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October 10, 2004

John Smoltz


THE MODERATOR: Questions for John.

Q. Were you aware the only pitcher on your staff that has more innings than you is Mike Hampton?

JOHN SMOLTZ: No, I'm not. But whatever it takes, that's been our year really.

Q. Does the pressure of the postseason and the experience, does that raise things for you?

JOHN SMOLTZ: Well, I love it. I mean, my thing is I always believe I will do it. I don't try to go by "what if." You can get caught in a lot of "what if" situations. This stage is greater. We do this after every game when we normally don't in a regular season. I just really believe something good's going to happen when I'm out there. I try not to show that much emotion, because I realize we haven't accomplished anything yet. But it was a huge game for us. We are a team that can be very frustrating. We've shown it the first four games, we haven't driven in runs, we haven't done some of the things that have been afforded to us. To win a game like this is huge. We get to go back home and the plane ride's a lot easier. For me, personally, a benefactor of playing on some great teams and having an opportunity to do what I've always wanted to do - and that's pitch in the postseason.

Q. With the experience that you guys have in postseason play, does that give you a little more calmness going into the late innings?

JOHN SMOLTZ: Well, not really, because only a couple of players have been through this a lot. There hasn't been a great roster full of experience. I'm a big believer that experience only allows you to do something well when you put yourself in that position time and time again, and we didn't until our young guy hit a three-run homer. All this means, we worked very hard to get home field advantage and we need to take care of it. I think this team will be fired up and ready to play, and this team we're playing is gritty and as veteran-like as anybody. I feel like we got a break today, and hopefully we can take advantage of it tomorrow.

Q. You said you always think something good's going to happen. You had a tough situation with Kent at the end. Could you take us through that at-bat?

JOHN SMOLTZ: Honestly, I try to slow things down when the crowd goes nuts. I've been in so many different hostile environments in so many different pivotal games that that helps, but you still have to make a pitch. With Kent I was honestly trying to get a double-play ball, get him to pull an outside pitch. It kind of happened in slow motion, but what I've learned in past experience is just to slow down in my mind and not get too carried away with the next batter or the next out. I'd like to say I'd give up two hits on purpose the inning before to get Lidge out of the game, but that was not decided by any means. And this is one of the loudest places in baseball. If there's anything in the beginning of the series that you try to help other players is use the crowd for your advantage, and what I mean by that is when they're super loud, you know, try to get them a little bit calmer and try to get it a little bit duller of a roar. Because guys can get a little bit more anxious when you're at home at times and want to be the guy, drive the ball, swing a little harder. It can work to your advantage if you want it to, but if you play the "what if" games and this is loud, oh, my gosh, "he gets a hit, we're tied," those are the things that go against you. That's where experience probably does help a little bit.

Q. Do you think the roof should always be open if it's not raining?

JOHN SMOLTZ: No, that's their call. That's why it's home-field advantage. That's why they play here. It's whatever they, you know... This is a place where, obviously, 18 in a row or 19 in a row until today, they can do whatever they want here. They feel they're unbeatable and they pretty much are so far. We just want to make it a little different environment in Atlanta come tomorrow.

Q. How many can you do tomorrow going back-to-back?

JOHN SMOLTZ: You know what, our whole bullpen has been working pretty hard. We said this when the playoffs started, the rules are out, throw them out the window and be able to do whatever from the eighth inning on tomorrow. And it will be a little bit different environment. But this is -- both teams, I think, are approaching this series as, "We've got to find a way to win this series, then everything else could happen, who knows?" But tomorrow I expect a strong performance out of Jaret Wright, and obviously they expect a tremendous performance out of Oswalt. It's a shame we can't get on prime time because this is going to be a great series, but that's just the way it goes. It might be, we'll see what happens...

End of FastScripts...

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