So I think we look at a certain finality with the starter, but these games usually have a lot of things going on with them, that everybody gets to play a big part in it, if it's a competitive game. Just because someone's not starting a game doesn't mean they can't be real impactful. And we looked at a lot of guys. We talked about even Gallardo, but he's just had three days off and just really doesn't fit that bullpen feeling.
And as much as we're completely focused on these nine innings, you do have to make sure you've got your feet on the ground, if you're fortunate enough to win.
Q. Buck, Chris over the course of the season he kind of has been a stopper for you at certain times of the year. In a situation like this, a do-or-die situation, is that important that he's been that kind of guy for you guys?
BUCK SHOWALTER: There's a few things that go into it, but every pitcher faces a different challenge during the course of the year. Whether it's Liriano coming over in a trade or Stroman pitching really well. You go through ups and downs, all our guys do. You see how everybody feels about Kevin Gausman right now, but there were times he was kind of searching for it. And Chris came off a really good workday. You know, there's a lot of things that go into it. You know, proper rest, whereas this time of the year anytime that you can give a guy a little extra time, you usually get rewarded for it.
Q. They announced Stroman is going to be starting for them. Were you anticipating Liriano? And what kind of challenge does Stroman present?
BUCK SHOWALTER: They've got so many good candidates pitching for them. You're going to be challenged, regardless. You know, you kind of go into it, just like talking with Chris and Ubaldo and Dylan, that the guy that's not starting might play a huge role in the game. I think both clubs realize that.
We were anticipating them starting very good pitchers. One of the reasons why they're one of the ten teams left. Very proud of our division again this year, and the unique challenge that this division presents.
Q. When you're managing a one-game, winner-take-all format, is managing different for you? Have you told guys that their roles may be a little different in tomorrow night's game than it has been for most of the season?
BUCK SHOWALTER: There is a sense of finality. There are times during the season you may not put your best foot forward so you can be consistent over the long haul, because of health and putting people in harm's way. Not that we'll do that tomorrow, but there are some differences that you have to grasp. You don't worry about tomorrow or the next day. Everything is about that nine innings or 10 or 11, whatever it might be. There are some times during the course of the game that it may happen earlier than usual that you may attack it differently. You also have some things available to you from a bullpen standpoint and a bench that you don't during the season. As convoluted as September call-up baseball is, and really hopefully can be fixed, you still have some of those challenges in post-season play in the one-game playoff because you're carrying eight, nine, ten relievers. You're carrying two or three extra bench players.
So a lot of times as manager, you're picking your poison. You know you won't get the match-up you might be able to get during the regular season, and there's no penalty for using guys in different roles. Where during the season you get penalized for using Brad Brach for two or three innings or pitching Zach for two innings, or taking your starter out too early because now you have to use too many guys in the next game.
That's the problem I have with September. One of the problems that everybody has with September baseball is you don't get penalized for bad pitching. You get your starter knocked out two times in a row in September and you don't have to make a move. There's no penalty for it like there is during the regular season.
Q. When John Gibbons was in here a little while ago, he talked about how games between the Blue Jays and Orioles are typically high-scoring affairs. Your team led the Major Leagues in home runs this season. Is it safe to say in tomorrow's game, particularly given the strength of your bullpen, that you might favor not a slugfest but a very close game where pitching dominates?
BUCK SHOWALTER: I don't favor anything. Baseball has a way of throwing you a curveball, and you've got to be ready for it. What appears like something on paper, it's completely something away from the norm as we perceive it.
We have nothing else. We have nothing else to go on than what's happened for 162 games. But baseball has a way of having a whole different scenario show its head, and you've got to be prepared for that and have a feel for the way a game's going.
Let's face it, these guys are, I'm not saying beat up, but it's 162 games, especially the Wild Card teams. They've had to play every game with no sense of wiggle room or a safety net. It's been a constant. And that can be good - make you tested for it, but it does wear on you.
Hopefully this day off, you're going to need more than one day off to get back to a different feeling. It's funny, when the season's over, all the players talk about it, and coaches and managers that for about two or three days your body just almost rebels and tells you this isn't normal to do this. It makes you realize what an unbelievable thing adrenaline is. It gets you through a lot of these things. And I think everybody talks about it for three or four days you sit there and just look at the walls and your body's going, blank you, you know. And I'll show you who's boss here. But it amazes me every day watching these guys perform at the level they do, with the start times and the lack of sleep, and the travel. It's unlike any other sport. It's the epitome of a team game because you can't make the ball be hit to your best defender. You can't make your best hitter hit when the bases are loaded. Everybody takes their turn. That white ball will find you.
Usually these games get decided by something that doesn't appear on paper.
Q. You also talk about picking certain moments. A guy like Mark Trumbo, a veteran guy playing in the postseason for the first time in his career, do you take that --
BUCK SHOWALTER: Are you kidding me? These guys are having a blast. It's so typical of our club and so professional and classy the way that they handled -- I forget, somebody celebrated on our field last year or the year before, and rightfully so. I hope it wasn't Toronto. Got their rights. Somebody said to me about how Boston's playing, how whether it's the Dodgers or somebody that's won early, and you wish they'd put a better club out there. Well, that's their prerogative. They've earned the right to do whatever they want to do. If they want to play and set the records for three days and those guys would mean a lot to you as another team? Well, play better. Play better. They've earned that right to do whatever they want to do to get their club ready.
But our guys got in the clubhouse, and as you saw, it was a real emotional release. Because the way our guys wear it, you don't realize the emotion that they play with every night and how much it means to them to be one of ten teams still standing. Now they're going to try to seize this opportunity and go forward. So is Toronto. They're a good club.
Q. Could you talk about Mark.
BUCK SHOWALTER: Oh, I'll take that in. You see a little glimmer in different guys' eyes. There are so many things during the course of the season that sort of show themselves in silence, they look at each other, a little nod, a little wink. You're around each other so much, and it's such a venue where you have to be so careful about wearing too much emotion on your sleeve and someone taking it the wrong way. I've kind of gotten past that. I look around and something happens on the field, and it's a player's game and how they want to do it.
But this means a lot to Mark. He may not be crowing about it, but that's not his nature. Whether Mark hits a home run or whatever, he acts like it's not the first one he's ever hit.
Q. What impresses you about Kim's mental toughness? And when did you think this guy will be a Major League player for us?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Our team was so welcoming. There's no hazing here. It's just making the path easier. I think they all gave him some empathy about the challenges that he was facing coming over here for the first time. I kept telling him, all the pressure that was on him, there are other Korean players over there that want him to do well, so their path is easier. They're watching our games at 8:00 in the morning and living and dying on everything he does. I'm sure there's probably some headlines and story lines over there in Seoul that I'm probably glad I didn't read. You know, the old manager not playing him certain times.
But the whole process, I think was he had to go through to get to where he is now and be the contributor he is. We can do something about that. He got his first sign given to him yesterday in quite a while. I don't think he's been asked to hit-and-run much over in Korea. I think he's only going to get better and better. You think of him coming in next year and knowing the things he knows now and all the challenges he had to fight his way through. But he had a great support group with his teammates. They love him. He doesn't take himself too seriously. A lot of things that you all probably don't pick up. He's a funny guy. He did an impersonation of me a week or two ago, that unfortunately I feel like was very accurate. And I've got one of him. It's coming. It's coming. I don't know when it will be, but you can tell he's a watcher. He can impersonate all our pitchers and a lot of other people's pitchers. Anybody that's got a tendency. He's a watcher. The little things he'll pick up. He wants to know what he's supposed to do.
I was thinking yesterday coming off the field, him coming off the runway how that must have been what happens after we've gotten in the playoffs. Well, now he knows. He's thinking about all the things. Like today, I want to make sure I tell him he's on the playoff roster, and I can't assume that he knows that. He may think after not getting four hits yesterday, we don't like him or something. You can't assume anything with that, and I think he appreciates that.
Q. You were talking about having to get contributions from everybody over the course of the year to get here. But I'm wondering the impact that Donnie Hart has had since he's joined here, how this must be for him, but also from an organizational standpoint. He came up from Bowie, and maybe he was on your radar, but what does that say to the other prospects that if you work hard you might be where he is now?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, when he first got here it was about who are we and how are we going to do it? And didn't want to confuse it. Just let's be consistent. We're going to look within always. I'm sure Toronto does, everybody. Look, Donnie, if you think about the year he's had, he goes from being the guy trying to get on the radar screen, to being Minor League Pitcher of the Year, to pitching big innings for us up here, to being in the playoffs and he's handled it so well. I promise, his mom and dad have done a good job. This guy's very grounded. He works. He never assumes anything. He knows how fleeting all of this can be. And he's going to take advantage of every opportunity he has to not only get here, stay here, but I don't think he's ever going to assume anything as we go forward.
There is another moment you take in what must be going through him and his family's lives. Real proud of him, but you do step back and say, boy, this has got to be pretty cool for him.
Q. How much of the Division Series did you watch last year with Toronto and Texas?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Not hardly any. Watching somebody else do what we want to do is painful.
Q. We saw the atmosphere in this building --
BUCK SHOWALTER: It's always been pretty good here. Back in '92, '93, I came here to this place --
Q. But it's a younger, louder, more raucous crowd in the building, almost intimidating some of the players on Texas said. It was a loud crowd.
BUCK SHOWALTER: The Texas players said they were intimidated?
Q. I don't know if they used that word.
BUCK SHOWALTER: Oh, you used.
Q. No, I said that some of the Texas players said it was loud and a great atmosphere. As a manager, is that something that could be a factor in games, do you think?
BUCK SHOWALTER: These guys play and you want the emotion and the fans to care and to be here, much like ours. I would put ours against anybody. That's one of the advantages of playing at home, it can work both ways. Our guys -- playing in our division, we play at Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium, and I think they're leading the American League in attendance. They're always very loud and into the game. And it will be a little different decibel. But there is a different level, and you hope it is. That's why we do all the things we do to be on that stage and to get a chance to perform. You take a little special pride in being able to perform in that environment. They've done it well at our park when we had that same very emotional crowd. We've got to work very hard down there to have another one of those games at home.