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October 6, 2004

Joe Torre


Q. Alex had trouble with runners in scoring position during the season, but he is a good ballplayer.

JOE TORRE: I think it took a little adjustment for some reason when we switched the batting order around and he started hitting in front of Sheffield he had a different mindset. He felt he didn't have to think about too many things. I just have a sense that Alex is so talented that a lot of times, he tries to do too many things. He tries to control the situation, you know, hitting-wise. I think once he just made up his mind that he's going to look for a pitch and hit it, you know, he's become the player we know he is.

Q. Were there any thoughts of pinch-hitting maybe Tony Clark for Cairo with one out there in the 12th?

JOE TORRE: I think about that every time Cairo comes up and I've done it a number of times. It's tough bringing somebody off the bench to face Joe Nathan. The one thing I know Cairo is going to do for me, he's going to have an at-bat. He's not going to hit a home run but he's going to work an at-bat. He knows how to do that. You know, it turned out that was an important walk for us.

Q. Your thoughts on Lieber and Sturtze?

JOE TORRE: There are no words to describe it. Jon Lieber, the first couple of innings, gives up three runs and then he just gave up a couple of hits for the next four or five innings. I thought he was great. For a first post-season game at Yankee Stadium, in fact, when he walked off the mound, I went to take the ball from him and he says, "Can I keep it." I said, "Certainly, go ahead." He was thrilled to be out there and he certainly responded to the pressure that goes with pitching a game here. And Tanyon Sturtze, I mean, he has emerged as somebody that you can really count on. I mean, coming in in a game like this, we've had him as a long-man in our bullpen and a spot starter and all of a sudden he comes in in extra innings and he threw a high fastball to the wrong guy, but aside from that, I thought he had a courageous outing for us.

Q. As many times as you've seen games like this, at times like this in New York, does it still make you shake your head when you actually see it unfold?

JOE TORRE: You know, you get anxious before the game starts, before the series starts and you get into the game and it's baseball. Then you realize when you -- you know, you come down to extra inning games, the only saving grace is that you have a chance to do what we did tonight at home. On the road, obviously, the home team wins like we did tonight. But, you know, about three or four times during the game, I said, "What am I doing this for? Why don't I retire?" It's grueling. It's grueling. But the thing that makes it all worthwhile to me is to watch these guys never give up, I mean both sides. Ron Gardenhire should be very proud and I know he is of the way his club just stands tall. But it was a huge game for us. Considering the letdown we had when Gordon and Mo come in, we usually can zip it up and go on home and then some freak things happened. Koskie had a great at bat, and then you know, boom, gets the next two guys out, which obviously were huge for us. But the game itself is, you know, I don't think I want to watch it again, it was certainly one of the memorable games. We had one in Game 7 against the Red Sox last year and this was probably even, you know, more of a dramatic game because it was back and forth.

Q. For Alex, what do you think having this first night in this month for this team is going to do for him here on out?

JOE TORRE: Again, it's something that Alex had a little trouble settling in here, but when you do this at Yankee Stadium in a post-season game, especially coming from behind, God only knows what it's going to do for him. He certainly has not backed away from a challenge, and you couldn't get a bigger hit. This is obviously the biggest hit he's had for us so far, and you know, where it stood and where we stood in this series, you know, you could live with this being the biggest hit you've ever had, basically, because of what it meant.

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