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October 3, 2007

Jeff Francis

Clint Hurdle


Q. Jeff, what was the difference in your outing here this time, what adjustments did you have to make against this lineup?
JEFF FRANCIS: Well, I know at least for sure in that game I pitched here in September, I didn't execute pitches very well. I was behind in the count a lot.
I think today, just throw strikes early in the count and keep guys more off balance. When you have strikes early in the count, guys might be more defensive, and the results were better.

Q. Jeff, did those two outings against the Phillies here and also back home, did they get in your head at all and is that something you had to deal with? Was it just execution? And the second question, Clint, can you comment on the job your bullpen has done.
JEFF FRANCIS: I think I'm always aware of the successes I've had or not successes I've had against teams. You know it's there and you try not to let it get to you because you know it's just a matter of execution. If I go up there and make my pitches, and they still -- then I have a lot of adjustments today. Today I stayed ahead in the count for the most part.
CLINT HURDLE: Well, our bullpen obviously was very efficient again today. They have been on a very impressive run. They all want the ball. I've been in some situations, playoff teams, some guys in the bullpen, they want it when they want it and these guys want it. They want it and do some things. They want to back up the starter, they want to protect the lead, they want to keep us close if we're behind and they have just found a way to complement each other out there very, very well.

Q. Can you talk about the tone you set maybe just even internally your confidence and the confidence in your whole team?
JEFF FRANCIS: Yeah, I think it was good for all of us, and not that I was out there to strike people out, but that's kind of the way it went with the first four batters. I was making something good pitches with two strikes, and I think it kind of set us on a good roll. Then we scored those runs in the second inning.

Q. Jeff, it looked like you and the bullpen did a really nice job of painting the corners. Is that pretty much the key to succeeding against the Phillies?
JEFF FRANCIS: Yeah, it's probably the key to succeed against any team. You can't leave it over the heart of the plate at any time. You need to be able to throw balls and strikes effectively; not only me, but Troy, Brian and Manny were exceptional.

Q. Clint, could you talk about the quick turnaround and how that may have positively affected your team because they are young and because they were in the pennant race and just not a lot of time to think about the enormity of the playoffs?
CLINT HURDLE: You know, there's a lot of things continue to be said, whether it be hangover, quick turnaround; we won 91 games; we have a good team.
And they believe in that clubhouse that they have a good team, and they show up ready to play when it's time to play. I have more questions today about were we fatigued; we didn't have a turnaround; we didn't have a break; we didn't have a rest. All I know is we got time to catch our breath, we got ready to play a game, we felt comfortable with Francis on the mound. He had two rough outings against these guys and he's as good as anybody to right or wrong, and I felt very confident he would go out there and he would take the ballgame to them. With the exception of one inning, Cole Hamels pitched extremely well for them and who would have thought an old-fashioned National League game would break out at this ballpark.

Q. I know it didn't have any relevance in the game, but when you took Jeff out, at the beginning of the inning, you didn't pinch hit for him. There has to be a reason for it?
CLINT HURDLE: We had a Plan A and Plan B. I was not comfortable with some of the matchups I had. I was trying to find a way to roll the dice and do something with Francis at the bat and get us another run and I just didn't want to burn personnel. We went from having 4700 players to 25, and I didn't want to roll over Manny, but I wanted to try to find a way to maybe get him back out there with a two-run lead because the more outs he can get, the less number of outs the bullpen has got to get. So I rolled the dice that way and I got some very good advice from a manager that has done this way more than I have. He said, you get a gut feeling in this thing kid, roll with it and that's what he said to me. I had a couple different gut feelings today and we went. Sometimes they work and sometimes it's indigestion. I wanted to make some moves out there.

Q. For the first time in a few weeks that you didn't have to win without the season being over; was it more relaxing?
JEFF FRANCIS: I think we've had the same energy we've had every day for the last two and a half weeks. I think we are going to try to keep that energy level high throughout the whole thing. You know, we come out, we're confident, and that's about it.

Q. You had five strikeouts against Utley and Howard combined; what does that mean to shut those two down?
JEFF FRANCIS: Well, they are the key hitters in that lineup most definitely. That's what you want to do, and you want to be able to put them away quickly. You don't want to mess around and fortunately they were swinging and missing. It really wasn't total intention, but if they are going to miss it, then that's great.

Q. Your catcher had obviously a complete game. Can you comment on him behind the plate, and Clint, if you can comment, obviously you picked up a key hit in the second inning.
JEFF FRANCIS: He's great. He knows how to work the pitchers. It's great. Every time he comes out to the mound, he's got something good to say. It's not always serious, but that's the kind of catcher he is. He's a good leader. He does our homework probably more than we do.

Q. Could you give a little example, humor?
JEFF FRANCIS: Well, no examples. He comes out and he keeps it loose when he needs to and when he needs to kick you in the butt, then he does.
CLINT HURDLE: He's very efficient with a pat on the back or a smack on the back side. There's only three-foot difference but a whole lot of dynamics change when he goes out there. It's not always giggles when he goes out there, a lot of time it's a smile, reassuring hand and other times he'll just go out and bite a little bit and get their attention. He's had a real good feel for our staff and as Jeff said he does an incredible amount of homework, incredible amount of homework. To have him hit at the bottom of the order and not be able to flip it up, he has a little barrel on his bat and every now and then he'll drive in some runs. He's a very good fit for our ballclub.
He plays with an edge and he plays with some emotion and it fits in well in our ballpark because we have some guys that are very confident and you don't see a lot of emotion out of them. So, it's a nice fit.

Q. Talk about your approach in the second inning against Hamels, it seemed like your scouting department did a wonderful job, and since this is the first time you guys had seen him, the first time you had faced him and the patience of your team at the plate?
CLINT HURDLE: Our scouting report gave us some things that came into play a number of times today that we'll keep under the vest because we've got a long way to go.
He's a guy that you try to get a feel for him early and if he's quick and efficient, you might have to fire early. But if you think that, you know, he's not -- he's not where he needs to be, and we thought if we could make him labor a little bit early, he's a rookie kid but he's got a big ceiling and he's got a great arm.
So if we can get some situations where we can get him to labor a little bit, it might work to our advantage. And maybe lay off some pitches, not fire at anything we didn't think was a fast ball early in the count, make him throw it for strikes; and with the exception of that one inning, he pretty much threw whatever he wanted for strikes.

Q. You gave up the back-to-back home runs and the one to Burrell looked like a pop up to first. Were you surprised to see that go out ask when it did, how did you get yourself back together and avoid having that frustration snowballing you?
JEFF FRANCIS: Well, I don't know if I was surprised that it went out. I think off the bat, it went through my head right away, you know, in this park -- it's the same for both teams. You can't really complain.
It's just nice to have that three-run lead. You know, you give up a home run and still got a two-run lead. You give up back-to-back and it's loud as heck at the ballpark, but you're still winning. That's the nice thing about having a three-run lead.

Q. You mentioned you got advice from some other manager, can you say who that was?
CLINT HURDLE: No, he doesn't need the distraction. It's the off-season right now so we'll just leave him alone.

Q. Looking forward to Game 2 with Morales on the mound; what can we expect and what do you expect from him?
CLINT HURDLE: He pitches with his heart. He obviously uses his left arm pretty efficiently also. He brings it. He works quick, he's got a quick arm. He's a young kid that can throw that curveball at 70 miles an hour and then he can run the fastball in the low 90s, so he gives you a gap that you have to cover as a hitter; he can speed you up, he can slow you down. He's very aggressive and a good athlete and fields his position.
He has pitched here before which I think might help his comfort zone a little bit, and we don't have any problem giving him the ball right now. These guys have come in and given us the biggest shot in the arm in our rotation when we sprung a couple flat tires.

Q. How big is winning Game 1 in a five-game series?
CLINT HURDLE: I don't know. I don't have any experience to draw upon. (Laughter.)
But I would think it would beat the heck out of losing Game 1. And from there, I mean, our focus from start till now has just been, you know what we're going to do tomorrow, we're going to show up and get ready to win a game tomorrow. That's what we're going to do. Obviously this is a venue that provides some challenges. But we've come in here a couple different times and held our own.
I was very, again, our team plays with a lot of confidence and they play with a slow heartbeat so I don't expect it to be much different tomorrow.

Q. Brian walks the leadoff guy and gets Rollins to pop up. Can you describe your emotions during the interval between those two things?
CLINT HURDLE: I have a good feeling with Brian. I'm probably the one guy that I just sit down and let him pitch. I just put him out there and let him pitch. We've seen it before. We've seen him go through people very quick and efficiently and seen him have 20, 25-pitch innings. It's not always the way you draw it up but he gets out and he gets big outs. Nobody wants to walk the leadoff hitter, least of all the pitcher that's out there. That being said, sometimes it redirects his focus and he was able to respond very well after that.

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