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October 12, 2003

Dusty Baker


Q. Dusty, after your team lost Game 4 to the Braves, you said that your gut feeling was that series was going five. Any hunches about how long this series is going?

DUSTY BAKER: Not really. Like I had an idea we were going to go back home. These guys are extremely tough to beat here in this park. They're a good team, period, but they're especially tough here in South Florida. And when the team came in here, we wanted all three. But I'd have been satisfied with two out of three, especially here. These guys are tough to beat here. We came in 1-1, and we're leaving out 3-2. And now we're going back home to our fans and our people. And it's going to be exciting when we go back.

Q. Given the events of the last 24 hours in the other league, were you concerned with Sammy's reaction to the Beckett pitch?

DUSTY BAKER: I was a little concerned about it, because he's been hit in the head twice, one time very seriously. And I'm sure he wasn't trying to do it. I'm sure all day he was pitching them up. And it looked like that ball got up and in. The hard part about this situation, period, was that early in the game it was extremely difficult for everybody to see on both sides, because from all my years in playing in playoffs and World Series, that four or five o'clock start is hard. Sammy was late on the ball, because he couldn't see it. I remember Ron saying he got hit in the head, I was on deck, and it was this same time. So personally I hope we don't play any more of those games. You could see nobody took any good swings until it got dark. And nobody hit the ball hard for a long time in the game. I was just concerned -- we can't lose Sammy. It's a natural reaction, with him being hit in the head twice already.

Q. Is there any momentum from this game or will the day off and going back home with one of your top pitchers, does that change things right there?

DUSTY BAKER: Momentum in baseball really isn't that big a deal, I don't think, as it is in other sports, because the control is basically in the hands of the pitcher. You can have all the momentum you want to and that next day's pitcher goes out and throws against you like Beckett did today, it's in the hands of the pitcher. So when we go back home it's in the hands of Mark Prior and whoever else they throw out there is going to be in control of the tempo and control of the momentum of the game.

Q. What part of Beckett's performance impressed you the most, what aspect of it?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, he had us chasing the high fastball, which you don't have a whole bunch of time to tell. He had a very effective changeup after his fastball, and then he threw the curveball when he needed to. This was a complete performance by him. This guy is one of the finest young pitchers in the game. I talked to some Braves when I was down there and they said he threw some excellent games against them. They faced him a lot. And the last two or three times they faced him they didn't hit him well, either. He's a fine young pitcher.

Q. Your confidence level has to be pretty good knowing you're going home with Prior and Wood as your two pitchers.

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, we feel confident with those guys on the mound. Especially after the loss, Mark Prior's record after the loss has been outstanding, plus he's performed a lot better on the 6th day than he has on the 5th day, which is why we didn't start him today. He's thrown a lot of pitches and a lot of innings this year. And I talked to Larry Rothschild when I got here, and he said probably the guy that benefits the most with a day's rest is Mark Prior.

Q. Would you break down Zambrano's performance as well?

DUSTY BAKER: He threw the ball well. And he threw a lot of pitches. He got out of trouble a couple of times. It really didn't matter, really, I don't care who you threw out there today, you still got shut out. Anytime you get shut out it means you don't have a chance to win. We never threatened, so it really doesn't matter what Zambrano did, unless he matched the shutout. That's the only way he'd still be playing. It was Beckett, he threw great today.

Q. I could be wrong about this, but it looked like when Pudge was rounding third base he pointed toward your dugout.

DUSTY BAKER: No. He pointed up to the stands. Probably to his wife or somebody.

Q. Have you ever gone into a one-win, must-win game with pitchers as dominant as you're going into these last two games with?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, I've gone into a couple of games with Fernando. We went into some must-win games a bunch of times in my career. I was fortunate to be on the same team as Fernando and Don Sutton and Tommy John, some big time, big game pitchers. And that's where most of the games go, with those pitchers pitching.

Q. You talk about Carlos being emotional a lot. Is it possible for that at some point to become counterproductive just in terms of an energy drain?

DUSTY BAKER: Possibly, but it hasn't drained him so far. Nobody said anything about his energy drain when it was 100 degrees or something in Chicago in the middle of the summer. People talk about energy drain now because we lost the game. Carlos did what he had to do today. Had it not been for the walk and home run, Carlos still might be pitching. Like I said, it's not Carlos's fault as much as it is Josh's. You have to give him credit for shutting us out.

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