Mike Scioscia and Joe Saunders interviews

Mike Scioscia and Joe Saunders interviews

Realize you haven't worked out yet, but how does Torii feel? How is his knee?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Torii's good to go. He's fine. We're going to hold him out of batting practice today and just let him go out there, loosen up and throw a little bit. But he's done a little walk through. He feels like he can hit and play. He'll be fine.

The Angels obviously need a big game from you and are counting on a big game from you. How do you feel about that?

JOE SAUNDERS: Welcome the opportunity. Just itching to get out there and put up some zeros and give us a chance. It's what we've been trying to do all year. Looking forward to doing it here hopefully.

Joe, when you pitched here in July, everything went pretty well, not too long ago. What does that do for your confidence and your comfort level tomorrow night?

JOE SAUNDERS: I mean, it's nice to be able to dwell on, but obviously, this is going to be my first postseason experience. Everybody's told me the postseason is a different ballgame, so, you know, just looking forward to getting out there and playing.

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Could you as you watch this Red Sox lineup the past two games, have you made some mental dos and don'ts about this lineup?

JOE SAUNDERS: Yeah, don't make a mistake, pretty much. You know, obviously they're a good hitting ballclub. I still like our chances. I think if we play our game, and you know, we play like we're capable of playing, we can definitely come back in this series. Just wanting the opportunity.

Last night when we asked you about the possibility of replacing Howie in the lineup, you were adamant that you weren't going to do that. Can you elaborate a little on why you have that confidence in him now?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, you know, I think there's bumps in the road at times for every player. Howie swung the bat very well in the last week of the season. He's hit a little soft spot now as a couple of guys in our lineup have. But this guy can hit. He needs to plow through this, if we're going to get to be where we want to be, we need not only, as we talked about Vlad and Tex, and Torii, Garret and guys in the middle of the lineup, you need Howie to contribute. You need -- Figgie had a good game the other night, that's important to us. You know, Howie's going to play. Howie's going to plow through this and hopefully contribute tomorrow and keep moving on from there.

You've got good numbers against Boston, good numbers in this park where left handers aren't supposed to do well; what do you attribute that to?

JOE SAUNDERS: Just going out there and, I think, not pitching really to the ballpark, more pitching to my game. Just letting my stuff work, and not really focusing on the Green Monster or, you know, Pesky's Pole or stuff like that. Just pitching my game and trusting my stuff. I've just been fortunate in past experiences.

What do you do now? You have your backs to the wall. Do you still stay the course? Do you stick with what won you 100 games?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, we haven't seen what won us 100 games out there. We haven't seen our team on the field. That's what's been frustrating for us. I think in spots last night we came back and did things like we did all summer.

Boston's played two terrific ballgames. They set up games the way they want to. They hold leads and have gotten to the big guys in the back of the bullpen that have done the job. That's the way we'd like to play and set our games up, and we haven't quite been able to get there.

I hope it's not going to be business as usual tomorrow as far as what we've done the first two games. You know, we need to press the offense. We need early runs and we need to set up a game that we can get a chance to hold leads late, because that's how we did it in the summer. That's how we won, and it's going to take contributions from everybody in the lineup to do that.

So, you know, in some cases you want guys to go out there and just play the game, but the frustrating thing on our side is we haven't really brought our game on to the field for these first two games of this series. You know, not to overstate it, but I think it's obvious we need to do that tomorrow.

You've heard the theory that Fenway Park is tough on left handers, what is your perception of that?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, I think it depends on the left hander. It depends on what his stuff is like. I'm sure there are examples pros and con that, you know, maybe some lefties have a difficult time pitching here. You know, I think everyone gets consumed with the Green Monster here. Maybe, as Joe said, down the right field line, it's a little tight there. But there's big areas out in center and right center that I think if a lefty knows what he's doing, or any pitcher, even a right hander, you can make pitches and have a little more room to play with.

I think it depends on the left hander. I don't think it's anything that you're going to shy off of saying you can't pitch a left hander in this ballpark, and I think Joe's an example of that. He's pitched well here in the past, and he'll pitch well tomorrow.

You talk, Mike, about groupings and combination to get the running game going. Do you think that the batting order will be the same or are you thinking about putting somebody else at No. 2?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: The core will be the same. I think on the offensive side we saw a lot of positive things in Game 2.

I think we pressured the Red Sox a lot during that game and those guys pitched their way out of trouble and made some pitches. We'll need to continue to make that pressure and get the hit here to fall in. Maybe it will break up the game for us and give us a lead late.

No, we're not going to do much with the core, but they'll be, you know, there will be a lot of, I guess, priority on us getting early guys on in innings. We talked about the first two guys in innings for our game to go, has to get on base. We were able to do that on game 2, we just couldn't continue and carry it forward.

The postseason allows a little more opportunity to look at scouting reports and other data with the off days. For that reason, do you think that managers and the coaching staff have any more impact on wins and losses than they do during the regular season?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, I think the most important thing that we're going to do as a staff is to evaluate our team, evaluate our talent and put its best foot forward on the field and let it hopefully get in a position to win ballgames. I don't think that changes because it's a playoff game. I don't think it changes in the spring training game. I don't think it changes in a regular season game or a pennant race game. You're always out there trying to win and you're trying to put your best guys and the best groupings, best alignments, get your matchups on the pitching side to win ballgames.

The data that we're looking at right now is the same data that we've seen during the season with Boston. I'm sure they're looking at the same data that we have. You know, it's out there. You do have a little more time for reflection with these off days. The series in the beginning seems to drag on because you play one that's one off, you play one on another travel day, but there's not a lot of impact in what you're going to do -- or not a lot the data's going to impact what you're going to do right now. You're looking for performance. We have looked at the matchups every which way we can. You try to put them together and go out there and hopefully put your team in a positive light.

Given the emphasis you guys place on base running, Mike, how do you explain getting so many hits over the first couple of games, singles, especially, and not get into your running game and stolen bases?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: We haven't been able to get into stolen bases, the opportunities have not presented themselves. A lot of times we've had a base hit by base hit. Couple times we've gone first to third. What's hurt us early is our runners, hitting the runners in scoring position the first two games. It's been down from what we need to do.

Base running and stolen bases -- you're talking about just stolen bases, right?

Right.

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Stolen bases, you can't force them. I don't know. There's maybe been a couple situations where guys had the green light to get the jump. There's been a couple situations where we've had maybe first and second and couldn't get a read to maybe try to get a double steal. But stolen bases are something that you can't go out there and say we're going to try to steal bases. If the opportunity presents itself, you try to take advantage of it.

I think when you're having a lot of signals if you're not going first to third or have the right groupings together that's going to open up a base for a guy to steal, you know, it isn't going to happen. It hasn't presented itself in the first two games as much as maybe it did during the season for us.

You guys had a lot of success against the Red Sox during the regular season. Does that help you at all mentally in this 0 2 situation?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, mentally we're fine. It's tough when you're 0 2, but we have a lot of confidence that we're going to play well and we're in this series. All it takes is one good inning that translates into one win and now the pressure's back on the other team.

By no stretch of the imagination does anybody in our clubhouse feel this is over or that we've dug too deep of a hole that we can't get out of.

I don't think the confidence that you get from the regular season is going to mean much in a short series. You have to go out there and you have to play. I think that the focus has to be on not that we've played the Red Sox well during the regular season, the focus has to be we played well -- our team played well during the whole regular season. You want to carry that confidence forward and hopefully continue it into a playoff environment, and the first two games we haven't been able to do that.

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