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October 26, 1999

John Smoltz


Q. Is there a certain embarrassment by Atlanta, the fact that they've done so poorly in the year, they won more games than anybody else?


Q. The other night Bobby said he thought you were throwing as hard as you've thrown any time in recent years. What has to happen different than the other night tomorrow night?

JOHN SMOLTZ: Well the biggest thing is I won't have to worry about just pitching one inning, at least I hope not. I came into that game, two games removed from a tough Game 4, and really, I don't think I could go out and throw BP and create that situation again. A lot of credit goes to those Mets hitters, and I should have changed speeds but I didn't based on how I felt and I felt like if I made good enough fastball pitches, that they could either hit it at somebody or I would, you know, make enough good pitches to make them out. That's forgotten, that's a different role. I'm not that role anymore. I'm going to approach Game 4 as absolutely my last game pitch because that's the way you have to approach it at this time of the year.

Q. When you pitch against a team like the Yankees, they're notorious for deep counts. They're so patient. Do you change the way you pitch at all because you know they're going to try to work the deep count?

JOHN SMOLTZ: I think the biggest thing, much like my '96 1-0 game, I think I threw 140-some pitches in a 1-0 game against Pettitte. That says it. I'm an aggressive pitcher, like to throw strikes. With my new delivery I'm going to try to change arm angles, pitches, if I walk them, I walk them. I just don't want to create too many hitter's counts to where I'm going to give in and let those guy who handle the bat as well as they do control the outfield or control the zone. I will have to be more effective were, you know, my other pitches, and, you know, pitch them like I did in '96 and take my chances.

Q. Second, follow up to that, pitching like that, you have to have an umpire with a consistent strike zone.

JOHN SMOLTZ: Well, I mean, you just have to, as a starting pitcher, you have to to be consistent. You can't be all over the place and expect to get calls from here and there. As a pitcher I don't worry about that as much as trying to establish myself out of the gate, and I don't care what the score is, the crowd's never going to be quiet. You just try to dictate your momentum on the mound and not allow a lot of runs.

Q. Do you feel that you personally lose a big advantage with the DH being such a quality hitter yourself?

JOHN SMOLTZ: I think this year we do. I can't say in years past we did because we had the injuries to some of our marquee guys that can deliver some power and afford to use them in the DH role, not taking anything away from the guys this year, but our DH is primarily not a power guy, like their guys, they have two guys they can bring off against the righty or a lefty. Obviously we would like to have the pitchers hit.

Q. Would you try and talk Bobby into letting you hit; can you do that?

JOHN SMOLTZ: No, I don't think so. I was kind of -- would have been nice to issue a challenge to Roger, say I'll hit if you hit. (Laughter.) I don't think that's going to work.

Q. You've obviously had a lot more post-season success than Roger has. Is there still some kind of a mystique about going up against him at this point in the year?

JOHN SMOLTZ: I don't know if it's a mystique as much as potentially we're either going to be down 3-0 or 2-1. For me, personally, I never really try to get caught up. I got caught up because it was my first year in the matchup with Jack Morris, but, you know, the individual situation doesn't really come into play in this atmosphere, you know. In a regular season game, maybe it's more pitching against the other pitcher, trying to, you know for the most part when you go against a top-notch pitcher you know you can't have the luxury of giving up two or three runs. That's just basically the unwritten rule. Other than that, you try to just do whatever it takes to not allow the other team to get more runs than your team.

Q. How do you pitch differently when you say that you can't give up more than two or three runs?

JOHN SMOLTZ: Well, the biggest thing you do is much like -- unlike the regular season, 3-1, 2-0, you challenge guys more than you don't. The simple fact is you know you've got a lot of games in a regular season to pitch and you're just trying to do the very best you can. I don't know if I'll get a chance to pitch again. So I approach all my post-season games that way, to where I can take the luxury of throwing 130 pitches and maybe a seven, eight inning game. You don't have to do that in a regular season. There's no 3-0 right down the middle thinking they're taking it this time. Everybody wants to be the hero. When you pitch differently, you basically approach each hitter as a rally. I've said it before, two outs, man on first, it's a rally now. Where before, you would think it still takes two more hits to score them.

Q. You had a very good start against the Mets, then you got shelled in relief. What made the difference?

JOHN SMOLTZ: I love some of these words. (Laughter.) There is no difference. We won the series, and nothing really matters. As a starter you have the ability to give up four in the first. As a reliever, you don't have the ability to give up anything.

Q. What was your relationship with Payne Stewart? Does that change any perspective you might have for tomorrow's game?

JOHN SMOLTZ: Well, I talked to Payne several times. We never really got a chance to play a round of golf. But I believe this, what he stands for and his testimony is the fact that saving grace, he's going to be in heaven. That's the only thing -- the sad part obviously is the people that were with him. Many times when you have a situation where a person is in the public eye and passes away, we tend to forget there were other people involved and their families are grieving just as much. It's a sad, sad situation for athletes or anybody in the field. When your field gets -- takes a hit like that. I know he was a gentleman every time that I spoke with him, and always had fun. The golf world is in sorrow right now, like the families of the other pilots and his agent and marketing guy.

Q. When you refer to the 3-1, 2-0 being different and you challenge guys, was your point that you would challenge them during a regular season and you might not in this situation?

JOHN SMOLTZ: Most definitely. You know, you take calculated risks in a regular season, at least I do, you don't try to approach each game to throw 140 pitches. You try to economize and pitch within the confines of the game. Let's face it, you're not going up against Roger Clemens all the time. You don't have the magnified situation that you have here, and I'll look at the regular season as a war to get through and put yourself in a position for the post-season. Fortunately, I've been able to be part of that for the last nine years. Had I pitched 36 post-season games in a regular season, there would be no 12 and 3 or there would be no success, I believe, at the ability that I've been able to attain it.

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