October 1, 2003
ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Game Two
THE MODERATOR: Questions for John?
Q. How did you feel about coming into the 8th inning?
JOHN SMOLTZ: One run late, it didn't feel great, but my job was to obviously hold them down. I didn't do it in the 8th. I made some bad pitches, and fortunately was able to. You know, when you come into a role when you're conditioned for the 9th or whatever, the thing is you typically have to keep the game going, especially at home, and as bad as I wanted the first and third situation to not score a run, I realized that rather than get a big inning or create a big inning, to keep the game. I didn't feel my best stuff, but these type of games are sometimes won mentally more than they are with your stuff. Fortunately I was able to make enough pitches in the 9th inning to get three outs.
Q. Bobby Cox said before the series you went to him and said you would be available for a two innings?
JOHN SMOLTZ: Yeah, the scenario, obviously, the game is up 1-0 that changes things, but we're down 1-0 and we need a win. You play this game with some desperate mentality anyways. We had to have this win. I'm glad we came up with the clutch hits. It doesn't matter how many times, you've got to win the game to get the momentum. We've got Maddux on the next game. I don't worry about Friday. Today was -- as I told Bobby, whatever it takes to win the game. The most important game is the game you can win.
Q. Bobby said with a day off tomorrow if he didn't have to use you Friday, then Saturday might be a potential two-inning stint again. Do you feel up to that?
JOHN SMOLTZ: I can't really think that far ahead. I'm preparing to pitch Friday, and I think I'm going to pitch Friday, and we'll go as far as that. It does no good -- I'm in constant communication with Bobby and -- as well as all of the pitchers with the pitching coach. I'm not concerned about Saturday right now.
JOHN SMOLTZ: No, no, I was backing up home, and the first base man was there.
Q. Was being able to get the bunt down with two strikes after not getting it down early, is that an example of being able to control yourself?
JOHN SMOLTZ: Yeah, when I was up there, I really wanted to swing, but I haven't taken -- it's only my second at bat, and I know I can get a bunt down. Sometimes exactly what you said, you have to realize situations are going fast, slow it down. Same thing I had to do on the mound. Everything was going fast for me in the 8th inning, too fast. So with the bunt situation, I was not going to let that be a part of not getting the execution down.
So, absolutely, once it got to 3-2 I knew I was going to get the bunt down.
Q. What's in your mind as you walk off the field in the 8th, knowing the lead is gone and you've got to come back and pitch the 9th?
JOHN SMOLTZ: A lot of things. Disappointment. I'm a battler. I'm not going to let that situation carry over to the 9th. Normally I come in for one inning and try to nail it down. When you're preparing for two, it's a little bit different but I just couldn't afford to let not only the team down, the crowd down, myself, I was not going to let them get that go-ahead run. So in the 9th, when we had a chance to score runs obviously you get a boost of energy. Obviously I didn't want to face four batters. I didn't want to face Sammy Sosa with a chance to tie the game. When I fell behind 3-0 in the first hitter, I had to make sure I threw strikes. If he hit it out of the park, I didn't care.
Q. It was almost like pitching in two different games in the same series?
JOHN SMOLTZ: Yeah, we all knew -- everybody knew this was going to be an exciting series, close series, and the team that executed when the chances came about was going to win the series. It felt like two games for me. I'm glad we got the win.
Q. How much better did you feel pitching in the 9th as opposed to the 8th?
JOHN SMOLTZ: I don't know if I felt better. I knew I had two runs to work with. That's a big execution for throwing strikes and making sure if they're going to get on they're going to get on with hits. I know Randall is an aggressive hitter. It's probably a double-play instead of a line drive right up the box. That's one thing I'll be a little more prepared for.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, John.
End of FastScripts...