October 6, 2000
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: Game Three
Q. Lou, can you talk about what your bullpen did in this series?
LOU PINIELLA: Well, they did just a fantastic job. Everybody that we brought in out of the pen just pitched great. And that's one of the reasons we're able to do what we did. Today Aaron Sele did a heck of a job for us for 7 innings, and then came Rhodes and Paniagua, and got us to the bottom of the 9th. But the other two ballgames in Chicago, we really needed bullpen work, and we got great bullpen work the whole series.
Q. The other day you mentioned that Rickey brought swagger to this team. What has John brought to this team?
LOU PINIELLA: He's brought stability and some professionalism. He's very steady, very consistent. He does a heck of a job at first base with the glove, and he swings a nice bat to go along with it. But tonight he got that big hit off of the reliever there in the 9th, and the pitcher threw it away; it was a tough play for them. And we pitch-ran Henderson and got him to third and got him in. And it was a great ballgame. The first thing I want to say is congratulate the White Sox organization on what a great year they had. They won , what? 95 ballgames. And somebody has to win, and somebody has to lose. They have nothing to be ashamed of. They're very professional over there, and they did a good job.
Q. Did you call the bunt?
LOU PINIELLA: You can talk to Carlos. But I said with Rickey on third base: Push the ball towards Thomas. It's going to be hard for Frank to throw him out. And Carlos laid down just a perfect, perfect bunt; and that was the ballgame.
Q. That was the plan the whole way?
LOU PINIELLA: That was the plan the whole way, yes. And Carlos can push the ball as well as anybody we've got -- or drag it, I'm sorry.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about how your pitching over the whole series controlled a line-up that had been so good coming into the series, and was there anything in particular with your scouting reports or any keys to --?
LOU PINIELLA: Our scouting reports were very good, Ken Madeja and Stan Williams just did an outstanding job. And we followed their reports very closely. We had to make one adjustment with one of their hitters. And outside of that, we stayed pretty darn close to what the reports indicated we should do. And that's good advance scouting. And we utilized it. We've utilized it all year. And what we try to do is make adjustments if we see we have to. And on one of their hitters, we did.
Q. Lou, that bunt by Carlos, was the fourth successful bunt of the night. Can you comment on that?
LOU PINIELLA: Well, let me tell you this, and the writers that covered our Spring Training camp this year, we worked on our bunting more than any team I've ever been associated with. And you know what? Earlier in the year we weren't bunting the ball well. And all of a sudden, we got ourselves in a groove, and we laid the ball down well all year. I think we probably led the League in sacrificed bunts and bunting. That's the hard work we put in all spring. We had two machines behind our batting cages. And before the hitters rotated into the batting cage to hit, they would have to go down and bunt behind, and that was a part of our regimen.
Q. For everybody in the line-up, No. 3 hitter as well?
LOU PINIELLA: Everybody bunted. And we've had Mr. Olerud lay it down a couple of times and Mr. Buhner. And Alex bunted one today. So it paid off; the work paid off.
Q. Lou, you mentioned the start of the series you played National League ball. Is that due to the ballpark or the personnel you had? What led to that?
LOU PINIELLA: National League ball, you know, Johnny. You've been in the National League. What's National League ball? We bunt. It's part of our offense, and we move runners. That's part of our offense. And we like to steal bases off of advancing runners. So just because we bunt a guy over doesn't really mean that we just bunted him over to stay on second. Sometimes we just want him to steal third also, like Rickey Henderson did the other day in Chicago. And we like to run, we like to bunt, we like to hit. But today, really, it was a trademark game for us, and we got good pitching and really good, good defense. And we made it hold up for us.
Q. How valuable has your bullpen been in this series?
LOU PINIELLA: Invaluable. They've done a great job for us.
Q. From one to ten, is there any value you could place?
LOU PINIELLA: I don't think you could give them less than a ten. They were almost pitching perfect. They pitched so well, I don't think they gave up a run this whole series, did they? You can't ask for anything better than that. And we used Tomko, we used Paniagua, we used Rhodesy, we used Sasaki, and we used Mesa, except the youngster Pineiro, in case it was a blowout game and we needed to eat up innings.
Q. Carlos, did the bunt work out exactly as you planned? Were you looking for a certain type of pitch?
CARLOS GUILLEN: Well, I just went out and -- Lou told me before I got up, he told me try to hit a ground ball to Thomas, because he don't play too much first base, and maybe we can have it difficult to throw to home plate. He doesn't have that experience. And I got the first pitch. And the next pitch, I wanted to make sure, to follow what Lou told me, and I did.
Q. Carlos, when you hit the bunt, what did you think? Did you think you hit it? Thomas dove and almost got it. Did you think it was a good bunt when you hit it?
CARLOS GUILLEN: Yeah. I just followed the ball. He told me he don't play first base too much.
Q. John, I was just wondering, there was so much talk before the game about the shadows on this field, did it have any impact at the plate or defensively?
JOHN OLERUD: Yeah, I think the shadows definitely do come into play. It makes it more difficult to pick up the ball when you're up there at the plate. And it can make it more difficult when you're out in the field, too, with the background being lit up and the ball's in the shadow. It can make it tough to pick up the ball, definitely.
Q. Carlos, when you were bunting, did he give you the choice of swinging for a grounder, or did they tell you you had to bunt, or did you make the decision?
CARLOS GUILLEN: I made my decision, yeah. I swung at the first pitch. After that, I said: I'll try for a ground ball to first base.
Q. Do you think the bunt surprised the White Sox?
CARLOS GUILLEN: Yeah.
Q. John, you've played for a world championship team and a team last year whose infield defense was basically considered maybe the best that's ever played the game. But in terms of tactical baseball, is this team playing as well as any team you've been associated with?
JOHN OLERUD: I don't know. That's a good question. This series we played about as well as you could hope to play. We made big plays defensively. We executed, getting bunts down and moving runners over, and we got great starting pitching. So we just played some real solid baseball for this series. So you can't ask for a better job than what everybody did this series. So this is about as well played a series as you could ask for.
Q. John, were you surprised you hit it so hard, given the trouble everybody was having in the shadows?
JOHN OLERUD: Well, he's pitched to me real tough. I don't know if I've gotten a hit off him. He comes from that side arm, submarine angle, which you don't see a lot from left-handers. And he's had a lot of success getting me out. So going up there, being that you can't see real well, I was hoping he might be a little wild early on. And I got ahead in the count and was just geared up ready for a fastball and got a good pitch to hit, and I hit it hard.
Q. John, there was a little irony in the fact that Rickey scored the winning run and you got the hit that -- have you had time to dwell on the irony of both you and Rickey being here from the Mets?
JOHN OLERUD: No, I haven't. I really didn't think anything about that. Just hoping that we'd be able to get that run in. And as far as the decision to come here, it was a very difficult decision. And so, yeah, it was definitely a tough decision. But being back home over the course of the year and the way things have gone, it's worked out great. So I'm definitely real happy.
Q. Carlos, when in the inning did you know you might hit? How did it work out?
CARLOS GUILLEN: Well, I was sitting on the bench for the last two games, but I'm ready. I'm ready for any situation. They gave me the chance this game.
Q. John, was there a point in the series up until this game that you felt the White Sox were sort of back on their heels?
JOHN OLERUD: No, not really. I think that they've got a real explosive offense. They're capable of scoring a lot of runs, and they've done a great job of winning ballgames all year long. And so we just got a couple of great pitching performances. And just because you have a good pitching performance the first two games doesn't necessarily mean you're going to get one each game. So I don't know that I felt that they were on their heels. I just felt like we were making good pitches, making good plays defensively, and it was something we needed to keep doing. Things can change real quick in this game. So I think we wanted to keep it going as much as we could.
Q. John, you being from this area, and Sele being from this area, can you comment on the job he did, does it make it any more special for you guys to accomplish this?
JOHN OLERUD: Yeah, I think it makes it a little more special, being that we both grew up around here. But I think that you get to this situation and have a chance to move on in the playoffs, that's pretty awesome, too. So you can't say enough about the job Aaron did and getting the win and everything. That was great.
Q. What kind of factor was the crowd?
JOHN OLERUD: I thought the crowd was great the whole game: Very loud, behind us all the way. And yeah, just a great response from the crowd all day long.
Q. John, you played this team, and you sweep it in three games. Honestly, are you a little surprised that you were able to sweep them?
JOHN OLERUD: Well, we've got a good ball club. And if we get the pitching and the defense, I think we're capable of sweeping anybody. But going out and actually doing the job and that sort of thing, you don't always put together three quality games like that. And so I guess I'm a little bit surprised, but just because the playoffs are always tough, you have tough games and things don't always go your way. But I feel like this team was capable of doing that, definitely.
Q. Aaron, you haven't been able to celebrate in the playoffs, and now you had your chance, it looked like. You were out on the field and taking full advantage of it?
AARON SELE: We're taking full advantage of this. The reason we went back on the field was really to tip our hats to the Mariners fans. They've been here supporting us all year long. And to go back out and share a little bit of the excitement they created for us is just to tip your hat back to them. They've been special. They created a lot of electricity at the ballpark today, and we were able to feed off that a little bit.
Q. Did you use the shadows and the way the field kind of changed toward the end of the game to your advantage? Jerry Manuel said his team wasn't a very good day team, and it seemed like you were able to take advantage of that.
AARON SELE: Really, my whole goal was to go out there and throw quality pitches, regardless of shadow or sun. We haven't played a whole lot of 1:00 games here, and I suspect that the shadow is part of that reason, too. But I was able to get some pitches down the zone, and we played great defense. And those guys have played great defense all year long. I think David Bell's play off Ray Durham there late in the game, that was one of the keys to the game.
Q. When John hit the ball back to the pitcher. What was going through your head when you saw that? Did you think it could be it?
AARON SELE: To be honest with you, I didn't see where it went. I looked out toward right field, and then obviously Kelly went after the ball and came up with it. And at that point, I realized it must have ricocheted off him. I'm glad to see he was doing okay, he was able to get up and walk off the field. Obviously, that turned out to be a huge play for us.
Q. Could you talk about the defense behind you?
AARON SELE: You can't say enough about this defense. The guys have been playing great defense all year, and as starting pitcher, if we go out and let them hit the ball, make contact, we've got a great chance of the ball being caught for an out or fielded and thrown over to first for an out. And like I said, David Bell, diving back in and playing Ray Durham in the 7th inning, that was huge. That ball gets by him, Ray's on second, if not third. And I think the momentum would have changed a little bit. McLemore came up and made that big pick and tag and throw. Even Alex in the first inning, I didn't give him a good feed. I was trying to decide if Al was going to move. And I just threw it, and he made a good play for a double play. We feed off that defense, and we've done it all year long. And hopefully we'll continue to play just like that.
Q. Can you talk about what it's like to come back home this year and have a victory like this in front of your fans?
AARON SELE: It's always special to play at home. The Northwest doesn't get enough credit for being baseball fanatics. And you saw from the large crowd today and the support we've been getting all year long that the Northwest really enjoys its baseball. It's fun to come out and play in front of strong crowds, and even more special to have grown up here and have that kind of support from my wife and my daughters is great. And to know when I go on the road they're safe and have family here. It's a storybook season so far. Hopefully it will just continue.
Q. Can you talk about how you felt on the mound, did you have command of your curve ball?
AARON SELE: In the first inning, I'm trying to get a feel, and I was up a little bit. Ray took advantage of it, looked at some pitches that were high and got a walk. We were able to turn the double play, like I said, with Alex, and that kind of seemed to get things rolling. I was able to throw some good pitches, and they put good wood on a few of them. Like I said before, I just was trying to use the defense out there, and Joe Oliver and Dan Wilson all year long, those two guys are a big reason that this pitching staff is doing so well. Tom Lampkin, he was there. We talked to him in the dugout in between innings, and those guys just were able to move the ball around, even though I was 2-0, 3-1, early in the game. Joe was able to call pitches, whether they were curve balls or whatever they were to get me back in a situation to get a good ground ball.
Q. Aaron, you were on two Texas teams that weren't able to get by the Division Series. Now you're on one that got by it, and pretty convincingly. Is that through attitude, there must have been a whole attitude, chemistry in the locker room that sort of pushed you over the top?
AARON SELE: Well, the players and the attitude and the team chemistry we had in Texas was really special. They were great players, and we played hard, and we just weren't able to knock off the Yankees. They just played better than we did. But over here, we've got something special, too, in the clubhouse. From Spring Training on, the guys have really gelled together. We've got a lot of veterans on this club. And through the ups and downs of a 162-game season, we shrugged some things off and didn't get too down. When we were playing well, we didn't get too high. Just steady baseball. Lou is taking advantage of the personnel on this team. He started Raul, which probably surprised a few of you today. We mixed and matched all year long, and played together. Today is a great example of our team play.
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