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October 8, 2010

Dusty Baker


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Dusty Baker.

Q. How important is it to beat Oswalt tonight? What would that mean to the team? And you guys definitely don't want to face Cole Hamels down 0-2?
DUSTY BAKER: You're going to have to face Cole sooner or later, but the thing about it, you'd like to go home 1-1. I think that's the most important thing here. Get on the board with a win, get the season -- and the series back to even, and it's a chance not to have to come back here. A chance to go home 1-1 and maybe celebrate at home. So tonight's a real big game for us. And we'd like to get on the board.

Q. Oswalt obviously had a pretty good career record against you guys leading up until the last few games where you got to him. What did you guys do different? How were you able to change your fortune against him?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, probably the main thing is that most of these guys weren't even here when he had his run. You know, he started his run back in the days when we had Griffey and Dunn, and a lot of the players. All these guys haven't really faced him that much. They don't know the history, and they really don't even care about it, actually, because it's a new, different team. I mean, there are some guys here that have faced him, but as a general rule when he was having that heck of a run there, most of these guys weren't even here.

Q. How does a crowd help or hurt a baseball team? And have you ever played for or played on or managed for a team where a crowd has either dramatically helped you in a game or hurt you in a game?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, I mean, big time. I mean, I remember when I was a very young player, when I was with the Braves and we used to come into the Riverfront and they used to hurt us. Everybody was in red, they started making a bunch of noise, and then we had a 9-2 lead and were afraid the big red machine was going to show up and they did.
Then I've also been on teams where it's helped us a lot. When I was in LA with the Dodgers, it was called the 10th player. This is what we called the fans. I've been to Yankee Stadium when it hurt you. I've been to San Francisco when it helped you. So the crowd does have a -- I mean, the crowd means a lot. The noise level, you can feel the energy and the spirit of the crowd energizing your team. So, the crowd means a lot. These guys perform better and play well in a big crowd.

Q. Did you get a chance to watch Lincecum last night in the Giants game?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, I watched him.

Q. What did you think of that performance compared to the one you guys saw?
DUSTY BAKER: He was nasty. He was throwing the ball hard again they told me early. Midpart of the year he wasn't throwing the ball very hard, as usual. Which takes away some of his deceptiveness. The harder you throw, the sooner you've got to start your swing. The more susceptible you are to changeups or bad pitches in the dirt or bad pitches out of the zone. So he was vintage Lincecum last night. Boy, he was nasty.

Q. We've seen so many in just the first three days of the playoffs, we've seen a lot of great pitching performances. Is that kind of what you expect this time of the year in all your playoff experience, that you're going to get these low-scoring games?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, you're going to get the pitcher's best. You've got Lee. I saw him the other day in Texas. I mean, you're going to see their best pitchers that they have. You're probably not going to see many fours and fives, because this is the time of the year when you're going to go with it or look back in the day with Arizona, basically. They had Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling and those guys were going on a few days rest because you're running out there with your best.
When I was a kid, they used to say -- what did they say, Spahn and Sain, and pray for rain. This is nothing new, this goes way back, and I'm sure it will continue.

Q. Obviously I'm sure you're aware you haven't scored in this building in a long time, 30 innings, I believe.
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, you guys keep reminding me.

Q. Coming off the no-hitter, and you've been around your guys in the clubhouse, how do you expect them to respond and rebound tonight?
DUSTY BAKER: I expect them to do like they always do. This is the very same team. We haven't scored here in this ballpark, but we've faced what, Hamels once, we've faced Halladay twice. So it's not like we've been facing some less than quality pitchers. We've been facing the same pitchers.
Hey, our guys aren't intimidated. Our guys have a short memory, and our guys have a great way of forgetting yesterday if it was bad.

Q. Game 3, Johnny Cueto, how do you think he'll respond to a long layoff between starts? Has he handled that pretty well?
DUSTY BAKER: I think so. He's learned himself. He's learned how to get his work in in the bullpen. I mean, he works hard, he runs a lot. And, you know, this is the time when he's getting to the point in his career, even though he's still very young and hasn't been here very long, he really knows himself and he knows his body.
So I think he'll be outstanding when we get back home.

Q. Brandon talked a little bit about a meeting that you had with the club and only a few minutes after you were swept here in July. Talk a little bit about that meeting, and talk about when you knew this team was mentally tough enough to be in it for the long haul? Was there any particular point in the season that really impressed you?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, there were two points. Number one, we got swept here, and the meeting was brief because everybody was getting out of here for All-Star break or else it would have been longer.
But you have to be resilient in this game. You can't take negatives forward with you. You have to learn from it, you build upon them, and then the second time is when we got swept by St. Louis. And I reminded them of this already happened once, so, hey, man, we came out of it one time, let's come out of it a second time.
This game you have to be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually strong to sustain the daily grind, to sustain the ups and downs of life and baseball. The teams that are collectively the strongest mentally are the teams that can come out of anything, and this is a very strong team that we have.

Q. We get back to this home-field advantage, the Rays and the Twins are 0-2 at home. Baseball's not football or basketball, but you can't play with that sort of sustained passion, adrenaline, whatever you want to call it. You have to kind of tone it down. How does a home crowd maybe make guys feel more relaxed, but how does a home crowd help a team, especially a team like yours? And second question, do you think your team has been affected at all or was affected Wednesday night by the people in this crowd?
DUSTY BAKER: I'll take it backwards forward. I don't think we were affected at all by this crowd. We were affected by Doc Halladay. And Doc affected the crowd. That's how it went.
As far as you look at almost every team in baseball, they are only probably two handfuls of teams that played .500 or better on the road, and there has to be a reason for it. Some of it is home cooking, some of it is you're familiar with your surroundings, some of it you sleep in your own bed, a lot of it has to do with your home crowd as well. If that wasn't the case, I mean, everybody would play well on the road.
I don't know what the numbers are, but I know in our division, I think we were the only one that played .500 or better in our division. And it's been that on the road, and it's been the team that's played the best on the road the last seven out of eight years in our division is the one that's gone to the playoffs.
There has to be something to playing at home. I think everybody would have played at home. You know your stadium, the prevailing winds, the weather, you know everything there is to know about your home stadium. I mean, it's not called home for nothing.

End of FastScripts

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