Jeff Suppan: Well I think, when you break it down, it always comes down to the basics anyway, making pitches, location, and I think whether it's a regular season game, spring training game or a playoff game, that is the bottom line, and that's why I try to keep my focus.
Supp, what does it mean knowing tomorrow you would have the opportunity to clinch the division series for the Cardinals?
Jeff Suppan: It's a great situation to be in. We played hard all year. I think we have had ups and downs during the season, and you know we were able to work our way through it, and to be in this situation is a great feeling for me, and you know, looking forward to it.
Supp, even in the post season, you say it still boils down to basics but emotionally, do you feel any different when you know that there's much more on the line in the playoffs?
Jeff Suppan: I think when you keep it at the basics, you're able to control your emotions a little bit better. Of course, you're going to have different feelings, maybe more adrenalin or more thoughts going in, possibly, and I think when you're able to just do, focus on that bottom line, it takes all those extra distractions away from, away from your thoughts, and puts them on -- (LAUGHING) thanks buddy -- puts them on the task at hand.
Supp, can you describe kind of the opportunity you have had here with the Cardinals over the last three years and maybe some of the things you see where you've improved or maybe matured as a pitcher, kind of in this environment?
Jeff Suppan: Well basically, when you gain, when you gain experience through pitching, you have that knowledge. With experience and knowledge, you have an awareness, and I think the more you are in that awareness state, the better you do, and I think I've been very blessed to play with this organization, and I said when I came here, I always wanted to play here, from a visiting standpoint, from watching the Cardinals and watching how they held themselves, and you know I wanted to be a part of that, so basically, you know, when you go out there as a starting pitcher on this staff, you have great defense and great offense, so basically, you try to keep the ball down, change speeds and work fast.
Supp, you talked about your ups and downs the guys had this season. Now you're playing the best ball of the season. Can you explain the turnaround?
Jeff Suppan: I think whether we were winning eight or losing eight, I think we had the same focus. I think that we were trying to win that game at hand. We weren't trying to carry the previous losses or the previous wins into that one game. Our focus was on that one game and I think when you have a team that's able to focus on one game at a time, your success is usually better.
Supp, do you feel that this outing tomorrow will be the biggest outing of your career so far?
Jeff Suppan: You know, every start is my biggest start, so I guess, yes, this would be my next biggest start. I think that you basically go out and every game is important, so I take every game the same, so keep the same focus, the same preparation that I do in every game, like I'm going to do this next game, so I'm going to keep everything the same and go out and make my pitches.
Supp, having Jim back in center and Eck at short, how does that change your game plan and how does it change you going out there, knowing that they're there with the glove and they're also there with their bat now, versus two or three weeks ago they weren't there?
Jeff Suppan: Yeah, obviously to the team, that's a big boost, and as far as me pitching, I still have to go out and make my pitch, so it doesn't matter who is playing back there. I have to make a pitch to make them hit it on the ground, so I think with Eck and Jimmy being out, obviously is a big boost for our team.
Supp, you always seem to be your best with men on base. What do you attribute that to?
Jeff Suppan: I think being able to relax in those situations, to not try to do more than what you can. I think when you're in bigger situations, you know your best fast ball is your best fast ball, so that being said, it doesn't matter who is up or who is on first or second or third, you have to make that pitch, so I think that's where I put my focus in on that one pitch and let everything happen, because I can only control two things and that is what pitch I throw and where I throw it, so that's where I keep my attention.
Jeff, is there a difference being able to pitch when your team is up 2-0 rather than being down 2-0, are you more aggressive, more relaxed, or less pressure on your shoulders? Your feelings having a 2-0 lead?
Jeff Suppan: My feelings having a 2-0 lead is that those two games are over with. I mean we have to win tomorrow. And I try to stay the same in any situation, so it doesn't matter if we were down or up. I got to go out and help the team win tomorrow.
Jeff, the start against the Dodgers two years ago in the division series, what do you take from that night? How big was that for you to do in your home town and I mean do you recall much of it? Do you kind of cherish that game in any way?
Jeff Suppan: Well that was my first playoff game. That was -- I hadn't pitched in a while, and it was obviously a big game, and having all my family there and friends, in my home town, was a little different experience, but going through that experience, I didn't take that, all those thoughts into the game. I took my same approach into that game, and it was enjoyable, afterward, obviously, and what is a very good experience for me.
You talk a lot about your process going into games. Maybe the best question then is, is that game different after it than any game you pitched? Was the aftermath of that game a little bit more special than most games, than say a regular season game?
Jeff Suppan: It was definitely way up there. I don't know if I can rate all my games, but it definitely was a great feeling. I mean we were going to the championship series, and I was there with, able to celebrate with my family who I'm sure were more nervous than I was, so obviously that aspect was great, but actually just to celebrate with my teammates was great but I really can't rate. That would be hard for me to do.
Supp, obviously Tony acknowledged that you pitched so well at home, by having you start this game 3, he was open about that. How aware of that are you and is there anything in this first year in this new park that you can attribute to why you've been so successful here?
Jeff Suppan: I didn't even know that. Thanks for letting me know now.
Jinx. Tony obviously said that is why he didn't want you in 2, saving you for 3. Were you fully aware of it before that?
Jeff Suppan: No, I wasn't. I think you have different streaks. There's different things that happen during a season and that is not for me to concern myself with. Obviously, that is for Tony to be aware of and Dunc. I try to not look at it that way. I think one year I had pitched really well on the road, and I won a lot of starts on the road, so I mean like I said, I really just try to bear down and what I have control over, and to focus on what I can control.
It's safe to say you like pitching here?
Jeff Suppan: I enjoy, yeah I enjoy pitching here. Safe to say that.
Supp, you were able to watch these last two games knowing you weren't going to be in the games. Can you reflect on how the team has played all around these last two days, these last two games in San Diego?
Jeff Suppan: I think we played really well. I think Carp came out, and I mentioned to him after the game, way to set the tone and Carp is a bonafide No. 1 starter, Cy Young award winner and he really came out and did the job, and offensively, we were able to score runs and get big hits. Rolen had a great hit right there, and you know and then with the second game, Weaver came out and threw five scoreless and our bullpen finished the game, so I think as a team, we played very well in those first two games.
What do you look at the cause for that, for a team that, of course, over this last two weeks, you guys kind of struggled down the stretch. What do you think was the key point, really turning things around for these last two games? Was it Tony, was it just players that had been in the post season before, combination of factors?
Jeff Suppan: I think once you get to the post season, anything can happen and if you're able to keep your eyes on the task at hand, you're going to have success, so we can't control how we got into the playoffs any more. It's over with. Now we're here and now our focus is here. We're not concerning ourself with what we did leading up to the post season or anything in that manner. I think when you have a team that's been around, played a lot with each other, you know you just really go out there, and I don't know if it's a philosophy or what, or how I feel about our team is that we bear down, we focus on one game at a time.
Kevin Kennedy said you were underrated when you came to the Cardinals. It was a very good choice. Have you changed anything, any new pitches? Do you do anything different since you've joined the Cardinals?
Jeff Suppan: I can't say that I have done anything different. I could say that I have done things better. I think my first year coming over here, being able to throw to Mike Matheny was great for me, and I think just with the caliber of teammates that I have, good people on and off the field, I think that added to my success. I always try to put the team first and do whatever I can to help to contribute and so I think when I came over here, that philosophy was here, and so I think it helped me become a better pitcher.