DALE SVEUM:Well, the goal there coming into this series is not let Howard hit two pointers against you. It's not that difficult of a decision. Burrell came into the series hitting .170 off righties the last 30 days. Unfortunately, obviously he was our Achilles' tendon today, on obviously two pitches when we had him in the count in our favor. So unfortunately, it didn't work out.
You know, Manny did his job. Threw the heck out of the ball, and to get a right-hander on the mound with a slider, and unfortunately, he threw a bad 0-2 pitch to him. Once again, we had him in the count we wanted him, and we just made a bad pitch.
Was that five-run deficit just too much to come back from?
DALE SVEUM: Well, it's not too much to come back from when it was the third inning, and we had six at bats left to come back. [Joe] Blanton, that's as good as I've ever seen him throw, probably. You know, we never really got enough people on base to pop one or -- scored a few runs, a couple runs here and there, but we never really got that bases loaded, bunch of guys on base, to break the game open or get back in the game.
You guys haven't been great with runners in scoring position all year, but how much does this team suffer when they don't hit the home run?
DALE SVEUM: Well, that goes unsaid, obviously. We live and die by the home run, and hopefully we pop them when we get people on base. But once again, today, we scored on a home run and one other run.
We've got to change that. We've got to start learning how to manufacture runs and do things and put the ball in play and have really, really good at-bats going into next season.
Do you feel this is another step in the learning process, first, to get into the playoffs, and now, to go to the next level, still a learning process for your club?
DALE SVEUM: Yeah. I mean, we have a lot of young guys still. They're getting at that stage of their careers where it's time to make the adjustments and get to the next level, there's no doubt about it, because we have some young talent here that has the opportunity to get to the next level as a Major League player.
So this was a stepping stone for a lot of them. They get the experience what it's like to be in a playoff series, as well as battle their butts off the last week of the season to get in it. So they've experienced pretty much the ultimate thing, except playing in a World Series, and that's obviously our goal.
Could you assess Suppan's performance. And considering the way Jeff had pitched in September, was there ever any questions before you made the call on Jeff as to which way you might go with him?
DALE SVEUM: You mean as being a starter?
Being a starter.
DALE SVEUM: No, I don't think there was any question of him starting today. He got the rest he usually does, and one pitch difference, he's out of the inning and it might be a different ballgame. Obviously, you'd like to have that one pitch back that changed the game around, but he was making his pitches and doing a good job up to that point. They got a blooper and 3-2 home run to lead off the game. So sometimes that happens.
Obviously, you'd like to have that pitch back, especially when you have the count in your favor. But there was never a doubt that he was going to be our fourth-game starter.
You talked about the learning process and the things that need to be worked on to improve. It sounds a lot like a guy that's planning on being back next year. I know this just ended, but are you thinking that you're going to be back at the helm in Spring Training?
DALE SVEUM: Well, I guess I'm being optimistic when I'm talking. (Laughing). Who knows? Obviously, we'll probably know something soon. I don't know. But I guess if I am the manager, those are things, talking as obviously next year's manager, but that's obviously up in the air right now. But those are things that we have to work on as an organization and as a team to get better.
You expressed your desire to be maybe not more of a small-ball team, but not to live and die by the home run so much. Is that a personnel thing, where next year we'll have maybe some new faces in this clubhouse that don't live and die by the home run? Or do you think that these guys can learn to play small ball?
DALE SVEUM: No, I think these guys can. The guys in that clubhouse, they know. They like to play baseball, like Billy Hall hit and ran last night. He'd probably never been asked to do it, but he put the ball in play. He was just foul down the line.
It's something that you have to -- you start out in Spring Training and get them to understand, so they can have a lot of fun playing this game, because there's a lot more to this game than just waiting for the three-run homer. Players really understand that, and they get a lot of satisfaction out of sacrifice bunting. When they get a sacrifice bunt over, when they hit and run, and they get it on the ground, believe it or not, they get a lot of satisfaction out of that, and it's a lot of fun to play the game. I love to play the game that way. I was brought up that way with Paulie and Robin and Jimmy Gantner and guys that taught me how important that was and how fun it was to do all those things.
Was using CC [Sabathia] as the pinch hitter, was that almost as much sentimental as tactical at that point?
DALE SVEUM: Well, it was a couple things. I kind of wanted to get the crowd back into the game. I knew if I sent him up there, that the crowd would get back in the game when the crowd was taken out of the game. At that point, the third inning, having a short bench as it was, carrying 12 pitchers, you know, he's still a pretty good hitter that could pop one. Bushy [Dave Bush] was just going to pinch run for him, so we were all set there.
We didn't have -- if we were going to come back, we had six more innings left, and then you can mix and match with all the pinch hitters you had to rest, because they had three lefties in that bullpen that could cause a problem if you were to just waste one of your pinch hitters right there with nobody on.
Could you talk about how good the bullpen was for you guys, not only in the postseason but the last week of the year?
DALE SVEUM: Well, I mean, they were the reason we were here, like I've said before. The bullpen was as good as it could be. We gave up very few runs, very few baserunners as a matter of fact, and there's no doubt that we're here, able to play in these games, because of what our bullpen did. And like I said, gave us a chance to hit those walk-off home runs and that eighth inning home run by Braunie [Ryan Braun].
Can you give us a sense of what you said to the team afterwards, or what you plan to say when you have a chance to summarize everything, the whole run to the playoffs and the postseason?
DALE SVEUM: I didn't say much. I just kind of said, "Hell of a year, and don't hang your heads about nothing. You've got everything to be proud of, and you guys had one hell of a year."
We'll talk individually throughout the rest of this day. The last day of a season is always -- kind of everybody hangs around and says their goodbyes and all that stuff. That's about it. They know. There's not much to say after a game like this and the end of the season.
Your feelings, do you think from the moment you got the job as interim to now, did it pan out the way you thought? Did some things develop the way you'd hoped?
DALE SVEUM: Well, obviously getting into the playoffs is what you hope for and that happened. And after that, your ultimate goal is to win the World Series. So that's disappointing in that fact, that we didn't get to the World Series and win the World Series because that's the ultimate goal. We leave Spring Training, and when you get in the playoffs, you have to win 11 games. Obviously, we came up short winning 11 games and the World Series.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.