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October 5, 2007

Bob Melvin


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Could you talk about the mindset of the team coming here up 2-0?
BOB MELVIN: Well, obviously to take both games at home and then coming into a place like this, which obviously is going to be pretty enthusiastic and so forth, you always like to take two, and you know it's coming back home.
So we're going to continue to look at it the same way, which is day-to-day and not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Q. Is there any danger with your team of getting too far ahead of yourselves do you think?
BOB MELVIN: No. You know, we've been pretty consistent all year about the long-term being the series and kind of mid-term being that game and taking it pitch to pitch and from at-bat to at-bat, and that's the way we'll continue to take it.

Q. What challenges does playing at Wrigley Field bring?
BOB MELVIN: Well, obviously it's not like playing at home. Very passionate fans, but a great place to play. So I know our guys are looking forward to the atmosphere here. Most of our guys were here earlier in the season. It's always going to be packed here obviously.
It's going to be a little different in a playoff atmosphere. But hopefully it serves us well that we were here one time and had a little success here, albeit we didn't see their complete roster. They were minus a guy each time, I think Derrek Lee one time and Soriano the other.
So this is an offensive ballpark, or can be. They have a very good offensive team, so we're going to have to pitch well and execute our pitches.

Q. Did you get any satisfaction in the fact that it seemed like a lot of people didn't know much about your team, a bunch of no-names, and to see them play so well on a national stage the first two games?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, especially the first game. I think we came out with a lot of energy and were really in awe of the situation. You know, it's nice to take a lead, especially in the first game.
It's nice to have your ace on the mound in Brandon Webb. The confidence factor that goes along with having him on the mound, and then to put that first game away and have a little bit of a sense of what playoff atmosphere is like after that and to respond to a deficit, early deficit yesterday, to come back with a four-spot in the bottom half of the inning, I think goes a long way in letting our guys know that they can play on this stage.

Q. With the opportunity tomorrow to seal the deal, would there be anyone else you'd want on the bump other than Hernandez with his experience in the postseason?
BOB MELVIN: That's a point good. That was one of the factors when we set up our rotation is we know Livo has been through this before and isn't afraid to pitch on the road, the one guy at least with our rotation that's had some experience in the postseason, has been the MVP of a World Series, has pitched a 7th game, so that went into the thinking, as well.
Every time Livo takes the ball we have confidence in him. He's got that kind of aura about him, that he's afraid of nothing and not a whole lot bothers him, and I think he's the right guy for us to run out there tomorrow.

Q. You've played in what is perceived as the toughest division in the National League and had the most wins. What did that do for your confidence coming into the playoffs?
BOB MELVIN: Well, everything that we've been through this year I think has set us up to be able to go through the last couple weeks of the season and get into the postseason and so forth, the one-run games.
We played a lot of close games. I think that gives us some confidence that when it gets tight at the end we can draw from the successes that we've had earlier this year then.
You know, it's been a constant grind throughout the season. We did end up with the best record in the National League, so I think everything that we accomplish kind of ups our confidence to an extent. And playing in a very tough division where it was pitching dominant, especially starting pitching dominant, we'll stay with it.
Even if we don't get off to a good start or we're not swinging the bat too terribly well early on, we keep grinding and keep staying with it. I think that's a product of playing in our division and in as many close games as we played in our division.

Q. Can you talk about what Livo's leadership ability is in the clubhouse? It seems like he means a lot to at least a lot of guys in that clubhouse, and he kind of took a front and center presence there in Denver after you guys clinched. What did that show you?
BOB MELVIN: He's been through it, and he's got that calm presence about him that nothing really bothers him. I think between he and Tony Clark and some of our guys that we do have with experience, we feed off of that.
You know, we get contributions from everybody. We need to get contributions from everybody. But there's kind of a feel and a sense that with a Livo, with a Tony, that there are some guys that have been through it and have big shoulders and can kind of shoulder some of the load, where the younger guys just go out there and play.
A lot of the media stuff and a lot of the outside stuff that can -- I don't want to say bog you down, but it can distract you a little bit. Those are the guys we kind of lean on, and Livo is one of those guys.
That's why I think it serves us well that he's pitching the first game on the road here.

Q. Can you talk about the contribution you received from Stephen Drew both offensively and defensively these first two games?
BOB MELVIN: It's not a surprise. And if anybody was around and watched Stephen's season unfold, he's had a lot of frustrations, a lot of balls this year. A group of guys hear me talk about this every day. But a guy that we've been behind, no matter what's gone on with him he can bring it defensively, he can bring it offensively.
And I think it's rewarding for him going through the season he did and kind of looking at the numbers that he's never had to see before to be able to come off the mat and be a key guy here in the first couple games of the playoffs, both offensively and defensively.
This is a guy with a very high ceiling. He's going to be a star. And I think going through a season like he did, as frustrating as it is for him, on the backside of this, come next year, he's going to be stronger for it, he's going to be tougher for it, and certainly will have a better full season next year.
But he's shouldering a lot of the offensive load right now.

Q. You may disagree with this assessment, but in the first two games your pitchers threw a lot of breaking stuff, a lot of slow stuff. Do you think Livan is kind of a change-up to that, a harder thrower, or is there any change to the Cubs with a lot of big swingers might fare better against a pitcher like that?
BOB MELVIN: That's yet to be determined. He's kind of different. One thing about Livo is you can throw the scouting reports out. He's going to pitch his game. He knows the opponent, and he knows how he's going to attack. But more importantly, he has to go to his strengths.
You know, we did throw some off speed stuff. Webby obviously with the sinker, that plays anywhere. So we kind of tailor the game plan to the particular starter, and he made it seem a little bit softer yesterday from Doug.
Obviously Webby always threw the sinker, but his secondary stuff was good, too. But Livo is going to go out there and do his thing. We don't want him throwing his third pitch to a guy just because a guy can't hit a pitch. He's going to throw to his strength, and that never changes with Livo.

Q. What did you learn from Rich Hill when you faced him in July here?
BOB MELVIN: We've seen him in Spring Training some, too. Obviously great curveball and can pitch up and down as well as in and out. I know he's pitched much better here as of late than when we saw him earlier in the year. We've seen a lot of left-handers here coming down the stretch and have had some success.
But when this guy has got his curveball going and can alternate with his fastball, you look at his numbers, especially the last month or so, he's pitched very well. We'll take him like anybody that we go out there.
We respect the heck out of him. We'll try to grind as hard as we can and hopefully try to get some pitch counts up and potentially try to get into the bullpen early.

Q. You mentioned that Livo and Tony are really just a couple of guys that have experience in that clubhouse, so how do you account for the fact that the younger guys seem so nonplussed and unaffected by this?
BOB MELVIN: You know, the very enthusiastic I think when you start out fairly well you gain some confidence because of it. You can see Chris Young when he hit the homerun yesterday. I mean, it just elevated himself to where the more you do this, especially on a stage like this, the more confidence and belief that you can do it here.
You know, the younger guys kind of feed off some of our veteran guys, but we have so much youth here that I think they get caught up in the moment and don't look too far ahead and the distractions that are involved with this.
I think having success early on leads them to believe that they can do it here and just gets you more and more confidence as you go along.

Q. Teams that are down 2-0 have a tendency to challenge themselves at the plate. Strategy-wise, does your pitcher just go at them, or do they pitch to their strength?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, Livo is just going to pitch to his strength. Brandon Webb is going to pitch to his strength. Some other guys might have to go a little more to the weaknesses of the hitters, but those two guys are going to pitch to their strength.
The way we're looking at it right now, we just play for the game, whether we're down 2-0, whether we're up 2-0, whether it's tied, we try to concentrate on that particular game and not get too far ahead of it, and that's exactly the way we're going to try to play tomorrow.

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