THE MODERATOR: All right, we have Joe Maddon here.
Q. For a hard decision, Matt Moore made you look pretty smart. Talk about his composure out there against this lineup?
JOE MADDON: He was outstanding. Even from the first inning, you can see where Kinsler was not comfortable with him in the first at bat, and I really took that as a good sign. The fact that he was throwing strikes really made all the difference in the world.
I know that's a stupid statement, but pounding the strike zone right there with all of his pitches gave him and me and us a lot more confidence in the moment.
He's got that kind of composure. You saw the composure all night. You saw that a couple of 2 0 counts, boom, comes back with the strike, able to throw his other pitches when I was behind in the count. For a strike or getting a chase on some 1 0, 2 0 counts kind of thing.
You can't be more impressed. What he did tonight was spectacular. What, seven innings, 97, 98 pitches, two hits. Great night.
And also I want it to be made very clear: I was no genius with that. That was a group decision among our scouts and our people. We had a great discussion yesterday regarding who we should start tonight and why, and the consensus was to start him.
So, believe me, I am not that smart. I had to get a lot of opinions on this one.
Q. First of all, congratulations on the win. But the momentum you guys brought from Tampa and winning there, it carried over. And also this Rangers team had a hot bat. You were able to cool them down today.
JOE MADDON: Yeah, we needed that kind of pitching performance to do what we did do today, and tomorrow we have Shields coming back.
We have nothing but the utmost respect for the Rangers, what they did the last couple of years and what they did to us last year in the postseason. I love Wash. Wash is a great guy. And you can see their team is a bunch of real professionals over there. They play the game properly every night, and that's why they are such an incredible opponent.
We did what we had to do tonight. We have been playing well, too. But we got the kind of pitching performance that we needed tonight from our starter, and he was outstanding.
Q. Joe, can you put into words how difficult this is to ask of a 22 year old to go against the Rangers lineup and have that kind of performance?
JOE MADDON: In this ballpark, let's include that, also. You really have to have a lot of faith in the make up. I mean, a lot of times you'll see young pitchers come up with this great stuff. You'll see 95, 97, 98. That's wonderful. You'll see a decent curveball. That's great. Or a change up.
But you have to be able to handle the moment. You have to have the right pulse or the right heartbeat. He does. He just does. I mean, I don't know him for a long time. I have had different conversations with him. He looks you right in the eye. His answers are straightforward. He already shows that he's very accountable, and that's a big part of what we do here. We need accountability to be good.
I see all of those qualities. And this is like I know this guy from one handshake in the parking lot at Port Charlotte, and then you listen to our scouts and our Minor League people talk about him, and as advertised.
Q. Does it make you rethink what you might do with him the rest of the season?
JOE MADDON: Well, of course we'd like to utilize him at some point if necessary. That was 97 pitches on a Friday. We will see how it all plays out as we move forward.
The other point about it is when you have a young man with this kind of ability, you don't take unnecessary risks or chances with him as you move forward.
I feel that as an organization; I feel that for him personally. I mean, I really try to be aware of the personal welfare of the player and his future, family, whatever.
So all of those things are considered in making these kind of decisions, but 97 pitches wasn't so bad. And he wasn't really challenged a lot, so that was a good 97.
Q. The other side of the coin, talk about the offense, the bats. Kelly Shoppach hit the two home runs, Johnny Damon, the veteran, led off with a home run. It seems like he sparked it on the offensive side.
JOE MADDON: Before I talk about Shop, because that was outstanding, I'll talk about Johnny. Johnny's home run was big, but I loved even more beating out those two ground balls. How about that. In today's game it is not often I see a 37 year old Hall of Famer running down the line like that.
Those two plays, which most guys would put in their back pocket, they think they're going to be out, but he did not. And one led was in front of Shoppach's home run and the other one right there scored a run. I don't care what the score was.
That's what we have to be about as the Rays, and Johnny right there showed the guys on the bench today, as well as all of our Minor League players that were watching, and I really believe in that stuff. So beyond Johnny's home run, I loved him running to first base like he did.
Shop, on the other hand, he has been swinging the bat a lot better more recently. How about it. Two homers. He just looks a lot more comfortable at the plate. And historically he's done well against left handed pitchers, and furthermore he caught a really good game with a rookie pitcher.
So all of those things are pertinent, but I really can't overstate what Johnny did tonight. Not the homer, but running hard to first base twice.
Q. Joe, do we overrate experience?
JOE MADDON: No, I don't think so. I honestly don't. Experience matters a lot. We have we have a lot of young, kind of experienced guys on this team. You look at Longo, he has been through a couple of playoffs. B.J. has. Zobrist has now. Matt Joyce was involved last year.
So we have some experience in that regard, but it's hard to do what we're doing at this point of the season with the lack of experience that we have. However, we do throw people into the fire, and I think that we're our coaching staff does a great job of instilling confidence in our guys. And to the point where, yeah, we look experience, but they know they're supported and they know they're going to get a chance to play.
So in some way I think we're always trying to accelerate learning curves around here or maybe trying to accelerate the experience curve also. That's part of what we do. A lot of this, what you are seeing with those players, again, our coaching staff's not talked about enough. Our guys do a great job of getting our guys prepared nightly. So you see what Matt Moore does. That goes to scouting and development, then it comes to us.
I don't want any credit for Matt Moore whatsoever. That is great scouting. That is great development. And then he shows up and pitches that game tonight.
So I think we do it right. And, again, it's a cumulative effort that starts with scouting and eventually goes to development and then the finished product. Not always the finished product arrives here; we have to do more work here, too.
THE MODERATOR: I think we have everything. Thank you, Joe.
JOE MADDON: Thank you.
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