Bench, again, it's going to be different. We've been playing these 7th games for three games in a row, and now you're going back into a regular series of five. So the thought process is going to be a little different. I think the primary things would be fourth starter and then rest of the bullpen. And then determine how many pitchers you want, how many position players, et cetera. I honestly don't have any concrete thoughts yet. We'll talk about that, like I said, later today.
Q. (No microphone).
JOE MADDON: It's possible. It's possible. And again, that's you know, the pulling of the pitcher early, getting behind early, pinch hitting, those are the things you always consider. I want to believe that Matt, Alex and David can go deeper into the game. There's all those things to consider. You definitely have to have a pretty good long guy to prevent bullpen blowups early on, although you do have the days off to help.
So there's all these different things to consider.
Q. What challenges do they present to the Rays?
JOE MADDON: Primarily it's their pitching presents very difficult for us. I like their starters. Their starters are really good. Lester has refound himself. John Lackey has had a great year. Buchholz is back. He's always been tough for us. Peavy is their fourth game starter; that's not bad. Their bullpen also gets progressively better, gaining progress.
So they're good, their pitching is really good. We've been able to kind of keep them at bay offensively, but I don't take anything for granted with that either. They're such a prodigious offensive ballclub. If you look at the history of this season, it's been primarily their pitching has really been tough for us.
Now having said all that, we'll do a little bit better offensively. I think right now coming through what we just came through, there was a big exhale post the Toronto game, honestly. That game on Sunday, just to get to the point where we could play for this moment. Went to Texas, much more relaxed I thought. And yesterday was outstanding. I could not be more proud for our guys, preparing for a big game like that, and the way they went about their business. It was fun to watch from the dugout. It was outstanding.
So my point is, I think a lot of times when your offense struggles a bit, there's a lot of tension among the offensive players. We've had that based on our inabilities to drive in runs and runners in position, et cetera. I want to believe the journey we've just gone through is going to hopefully relax our hitters a bit, so you might see a better offensive ballclub, to go along with pitching and defense.
Q. So much has been made of this road trip, why is it different? You guys have lost 20 of 25 on the road, to sandwich around those two West Coast trips. And you said in September when you played the Red Sox, "Oh, we'll see you again." Why were you so confident in both of those things?
JOE MADDON: Well, I'll try to keep it short. The thing about a lot of that was centered around some really difficult scheduling. We had to go to the West Coast twice, and in a brief period of time. We'd been going pretty well. And I really think that kicked us a little bit. We just did not react well to time change. If I feel awkward or not good, just imagine how the players feel.
So I think a lot of it some of it had to do with scheduling. Combine that with the fact that we were just not hitting the baseball at all. It just kind of went away. We could not drive in the point when we needed to. It was very difficult. Overall the pitching, we had our hiccups with the bullpen at times. All that stuff seemed to be centered around that moment.
Now, I have so much faith that our guys, I felt we could pull ourselves out of it once we got back into a better routine, quite frankly. We got back into a better routine. And when we saw the Red Sox last time, I did mention to the group, "We'll see you later in the year." And I felt pretty confident and strongly about that. Because I thought we could right ourselves, and we did. And had to do it against some pretty difficult moments: Texas four, Baltimore four back to back, New York for three in New York. So that's not easy. When you're able to ride that gauntlet that well, it really should pick your confidence up a bit.
So I do believe that. I'm not going to be a crybaby during the season. The schedule was tough, and I think it got us a little bit towards the end of the year. The end of the year, you've been pretty much in this one time zone the whole season, and then we go out west. Then we did it twice in that short period. I think that's what hurt. Beyond that, from a baseball perspective, we just were unable to be consistent offensively.
Q. When you take a look at what's happened in the last week for you, a game in Toronto Sunday, Texas on Monday, and then Cleveland last night, all must win or go home situations, it seems like quite an accomplishment. Do you view it as quite an accomplishment? Do you think that this is some good sign for you guys?
JOE MADDON: Always searching for the good signs. Yeah, I think it is quite an accomplishment, actually. You can't deny that. I think if we had been watching another team do what we just did, we would say that's quite an accomplishment. First of all, to lose the first two games in Toronto and see this other group sneaking up behind you, that's no fun. And to get out to such a good lead and hold on by your fingernails on Sunday, that ended up being fun, but it wasn't fun at the moment. But that's a must win game, obviously. And then to do what we did against two really good clubs on the road, come on, that's pretty interesting.
Yeah, it's quite an accomplishment. I really believe our players deserve a lot of credit, I do. And moving forward I want to believe it's going to create some kind of different form of momentum going into this series, because we've been playing. We've been playing under duress, and we're not tired. Don't be deceived, we're not tired. I might look bad right now, but I'm not that tired. I'll be fine by tomorrow (laughter). And I think our players will feel the same way.
This is so interesting and fun, is what it is. I did an interview the other day with a national guy, and he was kind of surprised when I said how much fun this is. This is a blast. I wish we could train for it. And to be up here under these circumstances and this venue, it doesn't get much better than that. And our players feel the same way, I'm not just speaking for myself.
So, yeah, I think it's quite an accomplishment and I really know that I am and we are excited.
Q. Do you have to push the envelope a little bit more in the playoffs, in these maybe one game situations?
JOE MADDON: Well, in the one game situations the envelope was stuffed differently based on rules and rosters and what was going on. This is a five game series, but I'd love for us to play it like each is a one game series, like we just came through.
The roster construction, different things like that are going to be different. But the five game series presents differently. But we've been so recently road tested on these one game gigs. Again, we're really excited about it. But it presents differently right now, based on the fact that all of a sudden tomorrow is not necessarily a must win, but I really hope our guys approach it that way.
Q. You managed against Francona with Boston, Bobby V with Boston and now John. What do you see in Farrell that makes him different?
JOE MADDON: You know, primarily whenever we play somebody, I really try to understand who we are managing against. Every guy presents differently, personality wise. Also it goes beyond just what's going to happen on the field. I guess, maybe I should say a lot what happens on the field is reflected by their personalities. There's guys that are more risk takers, guys that are more conservative, guys that really never step outside. There's the guys that are very predictable, too. I'm not going to sit here and tip my hand what I think among the three, but I'm just saying regardless of who we've played, I always am very cognizant of who is in the other dugout and what I believe are their traits. And you look at that combined with the data we get. And you try to work off that. I know for me, for sure, I try to understand what I do, because you know what they're looking at from the other side, and hopefully one of the words is "unpredictable", because that's always a good thing.
But they're all really good. They all present differently. I think John, I've known John from the days I've talked about this when he was rehabbing with the California Angels, in Mesa, Gene Autry Park, and he was trying to make a comeback. So John and I go way back to that moment when he was working out and trying to get well. So I kind of know him personality wise.
He does a great job with his pitching. You look at what Lester has done as an example, John Lackey's reemergence, that tells you how good Johnny is with the pitching. He's had some good mentors with the Angels. Primarily the thing about John that really stands out to me is what he does with pitching, which is no big secret. He's done that for a while.
Q. Would you talk about Matt Moore's season, his makeup. And what are the keys for him doing well?
JOE MADDON: Matt Moore's season, obviously the record is outstanding. Is it 17 wins? I think it is, right? 17 wins, that's pretty awesome. Matt Moore's makeup, how shall I say, he's very level or even about things. You've seen it. There's no denying, he can get wild; he can miss the plate. But he doesn't cave in. And that speaks to his makeup and what's going on.
Stuff wise, it's high end. If his delivery is in order, which you're going to see tomorrow night, when it is and when it is not. And when it is, from my perspective, it's really fun to watch the mechanical component where he's really smooth and he's really reaching under the catcher's mitt. It looks like it's flowing well. He has a great curveball. He has a great change up.
The awkward thing there is, be careful what you wish for, too, sometimes. When he's kind of like this controlled wildness, they don't get hits. He may walk a couple of guys, but they don't hit him. And sometimes he'll get over the plate, which you'd perceive to be better command and he gets hit, and that's the problem. So he walks this different kind of a tightrope that maybe some other pitchers don't walk, but he's able to do it. Like the other day he was going along well in Toronto, but he was like effectively wild. And then all of a sudden he started throwing strikes, and he gave up four hits in a row.
So you've got to watch this. You've got to watch it carefully. You could see his fastball from 91 to 95. Really good hook, he's got a really good curveball, a good change up. So a good makeup guy. A little bit different in his approach. I like when his delivery is together, then you see more consistency.
Q. The value of a manager has been debated by non managers, how much they're worth to teams. How do you see yourself as a difference maker? How do you see your role in the Rays' success?
JOE MADDON: That's always an interesting question. Those kind of things I think are great discussions. For me, my main objective is to help organize the day and then, I mean this sincerely, stay out of the way during the game as much as I can. I think it's only important to interfere when it's like last night. I thought we had to interfere last night, on Alex Cobb's 107th pitch, when we got Joel Peralta in the game with a good matchup with Swisher.
And then Joel gets like the 16th pitch mark, but he had really tough outs, and here comes Raburn, which everybody knows kills left hand pitching. But I had to interfere, because I thought Jake McGee was the right guy, based on the information that our people supply us. And it ended up working out. As a manager, from my perspective it's a combination of years of experience, and also utilizing what's happening in today's world.
So if that makes a difference, great. I don't necessarily try to consider if I've made a difference or not in that regard, I just want to do my job on a daily basis and I tell myself to be consistent. Be consistent. Be consistent. When I walk in the door I don't want my players to have any surprises about me and my comportment on a daily basis.
So I think it comes down to that. I think it's an organized mind. I think it's a consistent mind that I think players glom on to. They like the consistency. They don't like all this they don't know what to expect kind of thing. Conversationally they do know we're going to do some different things regarding lineups, but they understand that, too. That's a great argument and discussion. If people feel like managers make a difference, I know what I do on a daily basis.
Q. I'm glad you're not tired, first of all.
JOE MADDON: At 12:30 I barely got out of that bed.
Q. Given that though the age old question, in a playoff series, is it better to be the team that had a few days off and had a layoff? Is it better to be a team that's barrelling in hot? You've played a bunch of games, and guys are worn out from city to city. What's your take and obviously it's biased by your team's position?
JOE MADDON: You're right. I mean, there's so many different ways to look at that. I would prefer right now, honestly, what we're doing. We were not really that good this year, following days off, for whatever reason. And I know we're getting one right now, but it's not going to feel like one, it's almost like Tuesday is going to blend into Wednesday or Thursday into Friday. So you gain this momentum, at this time of year it's kind of nice.
We've been talking about these Game 7's, like three in a row. It's a different kind of vibe. When you walk into the dugout, you feel confident that you can do these things. Boston, on the other hand, they're well rested. Their bullpen is in great order. They played a practice game, all that kind of stuff. They've got a different feeling coming into this. Plus they're veteran and have been here before, so they're fine.
But I like from our perspective, it just seems like we do better when we're pushed and we don't get a lot of rest, we don't overthink, and we just go play. Regarding rest, you can look at our group, Longo has been pushed a little bit, James Loney has been, definitely. But we mix and match so much. Guys have been injured, even pitchers, that there's a lot of rest. The bullpen is in good order. I always worry about the bullpen the most. In spite of all this crazy confusion, I think we're kind of rested, actually. With a good night's sleep tonight, I think our guys will be fine tomorrow.
Q. I know there's no fear factor anymore with the Red Sox, Yankees, but Jonny Gomes was talking about there was a day when the Red Sox would just come and take our lunch money. That's just the way it was. You've helped change that culture. What did it take? Is it simply success?
JOE MADDON: In a perverse way so did Jonny. He helped changed that culture, too. Obviously there were similar moments in 2008, and I think at times you have to fight for your turf, but the fight with the Yankees during Spring Training, and the fight with the Red Sox during the season, quite frankly, helped. You're not going to be pushed around anymore. It's the playground thing. I remember as a kid getting into several fights on a playground, and at some point you have to stand your ground. I think that's what happened eventually.
And a lot better baseball players, too. That matters also. But guys like Jonny Gomes did help turn the Devil Rays into the Rays, absolutely he did. Dan Wheeler, nobody talks about Danny, he played here. Danny helped turn the Devil Rays into the Rays. With James Shields, all these guys, you can go up and down the line. At some point you just have to stand up for your turf and you just say enough. And I think that's actually what happened in 2008.
I mean, again, just being honest with you, better players, better players, and then at some point you've got to say no more. And I think that's what happened. And our guys did a wonderful job of fighting back, not being intimidated and eventually because you remember back in the day when I first got in here, everybody is talking about, we need to be in another division. We can't compete in this division. I thought God, that's horrible. I want to play in this division. I think it's the best way to get better faster. When you're always in these difficult venues against really good ballclubs, you better play to survive.
I think it was a day night doubleheader in New York, and lost 35 to 3 combined scores in two games. I'm standing on the top step, like I always do, baking in the sun, and visualizing sometimes you have to bake in the sun before it does get better. A lot of that has a belief system most of it is about better baseball players. Brilliant front office, great ownership, that's the kind of thing that turns a team around.
Q. You mentioned at the top the team is scoring a bit better lately. How much of a factor has Delmon Young been in this? And what kind of presence do you believe he can be in this series since he hasn't faced Boston this year?
JOE MADDON: Delmon and also David. How about David DeJesus? They've been wonderful acquisitions for us towards the end of the season. They've added a lot of offense and energy. Delmon, specifically. DY, here to tell you, he's not afraid. He's just not. He loves the moment. I have felt very good about putting his name in the lineup because I know regardless of what you might read about him numerically or what the guy may or may not have done in the past, talking about in the batter's box, chasing pitches, et cetera, Delmon is smart. He's a really smart hitter. And he's a great observer.
So I think he's made a huge difference. I think he makes a huge difference in the confidence in the lineup. He makes the lineup thicker. He does all of those things. Again, he loves the moment and is not afraid of the moment. That's why you've seen him be so successful in the postseason.
And David DeJesus he's added a lot for us whether it's at the top or in the five hole, really good at bats, quality at bats. And there's a little bit more thump in that bat than people think, plus the fine defense. Both of those acquisitions have played a big role in our success over the last several weeks.
Q. Could you tell me how do you see Koji Uehara, and do you think his mound presence, give the other team some kind of sense of the game ending?
JOE MADDON: I hope not.
Q. And if so, whatever, how you approach him?
JOE MADDON: You try to approach him by having the lead late in the game and then you don't see him. That's the best way to approach him.
He's been outstanding. He's very good. I've liked his work when he was in Baltimore. He throws an invisiball. He doesn't throw that hard, but the hitters can't react to his pitches. The combination of the elevated fastball or whatever you want to call it, it's very effective. That rubber arm. He's very efficient, too. He gets outs quickly. When you get relief pitchers that get outs quickly, you can utilize them more often comfortably, and that's what he does.
And again in these short series, and against good bullpens, the best way to go about beating the other side is to gain the lead and don't relinquish it.
Q. Going back to the Rays Red Sox rivalry, how would you define the intensity of that, the way it evolved? A lot of your players seem to think that's the team, Boston is the team you have the most rivalry with?
JOE MADDON: I think it has. Well, probably because we're connected to the first World Series in 2008. That really highlighted that whole thing. We haven't had that real late season, postseason battle with the Yankees, like we have had with the Red Sox. So I think it's kind of like the road to success happened to come through Boston or Fenway Park. So I think a lot of our guys that are still around from back then identify with that. And I think a lot of the young guys, just based on how we react are the folks that have been there, sense or feel that.
It speaks to how good Boston is. They've just been there all the time. They're going to continue to be there. I know there was an aberration last year, but I felt, and we talked about in Spring Training that they're going to be good based on their acquisitions. I think we understand and realize that the road to success on an annual basis is going to always wind its way through either Boston or New York or whatever. And Baltimore, too, and Toronto is not far behind. But I just think for the most part 2008 has really established this area, this ballpark. I love coming back to this little room as being the road you have to go through this particular area to get where you want to be.
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