This post is for those of you who happened to be trapped under unwieldy objects for the past week and a half and missed the playoffs up to this point. Don’t worry! I can catch you right up to speed, with this informative summary of recent events — in the players’ and coaches’ own words! As for those of you who saw it all unfold — relive the drama!
Today, for us, was a must-win game. Every game’s important, but it felt real good to get one out of the way. We’ve had a great year overcoming a lot of hardship. We know this offense has the potential to do this. It was nice to see this, and hopefully it becomes contagious and the guys just keep going. It’s just the kind of people they are. They believe in themselves. They believe in each other. It’s been this style of team all season long. They just don’t quit, and I think that just says a lot about their character. If we get things going, we feel like we can carry the team. As you saw tonight, we put a lot of good swings on the ball and really drove the ball. It was a lot of fun. We knew how big this game was for us. We’ve seen it all year — when we are able to do that, we are pretty dangerous. There’s a confidence. We’ve done it so many times, so there’s always going to be that confidence until we make that last out. We’ve been battling ’til the 27th out all year and we’re not going to stop now. Right now we feel like everyone’s feeding off each other. If one guy does something, you want to go out and match it and try to keep that momentum going. I think that’s been very much of a strong suit for us all season. I give the guys a lot of credit. With our team, it’s just a bunch of guys that raised the bar and wouldn’t give in and still haven’t. Now they get a chance to win to roll the dice, and there’s a lot of good card players in there. Our guys approached it and we talked about it being sudden life instead of sudden death, and we played that way. You’ve got to seize the opportunity. We don’t get many. It takes everybody to contribute and we got contributions from everybody. I don’t think anybody gave up. That’s how you win postseason baseball games, with pitching and defense and timely hitting. These are the type of games we’ve played all season long. We are a gritty-and-grinding team. They are a very good club and they are a very resilient club. You have a bunch of young kids over there that just play the game the right way and play hard. It’s an accomplishment for both clubs because they never went away. People thought they were going to go away, they never went away. All the credit in the world goes to the bullpen. I’ve been saying it all year. The reason why we’ve been so successful is these guys come in and shut it down. They keep us in the ballgame and some timely hits from this kid, and the rest of the guys coming off the bench, that’s really been the formula. Right now I’m really enjoying myself. Right now I’m seeing the ball well. I feel like I have a good approach at the plate, I feel like I’m not trying to do too much, and good things are happening. You have to make some decisions sometimes that are tough decisions. I just had a gut feeling. You’re going to be asked a lot of questions if it doesn’t work. It was a big moment. It gave us life. The guys said, ‘Hey, we can win this ballgame.’ You’re not comfortable at all until it’s over. We’ve been there before. It’s hard to take the last breath out of anything. I don’t know how you could expect more than we got out of him tonight. This is where legends are made. Tonight, he basically put us on his back and said, `We’re not going to lose.’ He got better as the game went along. A lot of times your best opportunity is early in the game. Obviously it meant a lot to him as much as it did us and the fans. He doesn’t come in here a lot. He takes care of business up there and we take care of it on the field. Throwing the ball pretty good getting the corners. Tried to stay out there and make some pitches. I’m just going to be aggressive, try to find the strike zone and throw quality strikes, and the pitch count will take care of itself. It’s a great feeling, to be able to go out there in that situation and do that. It is still a long way to go. I still got hopefully three or four more starts. So the job is not done yet. It was a great experience. We do it as a team. We stay after it. I’m blessed to come up and have the opportunity like that. We do it together. It’s about a team and about winning. We feel good. When you’re down 0-2, you see what you’re made of. We’re not done. We just kept telling ourselves, ‘This is not the last night of the season.’ I don’t take for granted at any time what these guys are accomplishing so far. They know that. I have so much respect for our guys. Real proud of everybody. Tacking on runs were big, knew they were going to run at you. The last two games, it’s been about scratching and leaving it on the field. We needed to scratch and claw and get ourselves back in the game. We got a break there at the end. We played to win the game. They played to lose the game. We put heat on them. Our guys were aggressive. You know they’re going to throw the kitchen sink at us. If we are going to be good enough, we have to be able to take a punch, and we took a big punch. And that shows that you’ve got to keep playing. We were fortunate enough that our bullpen came in and closed the door the rest of the way. The way we play the game, we have been in this type of situation before in the regular season. These guys have this mentality of not panicking. To be able to come here and get two is very important. We’ll enjoy this one for a few minutes, and then get ready for tomorrow. Thanks to the win today, there will be a tomorrow. And we are ready for that.
We just didn’t get it done. They were tough. We weren’t able to get the big hits with runners in scoring position. It was a frustrating game and one you hate to lose. It would have been nice to get this one, that’s for sure. We couldn’t put ourselves in a better situation. They put together some better at-bats than us. We tried to battle back. We did our best but it wasn’t our night. We’ve been through stretches like this all year. For the most part I felt like I went out there and competed my tail off. Gave it everything I had. We stayed in as long as we could. We’re finding out what playoff baseball is all about. You’ve got to capitalize on every opportunity that you give yourself and we weren’t able to do that. He just kind of wore us down. You have to tip your hat to him. He held us to two runs and gave them a chance to win in the end. He’s always tough. You go out there and you battle him the best that you can. Tip your cap to him. The guy can play, and he beat me. I was challenging him, and he was up for it. It’s a playoff game. If you give up too many runs, that number doesn’t have to get too high until you know you’re going to get a loss. You have to make your pitches and I wasn’t able to do that tonight. It’s frustrating. But it’s a good team you’re playing. They’re going to make those plays, that’s why they’re here. That’s why this is the greatest game of all. It looked like we were going to get it. We didn’t do it. We didn’t quite get the 27 outs, that’s part of the game. You get tested all the time in this game. And this is a good test. You don’t want to be in a lose-and-you’re-out scenario. We’ve got a lot of veterans in this clubhouse that have been in big spots before and have lost games and know how to bounce back. We’ve done a good job of that lately, and we’re going to try to do it again tomorrow. This team is not hanging our heads. We can come back and win this easily. We just need to win a game. If you start thinking about three games ahead, you lose your focus on Tuesday’s game. We know where we’re at right now. We know our backs are to the wall. … They’ve done a great job all year bouncing back. We need to go to their place and play aggressive and try to change the momentum. Keep fighting, you never know what’s going to happen. Their momentum is really good right now. I feel good at the plate. So, all I can do is stay positive and play good Tuesday. Of course I wish we would have won tonight, but you know what? This is every pitcher’s dream, I would say. Every competitor’s dream is to go in huge moments like that, so I look forward to the challenge. We’ve shown how resilient we can be. We hate to lose them at home, but it happens. And we’ve got to wash this one off and come out and be ready to go tomorrow. We realize what’s at stake. We’re not out of this, by a long shot. Shoot, I’ve had my back to worse walls than this.
To be honest with you, I never thought anything like this would happen. You get tired of the disappointments, but then you get over it. It hurts big-time. We didn’t think it was going to end today, not for a second. We knew we were going up against a good pitcher. That didn’t mean we didn’t think we were going to win. We’ve gone up against good pitchers this year. And it’s a bit of a shock when it finally does end. It was a heck of a story. It was a heck of a run for us.