October 17, 2001
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: Game One
Q. What is it about Andy Pettitte that makes him such a good big-game pitcher?
JOE TORRE: I learned this in '96. Down the stretch, against Baltimore one game, he just seemed to keep his wits about him. In post-season, it's so easy to get distracted with the fans, with the time between innings, just a lot of things that go on. But he has stood tall in games in post-season. That 1-0 game in the '96 World Series in Atlanta, for Game 5 was one that always stays in my memory.
Q. In the seventh inning when the Mariners led off with a single, were you at all thinking of making a move to the bullpen at that point, or was it Andy's game still at that point?
JOE TORRE: You know, I remember the -- because that's when Cameron hit into the double play. I still wanted to get him through Olerud at that point in time. The bullpen was just up as a precaution, but his pitch count was real low and his stuff was good. I had no -- I was going through John before I was going to make a move.
Q. Did Paul O'Neill have to go to great lengths the other day to convince you to put him back in right field?
JOE TORRE: I know he would rather be in the outfield. It helps his hitting. He stalks around. He's not your definitive DH because he just needs to get in the flow of the game. So when he came in and volunteered and, of course, David Justice said that he didn't care one way or the other, I said no at first because I had written the lineup that way, and thought physically, maybe David could cover more ground out there; this is a bigger outfield than Oakland. But then thinking about trying to help the offensive side of it, I decided to let it fly, and, you know, even if we get six, seven innings out of him, that's still good for us.
Q. When you lobbied against trading Pettitte, was part of your campaign to tell George that you felt strongly that there were more October moments to come like the one in '96 against Smoltz?
JOE TORRE: No question. That 1-0 game I know he struggled and then he lost confidence when there was talk about trading him. That kept coming to my mind. And probably the fact that I never played in post-season play and witnessed it when my brother played in the 50s and realizing how important it was to me; that post-season games meant so much. And I really made a lot of how he pitched under pressure and that was -- that, and Mel. Mel was so staunchly behind Andy; never hesitated, never wavered. Both those -- the memory I have, and Mel Stottlemyre, it was easy to really support him.
Q. Not that he was not steady in the regular season but does his concentration level kick up in the playoffs?
JOE TORRE: I do. He gets locked in. He had a problem in Game 5 when we had him warm up, go into the bullpen, then come back out, he was a wreck, he really was because he likes to have an idea of when he's pitching and just lock in and get in the zone. I think the most impressive thing that he does is that he is able to really focus and block everything out.
Q. Your baserunners were stretching singles into doubles, Knoblauch on the looper. Is that something that you mentioned to the team before the game to run hard, and was that play on Posada at second base a momentum swing one way or the other?
JOE TORRE: We try to be aggressive. We don't necessarily talk about stealing bases, but if the opportunity presents itself go ahead. That one scared the hell out of me, when I saw him take out -- from our dugout you had a pretty good perspective, you just close your eyes and you see it bang, bang. We try to force you to make a play, and today, it worked for us. But if he's out, all of a sudden it takes the wind out of our sails and Paul O'Neill maybe doesn't hit the home run.
Q. With everything written about Derek Jeter, what does it mean to win a game without him contributing any offense?
JOE TORRE: There's no question his presence in the dugout is important. He's never any different, whether he's 4
for 4 or 0 for 4. He's still that focused leader type of guy. But you have to be pretty fortunate to win when your number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 hitters got one hit. So we feel fortunate, but we'd like to believe we have something coming from that part of the lineup. It was a big game for us to win today once we got a lead.
Q. Throughout the post-season run, you guys have rarely used starters on three days rest; is that strictly the depth of your staff or is that also to a degree because you are afraid of the consequences for pitching a guy on short rest?
JOE TORRE: Well, I think the depth of our staff. We have four guys that I would send out there any time, plus last year, we tried it twice, and it didn't work either time. We sent Roger out in Game 4 of the Division Series, and then Andy in Game 5, and neither one of them lasted very long. So I think it was trial and error and we got away with it last year.
Q. Some players can't handle the pressure of playing in New York even in the regular season, but you talked about Andy pitching well at this time of year. Given the makeup of your guys, are they constructed to win at this time of year from a mental standpoint?
JOE TORRE: I think it's something that -- it's a learned behavior, because you've had experience. The players who were here when I got here had the experience from the year before. They played post-season and then from '96. I put a lot off -- I put a lot of weight behind the fact that you have experience, because I really think it eliminates the unknown. You know, what's it like. I remember Pettitte, his first start in the World Series in '96, he pitched Game 1 for us and got lit up pretty good, because he thought that he had to be something other than the pitcher he was during the course of the season, and he learned from that. But I think it's just the fact that we've had experience, and the one thing you do learn when you sign players or trade for players, New York is a unique place to play. And I think the fact that you can play for the Yankees or the Mets, for that matter, and still concentrate on what you do is important because New York is not an easy place to play.
Q. Andy was able to keep Ichiro off base; how relieved does that make you feel?
JOE TORRE: That was huge for us. Ichiro is -- he's so tough. The fact that you keep him off the base, and then if he's on the base, it's so much tougher to go through the middle of that lineup without being stingy with him. That was big. When he got him out the first few times up, it made pitching to the rest of the lineup a lot less stressful and you knew he was going to get his hit. The best reliever, but no problem hitting the double to left field. I sort of like Ichiro, when you go back to the 60s and you had a better chance of beating the Cardinals if you kept Rock off the bases because he was such an immense difference on the bases because of the fact of stealing and the fact that you can hit two.
Q. How beneficial was using Rivera for only one inning and, what about the wildness?
JOE TORRE: That wildness, he flies open on that front side. And we were all thinking the same thing; he had Edgar on deck and he didn't want to face him. Last year in Game 6, Edgar hit the ground ball against him. We don't plan on using him two innings, not to say we won't use him in the eighth inning, but we'd like to do it four outs to go, as opposed to five or six. A short series, it's a little different. Again, I may have done something different tomorrow with an off-day the next day. I think that will take -- play a big part in it. But -- it was a good situation where we really didn't have to use him up.
End of FastScripts....