Q. You had a pretty tough decision to make for starting pitcher in this game with Stroman and Liriano. What made you lean towards Stroman?
JOHN GIBBONS: Yeah, it wasn't easy. I think Stro's a perfect guy. Big game, we've seen him do it before. Even did it a couple times for us last year. You know he's going to come out throwing strikes, so I'm glad he's available.
Q. Is Liriano available in the same sort of role that David Price was coming out of the bullpen early and pitching multiple innings in a sudden-death game?
JOHN GIBBONS: You mean with 4 and 2/3 outs that kind of thing? Is that what you're talking about? Yeah, he'll be available tomorrow. Estrada will be available tomorrow for our starters and then everybody else, your normal guys down there. So, yeah. Tomorrow's really a one-game deal. It's really about going out there and competing. You know, whatever the stats say, these guys, you want your best competitors out there and see what happens.
Q. Just having the starters in the pen and you might use them, do you have an idea about that? Do you have an idea of match-ups for Liriano or Estrada or just times in the order that kind of thing?
JOHN GIBBONS: I don't know. They've got some pretty good left-handed hitters over there. You have Chris Davis, one of the biggest power threats in the game. Kim, who has done a hell of a job for them, who is a really tough out. But, really, I mean, they've got a power-packed offensive line. You know, there may come a time we need a big key out for somebody, and send a right-hander, left-hander. So it gives us some more options down there, no doubt.
The fact that with Estrada and Liriano, you get some innings out of them, too. It's not just a hitter or two maybe. Who knows. The game goes extra innings, you never know. But if something happens to Stroman early on, you get some coverage. Hopefully at least get you to your go-to guys late.
Q. Liriano hasn't pitched out of the bullpen for a long time before this year, but he had that brief stint for you guys. Do you think he can draw on those experiences just in terms of knowing how to get ready and that stuff?
JOHN GIBBONS: Yeah, you hope so. He was up yesterday, if Ortiz was coming to the plate in the eighth inning, he was coming in there, so he would have been ready.
Yeah, he's all for it, so we'll see.
Q. Baltimore played you guys pretty well near the end of the season, of course. Taking a couple games here at the SkyDome and coming in with good momentum. How do you feel about how that's going to go versus tomorrow night? Obviously you're looking to win, we know that. But they're playing good baseball right now. You guys won the last two games of the season, but it was a bit of a struggle in September, wasn't it?
JOHN GIBBONS: Yeah, but that's over. We've got that tough part out of the way. One thing Baltimore does, we're really very similar teams if you break it down. We know everything about them. They know everything about us. You know, you're playing a team from your division, there's really no secrets. It comes down to who executes better than the other, what have you, who gets a big hit, whatnot.
But you look back over the last couple years, every time we play them, they're very similar games. Very competitive, close games. Really, normally slugfest-type games.
That last series here last week, a little different, more low-scoring games. We had been struggling offensively. At the time they were struggling a little offensively. So who knows how it's going to turn out. But both teams know each other very, very well.
Q. Can you go through the construct of your roster? How much pitchers you're taking into the game tomorrow and some of the back-up positional guys maybe?
JOHN GIBBONS: I don't have a number offhand. But it's going to be our normal bullpen, and then of course Stroman and Estrada and Liriano, and then we'll carry two middle infielders, other than our regulars, it will be Goins and Barney, and in the outfield we'll have Carerra, Pillar, Bautista, Upton, Saunders, and Pompey, so that's six of those guys. So, basically our same team. Smoak's another back-up infielder, so that gets us 25. I can't put the name on, sorry, on the pitchers yet but I'm sure Jay can get that to you.
Q. When last season there were six position players that were also part of this September's drive, and all six of them had significantly poorer numbers this year than last year. Is there an expectation that they can reboot their seasons going into the playoffs? How do you expect that to happen?
JOHN GIBBONS: You're talking about our regulars?
Q. Yeah, regulars.
JOHN GIBBONS: Every year is different. All I know is these guys got us here. It wasn't easy. We were actually rolling right along until the month of September, but they got themselves in. That says a lot. So it's a veteran team, so I have no concern about that. We've got some guys that have been in there before. They have a knack of stepping up at the right time. Seen many of them do it many times. So we shall see.
Q. You said games with the Orioles have typically been slugfests. What kind of game would you prefer to have tomorrow night? What do you think suits you guys better?
JOHN GIBBONS: That's a tough question. I know one thing, they've got a very good bullpen late. They tried to get to that whenever they can. I think they're probably the top quick-strike offense in baseball. They have so many power threats in their lineup. You know, generally the division we play in, it's all great hitting ballparks, and most of the teams are used to playing the slug-it-out games. But generally what happens in playoff games is pitching, a lot of times you're facing some pretty good pitching, so that kind of neutralizes that a little bit. But nobody knows what to expect. I can't say that I prefer one over the other, as long as you win, right?
Q. What kind of challenge do you expect from Chris Tillman on the Baltimore side?
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, Chris has been one of their top guys the last few years. I mean, so we've seen him plenty. He shut us down here just this last week. So, he's tough. He can throw anything at any time. He's a strike thrower, he's a very good pitcher. So hopefully he'll make some mistakes and we do something with it.
Q. Home field for this one game, what does that mean, atmosphere for the team, for you?
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, I think it's big. Every team would want to play at home, especially in this kind of game. I know Baltimore is very good at home, and you know, you never like going down there. That park, they hit balls out anywhere, but that's a great hitting park down there. So it's really changed here. Two months back in July of last year, you know, when the team was playing good, people started showing up, rowdy crowd. So it's, you know, our guys love it. We love it. Who knows whether that gives you an advantage or not. I don't know. But you'd rather have it this way than any other way.
Q. Both teams in this game tomorrow have been in must-win mode now for about two weeks just to get here. Does that in some way help both teams prepare for the one-game format that you're facing tomorrow?
JOHN GIBBONS: You know, I would think it has to. You look back over the past few years, a lot of Wild Card teams have done very well. Maybe that's the reason. You normally have to take it down to the very end, and maybe that does something to you, hardens you up a little bit. I'm not sure. But the fact that it's two teams that have done that, so I don't know who has the advantage in that.
But I've got to believe just from looking at the results from the last few years, maybe it does benefit you for whoever advances, anyway.
Q. This year you've tipped your hat to a lot of young pitchers that are unknowns that shut you guys down. So in a way are you glad that there is a veteran pitcher for your veteran hitters to have knowledge of rather than one of their two young guns?
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, I mean, I think it's got to help that we know everything about Tillman. But they know a lot about Stroman as well. Yeah, you're not going to come up and see a new pitch he hasn't seen very much out of somebody, so we'll see. Like I said, it's going to come down, if Tillman's on, he's going to be tough; if Stroman's on, he's going to be tough. So that's really the way the game works. So I like tip my hat, huh?
Q. Last year you guys clinched a spot in the playoffs fairly early. This season you guys took it right down to the wire in Game 162. Is that changing your mindset right now? What are you feeling heading into tomorrow?
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, like the previous question, I've got to believe maybe it helps, other than it probably wears you down a little bit more than the other way. But I think when you're playing games that have been all tight. You know, they've been all nail-biters. It's made us use our bullpen. I mean, we rode those guys pretty hard, so they're a little beat up so it's nice to have a day off today. But you don't know the effect of that either.
I think maybe it's got to be something to be said for experiencing those types of games. You play enough of them, and you get used to them. But you'd rather have a lopsided game. I'll put it that way. In your favor.
Q. In picking Stroman as your starting pitcher, how difficult was it to, I guess, move past the fact that Liriano had such a great outing last time against Baltimore with ten strikeouts?
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, we considered all of that. But like I said a minute ago, it's a one-game shot. You guys are just going out there and competing. Because you might have some of your better offensive players facing it, and whoever's pitching for the other side and not have very good numbers. But are you going to sit them too? It's really, some guys rise to the occasion. I've seen Stro do that many, many times. I think he's the perfect guy.