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October 18, 1998

Joe Torre


Q. From a managing point of view when you are leading 9 to 1 in the fifth inning, is it hard not to start thinking about the third game?

JOE TORRE: No, you never even think about it. I think the bigger the lead, the more cautious you are and you want to get out. You don't want to give them a run. You don't want to do anything. I think I am less concerned when we have a close game as opposed to, you know, meaningless run here, meaningless run there. So, no, I am not thinking of Game 3 at all.

Q. What do you think about Tino bouncing back?

JOE TORRE: He is having so much better at-bats right now. Hitting the ball the other way. That is a good indication of Tino when he hit the ball to leftfield, I am very pleased with him right now because he seems to be really relaxed.

Q. How much of an effect does Knoblauch being able to get on and work his way out after 0-2 count in the first inning have on the team?

JOE TORRE: Knoblauch, the reason -- I mean when we got him as a lead-off hitter, this is what we anticipated, getting on as many times. 17 home runs was sort of that I am not sure I like that situation even though you enjoy the home runs it is the fact that he needs to get on base. I think it puts a lot of pressure on the opposition and gives our guys some pitches to hit because he is on base. But that makes a real big difference in our ballclub when he is able to get on base that often.

Q. First inning ended very similar to the first inning in Cleveland with the long fly, O'Neill's catch -- is there any reason for that --

JOE TORRE: I think he tries to find out where the strikes zone is in the first inning and gets behind some batters; doesn't make the quality breaking ball that he makes later on because Wally hit a high breaking ball, normally he gets it down or away and then he left it sort of over the middle of the plate. I wasn't sure when he hit that ball what was going to happen. I thought it may have gone out. But O'Neill made a hell of a play. I think a lot of pitchers, if they are going to have problems, they are going to have them in the early innings because they just sort of try to settle in and try to get used to the mound.

Q. Strike zone -- umpire's strike zone you mean?

JOE TORRE: I think, yes. Umpire's strike zone, he tries to figure out and this you have to ask him this, but this is my evaluation watching him pitch. He just wants to see what is a strike and what isn't. Because each umpire is a little bit different and as long as it is consistent, nobody has a gripe about that.

Q. Every start for Hernandez is the next big start but the results are always the same. I mean, he always has the same quality outing, does that kind of surprise you even at this point?

JOE TORRE: He doesn't at all. Again, he seems to -- he knows what he is doing out there. Every once in a while he will come in and hit himself in the head because he didn't think he pitched a particular hitter smart. But he has so much confidence I think in every pitch that he throws, that when he does fall behind a lot of times, I think he asks himself to do some things that maybe thought as impossible because he feels he has such good command of his stuff.

Q. What kind of grade would you give his approach to the hitters -- the approach to the hitters in the first two games?

JOE TORRE: My hitters have done this all year and right now and as I mentioned I know a number of times, after that Game 4 victory in Cleveland I felt that we have gotten a lot more quality at-bats and run the count and get the three balls and make the pitcher work. It just makes, as I say, I put a lot of pressure on the opposition and the more pitches you get to see, the better handle you have on what the pitcher is throwing in the situation.

Q. Does the fact you came back from 0-2 to beat Atlanta in '96 prevent this team from getting overconfident in this situation?

JOE TORRE: No question about it. No question about it. And the fact that we won so many games this year and I have been asked a number of times with the kind of lead you had, BLA, BLA, BLA, you know, these guys play one game at a time and it is a good feeling on my part knowing they want to win every single game and believe me, we don't take anything for granted. They are a good team. San Diego Padres are a good team. They had a 5-2 lead on us last night. They came through some tough sometimes, some tough series to beat Houston and Atlanta, so you know they are a good team and they are going home where they have a great following.

Q. Given that Hernandez is both new to this country and to the League, did you have any doubts this postseason in these games coming into the series?

JOE TORRE: Just watching his body language and moving around in the clubhouse in the dugout, even in hotels for that matter I noticed that day that he pitched against Cleveland that he seemed loose as could be, but again until he does it, you are always -- you want to make sure. I felt pretty good that he -- I felt pretty sure that he'd approach it okay and the way he pitched in Cleveland tonight's game didn't surprise me.

Q. There was a point earlier in the season when he wasn't nearly effective as lefthanders as he was tonight. What adjustments did he make?

JOE TORRE: I think he used both sides of the plate. There was a time there where lefthanders just hitting the other way and I think he is keeping them a little more honest now by using the fastball inside and outside. At that time when he was having some problems, they were just looking for a ball away and whacking at it.

Q. 18 runs in two days. I mean, are you even a little bit surprised just the way the guys broke out of it?

JOE TORRE: No, I was probably more surprised by the lack of run production in the first series we played against Texas even though they had good pitching against us I didn't think we were swinging the bats as loose as we are now. It is sort of catchy. When you are not hitting that is catchy also unfortunately because everybody tries to pick up the slack for the other guy. But when everybody is swinging the bat well, relaxation means a lot here.

Q. Can you tell us what you know about El Duque's guests today? I understand he had some people that were in the boat in the boat with him.

JOE TORRE: I am not aware of it.

Q. They talk about stepping it up in the World Series. Have you guys , as funny as it sounds, after the regular season record you have, have you guys done that?

JOE TORRE: To me we don't try any harder to beat anybody than from the first day of the season. This is just the way we play. I know there was some emphasis put on the Mets series, and I asked someone one time should we try to beat the Mets more than we tried to beat somebody else. We don't know how to do that. You go out there and you try to drain your ability and make sure you prepare yourself and we just -- we are a confident club and when you win as many games as we have this year, sure, there is more pressure that you have to deal with, but again, the fact that you won so many times gives you that confidence to expect to win.

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