to play for, and it's a guy that you want to go play for every day. So when you get into a situation like this, you know he'll be as even keel as he's always been, and guys respect that and want to go play for him.

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