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October 10, 1998

Joe Torre


Q. David Cone said last night that this was gut check time for your ball club. Could you elaborate on that and the performance of your club tonight?

JOE TORRE: Well, there's not much to elaborate. That's basically what it's all about. You know you're a good team but you have to do things in situations to I guess prove it to everybody else. We feel good about ourselves and we're still struggling hitting but I thought we played a clean game tonight. It's what has happened all year for us, the starting pitching. Hernandez was spectacular tonight, everybody was ready to play. They were -- I don't want to say uptight, but they were -- a lot of pressure going on. But again you're right. Gut check time. When you challenge yourself and you have to do things.

Q. You have your ace going tomorrow. Did you have an edge right now?

JOE TORRE: In a short series it goes back and forth like a tennis match. You win a game, you have the momentum on your side and with Wells and Cone going and having to go back to New York, I'd like to think we have an edge, yeah.

Q. Is O'Neill's homerun in the first inning just what you guys needed to loosen you up?

JOE TORRE: I don't think we got loose until the last ball in the first baseman's glove. But that helped, sure, you get on the board, sure. I know we did it last night, but we were able to sustain it tonight.

Q. After the first inning, Stottlemyre had a conversation with "El Duque", and could you also talk about Jim Thome's two at-bats?

JOE TORRE: No, I don't know what he said because I didn't give him any instructions. But Mel will look over there and we'll see things and go over. He talks to the pitchers between every inning. I don't know what he said that particular time. And Thome should stop swinging so hard because he's liable to hurt himself. He's scary, there is no question about it. He's scary. Runs on a couple of balls, fouls them back and it was just -- you talk about gut check time. That was a terrific one-on-one that we won tonight.

Q. Even though Hernandez never pitched in a playoff game before, given what he's been through in his life, was he the perfect guy in this situation?

JOE TORRE: I saw him at brunch today and he asked me how I was feeling. I knew that was the first indication that he was okay. And then I watched him, just very animated running out there, getting different dishes for different people. I felt good that if we scored some runs, we had a chance tonight and he showed me that I was right, just body language size-wise, very relaxed, very determined. Little reluctant to give me the ball when I went out there in the 8th inning. But, yeah, everything he's been through, a playoff game is a playoff game, just like a walk in the park, I guess, except that it was big for us.

Q. How did you feel when Thome's ball went in the air in the first inning?

JOE TORRE: I didn't think it was out. I thought he caught it on the end of the bat, that doesn't mean it's not going to go out because I don't think it is. I thought Pauly's ball was hit further back than it was. So that sort of gave me an indication that I didn't think Jimmy's ball was going out and I was glad I was right there, too.

Q. Joe, how big a deal was it for the team or how big a lift was it when "El Duque" got Ramirez and Thome out?

JOE TORRE: Ramirez has been swinging the bat well here the last month or so and you look at his numbers that he's put up there and it was great to see him do that. Big lift for us. Obviously, the biggest lift of the night was striking Thome out with two men on base late in the game. Everybody jumped up off the bench on that one. That was huge for us, that was probably the at-bat of the night for us.

Q. Obviously, "El Duque" proved to be a right decision. But when Wells offered to pitch, how tempting was that?

JOE TORRE: Not at all. Because we have to play tomorrow, one way or the other, win or lose, tomorrow we've got to play tomorrow and there was no way I was going to pitch -- first of all, I wasn't going to pitch David Cone on short rest, and secondly, I wasn't going to move "El Duque" up a game because, psychologically, that wouldn't help him at all.

End of FastScripts…

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