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October 9, 2010

Ron Gardenhire


Q. Gardy, yesterday you had mentioned that you were thinking about starting Casilla in this game. Can you tell us about that decision?
RON GARDENHIRE: Yes, I didn't start him. I started Hardy. Just left it alone. Just looked at where we're at and wanted Hardy back out there to catch the ball. Make sure we do those things. Casilla can come off the bench. Like it where it's at. Mixed the lineup a little bit with Kubel behind Mauer like we've done throughout the year. Get a lefty in there behind him with a righty pitching, and other than that, I wanted Hardy back out there.

Q. There's been some discussion over the year, of expanding this series to the best of seven. Any thoughts on that either way?
RON GARDENHIRE: I'm trying to figure out how to win tonight. I can't worry about that right now. These short series are different for sure. We've all talked about that. It is what it is. We have to figure out how to win tonight and go from there. Wide open. If they want to do stuff like that, it would be fine.

Q. As much as you need everyone to play better, how much do you need Joe Mauer to be the Joe Mauer that he's been for the past several years? Are you looking for him to do maybe more than he's done?
RON GARDENHIRE: No, I think it's got to be an effort all the way up and down our lineup. We're missing a lot of opportunities to get big hits. And it's not just Joe Mauer. He does pretty good. He'll get his hits here and there. Get some baserunners on in front of him might help. I'll take my chances with Joe Mauer walking to the plate. He'll do it more times than not. It has to be all up and down the lineup. We've missed a lot of chances here. You can't do that against these teams. We've seen it over and over again. You miss your opportunities, they take advantage. They end up beating you.
We have to -- all the way up and down the lineup, have to come up with some big hits.

Q. At this point, Ron, with the situation you're in, how do you balance not showing panic, not making changes for the sake of making changes versus making a decision to make a change that you think might help?
RON GARDENHIRE: When you start weighing it out and you start going through your lineup, I think Hardy has been swinging good. I think right-handers have a little better numbers than left-handers anyway, off Hughes. Hit and run guy. Handles the bat very well at the bottom of the lineup. Solid defense.
As I started looking through it, I would have liked to have been able to get Alexi in the lineup. I also know Hardy is solid at shortstop. He doesn't make mistakes. He gets the outs he's supposed to. I'm not the guy who likes to take my shortstop out of there too many times.

Q. There's always been some thought that swing-and-miss type starting pitchers and guys who can miss bats tend to have more success in the playoffs. Is there anything to that at all, in your view? Can it get done another way?
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, I think we faced Sabathia the other day. I guess you would call him a power pitcher. I think we did all right against him. We had four runs. Tied the ballgame with him. Sure, the dominating guys that blow people away, everybody would like to have them. There's just not that many of them out there.
As we say, you go with what got you here. That's consistency through our pitching staff. Our pitching staff has done a good job here. We haven't hit. Up and down the lineup, like I said, it just goes back to that. We have to drive in the runs. We have to get the big hits with people out there and score some runs. Our pitchers are doing all right. They're hanging in there pretty dog gone good against a lineup like this.

Q. I mean, you talked about the need to get not just hits, but big timely crucial hits. Do you view this as being your most talented lineup in your tenure there? And if so, do you have any explanation why those big hits have been so elusive when you really need them?
RON GARDENHIRE: I think it was at one point when we had Morneau available. We had a lot of depth and we could run a lot of different lineups out there. When Morneau went down it was a little thinner off the bench. Things like that, we don't have a guy that can come off the bench. We don't have a big pinch-hitter, all those things to run up there in situations. I like our lineup. I think we have good hitters up and down our lineup that have gotten big hits all year long.
You get to this time of year and it gets magnified a little bit when you don't get them. We've lost two games. We've done that before. We have to figure out a way now because it's do or die. We win tonight, we can turn it right back on them. That's what we have to do. We have to figure out a way to get a big hit here and outscore them, because I think we're pitching just fine.

Q. How is Mauer's knee and Thome's back? Have they affected them at all during the series?
RON GARDENHIRE: I don't think so. I think Thome came in saying he's feeling great, ready to go. The same way with Mauer. It is what it is with Joe. He's got -- has a little inflammation in there and he's playing with it. You would have to ask him how much it bothers him. All I know is he comes in, gets himself prepared, and is going to go out there and catch for us tonight. That's just the way it is. He said that a long time ago. No matter how he's feeling, he will catch in the playoffs.

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