GIO GONZALEZ: That's exactly it. Matt has been healthy all year, which is great. He's been great with this rotation and our bullpen. He really helps out and kind of complements Loby at the same tame. Jose Lobaton has been a big help to our success this year.
As far as what Matt has been doing, he's been great. He's a big strike zone; he's hard to miss. He has a good game plan every time he goes out there. And the same thing with Mike, we sit down and go over the strategy of what we have to do and everything. It's just putting some great minds together and getting going. I'm just the guy who throws the baseball. Great minds are the one behind the plate and the one in the dugout.
Q. What have you learned about yourself as a pitcher this year?
GIO GONZALEZ: What have I learned about myself as a pitcher? I'm six-foot (laughter). I've got long hair, short hair. There's times I have a beard, don't have a beard.
No, just constantly trying to re-evolve, trying to find a new way to throw strikes. The game's changing. If you're seeing, the hitting is pretty tough. So for us, it's trying to attack the strike zone, trying to lock in immediately. You can't let yourself get in a groove after giving up a couple runs. You have to get it going right off the bat.
I've learned this year with working with Matt and seeing our starting rotation, how right off the bat, they are attacking the hitters, they are attacking the strike zone, and you know, they are going out there and giving themselves innings. That's why they are going deep in the game.
Q. What were the last few days like for you as you're preparing, maybe not knowing for sure if you're starting 2 or 3. And what is the significance, if any, knowing you're pitching at home versus pitching on the road?
GIO GONZALEZ: I mean, I was preparing myself to pitch in Chicago. The situation came out and obviously we all know the situation. I was getting ready to pitch, you know, in Chicago and get ready to face the lineup.
So it might be different, how they want to approach it for tomorrow's game. But as far as that, now I know when I'm pitching, so I'll kind of mix it in, and finally gave me a couple days to prepare myself.
As far as that, I've got to prepare myself either way, whether I'm at home or on the road. You've still got to face a good lineup.
Q. Not to disparage anybody before, but what has Mike Maddux meant to this staff, and to you?
GIO GONZALEZ: As far as a staff, you can see, it speaks for itself. We have a great rotation all the way down to Edwin and A.J. Cole who has been a big help for us through the second half.
But as far as that, Mike is huge for us; a guy, him and Dan Firova have been great with us as far as constantly learning and getting things going and knowing the situation, how we approach it. But he's huge. I mean, without Mike, it would be -- it would be really a shot in the dark for us.
Q. You'll probably have a better read after watching and charting tonight, but in general what are your thoughts on the lineup you likely will face tomorrow?
GIO GONZALEZ: I just figure that some of the guys are going to be there, the original guys are going to be there. I don't know what tomorrow's lineup is going to look like but I do have to prepare myself for the guys that I think are going to be there.
Yes, I get very fortunate when I get to see a lineup like that, and I get to see our pitching staff and guys and how they approach it and this and that.
But still, that's a lineup that can do magic 1 through 9, so you have to respect it, whoever they put out there. I just want to prepare myself and try and take one hitter at a time, and we'll see how the outcome comes tomorrow.
Q. The Cubs had to deal with that 108-year thing the last couple years in the playoffs, and you guys as a franchise haven't moved on from the first round. How have you internalized that, or is that just something you ignore?
GIO GONZALEZ: I mean, they did it last year. They broke that curse, so it doesn't matter. That's irrelevant now.
For us, it's just trying to beat the Cubs this year, who they are this year, and what they bring to the table. As far as that, we have to prepare and get ready for tonight. We have to see what we're doing. I mean, I'm not going to put too much emphasis on it, but I'm also going to feel confident with the guys we have going out there with ourselves and Stephen on the mound. So I feel great with our bullpen. We have a solid bullpen, and we have a great 1 through 9 lineup tonight.
It's the same way; I'm sure their rotation respects ours, and we respect theirs.
Q. You've been here with a nucleus of guys all the way through; this is the fourth time for you. What's the sense you get, talking to the guys this week, Jayson, Ryan, it's kind of a like a calm confidence; you're just ready?
GIO GONZALEZ: That's just it. The guys that have been a part of it already, it's the young guys that we're excited for, what they have got to offer. We have some young guys now that just made the roster, so that's a big compliment on their end.
It speaks highly of our organization and what we've got and the guys we have representing us. With JW and Zimm and also Daniel Murphy, these are incredible guys to have in our lineup and then we have Howie Kendrick, who has been a big help for us since we picked him up.
But all the way down to the end, everyone has done their part. It's not just the veteran guys; it's the young guys who have helped out. I think everybody feels confident and everybody feels happy because they see this is a lineup and a team that was built through the farm system and put together right.
Q. What was your preference between Game 2 versus Game 3, home versus away, and when were you given definitive word you were the starter?
GIO GONZALEZ: I think Tuesday or Wednesday when they announced it, just prepare yourself. I was preparing myself already. It might have been Wednesday when they announced it. It gave me a chance to prepare myself. As long as I got a chance to pitch and be a part of something great like this, I think it's an opportunity not too many people can talk about and not too many people can say they have it under their belt.
So I'm just honored and grateful that Dusty still believes in me and feels that I can go out there and pitch a game for them.
Q. How has fatherhood affected what you do on the field as a player?
GIO GONZALEZ: It's what I do off the field; a lot of things, it's changed my game completely (laughter). My back is in tip-top shape, if you're asking.
It's awesome. It does help a little bit. It does soften the blow of going out there and playing. My son doesn't care whether I win or lose. All he wants to know is his father's home, and it's good. It's good to see that. When I get to hold both my boys up, and I get to play around with them and enjoy that moment. Baseball, to me, it's becoming more fun and exciting because I get to go bring my son to practice and he gets to see what I get to do.
You know, before it was my brother. Now (laughter) it's my son. So it's kind of funny how it evolved and I'm a parent.
I'm doing something right if my boys keep looking up to me, so I'm happy about it.
Q. Whether it's a coincidence or not, the Orioles pitching staff took a huge dive after Matt Wieters left last year. Is there something in your mind after spending a year with him that sets him apart from a preparation standpoint from other catchers you've been associated with?
GIO GONZALEZ: I think Matt's the first guy here, and I think him and some of the coaching staff is always in the video room doing their homework and studying hitters. That I have witnesses with Matt where he's been incredible. He understands certain situations. Even when there's a pitch that I have made a mistake on or I left it up, you know, he was -- I've changed that thought where I was like, I should have gone to another pitch. That was years before.
Now I've gone to the point where that was a good pitch but the location was terrible. That I've accepted, now pitching and growing up, and I think that's complemented the catcher and Wieters has been a huge help to my success this year. I do not take anything away from what he's done and how great he's been. Again, I'm not the only one that's had great success. Our entire rotation and even guys in the bullpen, dealing with him and getting to pitch to him, it's been incredible.
It's fun and we're just happy to have him back there. He's a big strike zone, like I said and a big strike zone with a guy that knows how to call a game, that's a deadly combination.