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Postgame interview With Matt Moore and Kelly Shoppach

Postgame interview With Matt Moore and Kelly Shoppach

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Postgame interview With Matt Moore and Kelly Shoppach

Q.  Hey, guys.  Matt, can you talk about your emotions from the time Joe talked to you about starting and then today walking out on the mound against this club in this park?

MATT MOORE:  Yeah, I think -- I don't know if it was a plan or what.  They didn't give me a whole lot of time to get nervous and to think about it a lot.  I think it was about 6:30 last night when he let me know that I was going to get the start.  So at that point it was just a matter of getting to sleep and getting some good rest.

Q.  You guys study these players for the Rangers.  And you had Hamilton up, Beltre, what was in your mind that you had to make the right pitches to those guys?

MATT MOORE:  I never faced this lineup before and I was really -- I had to trust what Shop was putting down.  And I know he studied these guys a lot before and he played against them a lot.  So really whatever he was rolling with I was rolling with, too.

Q.  Kelly, what was different about C.J. tonight?  What was different perhaps in everyone's approach to C.J. tonight given the history against him, why it worked so well?

KELLY SHOPPACH:  I really think Johnny's home run in the second gave all of us a little fresh air.  Took some of the intensity, the pressure that we were putting on ourselves early.  I don't know if Matt will admit it, but I know for a fact when you get an early lead it helps.  It helps a lot.  Especially for a guy on a big stage.

So Johnny hitting that home run early kind of gave us all a chance to just breathe.  But he was falling behind hitters, and the ball Johnny hit I think was a 3-1 count.  So when any pitcher, no matter who it is, is falling behind hitters and they get a chance to get a better chance at getting a fastball to hit, you get a chance to do some damage, and Johnny helped us out big there.

Q.  Kelly, can you talk about how special this moment was for you being from here and taking the bull by the reins, so to speak?

KELLY SHOPPACH:  Well, crazy.  I have historically never played great here, but I think it is such a neat deal for all the people who helped me along the way, to have a chance to see me play in this atmosphere.

You know, we came in here last year and I didn't play in either game, so I know I had a lot of family and friends here that were spread out.  I got texts all day that were spread out all throughout the stadium, with their Rangers gear on, I'm sure, but rooting for me silently.

It is nice to come back and play for these people who helped me get to this point.  And what a day.  What a way to honor those people.

Q.  Kelly, how much did you feel like you two were on the same page?  And how often, if at all, did he shake you off?

KELLY SHOPPACH:  He shook off a few times.  That was very impressive.  A lot of times with a young pitcher that doesn't happen.  They put almost all of their faith in the catcher, which I think that I put in enough time, and, like he said earlier, effort to know that he knows that I will try to put him in a good situation to succeed, which is ultimately what I am doing every time I call a pitch.

It is one of those days where this guy is pretty good.  And I think it was about the fifth inning and I said, Well, I'll figure it out what you want to do.  But at that point we had a big lead and we were very relaxed.

And he was amazing the way he pounded the zone.  That was really impressive for a guy on a stage like that.  It was a great building block for him and a great win for us to start.

Q.  Kelly, obviously you had a little bit of a rough season at the plate, but it seemed you got it going the last week and obviously now today.  Talk about your confidence level and where it's at.

KELLY SHOPPACH:  I mean, any time you play well, you feel confident.  But I'm not going to change what I have been thinking all along.  Sometimes they throw it where I'm swinging, and when they do that, I have a chance to get some hits.

Q.  Kelly, you've caught a lot of pitchers over your career.  Can you talk about how impressive it is for a 22-year-old kid to walk into the ALDS against this lineup and this park and pitch the way he pitched?

KELLY SHOPPACH:  No.  You really can't.  I mean, I don't know that he's old enough to even understand how well these guys hit at this park.  Which can be good.  It could have played in his favor.  We got here so fast.

You know, three weeks ago we had no chance of making the playoffs, and a rain delay and some timely hitting on the last game of the season, and here we are.  We don't have time to feel any pressure.  It's time to play.  And he commented on it earlier about 6:30 getting the nod for Game 1.

But this is definitely lineup that is feared.  There is no doubt about it.  Especially in this ballpark.  They are very confident here and for him to come out and get ahead, I thought it was in their game plan early.  I could see that they were going to try to make him get in the zone.  A lot of times the young pitcher, especially a young pitcher with great stuff, has a tendency to fall behind and has to rely solely on his fastball.  But they took -- I believe the first five hitters may taken first pitch.

I felt like he was able to pound the strike zone, and it's pretty impressive to see what he would do.  I hope that he can learn from some of the mistakes that were made and can continue to grow because, as it looks like, we are going to need him here in the future.

Q.  Matt, Joe said -- or you said that he told you sometime around 6:30 last night you would be starting.  Did he give you any idea before that that you might be in the running, or did you have any suspicion that you might be in the running to start Game 1?

MATT MOORE:  You know, not really.  We hadn't talked about it a lot.  It was one of those situations.  I figured I wasn't pitching.  I didn't throw in the Yankees series.  And, you know, I think maybe if we had to play the 163, I think that was kind of the plan from the get-go.  And then wound up not getting to pitch, and kind of the opportunity fell in my hands and I am very grateful for it.

Q.  Matt, did anything surprise you about tonight?  Were you more calm than you thought you would be?  Any expectations that were different than what you thought?

MATT MOORE:  Well, the thing is, my last start was at Yankee Stadium, and these guys put up two touchdowns by the fifth inning.  And, you know, here we are again after I think the fourth or fifth and we had 8.  And as a pitcher you see that many runs, your job is to get your team in the dugout as quick as possible.  And the fastest way to do that is pound the zone, like he was saying.

And, you know, we didn't shake off a whole lot, so that sped up the game.  And some great plays behind us, so.

Q.  Matt, Kelly just mentioned, kiddingly, I know, but I'm not sure you are old enough to understand how good the lineup is in this park.  Did you have a sense how good this team is in the lineup and did that affect how you approached their lineup?

MATT MOORE:  Absolutely.  I know everybody's name in that lineup.  I never faced them before, just kind of one of those things I didn't want to be out of it before I was in it.

Having said that, I was going to take it, just take it like any other start.  I tried to be as normal, as normal and as calm as possible.  And it was just a matter of getting comfortable, and there on it was throwing strikes.

  Q.  Kelly, you only had a few weeks to get to know Matt, what works for him, what he throws.  What has that process been like, going through that in such a short period of time?

KELLY SHOPPACH:  I didn't know if it was the curveball or a slider until we went through warm-ups in the bullpen before the game.

He hasn't pitched much.  Actually, I knew nothing about him.  I saw him throw from the side.  I actually went upstairs and watched on TV to try to get a feel when he was throwing Yankee Stadium, trying to get a feel for what he was trying to do to hitters.

When a guy can command all of his pitches, it makes it easier for me to pick one to call.  And he was able to execute everything today.  So learning him is a growing process.  Like I said, in the fifth inning he shook a few times and actually had to step off the mound because I really wasn't sure what he was thinking.  And he came back and he knew what he wanted to do and he executed the pitch and got a strikeout on it.

So I went back in then and said, Okay, I will figure out when you want to use this pitch and where.  And a lot of credit to him.  He was very relaxed.  We joked in the bullpen.  Some guy was quacking like a duck, and we couldn't figure that out.  But he laughed at that.

And, you know, definitely his emotions were good.  He was in the right place, and I think he understood, too, that he had to relax and do the things, the mechanisms that you have to do that.

So very impressed.  I don't want to talk too good about him.  I am going to need him to be focused and go out there again and get it done.

Q.  Matt, flip that around.  How difficult is it for a pitcher now yet a new catcher.  These are things we see in Spring Training, this trust and relationship develop, and you have done this in a couple of weeks.

MATT MOORE:  You know, this is a different level I have never been to.  And everybody here is really good.  Shop's receiving and defense back there, it was really just a matter of getting on the same page with pitch selection, what we wanted to do and a game plan.

You know, the visual target down there obviously was outstanding, and it was really just a game plan we had to figure out, because everything else was set up the way it needed to be.

Q.  Matt, can you remember what you were doing last October at this time?  Were you watching the Rays on television when they were playing the Rangers?

MATT MOORE:  Yeah, I was watching these post-game interviews.  And I was watching them play here in Texas, you know.  I am glad we got off to a good start, and we have two more to go.

Q.  Shop, when they called up Matt a few weeks ago and you saw him for the first time walking across the clubhouse, how old would you have thought he was?

KELLY SHOPPACH:  (Laughing) actually the nameplate said Matt Moore.  And I said who is Matt Moore?  I thought we had an Adam Moore in our system.  Nobody will forget his name now.  That's a huge stage.  But we have been hearing about him for years.  I was just confused on his name.  We have been hearing about him for years.

And, you know, what he was able to do in the Minor Leagues, and we all saw the Futures Game, and there is a lot of excitement for him to be here.  We actually said the first of September:  Why isn't he here yet?  We could use him.

But he's handled himself well.  He is a humble kid.  And I believe the first day that he showed up in Baltimore he went in the clubhouse during batting practice and brought bottles of water out for everybody, you know.

So he understands that he has to put some work in.  And it is a good way, a good start to get your foot in the door.  Like I said, this is a huge stage.  Very impressed by the way he handled himself.  You know, the stuff speaks for itself.  But you come out here and you're ready and you are a man and you step up to the plate and perform, you gain a lot of respect from other players.

Q.  Did any Ranger as they come to the plate say anything to you, like who is this guy or where has this guy been all year?

KELLY SHOPPACH:  No, there's a good group of guys over there.  They are always very talkative.  We always have good conversations when they come to the plate.

But I think they were really focused on trying to get a feel for what he was trying to do.  He mixed his pitches well.  Was able to throw them all for strikes.  When you haven't seen a guy ever and they have that kind of stuff, it's a challenge.

So I know that they were very focused on what they were trying to do up there.  And I thought that was kind of the chess match that we had to do, figure out a way to keep him off balance.

Q.  We have been talking about how you handled Matt and everything behind the plate, but offensively you hit two home runs, two key home runs.  Talk about what you were looking for and how you were successful in knocking it out.

KELLY SHOPPACH:  If you had held it to your word, we would have went two more questions.  I have been deflecting that the whole time.

I don't know.  You know, I have gotten to play a lot here recently.  That helps.  That helps a lot when you see pitches.  And you don't know if you're going to play the next day, so it helps to get out there and see a few and you feel more relaxed at the plate.

Like I said, Johnny's home run right in front of us, that was a huge relief for all of our offense.  You know, what we do offensively is different than most people.  I mean, we don't have a bunch of boppers out there.  We have a little bit of speed and athleticism.

So Johnny hitting that home run helped people relax, and we took advantage of C.J. falling behind a few times and got some up-count hits.

So, like I said, he threw a couple of balls where I was swinging and, you know, they went out.  So I don't know.  As they came to the plate, and said, you know, what do you swing at.  I don't know.

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