JOE GIRARDI: Well, I know I was quoted I know I said these lights are killing me. The lights are the thing, they shine down in your eyes and it's hard to see anyone asking the question. Maybe that's what they were referring to, but it wasn't a snicker. No, but he has continued to impress us and has played very well down the stretch.
Q. As a former Major League catcher, what stands out for you when you watch a guy like Russ work with the number of pitchers that he has in his time there, and how he interacts with them, handles them in tough situations?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I think he has a lot of confidence in what he's doing, and he's a guy that, you know, that it's just not calling games, it's blocking balls, it's throwing base runners out. And what has been most impressive about Russell's year for me is he never took his at bats behind home plate and continued to fight the whole way through it. And you think about from a personal standpoint, the importance of the year being a free agent, he just kept at it, and for that I'm very impressed.
Q. Of course he didn't blow anyone away with his .211 batting average, but is he one of those guys who thrives in late game pressured situations?
JOE GIRARDI: I think Russell is a clutch player. I think he's always been a clutch player, and I think he's always relished the moment, and he's very talented and very skilled, and it's shown up, especially in the last month of the season in some of the walk off homers that he's had for us.
Q. Have you made any decisions about your lineup tomorrow, and just in general, when contemplating a lineup, how much is it strategy and statistics and how much is it the impact you think it will have emotionally on the player or players involved?
JOE GIRARDI: I think you have to take it all into account. We know that we're in a three game series, and whether you need to pinch hit for someone, you need to make a pitching change, you need to change the lineup a little bit, our guys understand. We have a veteran group that understands that we're going to do what we think is the best thing to win. So I mean, yeah, of course you have to take in a lot of factors. Sometimes it's just not as easy as just writing a name or taking a guy out, a pitcher out. You have to think about the emotional part. You always have to think about that as a manager.
But being a three game series, our guys know what's at stake, and we have to win two games.
Q. And you haven't made any decisions yet?
JOE GIRARDI: No, I haven't done anything yet. Obviously there's a lot of thought process that goes into the whole series and into every move that we possibly might make down the road, but I haven't done anything yet.
Q. The Orioles have surprised just about everybody this year. They continue to do that. You've probably had as much difficulty with them as anybody. To what do you attribute this? Your players are more established, they're better paid, they've been in more postseasons. How do you explain what they've been able to do?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I think they're a talented group, number one. It's a pitching staff that knows how to pitch behind in the count, pitch ahead in the count. They've had a very good bullpen throughout the course of the year. They're a team that hits the ball out of the ballpark. It's how their score a lot of their runs. They've been very good in tight ballgames, so they're used to playing them. But it's a talented group. And to me the biggest difference is the improvement in their pitching staff from last year to this year, where they've always had some talented position players, but they've lost some games late at times and some tough games, and those games they're winning this year.
Q. How aggravating was that ride home?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I think our guys made the best of it and kind of laughed at it. You know, there were some electrical issues, and we ended up getting on a bus. It's interesting where we stopped, in Aberdeen, which I'm not sure what level that is for the Orioles, but I think it's a Minor League affiliate. So that was kind of interesting. But I thought our guys made the best of it, and they laughed, and there were some pictures taken. It's just something you have to deal with, similar to getting in from the West Coast some days is what it was like.
Q. One more about Russ Martin. You mentioned that he's impressed you with not taking bad at bats to the plate this year. I wondered what does that say about a character like his, about someone's character when he's able to put those bad times behind him and just focus on the task at hand and be a big contributor?
JOE GIRARDI: I think it says a lot about a person's character. I think it talks about, he cares about winning more than his personal gain, that he's a real team player. Everyone as an offensive player wants to feel like they contribute, and when you go through tough periods of time, tough times for a substantial period, it can really tax on you, and I never saw it. I never saw him stop working. I never saw him take it behind home plate. And it really shows you just how unselfish of a player he is.
Q. Covering the team on a daily basis, everything I've read is just his teammates really respond to him. They're very impressed with his work ethic and obviously, they do respond to a player like himself where he does put bad things behind him and go pretty hard every game.
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I think whenever you have a player that plays to win and is more concerned about the team than his personal statistics, you're going to find everyone is going to respect that. And he's a lot of fun to be around, as well. I mean, that's the other part that maybe sometimes goes unnoticed. He's a lot of fun to be around.
Q. I'm wondering if you could just give us a little more narrative on what happened last night, like what time, did you sit on the train for a long time, and then how long for the buses and then what time did you get in?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, well, the train -- I would say we got to the train station around 1:00 ish, maybe 1:10, 1:15. We took off at 2:00 because I guess there was an electrical problem at the station, but the thought was once we got away from the station, the train was fine.
And then about -- we probably left at five after 2:00 or so, and then about 2:30, 2:35, you noticed that we started having some electrical issues again, and you noticed that the train was slowing down. It just seemed like we were coasting, and we kind of coasted into Aberdeen, I guess.
And then about -- I'm going to guess about 3:15, we were fortunate that our buses were headed back to New York, and they were going parallel. I would say about 3:15, 3:30, we got back on the buses and we got to New York City about 6:00 in the morning.
Q. Were the trains stopped in the middle of the tracks somewhere or were you at a station?
JOE GIRARDI: We were at a station. They were able to coast to a station.
Q. Wow, that's pretty unusual.
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah.
Q. A similar thing happened to all the writers today trying to get back.
JOE GIRARDI: Was it the train went out, the electric?
Q. Well, trains are canceled all morning, and people are driving back. Then there was an accident on 95. There's like groups of writers in cars coming back trying to get their way back.
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, it's been tough. You know, you'd think that a city this close in proximity would be easy to get between, but not today.
Q. You were talking about the lineup before. Could one of the changes involve Alex or not?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I mean, I think that we're going to do whatever it takes to win this three game series. Nothing that we do will be something that is just a knee jerk reaction. You know, we talk about different things, and whether it's a pitching change or pitching situations. We know, the great thing about this is I have a great group of guys that's very unselfish, and they really want to win. And that's what we're going to do, what we think is best to win.
Q. With Kuroda going tomorrow, going on a couple extra days' rest, do you think that is going to help him? Can you talk about that?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, I do. We've seen he's been pretty good on extra rest the times he's went on his sixth day, and I know it's his seventh or eighth day here, seventh day, but we feel with the innings that he's logged, that this will be beneficial for him. When you look at his statistics, this is the most innings he's thrown in a long time. So I think it will be beneficial.
Q. The last two starts that he had, how were they for him with that kind of bump in the road he had toward the end of the year?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I think we saw him throw a pretty good game his last start. I mean, pitchers are used to going through bumps in the road. The way that you have a good season is when you have a bump in the road you don't let it become another bump and another bump and another bump. You're able to turn the page, and he's really good at that.
Q. Looking at Kuroda for tomorrow night, his home and road splits are really glaring. He's got a 2.72 ERA at home, opponents are only hitting .219 against him, which is really different than on the road. Is it just a comfort thing with Hiroki at Yankee Stadium?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, we haven't seen year after year after year, so it's hard for me to say being around him just for the first time this year. But he seems to do very well in our ballpark. He seems to know how to pitch to our ballpark, and that could have something to do with it. But he's been very good at home. It's one of the reasons that we talked about him pitching at home, plus we thought the extra rest would really help him, the couple days, instead of him having to go on his fifth day again. But let's hope it holds true again tomorrow.
Q. We often talk about missed opportunities hitting. Do you feel like you've missed maybe an opportunity with the way you've pitched so very well?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I mean, that's part of it when you get in those tight games. You don't want to miss those opportunities. But they could say the same thing in the first game. I mean, they had the one blip with Jim Johnson, but they pitched a very good game, and we came back and won it. And I think this time of year you're used to seeing these type of games. I don't really think about it that much. We had a chance to win that game. We didn't get it done. So now it comes to the best two out of three, and we need to get it done.