Oct. 12 Mark Ellis & A.J. Ellis pregame interview

Oct. 12 Mark Ellis & A.J. Ellis pregame interview

Q. For each of you, what is the hardest part about coming back today, less than 24 hours after that game late last night?

MARK ELLIS:  I don't think there's anything hard about it. You just get up. This is what we've done the whole season. We've done it for a long time. So just get up and you get excited to play the game today. Try to get a split here.

Q. A.J., physically I've heard catchers say that after catching a long game like last night's, you don't feel the effects, probably easy to say, until like the second day. What is it like for you?

A.J. ELLIS:  It's the postseason. It's playoffs. You feel great. Woke up today feeling fresh, ready to play, excited. There is no time right now for bumps and bruises and aches and pains. That goes away. That's what adrenaline is for.

That's why we have this short playoff, as Clayton said, it's a sprint. We're just sprinting right now through this month, and you forget about anything you're feeling and just get out and play ball.

Q. What's it like to catch Clayton Kershaw's curveball and face Adam Wainwright's? And where do you think those two pitches rank in baseball right now?

A.J. ELLIS:  Those are probably two of the premier curveballs in all of baseball. I know with Clayton's, it's such a difference maker for him, his ability to change speeds. It's hard for hitters to cover velocities all the way from 95, all the way down to 72. When he's able to have that thing going effectively, which hopefully he does later this afternoon, it's tough for hitters to sit on certain speeds.

With Adam, he's just such a competitor as well. We'll see him in a couple of days. But we kind of got a taste of it the other day watching that game on TV, just how confident he is with his curveball. He throws it any count, any time. He's got the ability to throw it for strikes and shorten it for strikeouts.

It's a challenge. That's why those guys are at the top of the list every year for best pitcher in the National League.

Q. A lot of times in the playoffs you're seeing guys that you've seen during the season and even in previous seasons. How do you prepare for a guy that you've never seen and, in fact, wasn't even in the Major Leagues at the start of the year?

MARK ELLIS:  I think, obviously, we've been watching the games on TV probably just like everybody else. But we've seen a little bit of video on him. He's got a good arm. He's a good, power arm and he fits right in with the rest of the St. Louis staff.

Until you actually get in the box and stand there and see what his ball is doing, you don't really know. But we feel like we've got a pretty good idea of what he throws and what he's going to try to do to us. So it's just a matter of whether he executes or not, and whether we execute our game plan.

We know he's got a power arm. We know he's going to come right at us, and he's going to use his fastball like all of the St. Louis pitchers do.

Q. A.J., how would you describe, pardon my pronunciation, Ryu's progress this year?

A.J. ELLIS:  Yeah, I mean, Hyun‑Jin came to spring training with all the advertising and all the hype about what he's coming with. To be completely honest, he came and we were kind of concerned. He came in and didn't have the great energy and just his early work didn't look good, and we had some concern on all of our behalf.

What we didn't realize was this guy was building up for a Major League season. He didn't come in to make first impressions. He was here for the long haul. He showed up for the first start of the year against the Giants and through to the end of the year. He's getting stronger and stronger. His fastball command is outstanding. He uses all his pitches. He's got a plus‑plus changeup. He never gets rattled out there on the mound. I know he's excited to get back on the mound. He had a tough game against Atlanta. They put some good at‑bats against him.

This is a guy with a lot of pride. This guy has been a world class pitcher on the world stage, (World) Baseball Classics and Olympics and I know he's excited to get back out there in Game 3. He seems to raise his level when his back is against the wall. I think he's going to throw the ball extremely well in Game 3.

Q. For both of you, probably A.J. in particular, you all last night were bombarded about questions about managerial strategy. It's happened before. How much of a distraction is that to you? Difficult, hard to answer those sorts of questions after a game like that?

A.J. ELLIS:  Yeah, you know, it's part of the game. Everybody's going to look back and second guess things that happen. For us, it's something we just kind of put aside. Like you said, maybe it is a small distraction, but it's not our job. We trust our coaching staff and we trust our manager. They prepare really as hard as we do. We're in the cage and in the weight room getting ready. They're in meetings and looking at video, and preparing for situations that might arise during the game. They're just using the information they can to make the best judgment they can. We trust what they're doing. We trust the decisions that they make, and it's up to us to execute the decisions that they've put on us.

Everybody talks about the situation last night. We were 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position, and we didn't get the job done. It's on us as players. We shouldn't have been in those situations. We could have put a lot of runs on the board. We got a great pitching performance from Zack, and we just didn't execute our job. So, unfortunately, part of the job of being a manager is at the end of the day, you have to answer questions about decisions that are made that didn't work out maybe the way they were intended to.

MARK ELLIS:  I think A.J. covered it. We're players. We just go out and play. Like A.J. said, if we drive the guys in when we're supposed to drive them in, nobody talks about it.

Q. Just to follow up on what you said about Ryu. It seemed in his last start there were a couple plays in the field there where he looked a little frustrated, like you said, maybe for the first time ever. How difficult do you think it is for a rookie pitcher in his postseason start to bounce back from that and put it behind him?

A.J. ELLIS:  I don't think it will be hard for him at all. He's so battle tested. He's been through so much that I think he's going to throw the ball extremely well. There are some kind of goofy plays, the 3‑6‑1 double‑play was kind of tough with the foot work at the bag, and then kind of the tweener ball with the first and third play down the line that Johnson hit. I probably could have done a better job directing him to throw the ball to first, and probably given him more instruction on that ball. So I take a little bit of the blame for that decision.

But he's never rattled. He never shows any emotion on the field. He's out there. He's got a poker face. He throws the ball and he does his job. He gives us a chance to win every time out.

Q. A.J., Mark acknowledged last night on the play at the plate the ball beat him there. He was out. As a catcher, there are times when you've got to protect yourself on those kind of plays. With replay coming, is that a potential problem on the tags don't always get made, and if you go to someone in New York to look at it, that someone who has been called out for a hundred years in baseball that it's a potential problem?

A.J. ELLIS:  Yeah, kind of like you said, in the history of baseball, no one has ever been called safe on that play because they didn't tag them. I think we were all shocked postgame that there were questions even asked if Mark was safe or out. He was out. That's just the way baseball works. That is maybe a question that will have to be raised next year with the replay.

That would be a shame for a great defensive play like that, the great throw by Carlos, and great play by Yadier at the plate to be overturned because of a technicality that he didn't graze him with the glove. I hope that's something that doesn't change, because that's an important part of the game. When you're back there personally as a catcher, you're trying to secure the catch and you're not really thinking about tagging. You're trying to hold on to the ball. There's no umpire alive that I think would call Mark safe because he didn't get tagged right there.

Q. Would you consider this a must‑win for this ballclub?

MARK ELLIS:  I don't think so. It's not an elimination game. It's not a must‑win. Would we like to win? Absolutely. Coming here and getting a split, there is no doubt we'd like to do that. But it's not a must‑win until it's an elimination game. We've got three games at home. Anytime you have Kershaw on the mound, you obviously want to take advantage of that and win. But until they say it's an elimination game, I don't think you call it a must‑win.