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October 3, 2006

Ron Gardenhire


Q. Ron, what did you think of Zito today, and specifically, your hitters' approach against him?
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, he was good. He located the ball, changed speeds. Early in the game we chased some high pitches, looked like we could have made him work, and probably chased out of the zone a little bit. That's what he does, though, when he snaps the big breaking ball, he has got a lot of exceptions, so he located very well today and he pitched good. He made it tough on us, we hit a few balls hard, but not that many.
He made a lot of good pitches, and once he got on a roll, which we all know guys like that do that, it gets a little tougher as the game goes on.

Q. Gardy, what did you think of the way Johan pitched, and just in terms of your team being able to come back knowing how good he has been at home?
RON GARDENHIRE: Yeah, Johan was great. The one -- I think the homerun he gave up to Frank was a changeup. He was behind a 3-1 count and he threw a changeup, and big Frank threw his arms out there a little bit, and he can muscle the ball over, and he made a mistake to Scutaro, he put it in the right place down the left field line.
Other than that, he was real good. He went on a roll and was bumping it in there pretty quick, I think the one Bartlett missed, that one ball and cost him an extra 25 pitches, and that kind of put him over the limit, 100 plus pitches over eight innings looked like he was going to be able to finish that ball game.

Q. Would you handle Thomas any differently if he wasn't constantly leading off innings in a tie game?
RON GARDENHIRE: We never got a chance to pitch around him that much. He shot the one ball to the right, but I think Jesse was actually trying to throw a sinker, that's what he said.
I didn't see where the location of the ball was, but obviously it was not a good pitch because he killed it. We know Frank is going to swing like that, and we know he is going to make hits on balls. You've got to make pitches as best you can. If you have an opportunity to pitch around him, you do that.

Q. Gardy, how important was it for Rondell to get out like this for the series to set a tone?
RON GARDENHIRE: He has been swinging good and he has had some leg issues, but he has been swinging the bat very good, so we need a lot of guys to get going here, obviously. This is a good pitching staff we are facing here. He doesn't make it easy, and Rondell put some good swings on the bat today. That would be beneficial if we could get a few other guys to join in maybe as a unit.

Q. After Bartlett's leadoff double in the eighth, can you take us through Castillo's at-bat?
RON GARDENHIRE: I told him, basically, home plate, bunt the ball, whatever. The first one he tried to push towards first base, and he saw the guy bonsai'ing him, and after that pitch I told him no, we want you to bunt the ball to third base, and he saw the guy bonsai'ing again, so he took a swing.
He was coming in crashing pretty hard, and ended up not getting the job done. That's the bottom line. I talked to him afterwards. We have had that situation a few times, and when it's a bunt situation like that, we give him the option if they are bonsai'ing all over to shoot the ball, but it just didn't work out.

Q. Gardy, can you just talk about how tough it is -- how tough it is to swallow with Johan starting the first game?
RON GARDENHIRE: It's happened before, he has lost a couple games down the stretch there where we didn't score any runs. This team is pretty resilient. We will come out fighting tomorrow and see what happens.
The disappointing thing is Johan gave us exactly what we thought he would. He went out and shut them down offensively. We didn't do a lot to them. The dome helps. One ball, a fly ball, where you lose it in the roof and gave it a chance. Morneau killed the ball in right field.
But we came up short offensively, we came up short, we didn't have enough swings, and that's probably more to Zito than anything else. He was very good today.

Q. Crain, just in terms of -- he pitched pretty well late September. Where are you at confidence with him after that outing?
RON GARDENHIRE: Jesse has been great. He has been throwing better than the rest of the guys out there, and you get right-left-right situations, Jesse is the guy we have been going to, and he has been throwing the ball fantastic.
Big Frank can do that to you. He can drive the baseball. If you make a mistake and he can get his hands on it, he can kill you, and that's what happened. He threw one that didn't quite sink, and he whacked it.

Q. Did you expect such a great pitching (inaudible)?
RON GARDENHIRE: I think going in, that's what you set up for. Zito and Santana, two very good left-handers in this league that have been doing it for a while, and you expect the game to be tense, and you looked at the one mistake we made, and I thought this could kill you right here with Bartlett, but that's how good Santana is, he pitched through it and got us back in the dugout, and Zito was just as good, if not better, he didn't give us too many opportunities today to score runs.

Q. Can you just talk about the emotion and the adrenaline with 55,000 people screaming their heads off this afternoon?
RON GARDENHIRE: Yeah, huge crowd, the place is loud, you know that coming into the dome, and they did their part. We just didn't come up and give them enough to yell about offensively, but Zito was pretty good today. He can shut your offense down. And you try to figure out ways to get to him, but he didn't give us many opportunities, didn't open doors. He had some quick innings, sat there and said, "Well, he is getting ahead with the fastball, you better get him first pitch, you end up popping it up and then you can have a four- or five-pitch inning. That's hard to attack a guy when he is using all of his pitches like that for strikes.

End of FastScripts...

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