THE MODERATOR: Questions for Terry Francona.
Q. Was there any consideration to going with some combination of Merritt or Salazar instead of Bauer for tomorrow?
TERRY FRANCONA: No, no. I mean, Ryan did a really good job in his game in Toronto, but Trevor's been a really good pitcher for us for four years. If we thought that the finger was getting in the way, I understand it. But he's come so far and battled this thing so much that I think his better game is ahead of him.
Q. Cody Allen's done such a tremendous job for you this postseason. He had not had much experience when you got here in '13. What did you see in him in the very beginning that made you think he'd be effective? And how is he so good?
TERRY FRANCONA: When I first got here he had been called up I think about halfway through the year the year before. And watching him pitch, I could just envision him being that swing guy, fireman, however you want to put it. A guy that comes in and you can leverage and get big outs, whether it's a left-hand hitter, right-hand hitter, because as you get to know him, I mean, nothing throws this kid even four years ago. I mean, he loved being in those situations where it was bases loaded. He'd come in and get a strikeout and then go back out. And he was so good at it, moving him into the closer's role, that wasn't the hard part. The hard part was replacing what he did in those two outs in the sixth, two outs in the seventh, getting that last out. That's a hard guy to replace. It kind of took us a while where we had to kind of piece it together.
Because Bryan, I mean, Bryan Shaw's tremendous. He doesn't have quite the strikeouts that Cody does though.
Q. Just what was the difference in the decision-making process between yesterday and today? Was it something you saw?
TERRY FRANCONA: No, no, no. He caught the one flyball to him. I just think for us to play Carlos out of position, I think there needs to be a pretty compelling reason to do it. We've got our ace on the mound, and I wanted Rajai to play. He's got the most at-bats against Lackey and actually has had success. Again, there is no crystal ball, but just think saying that, it would be hard not to play Rajai.
And with Kluber pitching, I'd like us to have a good defense out there. I labored back and forth on our first baseman. I hated like crazy not playing Napoli. I physically hate it. But Nap's going to play tomorrow against the lefty, and we may put Santana back in the outfield tomorrow again. We'll see. I just thought tonight it would serve us better even having Nap out of the lineup to have a defense in there and with Rajai playing.
Q. One more quick thing about Bauer: Is his finger fine to bat tomorrow, I presume?
TERRY FRANCONA: We haven't checked it a whole lot yet just because I don't think anybody really wanted to push it. When it's time, like maybe later today, we'll see what he's capable of doing without doing damage. But I don't have the full facts yet, just because we haven't wanted to push it.
Q. Terry, I know the other day you talked about how much you like this team even in Spring Training. Aside from the affinity for them and thinking they were pretty good, you guys have just improved. The arc of improvement has gone straight up all year to where you've peaked at the perfect time. I'm wondering, was there a moment or two or three during the summer where you said, this team has a chance to be special?
TERRY FRANCONA: I've gotten asked that a lot. I don't know -- one, I don't know that we've peaked. I mean, we haven't swung the bats very well the last couple of weeks. I think that it shows what type of team we can be though. You know, just try to find a way to win the game you're playing that night, whether it's getting one run or ten. And I don't think you have to come to a moment in the season where your team is special. You know, in my mind, I feel like I feel about these guys. I like them a lot, and they are very special. I don't think you have to have the stamp of a World Series on your team to feel that way.
Sometimes things happen you can't overcome. They've done a really good job of overcoming a lot. But if it got to a point where it was too much, that wouldn't take away how I feel about him.
Q. Terry, your players were talking last night --
TERRY FRANCONA: Is this a Newtown volleyball question (laughter)?
Q. I could give you one. Your players were talking last night about how it feels like you always make the right move in games, so they always believe in that move you make. So, first question, do you have the feeling that you're on that kind of roll? And second, do you have a process that you use to map out games in advance, think them through? Is there some system?
TERRY FRANCONA: You really can't do that. I mean, you saw last night's game. I mean, I think the biggest thing we can do is, one, be prepared by advancing the other team, and then knowing our guys. The flexibility of a guy like Michael Martinez who is very unsung, he's under the radar. He can play centerfield, he can play third base, he can play second. Last night you saw it kind of saved us, because we were running thin.
During a game, I mean, we've put the last game in the rearview mirror so fast. I mean, last night was one of the more agonizing games I've ever been a part of. Usually I really do enjoy them, but last night there was a lot going on and we were running out of players at a quick rate to the point where when we got into the 9th inning, if they would have had second and third with less than two outs, we would have probably played the infield in just to win or lose. Kluber already had his spikes on, because he would have been the next pinch-hitter. So it wasn't a real good feeling.
That wasn't how we drew it up, believe me. It's just as you go, you kind of have your guys ready for each situation and then you react to it and do the best you can.
Q. Along those lines, when you're doing all those moves, is it just you and Millsy talking? Are there several people?
TERRY FRANCONA: No, no, Millsy and I, it just works better that way. Too many, what do you call it, chefs in the kitchen. And that's where I'm really fortunate because of all the people in the world, having Millsy there, one, that's not the moment for somebody to have to tread lightly. I've probably learned more about the game from him than he's ever learned from me. So it just works really well. He's able to, one, go back and forth with me, digest some of the things I'm saying that aren't always easy to digest, and then he's going to get players ready, also. So he's got a full plate during the game.
Q. I thought a really pivotal or at least interesting match-up last night was the Shaw-Schwarber, and how Shaw just crashed him inside. I bring it up because it's possible they're trying to find a match-up like that again for Schwarber. What did you see in that at-bat? What was it that Shaw was able to do there that was so good, I guess?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, kind of like what you said. He ran a cutter. He ran a power cutter in on him really well. Now, we got him out. He's probably going to get a chance to hit again tonight. You don't just pound your chest too much too quickly against good hitters, because he's going to get another chance.
But Bryan made a really good pitch. And we found out not just in this series but last year, when you don't, you generally pay for it.
Q. Going back to Cody Allen for a second. You talked about having to replace him. But what was it about him that you knew he could handle the closer's role? Was it the physical stuff but also the mental part?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, I think what he did, what we asked him to do in the set-up, however you want to call it, that was so demanding what we asked him to do, that I actually thought being in the closer's role could be a little bit easier because you know what inning you're pitching. A lot of times you start an inning out with nobody on.
But there's also been times when he's had a couple hiccups where we've brought him in in the middle of innings just to get him back to being aggressive, because that's when he's at his best.
To answer your question, I thought when I first met him that he was beyond his years as far as a competitor and being able to handle stuff. I was really -- that was one of the things that jumped out that first Spring Training as you get to know guys that was really pleasing.
Q. You had to jump back into the fray in the National League style last night a little bit.
TERRY FRANCONA: That's a way to put it.
Q. Yeah. Do you have a preference? I mean, in terms of just when you talk about managing under the two styles, what do you like better?
TERRY FRANCONA: It's funny, because I got my first Major League managing in Philadelphia, which is National League, and didn't even think twice about it. But when you get used to the American League, it is a little different. I mean, in the American League when you want to take your pitcher out, you take your pitcher out, and you have your guys throwing. In the National League, every once in a while you get a game like last night, where all hell's breaking loose even in a 1-0 game, and there's a lot going on.
Now, the other thing that helps me a ton is the cooperation we get with our players is phenomenal because we do some things -- we've done a few things that are a little out of the box this series, last series, and they handle it. I'm not sure you can always do that with every player and have it work.