10/24/11 12:05 AM ET
A postgame interview with Ron Washington
By / MLB.com
Q. Obviously Holland pitched a great game, but what kind of adjustments specifically did you make to shut down their offense one night to another?
RON WASHINGTON: It was Holland and Mike Napoli. He was able to use all his pitches all around the strike zone he had good off speed stuff tonight, kept them off balance, move them in, move them out, up, down, he was just outstanding. He and Napoli worked outstanding tonight. And that was the reason, it was Derek Holland and Mike Napoli.
Q. What was the discussion like with Derek Holland when you went to remove him in the ninth inning?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, he told me he can get the ground ball double play and I told him I knew he can. "With all you've done today I know you can get that ground ball double play, but I'm going to Nefti."
Q. It kind of caught you on TV having a little bit of a pep talk with Holland before he went onto the field, kind of holding his shoulders, gave him a little slap on the cheek. Were you trying to get him fired up a little?
RON WASHINGTON: It was just a general message that he's capable of going out there and keeping us in the ballgame. That's all it was. I talk with Derek like that all the time, it just happened to catch me on TV.
Q. You said earlier this postseason that Derek was still kind of a pony and ready to become a thoroughbred. Is it pretty much safe to say he's become a thoroughbred now?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, he was a thoroughbred tonight. I think as we move forward in his career, he'll let us know that. But tonight he did what we needed. We needed him to go out there and pitch well, and he did, and he showed the world what he's capable of doing. Now we've just got to find that capability every time he takes the baseball. Not throwing a shutout, just going out there and keeping himself in the game and staying under control and executing his pitches the way he did tonight. He executed his pitches around the whole strike zone tonight.
Q. We've seen what Napoli can do with the bat and we've all seen that this year, but talk about the calming influence he was for Holland and how well he's worked with him.
RON WASHINGTON: He's done that for us all year. He has a real good feel for receiving and a real good feel for what his pitchers are capable of doing, and he did a great job tonight of making sure Holland established his pitches. That's the key, just establishing his pitches, all of them. He used everything, curveball, change up, fastball, up, down, out. He did everything, and that's what Nap has brought to us. And he also brought a three run homer tonight.
Q. You guys haven't had a two game or more losing streak since August. How do you do that? And how proud are you of the guys to be able to bounce back time after time?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I think the reason why since we got on this roll is because they just learned from the day before, and they come out and they just try to deal with what they have to deal with on that day. And I always preach to them, it's not always the best team that wins, it's the team that plays the best on that day, and today we were better. I'm not even thinking about tomorrow until it gets here. But we know how to -- we understand whathappens when we lose, and we know what we have to do the next day to try to get back on track. Last night we got beat. We know we got beat. I still thought we played a pretty good baseball game, we just didn't have enough to stop those guys. So I tip my hat to them. But tonight it was about Derek Holland and Mike Napoli and us catching the ball out there and us doing some good things to pull off this win.
Q. When the game finds Napoli like that hitting eighth in the perfect spot there, is there a measure of satisfaction on your part?
RON WASHINGTON: No, I'm satisfied any time my guys go out there and win a ballgame. I was breaking up the lefties, and you know, hopefully if Mike was hitting in the seventh spot, where I probably would have had him, the same thing may have happened. But I was just breaking up my lefties. And what Mike Napoli has done tonight, we've seen him do before, so I'm not surprised. I'm not surprised at nothing my guys go out there and do because one thing they know how to do is play baseball.
Q. Derek said on the field that he was begging you to stay out there. Is that a fair description of what he was saying?
RON WASHINGTON: Very fair description. He was begging. I just told him if you want to stay out here, get on your knees. (Laughter). He walked off the field.
Q. As much as you've had confidence in Holland, could you have had anticipated something this dominant from him?
RON WASHINGTON: I've seen it before. This is not the first dominant outing that Derek Holland has had. He's had three or four for us all year. It's in him, as I told you. It's in him. And tonight he brought it out when we needed it the most. But he's dominated quite a few times this year in that fashion. So no, I'm not surprised.
Q. What is the difference between great Derek Holland and bad Derek Holland?
RON WASHINGTON: Emotions. Just controlling his emotions. He's a fighter. He's a battler. He goes out there and he gives you everything he has. Just sometimes his emotions overtakes everything. Tonight he never got out of control, and Mike Napoli deserves a lot of credit for that, for keeping him in control. From the first time I seen him come in that dugout and go sit down somewhere, he's always pacing.
A postgame interview with Derek Holland
Q. What do you think helped you most tonight? Do you think it was another year of experience since your last World Series start? Do you think it was being here last year? Or do you think it was your mustache?
DEREK HOLLAND: Mustache doesn't really dictate anything or how I pitch, so it's definitely not that. Just the experience is the big thing. Being here, I know how it was and the motivation obviously from what happened to me last year. And just kind of wanting to redeem myself after seeing how I performed against the Tigers in Game 4 I think it was. So I felt like I had to really prove myself. And I knew it was a big game to us because we wanted to get the momentum back on our side. So I did everything I could to prepare for it and get ready.
Q. We all know about Napoli's big home run, but talk about the influence he had on you tonight in this game, keeping you focused and the contributions he made that way as well as the bat.
DEREK HOLLAND: Well, me and him, we both have a very strong chemistry with each other. We hang out off the field, on the field. We talk all the time and pick each other's brains and talk about our approach to certain hitters and what to do. He does a really good job of controlling my emotions, making sure I don't get ahead of myself. You probably saw a couple times tonight he was telling me to square up. Especially in between innings there was a couple times I'd throw the ball and I wasn't throwing it right where I wanted to. So he was keeping me in check basically.
Q. Yesterday you were saying that you wanted more out of yourself in the postseason setting. This would qualify, wouldn't it?
DEREK HOLLAND: Yeah, I'd have to say it definitely did. I mean, I just made sure I wanted to be prepared. I saw how everything went last year, so I made sure I'm not going to let this slip away from me.
Q. I was wondering if you could talk about your two conversations with Wash tonight, the one prior to going out and the one in the ninth when he came to get you?
DEREK HOLLAND: I heard some of Wash's stuff, so I'm going to get him back for that. But the first thing when I came into the dugout, he stopped me and we did our normal handshake and everything. And he told me, "I know your game plan is you like to go in on guys. Don't try to hit anybody." I was like, I'm not going to. I know it would be a bad thing because of what happened yesterday. So I made sure that when I went in it was to kind of brush them off the plate a little bit, so I could expand the zone a little bit. Then the second conversation I was begging, as he said. I didn't get on my knees. But he was like, no, you ain't going in there, son. And I was like, okay. And then typically he gave that nice little ha, ha, ha! That nice little laugh he always does. I was trying everything I could to stay out there, but unfortunately I couldn't.
Q. At the beginning of the game when he was talking and he puts both hands on your shoulders and he's talking to you like that, is that unusual for Wash or is that something he's done with you before?
DEREK HOLLAND: He does that a lot. He cares about his players. He is a very motivational coach. He gets into the game, as you guys seen him. He's like a track superstar in the dugout. But he's really into it every time and he shows that he cares about every single one of our players. And he definitely showed that today when he had a nice little talk with me.
Q. We've talked a lot about getting your emotions under control. Frankly you've talked a lot about that, and what was different about tonight? And do you feel like you kind of crossed over that bridge at this point?
DEREK HOLLAND: I feel like I definitely have since obviously my first game against Tampa. I knew my emotions got the best of me there and I didn't pitch up to my standards. I know I'm a better pitcher than I was there, and I continued to improve each time out, and made sure I could control not only my emotions but the adrenaline, too. So I wasn't so antsy and everything. And I thought leading up to everything now, I felt like I did a good job preparing myself. I also give credit to Maddux and Hawk and Wash for talking me through this.
Q. Again about your emotions, you heard Wash say that you were basically sitting in the dugout instead of pacing. That's one question. Also, after the game you looked emotional after the game. Is that right?
DEREK HOLLAND: Yeah, I mean, I was very -- for the second question, I was very excited. I've never really got to experience how loud that crowd was today. That's the loudest I've ever heard it, and it made my arm hair stick up. It gave me a crazy tingly feeling. But before the game, yeah, definitely I have a tendency to move around a little bit. And I've got to control that and kind of -- I've changed my approach now. It's more like a boxing approach is what I've been telling everybody. I've got nine rounds and in between innings is when I need to sit in my corner and relax.
Q. After what Albert Pujols did last night, were you particularly tentative to when he came to the plate, or was he just part of the overall game plan?
DEREK HOLLAND: I just wanted to go right after him. I know he is a wonderful he's a great hitter. He's one of the best in the game, there's no doubt about it. But I wanted to make sure, I wanted him to see my "A" game, as well. I'm going to try do everything I can and try to go right after him. I felt like I did a good job of that today.
Q. Did this feel like the start you had in September when you were doing so well?
DEREK HOLLAND: I mean, I guess you could say that. I just tried to make sure I just wanted to stay focused and bounce back from my last start. To me I wanted to make it also as a normal game. I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself and be like, hey, we have to win, even though we wanted to get a win out of this so we weren't in a bigger hole. And I continued to go out there like it was a normal day.
Q. Just further to that point you just made and your emotions, given the importance and how much of a swing in the series this game could have had, how did you approach that in your preparations?
DEREK HOLLAND: I just wanted to make sure I could go out there and execute all my pitches. That was the main thing. I wanted to go right after these hitters. I wanted to show that I belong here. That was the main thing. I wanted to make a name out of myself, and at the same time I want to get momentum back on our side. That was the big thing. And I knew it was a big game, so I knew I had to step up. So I made sure I could do everything to do that.
Q. In the end just take a step back, what does all this mean to you? You've grown up wanting to be in this position, and then you come through and do it. And also, Napoli's home run, what did that mean to you?
DEREK HOLLAND: I mean, growing up as a kid, obviously this was the dream that I've wanted to do. I wanted to pitch in the World Series and get a win. And after idolizing Andy Pettitte and seeing that, I wanted to be like him. And I felt like I was capable of going out there and doing everything I could after last year. I wanted to redeem myself and show that I belong here to begin with, and I can pitch in a big game, as well. And also, Napoli's home run, you can't say enough about that guy. He's playing unbelievable baseball right now.
Q. Is this the biggest thing that's happened at Newark, Ohio, since the Longaberger Basket?
DEREK HOLLAND: Yes, the Longaberger basket. Yes, this is huge for Newark. I know I've got a lot of people back home in Newark watching and cheering for me. So I'm happy for what I've got and blessed for all that, for all the great fans back in Newark. I feel like I'm not only representing Newark, but I'm also representing Texas, as well.
A postgame interview with Mike Napoli
Q. Mike, the home run, it just had the impression that you were looking exactly for that pitch and just attacked it. Was that the way it happened or how did it go?
MIKE NAPOLI: Yeah, I mean, I know Boggs has a good sinker. In that situation he's probably trying to get a double play ball. I was looking for something up and kind of had an idea they were probably going to try to pound me in, and I just got a pitch up that I could handle.
Q. When you looked at the lineup card tonight and saw you were hitting eighth, were you surprised? And does it matter to you where you hit?
MIKE NAPOLI: No. Wash came up to me and talked to me about it, but it doesn't matter to me, as long as I'm playing. I'm going to take the same approach as I do if I'm hitting seventh or sixth.
Q. It looked like you guys worked in a lot of off speed pitches early. Is that something you guys had thought about doing after the last couple games?
MIKE NAPOLI: Yeah, I mean, we knew that we were going to have to mix some off speed pitches in, and we did it early. You know, Derek did a good job getting strike one, so when he gets strike one, we can do a lot of different things and mix pitches up.
Q. Wash was saying that the big factor for Derek is emotion, and how did you try to keep that in check tonight?
MIKE NAPOLI: Well, he never got out of control, so I really didn't have to calm him down or do anything different. From pitch one he was the same, and he was throwing strikes and made his adjustments when he needed to. So I really didn't have to do too much of relaxing him or going out there and talking to him.
Q. Yesterday was a tough game particularly for you. You talked about putting it behind you. How did you sleep last night? And when you got here today, was it really behind you?
MIKE NAPOLI: Yeah, it was behind me when I left the field. I didn't really think about it anymore. I knew we had to come here and get a win, so I mean, came back today and went through my routine and let it go.
Q. You've hit 12 home runs off of high fastballs, which is I think the most in the majors this year. What do you like about a fastball at the eyes?
MIKE NAPOLI: It's a good pitch to hit. It's better than a sinking fastball down, you hit it in the ground. As a hitter you try to look for pitches up, up in the zone, and that's what I do.
Q. Joe Maddon said this was the "year of the Napoli" when you beat them in the Division Series. Is this just further indication of what it is tonight, catching a shutout and hitting a three run homer?
MIKE NAPOLI: That was a nice thing of Joe to say. I had a good year. I put a lot of hard work in, and things have been working out for me.
Q. Looking forward to tomorrow, you've faced a pretty wild Chris Carpenter in Game 1, unable to capitalize. What approach will you take tomorrow?
MIKE NAPOLI: Get good pitches to hit, get runners in scoring position and don't push. I mean, that's all you really can do. He's a great pitcher. Hopefully we'll get some good pitching and defense and scuff away a couple runs.
Q. Yadier Molina clearly was trying to stall a little bit leading into your at bat. I'm wondering if you stand there getting very anxious while you probably know what's happening? And two, have you always been such a severe back leg guy? Is that your natural swing or did somebody sort of get you going on that?
MIKE NAPOLI: Yeah, I mean, it's just what I do. I try to generate a lot of power with my legs and get into my legs, and I guess it's just me getting back on my backside. I think it helps me drive balls.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.