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October 7, 2004

Ron Gardenhire


Q. How much do you get -- tough loss last night, but what do you gain from that in a positive aspect because you had such a great comeback in the eighth inning, and you scored runs off Rivera, which is going to be a plus for you guys' confidence?

RON GARDENHIRE: Well, we played pretty good baseball. A valiant team, the Yankees home ballpark, and they make a lot of good things happen for themselves, and they have got a great lineup. Last night we played our hearts out. We pitched our hearts out. I think we shut them down for the last five or six innings until finally they scored a run there off Nathan, and I was real proud of this baseball team. It's a tough loss last night but, you know what, this baseball team, they will forget about that come tomorrow. Our fans will be in this ballpark, they will be cheering us on, and there is going to be a lot of excitement, and we are looking forward to getting in there and playing. We have home field advantage, and I think we have been looking for that.

Q. Gardy, I was going to ask you, do you replay what happened in your mind or do you just put it aside? What's your mind-set?

RON GARDENHIRE: Always replay everything that happens, always think about what you could have done, you know, what you could have changed. And I know the big thing was Nathan going back out for his third inning and all those things, but let me tell you what, if you are going to beat the Yankees, you've got to have your best pitchers in the game, even when he got in trouble, by bringing in a young kid like Crain or bring in a Romero that's kind of struggled through September, I couldn't see myself doing that. Nathan was the guy to be out there. He was still throwing the ball. You are just facing a great line-up, and we got back to the top of the order, and that's what killed us, with Jeter and Arod.

Q. Gardy, you had Kubel in there, DH, and he was overwhelmed, shall we say. Your thoughts on that, your thoughts on what you would do for DH in Game 3 and how do you get Lew Ford back in there?

RON GARDENHIRE: I don't think he was overwhelmed. I think he had one at-bat where he got a little excited and swung out of the zone, and that's off that guy, what's his name, Rivera, he is a pretty good pitcher, and you know what, we had two lefties in a row that got hits off this guy, and we scored some runs, and normally Kubel has a very short and very good swing, and he has faced him, and when we were in New York, and we thought it was a pretty good situation. He is going to hit the ball most of the time, he just got a little excited there. He hit a couple balls hard during the evening. I think he faced Lieber a week before and had three hits, three for four, just crushed the ball, so it was a good situation. It doesn't always work out in baseball the way you plan it. And, you know, to say, well, you could have pinch hit for him, it's unfortunate that I don't have that crystal ball that tells me exactly what's going to happen before it happens.

Q. Gardy, given how Jacques had to catch that final ball hit by Matsui, did he have any chance to throw him out at the plate, even if he makes a strong throw to the plate, given the way he had to catch that?

RON GARDENHIRE: I just look at it, we are playing the outfield in, infield in. It was a line drive. He had to take a step back to catch it, and he is throwing off his back foot, and Jacques realized that he just had to hit the ball back to the infield with as much as he could. He threw up towards our cut-off man, which we teach here, throw the ball towards your cut-off man, and he fired it as best he could. If he would have taken a couple extra steps, you had Derek Jeter flying down the base. This guy can fly. You are going to have a tough time throwing him out. Everything would have had to be perfect.

Q. Ron, you were talking about how Arod was getting going last night. In the first two games I guess he is 6-for-10 or whatever after the first two games. He has taken a lot of criticism in New York this season, especially for not being a clutch hitter, all this stuff. What do you see in him and what are your thoughts of him this season?

RON GARDENHIRE: About a 300 batting average, 36 home runs and a hundred plus RBIs. We don't have one of those guys on our team. So to criticize a guy with those kind of numbers, I always think that's kind of funny. This guy is one of the best players in the game, and this is his table. I mean, the playoffs, the star is shining on him, and he is playing very good baseball. And we are talking about a whole line-up full of guys like that, so it's a good baseball team, we have to play very good to beat them, and we have played two great games, we had a chance last night and, hopefully, we will get it done.

Q. Gardy, I am sorry, I want to ask again about Lew Ford. Are you going to be able to get him in? Are you going to try and get him in?

RON GARDENHIRE: He has been my DH the whole year. That was a match-up thing. And Lew wasn't swinging very well. He didn't swing well off Lieber the last time in New York, so that's why we put Kubel in the game, and Lew Ford will be in back in there against Mr. Brown, come tomorrow morning. Lew has been there all year for us. There is just certain match-ups that don't look good for us. He didn't hit well off the, guy so we decided to take a shot with a guy with three hits, and it didn't work out. We thought it would work out, and that's why we put him in.

Q. Game 3 is always critical in a best of 5. How important is it that you guys have gotten back here, had a chance to get back home, and you will have that great home crowd tomorrow night? How important is that to your young team?

RON GARDENHIRE: You play the whole season to get back into playoff baseball, and our fans wait for playoff baseball. That's what excites them. That's what they are waiting for. So, hopefully, there will be a big boost and we can get off to a good start and get our fans into it. That ought to be a lot of fun. We know what they mean here and we know once we get the dome going, we know how everything works for the Minnesota Twins and we can make things happen in this field, so we look forward to it tomorrow. We just have to get off to a good start, and I believe the Yankees will be ready to play, too.

Q. Ron, how has Santana responded since game 1 and you made that decision about game 4?

RON GARDENHIRE: All I can tell you is my pitching coach came walking by my office and he had a big smile on his face, so he had a little light bullpen session. I think he is ready to take the ball in game 4.

Q. Gardenhire, not a lot of your guys have faced Kevin Brown. What approach do you take towards hitting him and what do you expect from him, given the way he has pitched over the last month and changed?

RON GARDENHIRE: We have good reports on Kevin. He has been hurt there for a little bit, but he is a very strong tough guy, and he is going to get after it. Going to throw a sinker, slider. We know those things. And we will have to get out there and see how we do off him. We haven't faced him, so it's going to be one of those things. But if he throws it over, hopefully, we will put some good swings on it, but we know the history of Kevin, or at least I do, and a few of my coaches. This guy is a tough guy. Been a very good pitcher for a long time, and he will be excited to pitch. Silva, on the other hand, if we can control him early in the game and he doesn't get too excited and up in the zone, he will be fine, because if he uses his sinker and locates, he will be fine. He has pitched very good for us.

Q. Ron, one to one, how much better do you feel about your chance this year than at the same point last year?

RON GARDENHIRE: You still have to go out and play on the field. Last year we felt good. We feel good about coming home one and one. We won a game in New York, but last night we thought we could have had two. So we believe we can play with anybody, and our kids got a good taste of some pretty good baseball in New York. Morneau got some big hits and got into it. He is swinging a little better. So we are excited. We feel good about it. Love to be 2 and 0, but we feel good about it. We are at home. We have got the next two games at home, and we have got a couple of good pitchers firing it out there and, hopefully, we will put on a good effort, a good show.

Q. Hey, Ron. How, if any, does your game plan change coming home playing indoors and on turf instead of grass?

RON GARDENHIRE: I, personally, don't wear my tights indoors under my pants. Just kidding. I got a sense of humor still. You know what, this Astroturf, our team is built around Astroturf and we know this field. It's changed a little bit since last year, it's not as fast and all those things, but we still can beat the ball off the ground and run like all get-out, and we like to do those things. We are not a station-to-station team. We like to run around pretty good, and we know the ball bangs around in this field. As far as changing our program, we stay the same, but this field does help us a little bit do some things that we are able to do because we do like the runs.

Q. Year after year you seem to plug in young guys out of the minor league system. This year you moved forward wonderfully when Shannon Stewart, Justin Morneau has taken Doug's place, and Kubel were the -- aside from last night, really performed when he has been in there. How much more -- how does that make your job easier, knowing there are guys in that minor league system that can come up and play right away for you?

RON GARDENHIRE: I think that's the exciting part about being with this organization. We have developed good players and we use them. We give them a chance in Spring Training, get a test, we bring them up, let them get some at-bats, send them down, and they get a feel for it, and then when you get in a situation where you get about people hurt like Torii early and Lew Ford, then guys like that are prepared to step in, so it's a good situation. I think you have to have a general manager and an organization that understands that's the way we do it here, and they do. Terry understands that. We have to keep developed. We are going to lose players, we are going to have to trade players. And it's fun, as a manager, because you never know what you are going to get, like a box of Cracker Jacks, we just keep popping them out there and see what's in it, and it's a lot of fun. That didn't make sense, did it?

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