It seemed James really lived up to his nickname, "Big Game" James tonight.
JOE MADDON: Just took him a few more pitches. I was concerned when we took him out. He had to work to get a lot of outs tonight. I thought they did a great job. I talked about them yesterday, we found out these guys really work good at bats. I didn't realize that was part of equation for the Phillies. I don't see them. I know what I read. I know what I see. They really work tough at bats. I'm impressed. They made him work for his outs. He'll probably tell you something different, I'm good with that.
Shieldsie worked his butt off to get to that particular juncture of the game. And that's, as you said, exactly what we needed.
When you brought in Price in the seventh, what in your mind were the odds that he was going to finish the game?
JOE MADDON: I was trying to avoid Utley and Howard again. That's the whole point. I was doing the math and counting outs. If he gets the outs appropriately you don't have to see these guys again. But they walked Utley the first time through. And then the pinch hit home run, first pitch fastball.
Ruiz worked really good at bats: two walks, two doubles. He did a nice job. Really looking for him to not have to face those two guys again. But if he had to, he's been a starter, he's been stretched out. That's the difference with him than other relief pitchers is the fact he's been stretched out, you feel comfortable with him going 40 pitches and not even blinking an eye.
So I knew that was the possibility. If he ran into trouble or started walking the guys, he'd be in trouble.
What goes into the decision to squeeze there? Is the reason for putting the safety squeeze on the second time because they see it coming once?
JOE MADDON: I'm not going to talk about it. I mean, seriously, that's -- I don't want to be rude. I'm not being rude, hopefully. It's just something that we do and it worked out really well.
Ever since the Chicago White Sox series, seems like Longoria is struggling. And he had an error tonight. Do you know if anything is wrong with him?
JOE MADDON: I don't think anything is wrong with him. I just have to have one of my fireside chats with him. Normally when I call him in, he responds very well. I called him the other day and tried to change the subject, I invited him to my wedding reception. I thought that might work, because he lives in Long Beach. And it hasn't really taken place yet, so I'll have to go a different route either tomorrow or the next day. I'm trying to get him to think in other ways and just relax and play, because he's so talented. Believe me, that's exactly what I did.
So I'll have another talk with him, just trying to get him to chill out a bit. There's not a thing wrong with him. That error was a tough play. That was a tough hop. A lot of top spin on that ball. Obviously he can make that play, no question, and he has made that play.
My concern about Longo, he's a young man and he's been pretty much in the center of this whole thing. I could appreciate that from a distance, never having lived that. We have to talk to him and reassure him that again, he's just 1/25th of this whole thing going on right now. He'll be fine. I really anticipate that he's going to do well the latter part of the series.
That was a consummate small-ball offense tonight. You were able to maximize relatively little?
JOE MADDON: I can't tell you how happy I was with that. And again, this is just how I think. I'm watching that. I turned to Davey Martinez and I said, this is what we have to emphasize next year in Spring Training, scoring runs with outs. We've been horrid with that all year. We were not a very good team to score runs with outs. I really want us to understand, it's being validated when you're play this time of year, under these circumstances, to be able to have that within your arsenal to score runs with outs, see how important it is. Go back to Game 2 versus the Phillies, boom. So when you're talking about it in the spring, and all of a sudden it takes on a different light. Guys get it, oh, yeah, that's what you're talking about. So all of a sudden it's easier to sell it or push it. We want to be able to be that team. Ground ball, ground ball, bunt, three points right there, that's beautiful.
You're not always gonna hit home runs. When you're facing better pitching, when you get an opportunity to score a run, you better take advantage of it. And if there's less than two outs, it doesn't have to be a hit.
At the fourth inning, you were leading 3-0. There was one out and a runner on second. And Victorino hit it really hard to Pena. He couldn't catch the ball, but Aki, he dived it, he managed to keep it to an infield single. What do you think of Aki's play?
JOE MADDON: Aki has been beautiful all year. And the transition from third base it to second base has been incredible. He went back home last winter. We talked to him about it in Toronto at the end of last year. I know he worked diligently at it, obviously, because what he looks like today. He came to Spring Training, I was concerned about turning the double play. That is not a concern; he hangs in there as well as anybody and throws accurately to first base. He has been a huge part of our success this year. You saw your defense tonight. With Longo I thought it was a tough play. We saw the play Rocco made, the one you're talking about with Aki. We've been pretty good defensively all year now.
Again, part of the concept, part of Spring Training, that's something that never -- if you really work on that and if you truly understand the import of it, it doesn't go away. That's part of the game that can be a constant on a nightly basis.
The Phillies are 1 for 30 with runners in scoring position, how effective was that to you guys making big pitches at big times?
JOE MADDON: It is. Obviously we have. Again, that's kind of really over the top because the Phillies are very dangerous. But we've had really good pitching. I think we're the second best ERA in the American League. You look at the bullpen, what they have done this year. I know that's pretty significant, 0 for 30. But we're capable of doing that. I think we go to the game with a pretty solid game plan. I really believe in our guys. I believe in Hick and what Brian Anderson does in the background.
So again making good pitches, having an idea what you want to do and being pretty talented. So what you're seeing right now reinforces the regular season, what we had done during that time.
There haven't been many pitchers of 32 career wins nicknamed "Big Game." What can you say about his ability and maturity?
JOE MADDON: I always enjoy that, too. You're absolutely right. We played big games in the past: We're trying to keep the Red Sox out of the playoffs or keeping the Yankees out of the playoffs. But he did pitch against those teams well in difficult moments, where they needed to win and we tried to prevent them from winning.
I think primarily it comes from his attitude and his demeanor on the mound, his consistency. You feel pretty comfortable when he goes out there under those circumstances. So you're right, it's kind of a misconception. We're starting to play our first big games now, and he's pitching the same now when the big game was trying to prevent somebody else from getting to the playoffs.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less