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September 30, 2003

Ken Macha


Q. How much more important is this Game 1 than usual given the matchup?

KEN MACHA: I'm trying to think about our other series that we went into the last three, who won Game 1 and who ended up winning the series. But you're right. To me, Tim Hudson is one of the emotional leaders with our team, and he's going to be emotionally pumped up for this thing. And then you have Pedro, on the other hand, who obviously means a lot to their club. When I found out those two guys were matching up, I said this is going to be the marquee matchup of the game. It plays great importance on the game. As I said earlier, not necessarily does the team that wins Game 1 wins up winning the series. It will be an important day.

Q. How is Hudson feeling? How has he been the last month or so?

KEN MACHA: After he was hit, I believe his first start after that was in Toronto. He pitched okay. Thought he was a lot better after the second start. He wound up winning that start in Toronto. I think he went six innings, second start he was a little better. But in September, I don't think he had his best stuff in September until the last outing against Texas. The last outing in Texas was his best outing of the month, the ball was sinking good, he had good location, he pitched very well that day. I think he gave up a homerun to Blalock, that was about it. Very encouraged after that outing. I feel good he's going to go in with his good stuff tomorrow.

Q. Do you know how many position players versus pitchers you'll put on the playoff roster?

KEN MACHA: That's the ultimate question. We're going to sit down here in the next couple of minutes when we get done here. And if you wait around, we'll let you know.

Q. Does it add incentive or anxiety that your team hasn't advanced in the last three rounds?

KEN MACHA: There is more determination. Not that there wasn't a lot of determination before. But here again, the results of the last three years have no influence on what's going to be starting here tomorrow. Turn on ESPN, most of them having us losing the series last year. Most of the people had us winning the series against Minnesota. My whole stand on this thing is the team that goes out and plays the best baseball, plays good defense, doesn't give away outs, gets solid starts in pitching, that's the team that's going to win. That has been the case the last three years. We've had a couple games where we did not play so well, and those games have hurt us. We need a good intense effort from everybody, from the bats to the pitches to the defense, and if we do that, I feel good about our chances.

Q. You said Tim had good success in September, other than the hand injury any other things?

KEN MACHA: It's probably the case with all pitchers, just sometimes they go out there and they're lights out. If he could can that, it would be great. Last time he pitched against Boston here at our ballpark, he was tremendous, two hits and two infield hits. If he can harness that, nobody would gets any hits off him, we would win all the games. That's the nature of being human. Here again, sometimes it runs in cycles. And hopefully being very encouraged from the Texas outing, he looks beyond the up swing.

Q. How much does chemistry matter when a team is back in the division race?

KEN MACHA: I'll tell you, that particular game that Ted Lilly pitched a couple of Sundays ago, if you had sat in our dugout, you would have seen the team chemistry and how everybody was pulling for each other. To me, if you look at this whole season we've had, it's been a team effort from everybody, because we don't have anybody that jumps off the board as far as their numbers are concerned, except maybe Keith Foulke, okay, and everybody pulls for each other. I talked about the intensity on defense, the way we play that way, we played streaks where our defense has been fabulous. If you look at the numbers and say, well, you know what? You have this many errors and you're in the middle of the pack. We've had games where we have five errors in a game. If you eliminated those, we would have been right there at the top. For the most part, chemistry plays a big part. And as I said in the opening question about Hudson going out there and pitching, he's the guy that brings a lot as far as the chemistry is concerned.

Q. Talk about your years with the Boston organization, if you were disappointed not to get a chance there?

KEN MACHA: Now I've been in this job for a year, I can't understand how people can do this job without having the experience of going in and managing at the minor league level. I was given the opportunity to do that by the Red Sox and it served in my training as far as this decision is concerned. Fortunately while I was there I had a lot of great players, players who went out and had focus on their career, played with intensity, worked extremely hard, wanted to make themselves better. That's kind of been what I tried to ask of the players this year, come out, work hard, try to get better and go out and play hard. It was successful. I saw that as being a successful approach while I was with the Red Sox. We, for the most part, have done that this year and had success doing that. I'm grateful for having an opportunity to have worked in the Red Sox organization. I'm also grateful for having players with that type of attitude. Some are there with that club right now. The last thing, you know, that's something I had no control over and kind of put me on focus to continue to do a good job here as a bench coach and hopefully things will work out. If you're writing a script for this and it turned around and came down to this, I don't know too many people would believe your script.

Q. How significant is it that Pedro and Tim will face each other tomorrow?

KEN MACHA: I even look back a little further. I think it was in 2000 Tim pitched in Fenway against Pedro and it was a tremendous matchup. Over the last couple of years, we've played tremendous ballgames against each other. We can bring up the game with T. Long catching the ball over the fence. I thought the games in Fenway this past year, the three games were tremendously intense ballgames. The day Manny hit the homerun off Keith here was a very intense ballgame. We played great ballgames against each other. It should be an exciting series. Look back at it, both teams have things to build on and both teams have some negative. To have a bearing on tomorrow, we still have to go out there, execute, make your pitches, do all the things that is required. Sometimes it's like you said, the slate is clean, you can wipe those things out, that's what's going to happen tomorrow.

Q. How did Tim respond to Mueller going down?

KEN MACHA: That's a question for him. I know how I did. You know what? We left Boston and went up to Toronto and we didn't know that it was a fracture until we got out to Toronto and we had a little meeting. We all love Mark, he's a great pitcher, a big asset to our club. We had had some other injuries over the course of the year, Jermaine Dye went down and Eric stepped in there and did a tremendous job. I didn't want these guys focusing on this injury. We need other guys, 25 guys, other guys have to step in there and fill it in. And Ted was one of the guys that did it, and the bullpen responded tremendously. Give these guys credit. They scrapped and clawed, they never gave up. They had adversity there, losing one of the best pitchers in the league and still got the thing done. Big credit to those guys for their intensity and their focus and not giving up.

Q. How can you tell when Zito was ready?

KEN MACHA: He's another guy that does a great job of focusing, he has a mental discipline. Normally when he goes out and throws the first inning, I can almost tell, just his relief point, the crispness of his pitches, how he's going to do that day. He's a great pitcher, he's got great stuff. I talked about this before, about looking at every count you would have in the batting average against, he's almost better this year than he was last year. The only thing he's kind of lacked, he's had a few more walks and consequently a few more base runners and a few more runs scored on him. He has the ability to go out there and locate his pitches and throw all those three pitches at any time over the plate and do a great job. He's one of the more focused guys also. Does that answer your question?

Q. Do you talk to Zito different than any other pitcher?

KEN MACHA: I don't think so. If it's a professional thing about how he's pitching and everything, absolutely not. You're right, he's a little different. I asked him where he got the clothes he had on when he got on the plane from Seattle. They were not from Lands End, I'll tell you that.

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