Q. This is the first win and advance, lose and go home game in the history of the franchise. Has the magnitude kind of sunk in for you guys?
IAN KINSLER: I don't think so. We're not really worried about what the franchise has accomplished, what's happened in the past. It really has no bearing on what we're doing right now. We're just trying to win a game and move on. I mean, that's basically it.
When it comes down to Game 5, honestly there's really no pressure. You either play well or you go home. You know, that's what we're trying to accomplish. We're trying to move on, and we'll see what happens.
Q. Obviously Price is a very tough assignment, but with all the right handed bats you have in that lineup up and down, how confident do you guys feel in your ability to have a good game tomorrow?
IAN KINSLER: We beat them once already, so we're confident. Obviously he has a pretty good track record going this year. The guy that we have on the mound is pretty good. It's going to be a battle. That's what it's all about.
Game 5 or Game 7, you know, whichever one, you have two aces on the mound, and whoever is able to scratch off the most runs is going to win. We're pretty confident.
Q. In the first game against Price, you guys did some things a little unusual, swinging on 3-0 counts, waiting on fastballs. Do you think things like that will work again?
IAN KINSLER: I hope so. I don't know. We'll see. I mean, Cruzzy hit a ball on top of the roof out there in center field on a 3-0 pitch. Hopefully that happens again. I don't know. I don't know if he's going to go to 3-0. I don't know if he's going to throw a breaking ball on 3-0. I don't know if he's going to try his change up. Who knows. It's part of the game. He's got to throw a pitch 3-0, and there's no reason why we're not allowed to swing.
Wash has confidence in us. He's been giving us the green light all year, so it's not too unusual for us to swing 3-0. We're prepared to do it, and we did it a couple times. I think Vlad also did it, hit a ball center field, hit a line drive to center field, a double.
We're an aggressive team at times. We like to be aggressive. As Clint Hurdle would say, not reckless aggressive but not reckless, so that's our goal offensively.
Q. What have you seen from Josh this series, and do you think he's at a point where he's ready to take off?
IAN KINSLER: I mean, you can't I think Josh is always at the point when he's ready to take off. I mean, his skill set is unbelievable. I'm never going to doubt his ability to where he's at offensively. I mean one pitch could get the guy locked in and back on time. I mean, I don't know what he's going through. He's here today taking swings. I don't think anyone is worried about him. I wouldn't say he's in a slump or anything like that. You know, last series of the year, he kind of got his rhythm back, and he was swinging the bat well.
He came here and it seemed like the first couple games here he had a couple good at bats. He didn't get any hits, but I think he got one hit, is that right, the first one, the first at bat? Two hits? But he had a couple good at bats. I don't think anyone is worried about him. Hopefully he has a big game.
Q. Having played with Cliff Lee and gotten to know him a little bit, what is it about him, aside from just his pure talent as a pitcher, that makes him well suited for moments like this, games like this?
IAN KINSLER: It's just competitiveness. His competitiveness is off the charts. You know, I'd like to believe that everyone in the locker room is we're all pretty competitive people, but it seems like Cliff just competes at anything, you know, who can eat the fastest, who shot the biggest deer; just random stuff. He's just the most competitive person I've met. I think that helps him out a lot when he's on the field, and when he gets in jams he's able to buckle down, slow down a little bit, and put the ball where he wants it. I think just the competitiveness really puts him over the top.
Q. Is there like one story you have that sort of best shows the idea of him being competitive?
IAN KINSLER: I don't know if I have a story. I just think anything that he does kind of lets you know that's his attitude. He's not scared to let you know how he feels, either. He's going to come after guys he believes that he's better, and I'm glad he's on my team.
Q. How would you describe your chess games with Cliff Lee?
IAN KINSLER: As a loss (laughter). That's how I'd describe them. He whoops me pretty good, and he's not scared to let me know that he's dominating me any time. I mean, first move he's dominating me. That's just how he rolls.
Q. How would you describe Jeff Francoeur as a teammate and what he brings to the team?
IAN KINSLER: You know, Jeff came to our team when we were in Kansas City. We were on the road, and it might have took him about ten minutes to fit in, to feel comfortable, and for guys to feel like he's part of the team. It was pretty crazy. You know, that's what Jeff does. He's got a great personality. He's not scared to say what he's thinking, and he just fit in perfect with this. We've got a lot of guys that are pretty open. We don't really hide anything from each other. We've just got a great chemistry, and he fit right in. I think as far as the clubhouse and in the dugout, he's basically perfect for our team, and obviously he can hit lefties pretty well.
Off-day interview with Jeff Francoeur
Q. What do you think the mood of the team is headed into this Game 5?
JEFF FRANCOEUR: We're pretty loose in there. Today was pretty much an optional workout. And I think if you go in there, I think every player is here for the most part, especially position player wise, you don't really want to take a day off hitting before we're going into tomorrow. So I think we had an opportunity to close out at home. We're obviously disappointed that we couldn't do that in front of our home crowd and just the fact you don't want to come back here. I think when we were up 2-0, we told every single clubby in there we're hoping not to see you, and then of course we see them. At the same time, if you go before the series and you say we'll have Cliff on the mound in Game 5 with a chance to win, I would have taken it, and I'm sure a lot of the guys in that clubhouse would. It'll be a lot of fun tomorrow night.
Q. What was the plane ride like yesterday coming from Dallas to here?
JEFF FRANCOEUR: Well, we didn't fly out until today. We actually got in today at like 2:15. But I think it was pretty relaxed. I think everybody went and enjoyed last night. You can kind of sit there and be mad and be devastated or you can say we're going to come here and so far not a single home team has won a game. So if that's any sign, we're in pretty good shape tomorrow.
Q. Can you explain the significance of the Dirt Balls shirt, please?
JEFF FRANCOEUR: Clint Hurdle actually came up with it, and if there's a ball in the dirt and you read it and you get to the next base, you get presented the Dirt Balls shirt. I had to make sure I did something quick so I could get it.
Q. Talk about facing David Price, the success you guys had against him in Game 1, and do you anticipate him changing his approach at all this time?
JEFF FRANCOEUR: You know what, I can't see him changing too much. He throws 96, 97. If I threw that and got hit even one time, I still probably come back and throw it again. I think my first at bat, you know, the first pitch I hit for double last time, and then I come back the next time and I actually was thinking he was going to throw me something off speed, and what does he do? Blow fastballs right by you, you know, totally. I think with a guy like him, we'd be stupid if we don't go out there and look for fastball again. I think it's the same thing, Cliff's going to go do his same game plan. These guys are 19, and whatever he was, 6, and Cliff's, you know, ERA is they've both done enough to know what they're going to do. They're not going to go changing.
Hopefully, like I said, we're going to look for fastballs tomorrow from Price, and he's going to throw them. It's not like he's going to sit out there and start throwing a slider and stuff. If he does that, it'll be nice to us, trust me. But at the end of the day, you know what you're going to get.
Hopefully, we can last time I thought the big thing was we had all our hits were extra base hits, the big one. And I think that's going to be the key, we need to drive some balls in the gap and be able to hit a few home runs.
Q. You were acquired from the Mets specifically for games like this and pitchers like this. How do you feel about that?
JEFF FRANCOEUR: I can't wait. You know, not that like anything, you're happy, but the moment we lost Game 4, my mind was preparing for tomorrow night. I love playing in these types of games. Like I said, it's why I came over here was to be able to hit left handed guys, guys like David Price.Hopefully if we get past him, guys in the next round like CC. That's games that you look forward to.
Like I said, did we all want to finish it out in Texas? Absolutely. I mean, we had an opportunity and we didn't do it and now you kind of turn your attention, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity of getting out there tomorrow night and playing a night game.
Q. You just mentioned playing a night game. The weird starting times, does that affect a player? Is it more comfortable to be playing at night?
JEFF FRANCOEUR: We're used to playing a day game every once in a while, but to keep playing day game after day game after day game I thought 4:00 on Saturday was fine. I thought we got hosed yesterday, to be honest with you, with a 12:00 start time in the playoffs. You shouldn't have that, I don't think. I think that's something that needs to change. It's still the playoffs and you're going to get up, but it's still 12:00. And for baseball guys, I guarantee there will be at least five or six people on this team that won't be up before 12:00 tomorrow. I think we're used to the schedule, so I think it'll be fun.
You know, tomorrow night is 8:00. You've got two of the best pitchers in baseball going against each other, and what more could you ask for, it's going to be a lot of fun. And hopefully we can find a way to score early and take the crowd out of it. I think that's going to be a key. We did that both times here, they did it at our place, not so much in Game 3 but in Game 4 they did with a couple of those doubles and the home run that kind of took our crowd out of it.
Q. TV pretty much dictates who plays when and where and how. Do you think that maybe a little bit of disrespect for these two teams that you were playing a noon game?
JEFF FRANCOEUR: I don't think it's so much disrespect. We get it. I played in New York this year for the Mets for five months and we played Sunday night baseball four out of the first six weeks. I get the thing, they're going to give it to New York, they're going to give it to Philly and that stuff, but it will be nice to play a night game. Like I said, that 12:00 Game 4 was tough, but they had to do the same. But it would be nice to have some games a little later maybe.
Q. In your mind what do you bring this team?
JEFF FRANCOEUR: Well, a nice beard, for one, I'll tell you that. No, you know, I'm able to so so beard? All right.
I look forward to just kind of keeping everybody loose in the clubhouse, having fun. I'm a high energy guy, and then I bring a lot of experience obviously, and I've played in some big games, played in the playoffs before. You know, I've had a lot of success in Atlanta for a couple years. You know, I had a tough year in '08, I mean, '09 before I got shipped out. But at the same time, I know what I'm capable of, and I'm looking forward to obviously being a big bat for us tomorrow night versus Price. He's a guy that's not easy to hit, and we need every opportunity to hit the ball in the gap or hit a home run, and I feel like we've got a lot of guys in the lineup that are capable of doing that.
You know, I think we said last time if you looked at our lineup in Game 1, you know, from 2 to 9, I think almost everybody in that lineup had either hit 30 home runs or driven in a 100 runs. When you've got that, you've got a lot of people capable of doing some big things in big games, so we feel comfortable.
Off-day interview with Ron Washington
Q.Given the success that you guys had in Game 1, how similar do you think tomorrow's lineup will be to Game 1?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, it will probably be almost the same lineup. You know, I haven't decided what changes I'm going to make yet, but it will certainly be more or less the same.
Q. How would you assess the mood and readiness of your team at this point?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, we're ready to go. When we started, it was a five game series. It ended up being a five game series. So I mean, we won here; they won at our place. We've got two of the best pitchers going tomorrow, and when it's all over, the team that scores the most runs will get it. And I hope it's us (laughter).
Q. Can you describe in any way the dialogue any of the dialogue, that's gone on between you and Hamilton, either you to him or him to you, about the way that he's struggled in this series?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, it's day to day. You know, we understand the fact that he's been out of the lineup for a month, and I don't really care who you are; if you haven't stepped in that box, it's not that easy to not face live pitching, get into a rhythm. But he's given us everything he has.
You know, they've done a good job of trying to keep him off balance, and he just has to continue to make adjustments. Hopefully tomorrow those adjustments come together. But you know, Josh's presence means a lot to us, and we understand the fact that he just hasn't seen pitching. And then you have to face the type of pitching that the Rays have, it's tough. But we're going to fight through it, and hopefully everyone else around him picks him up and he gets an opportunity to pick us up.
Q. Could I follow up? Has he expressed to you anything about, like, you know, where he is and whether he's feeling like it's coming around, or have you said anything to encourage him?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I'm always talking to my guys encouraging them, and Josh is no different. What I try to tell Josh is go up there, try to slow things down, know what you want to hit, know where you want to hit it and try to hit it. He's the only one that can help this come together by just seeing pitches. Until things lock in, what you see is what we'll get.
He's a very talented player, but once again, he missed a month of seeing live pitching. It's not that easy to go out there and just hit live pitching. He's doing a great job because of his talent. I know if I missed a month, I couldn't look like Josh right now.
Q. Vlad had a big Game 1 here, been a little quieter since then. What have you seen in his at bats lately?
RON WASHINGTON: Once again, it goes back to the Rays' pitching. Those guys pitch pretty good. They've done it all year. I think there's four of their starters that have taken the ball every single day. You know, they haven't made any mistakes since the first day, and hopefully tomorrow we can get Price to make some.
Q. Have you been surprised at all how much Maddon not only flipped his lineup lefty to righty but also dropped some guys down, has switched things up? And considering you got the lefty going out, do you expect to see a similar lineup to Game 1?
RON WASHINGTON: I don't really know, but Joe has a ton of versatility over there, and he's used his lineup the way he's used it against us all year, so I don't see anything different in what he's doing. It's just that his left handers have been giving him some very good at bats, and those guys do that. But he has a ton of versatility over there. He can mix and match and it doesn't really matter, and he can set that lineup where it doesn't matter what you do, they can handle it, even if they leave a lefty on our lefty. Just got a very good versatile team.
Q. You mentioned the Rays' pitching, how well they've been doing. What are your impressions of their bullpen?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, they have some power arms down there, and the past two days back in Texas they got an opportunity to go to them. The first two games here, we kept them away from those arms. Going into tomorrow we've got to try to keep them away from those arms.
They've done the job all year, and an opportunity presented itself in Texas and they came in and they did exactly what they've been doing all year. So we've just got to figure out a way to put more runs on the board than they have.
Q. When you were with the A's, you saw a situation a couple times where one team won the first two teams and the other team forced a Game 5. Is there any momentum carryover or once Game 5 starts is everything else forgotten?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I think this was a different time. When I was in Oakland and that happened, we were playing the New York Yankees who had just won four or five World Series or three World Series in a row. I don't think they felt any pressure. We were the Oakland A's, young team, first time, of course we felt the pressure to put the game away. The next time that happened to us, we were playing the Boston Red Sox, so you see the similarity there.
But you know, I think the difference in Texas and the difference here, we got a lead, our pitchers held it, and Texas, you know, we battled back and forth, and then when we got a lead, they held it. That was the difference right there. It's been the pitching.
Q. In a Game 5, do you think the importance of scoring first is magnified in a winner take all game?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I think it depends on how many runs is put on the board when you score first. If you put one run on the board, you figure you can catch up with that. You put two runs on the board, you figure you can catch up with that. As long as it doesn't get past a grand slam, I think you're in good shape.
But then again, you give a guy like Price or Garza or one of those guys a three run lead, they know how to take it to the finish line. In reverse you give that to C.J., you give that to Cliff Lee, you give that to Colby, we'll take it to the finish line, also.
We had opportunities yesterday, but in the playoffs it's not about getting base hits, it's about getting big base hits at the proper time. We had some opportunities, we just didn't get the hits.
Q. Is there any message you're going to send your team out with tomorrow night in a big game like this?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I sent my message to them yesterday. This was a five game series when it started; now it's a five game series. They proved they can beat us on our field, we proved we can beat them on their field. This is what it's about now. They have the right person they feel that's going to be throwing tomorrow, and we certainly feel the same way. So it's a matter of going out there, getting Cliff some runs, and if we get him some runs, he'll take it to the finish line. That's what it's all about.
Q. Can you just talk about the impact Jeff Francoeur has had on this team on and off the field since he got here?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, Jeff brought a lot of fun to the clubhouse. He's a professional. He's always upbeat. He keeps everyone alive, and he has a live bat, and I'll get a chance to put that bat in that lineup tomorrow and hopefully Price can throw a ball in the wrong spot and he can help us put some runs on the board.But he's been a great acquisition. He can play all outfield positions, although I haven't played him in center field. He brings a lot, and he's a right handed bat that we needed.
Q. Do you have a scenario in mind where you might go to C.J. out of the pen instead of one of your lefty relievers?
RON WASHINGTON: Every pitcher that's not hurt is available, and that includes C.J. If for some reason Cliff stumbles along the way, of course I will go to C.J., without a doubt, early or late.
Q. Can you talk about getting a chance for these hitters to see these starting pitchers against in this series? Is there anything that a hitter can take away, maybe a little advantage after seeing these guys in Game 1?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I think the two guys that are throwing tomorrow, they're different in ways. Price is a power pitcher. He'll go to his off speed stuff, but he doesn't make his living off his off speed stuff. He makes his living off of power. And I think that's his strength. So you've got to look at it, when he goes out there and he's in trouble, he's going to his strength. Cliff Lee, he's a maneuver type pitcher. He moves that ball around. He can power you. He can slow you down. He can cut it. He works fast, throws strikes. So I don't think you'll see too much of a difference in those two guys. I think Price may go to a little more off speed stuff, but when it really comes down to it, he's going to rare back and power you. That's his game.
Q. Just from kind of your experience in baseball all your years in the game, how unique or special is it to have a match up like this on the mound in a winner take all kind of game?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I'll tell you, I won't have to do much motivating. The two pitchers that's out there, you'd better be motivated. If you're not, somebody is going home. Somebody is going home anyway, but you'd better be motivated because if you don't, there could be a ton of strikeouts and there could be a ton of hitters looking bad out there. We certainly don't want to look bad. We'll be prepared, and we'll go out there and hope that Price makes enough mistakes that we can take advantage of him and hope that Cliff makes no mistakes so they can't take advantage of it.
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