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October 9, 2009

Joe Torre


Q. You've been successful thus far pitching around Pujols. Can you discuss that strategy and whether you're going to keep that up?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, I mean, he's dangerous. Again, Matt Holliday, I have some history with Matt Holliday, too, because when he was with the Rockies, he beat my brains in. So I certainly know what his capabilities are.
To me, Albert is just out there in a class by himself. You know, his ability to just hit it far, hit it often, does a lot of things. It may cost me here tomorrow, I don't know, you know, a three-run homer instead of a two-run homer. But I'm still going to make somebody else beat me.

Q. Before the series started, most analysts out there, which I know you don't give a lot of credit to, but most of them thought you guys were clearly the underdog, that you guys could even be swept. Now you're coming in 2-0, which surprises a lot of people. How surprised are you?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, not being thought of as favorites doesn't bother me a bit. You still have to play the game. I mean, I've been on both sides of this thing, and what other people think, it's certainly their opinion, and that's what they're paid to do, and I have no problem with that. I have no problem with that.
The thing -- the only thing I concern myself with is making sure the players don't get caught up in anything negative. Right now -- we got lucky. We got lucky yesterday. We got lucky the day before with all the men they had on base and we were able to escape.
We still need to come out here and pitch.
To me, I thought Kershaw maybe didn't have his best stuff, but he battled Wainwright tooth and nail. Wainwright was unbelievable for me. I was talking to Bob Schaefer during that -- late in the game, and we just talked about, this is old-time baseball where your starter gets out of the jams. He was remarkable. Not that it was a surprise, but he was great. It's going to be about pitching.
We need Padilla to come out here and keep us in the game, and if something good happens for us, then we'll have a good result.
I'm very proud of our late bullpen. We've done a good job there, and we've done a pretty good job all year of being able to shut things down when we get late in the game, and hopefully we can have a lead in that situation again.

Q. Just your thoughts on the Cardinals start tomorrow, Pineiro.
JOE TORRE: We've faced him. Again, when you have pitchers come from this organization, you know they've been taught. I have a great deal of respect for Dave Duncan and what he's done over the years. He has taken pitchers who -- and one of my pitchers, Weaver was in the World Series here, won a World Series game. He's very good at what he does. And I've seen big changes in Pineiro where they keep the ball down, they keep the ball down, they keep the ball down. They make you work. They make you work. He takes guys -- not all of them, but some guys who have a tendency to want to throw the ball by you and makes them think a little bit. Pineiro is one of those guys who has really had a great transformation in what he's done here.
Again, it's not going to be any different approach from us. We're still going to need to get pitches to hit, get pitches to hit.
Wainwright was tough yesterday because he threw a lot of strikes and a lot of quality strikes, where we didn't swing early in the count and we got ourselves in the hole. But we have to just go about it the same way.

Q. You've been in a similar situation to the Cardinals when obviously you were in New York and came back and won. To get beat with your two best pitchers, to be down 0-2 in a best of five, where does that basically leave you in a situation like this?
JOE TORRE: It leaves you having to win the next game, and I'm not saying that to be funny. I've had it, too. A little different though when I was with the Yankees, we lost the first two games at home, and we wound up on the positive side of that one.
Even though you look at it as winning the rest of the games, you just have to go out and do what you do. The Cardinals didn't win first place here in the central by mistake. They're a good team.
There was one game, and I'm not referring to the Cardinals, but the Giants, I know you're probably all familiar with this one game, where the Giants and the Rockies were going back and forth, and extra innings, whatever it was, 10, 12, 13 innings, and the Giants, I think, scored four runs in the top half of the inning, and Rockies come back and score five. I didn't even want to think about what Bruce Bochy was going through, and they went home and they swept the next series.
That's what we're conditioned to do. It doesn't look good, and it doesn't feel good for sure. But just like on our side of it, we can't go in here tomorrow and think that okay, we've got a 2-nothing lead; it shouldn't be a problem. Any time we start thinking like that, we're going to get our ass kicked.

Q. You used the term "lucky" to describe the first two games. How truly fortunate do you think you are to be in this position?
JOE TORRE: I'm very fortunate. Matt Holliday is a good player, and a ball got lost in the lights or whatever because he certainly didn't see it. You can just see -- I watched the replay, and initially when it happened I thought he lost it in the lights, just the way he sort of tried to -- like a football, trying to just gather it. But you get breaks like that. You get breaks like that. You hope you can take advantage of it. It's not like we hit the ball to the wall.
Loretta threw one of those lobs out there, and it just happened to fall in a spot where nobody was. That stuff is lucky. Again -- but you make your own luck by going up there and having the determination of a Mark Loretta who's never been in this spot before and wasn't going to be frightened about it. He went out there. He wasn't afraid to get embarrassed, and I think that's the key to being able to compete.

Q. Getting back on being in the 0-2 situation and that year where you faced that predicament with Oakland, did you find when you guys won Game 3 that maybe the psychology of the situation changed a little bit, that the feeling maybe Oakland was starting to feel some pressure, and conversely, if the Cardinals would get Game 3 do you think it maybe sort of transfers to you more than maybe it would have?
JOE TORRE: You're right, and the reason you know the emotions is because when you're on both sides of them, you know how the other manager feels. Tony and I sort of waved at each other last night on our way by each other. I didn't have to say anything. I know how he feels. I went through that thing in 2004 with the Red Sox. It's a horrible feeling.
What we do is not easy. It's a lot of fun when it's over with, but there's no question in postseason, unlike the regular season, momentums switch very quickly. You know, you win a game, and all of a sudden you start feeling pretty good about yourself. We did that in Oakland; we won that game 1-nothing. Again, there was a little luck there with Jeter being in the spot where it's known to become the flip game now.
You just sort of try to chip away at the other team's confidence is what you try to do, and then build yours up.

Q. What have been your impressions of Manny's two games so far?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, Manny has been so important during his whole career, and he's been so important for us.
Last year what he did for us when he came over here was amazing, and not only the fact that he hit .400 or whatever it was, but what he helped do with these kids in development, just showing them they can have a little fun while they play the game, too.
Right now I think he understands what his responsibilities are, and I think he's trying too hard. If he sits there and you ask him that question, he'll deny it. But I think at times he tries to do a little bit too much. When he stays within himself and hits line drives and doesn't try to be a game breaker like the last -- with Franklin, I think it looked like he was trying to hit the ball deep, and he may have got the middle of the bat instead of the fat of the bat in that ninth inning. But to me he's still the same guy.
It's a little tougher for him to be the same guy, but he's still the same teammate that they knew from last year. But right now he's not as comfortable as we would like him to be or he would like to be, and I think a lot of it is the fact that he didn't really have any spring training. You miss 50 games and then you come back and start playing, it's unlike going through spring training and coming in, even though he had time off and he could go to the gym and do all that stuff. It's still not the same.

Q. Padilla attributed his success with this organization in a short time as to being immediately comfortable when he came here. How surprised are you with how successful he's been, and did you expect that when you picked him up?
JOE TORRE: I really didn't know. The only little inside information we had was he played for Larry Bowa. That certainly helped. You get to know the personality of people. He knew different guys in the clubhouse. I think that helped him somewhat. Having pitched against us, you knew he at times could be pretty electric with his stuff. You could see how he competes. He's a little bit of an intimidator. He's not intimidated, and he just goes about -- he's been easy for me. He's been easy for me. I'm glad he feels comfortable. We want to make sure that he feels that he's important, that's for sure, and I think handing him the ball for Game 3 did that.
But I'd like to believe he felt that beforehand. But we expect him to go out there and compete. If it's going to be good enough, we're going to find out.

Q. You talked about chipping away at the confidence. Obviously your club couldn't feel any better than it did after yesterday. Almost everybody pitching and hitting contributed in some way to that win. Is there a way to carry that over or use it in any regard in this game coming up? I know you did the same last year, but those two were in Wrigley, and trying to close them out here.
JOE TORRE: You know, you sort of don't want to get in the way. These guys -- I have had a very unusual club all year, where you have a 50/50 home stand, you're scratching your head, we're going to Philadelphia, we're going to Chicago, and all of a sudden there they are; who are these guys? This is a different club that we just played here the last week.
The one thing I know is they're out there and they're not afraid of anything. Saying that, I don't want you to think they're cocky in any way. They understand, because it's been -- they've been conditioned and drilled, and we don't really let a lot of things stray without talking to them about things. So they know.
And of course the additions of Loretta and Ausmus and Casey Blake and Manny and all those guys, and Hudson and all these guys with experience have certainly helped everybody keep from taking things for granted. It really has. I don't know, we'll probably say something. We do every day. But if I'm going to give them any message, it's just going to be just continue to grind it, that's all. You're certainly not going to go out and think you're going to beat somebody up, not with the kind of pitching that this club can throw at you. So we have to make sure we try to maintain our patience and just don't get down.
I think yesterday's game is a game which could be used as a learning tool for a lot of kids who think the game is over. It's never over. 27 outs, you can't run the clock out. You just have to get every single out, and those last three or four are really tough.

Q. You mentioned the lucky aspect, that you guys were not totally lucky, but to be up 2-0 --
JOE TORRE: Well, you make your own luck, but the fact that they made an error that gave us the extra, and then the ball -- the ball is hit in the air, it's an out. I mean, that's how screwy this game is.

Q. You've left a lot of guys on base. Is that part of it, too, that you're referring to?
JOE TORRE: We leave guys on base this time of year, it doesn't bother me. That tells me we're getting opportunities. If you're doing it in May or June you say, guys, we've got to do something about this. I don't know what they'd do because when there are men on base you all try to knock them in. But when you get to this time of year, you get enough opportunities, you're going to cash in. If we're going to leave men on base, so be it, as long as we have more than the other team at the end of the game.
You can sit there and lament it afterwards if you're on the other side. But opportunities is what it's all about. You have to remember, this time of year, even though you have men on base, those guys pitching against you are on the mound for a reason, because they're pretty damned good. It's not always that you fail, it's that other people do a job better than you.

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