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October 15, 2003

Joe Torre


Q. Was it your plan to use Contreras to get you to Rivera tonight, and after a promising start that Contreras had, what went wrong for him?

JOE TORRE: Well, he came in that first inning, he was fine. That ball Nomar hit, it looked like it was a fly ball but the elements were playing tricks with the ball all night, all day. And he threw one to Manny and I thought that was out of the park and the wind cut that one down. Then it just looked like he tried to overthrow the ball. I thought his stuff was good. But in that second inning he pitched, it looked like he just tried to overthrow it.

Q. Can you talk about the strategy to walk the bases loaded with Heredia because sometimes he can be wild and you had White warmed up, he's usually more precise pitching with the bases loaded because he probably wouldn't walk a guy there?

JOE TORRE: No, I didn't think about bringing in White. I was sort of getting him ready for down the road. I decided to walk him. It's not an easy decision, obviously, because Heredia shouldn't be on the mound for me if I don't have confidence to do something like that. It looked like he thought a pitch or two were strikes in that at-bat and then comes back and strikes Walker out. It's not an easy decision to make, but the way Varitek has been swinging the bat especially right-handed, it was one I felt I had to do and then just live with the results.

Q. With all of the big games in the last eight years, what do you think it's going to be like tomorrow night, Game 7?

JOE TORRE: I guess it was supposed to come down to seven games, as much as you hate to think about it, coming out here with a one-game advantage today. But they battled like we've battled each other all year. We battled back, they battled back, and it just was no quitting on either ballclub. You certainly take your hat off to them, and tomorrow, at least we know tomorrow will be the last day.

Q. If there was one consistent concern all year, it was the guys that got you to Rivera, and then it looked like it had become less and less of a concern, but then this became a nightmare, finished today, a game when you had a chance to go to the World Series?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, it's one of those things. You try not to make too much of it until it's over with. You cannot get too excited thinking about the World Series until you get that third out in the ninth inning. These guys have been doing a good job because the job didn't get done tonight doesn't mean that if the situation presented itself tomorrow; that we are not going to do the same thing. We got this far by the ability of these people out there that have been pitching and playing for us, and it can't always be a happy ending. We'd like to think it is but we'll have to bounce back.

Q. It may be related but when Contreras gets through that sixth the way they seem to be baffled by him, are you thinking three more from him, six from Rivera and we are done?

JOE TORRE: I was confident enough in Contreras, especially with the rest he's had, to take him to the ninth. I felt pretty good about the way he was throwing the ball. As I said, it just wasn't to be. But yes, I had mentioned early on in this series that I would use him similar to the way I used Mendoza, and that was basically what I did. Andy battled. I mean, that's what he's made of. He battled. He threw a lot of pitches in five innings, but he had that one bad inning and had to pitch out of a jam and a couple of other things, and I just felt it was time to make a change and go to Jose. Again, because he was so well-rested and what we have seen from him, it was an easy decision for me to make at that point.

Q. The fact that we are looking at a Game 7 here, do you feel that it greatly diminishes the chances for any sort of Game 3 fireworks with Pedro on the mound? Do you feel you have to say anything to anybody?

JOE TORRE: Zimmer is not going to hit tomorrow. (Laughter.) It's Game 7. Game 7, there's more important things than stuff that shouldn't be on the sports page. I mean, we know we have our work cut out for us and I'm sure they do, too. You hope it's a clean game and one team wins, as opposed to somebody having to live with a mistake, an error or something like that. I don't know of any two clubs that are more evenly matched than we are. It comes down to seven. As much as I didn't want to think about that today, when they scored the two in the ninth, you know, that sort of got it out of reach for us.

Q. Could you expand on your comments about the elements and the wind, what was exactly happening out there? Was it completely unpredictable?

JOE TORRE: It was unpredictable. You saw Johnny Damon at the end, stopped and slipped and caught it and fell it. It was swirling and doing a lot of different things. The two balls, the one that Nomar hit, it looked like it was just a fly ball. He didn't hit it real well. Maybe another 50 yards to the right of that, Ramirez hit it, hard and it didn't go out of the ballpark. So it was just strange. We talked about it before the game, that, to help each other, let's do the best we can to help each other. But there was no way to figure it out. Even Matsui early on, that ball Millar hit looked like it was right at him and took off right over his head. Both clubs had to deal with it.

Q. Jason continues to struggle at the plate, can you talk about what was happening today with him?

JOE TORRE: Well, you know, the way we got started with the home run first time up, I know that had to relax him somewhat. But he came up with a couple opportunities and battled, battled, battled, and again, I can't say enough for him. He's struggling right now. There's no place that we are trying to hide. He's going to be in there tomorrow and hopefully the results are the same -- better; not the same. He's a pro. He's a pro. But it doesn't keep you from trying a little bit too hard. They made some good pitches on him, and again, as I mentioned many times before, you put him in the lineup and every time he comes up, I expect big things, and hopefully I'm right tomorrow.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Pedro and Clemens tomorrow, Game 7, everything on the line?

JOE TORRE: Well, you don't leave anything in the bag tomorrow. Everybody's available. You've got two great pitchers. You know, Roger, I'm sure -- I know he's up for the task and I'm sure Pedro is, too. We'll have to grind like we do against Pedro. We've had some success against the Red Sox when Pedro has pitched , basically because we try to make him work. And we'll see.

Q. Boston's offense was so high-powered this year and you've kept them in check the first five games; are you afraid that you woke them up today?

JOE TORRE: What wakes you up is you don't pitch as well as you're capable. They have done that so often to us this year, where they have beaten us up a number of games where we have not pitched as well as we have earlier in this series and that's what you expect. We are not a team that can get in a game like this and expect to win. Not that we can't win but we are not a club that's going to win 8-7, 8-9, stuff like that. We are going to do what we've done,4-3, 4-2. Pitching is our strength. We are evenly matched for different reasons, their offense and our pitching.

Q. You mentioned everybody is available, and I guess Pettitte is the one guy that's unavailable?

JOE TORRE: Pettitte is the one guy that's out of that group that's unavailable. Everybody else will be raising their hands saying if there's room down there, I'll be there.

Q. It's 25 years since the Red Sox/Yankees showdown in 1978 for the pennant and one-day showdown tomorrow, how do you think this series is shaping up in this classic rivalry?

JOE TORRE: Well, you tell me. We've played each other just about even all year. These two clubs have never played, as Bob Ryan alluded to early on, we have never played each other this much ever in the game of baseball. There's no scouting report that's going to help us beat them. We've had firsthand knowledge. Whichever way it goes, and obviously which way I want it to go, I think this series has been entertaining for people and grueling for everybody who has had to play in it or watch it from the dugout. There's a lot of pressure, a lot of tension and I think both clubs have been handling it very well.

Q. Given the way Roger stayed composed in Game 3 does that harden your belief that he'll stay within himself no matter what happens tomorrow night?

JOE TORRE: You know, going into that game, Mel and I both felt that Roger was -- his temperament was perfect for it. He has been so good. I think since the 300th victory, he has been, I don't know, seems to be very comfortable with what he's doing. His stuff has been very consistent. That game the other day, yeah, he did get revved up and certainly stayed within himself and hopefully it's the same tomorrow. Let's admit it, this is it. You really have to do a good job of talking yourself into making yourself believe it's just another baseball game.

End of FastScripts...

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