It worked out. We do that a lot. It works out about once about every seven times when you have a plan, but luckily for us it did yesterday.
Q. Jeremy Guthrie hasn't pitched in about two weeks. I know he did the simulated game. How tough is that for a pitcher?
NED YOST: It can be tough for some guys. But it's never been tough for Jeremy. Jeremy always finds a way to keep himself sharp. He was set to pitch Game 4 if we needed it against Anaheim. We just didn't need him there.
But his side sessions have been very, very sharp. And later in the year the little extra rest we could get him the better he was. So I think this is going to benefit him. I think he's going to be sharp. His last side session was dynamite. And I think he's ready for the task.
Q. Just generally on your back three in the bullpen, I know there are a lot of parts of this team that you wouldn't be here without, but how essential have those three guys been?
NED YOST: It's been evident. Even the last two games how big those guys have been. You know, for me, the whole focus is just get through the sixth inning tied or with the lead so that we could get to those guys. If we have the lead, I feel like the game is over. If we're tied I feel like they're going to hold us there until we score a run.
All three of them have been dynamite all year long. And for a team to have three knockout relievers like we've got, it's pretty special. There's not a lot of teams that have three guys that you can count on to come in and close the door and turn a 9 inning game into a 6 inning game.
Q. Are you doing things a little differently in the postseason? Because during the regular season if you pitched Davis, for example, two innings in one day or Herrera two innings in one day, and then usually you wouldn't bring them back the next. But you've done that in the playoffs.
NED YOST: We started extending them out about two weeks, I think, before the end of the season, trying to get them into the playoff mindset. The last couple of weeks those guys went three days in a row numerous times and handled it very, very well.
You know, when they have the four day layoff or when they have a couple days layoff, we can utilize them more in four and five out situations. But they come in and pitch an inning or two like they did the first game of the series, we generally won't push them into a four out situation. We try to give them a clean inning and let them get through it.
Q. You were pretty optimistic about the outlook with Ventura's shoulder after yesterday. What's the latest on him?
NED YOST: Nothing has changed.
Q. Do you try to or have to handle anything differently with a guy like that who is as young as he is?
NED YOST: No. This is all this is a situation where we go as far as he can go, whatever that is. If it's four innings, it's four innings; if it's seven innings, it's seven innings.
The weather did have a bit of an effect on him yesterday; he was really struggling to grip the ball, the cool air, no moisture. But he won't throw today, probably won't throw tomorrow and do a side session somewhere in between. And if he looks good, we'll just go. We monitor it. We just go inning to inning with him and just see where he's out. Making sure he's still productive out there.
Q. You probably heard this way back when you were playing Little League, good things happen when you put the ball in play, but how much does it apply to this team?
NED YOST: Well, we put the ball in play. We don't strikeout a whole lot. But also earlier in the year we were overaggressive at times and putting balls in play, we weren't getting pitches that we could drive. We're doing a really good job right now of knocking pitches up and putting good swings on them.
But that's our whole approach is to try to get guys on and get them over and find ways to put the ball in play and make it happen.
Q. Vargas official for Game 4?
NED YOST: Yeah.
Q. Duffy, he was really effective for you in kind of an end relief and sort of higher leverage spots earlier in the year. Have you thought about using him at all?
NED YOST: He was coming in the ninth inning yesterday. That's as high leverage as it gets.
I'm not going to use him before I use Herrera or Davis or Holland in a situation. But he's a guy that we get to the ninth inning in a tie ballgame, he was coming in that game because we like his power out of the pen.
Q. He's a long guy?
NED YOST: He can be a long guy, too, yeah. Just because I said he was a long guy, I also said he can be a short guy. He's a guy that's going to pitch when we need him to pitch.
Q. Keep your options open?
NED YOST: Yeah, absolutely. That's just like common sense right there.
Q. The first two games of the series have been way over four hours, almost four and a half hours last night. Would you like to see it faster?
NED YOST: It seems like the playoffs are always longer. You've got three minute breaks between innings. So much excitement. So much that goes on in those games. And they're just naturally going to be longer. And that's just the way that it is.
We don't even notice how long it is. You look up at the clock and see it's 7:30, quarter to 8:00 and you're in the sixth inning, Wait a minute, did we start this game at 4:00? But you just play them. It's the excitement of the postseason.
Q. With the series moving here, obviously bigger ballpark, how much do you think it's going to change for both sides?
NED YOST: It's definitely a much, much bigger ballpark. We're used to this ballpark here. We're used to the vastness of the outfield, with our tremendous outfield defense. And Baltimore has the same. They've got a tremendous outfield defense.
You'll see balls that probably will be in the seats in Baltimore in left field that will maybe barely make the warning track here.
But it's a game that benefits the pitchers and defense. You've got good pitching and defense, this is the park to play in, and both teams have that.
Q. Baltimore didn't have their first 1, 2, 3 inning until the 8th yesterday. How important has that change in your lineup, and do you think you have the perfect combination?
NED YOST: We haven't changed it in a long time, that's for sure, because we sure like the way it's going right now. Billy has really picked it up in the 5 spot. Hos has gotten hot in the 4. The key was Esky leading off and Nori in the 2. When we did that, the idea behind it was try to get some speed at the top of the order and create a little bit of havoc for our run producers in the middle of the order.
And those three guys were kind of the hottest guys we had at that point. Alex was struggling, Sal was struggling, Omar was struggling a little bit, Gordy was struggling. And when we did that, all of a sudden Esky took off. Nori really took off in the 2. And Cain's been hot ever since in the 3. And now all of a sudden here comes Hos, here comes Mous, here comes Gordy.
We've said all along, if we could get three or four guys hot at the same time we'd be in really, really good shape. But the problem that we would run into over the course of the season, we'd get one or two guys hot, and sometimes it was just one. And then we'd struggle a little bit. And then we'd get guys hot and then we'd take off and go on a nice run.
But right now pretty much all up and down the lineup everybody is swinging the bat pretty well.
Q. Sometimes a team or manager can say that we've got a different guy every night who's been hot or carrying us. Yesterday's game by Lorenzo Cain, he did so many things well, at the plate and defense. Why is he in such a zone right now?
NED YOST: That's a question you're going to have to ask him. But you hit it. He is deadlocked in right now, in all phases of his game. He's just absolutely flying on the base pass. He's everywhere in the outfield. And his at bats are phenomenal.
It's hard to figure out how it happened, but in the eighth inning of the Wild Card game everything turned around for us. Everything clicked. It was like, 'You know what, we belong here. We can handle this. Let's go.'
And these guys have all gotten locked in. They absolutely love this atmosphere. Before all this started, continued to get questions about our team playing in front of big crowds, that we don't perform well in front of big crowds. They absolutely love the atmosphere now, they're thriving in it. It's really fun to watch. The confidence that they have in these types of atmospheres.
Even the atmosphere in Baltimore was phenomenal. But it was all orange and black. But, you know, it didn't affect them one bit. They just went out and played their game with a lot of energy and a lot of passion.
Q. How much have you guys had to kind of study and scout what's been happening with Baltimore's positioning of Dyson and Gore on first base? Do you think you have that kind of figured out at this point?
NED YOST: Yeah, we've been we knew exactly what they were going to do or had a pretty good idea what they were going to do.
But it all revolves around the pitcher being quick to home plate. And if the pitcher is quick to home plate 1.1, 1.2, you're going to have a hard time stealing the base.
Now, Dyson and Gore, that's going to be a contest at 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 or 1.4, we're going to win that every time. They control the running game. It doesn't mean we're not going to take our chances or opportunities to steal bases.
Q. This morning a former Chief said it took about four years of being in the League for the game to slow down for him. Are we seeing the game slow down from these individual players or how would you describe that?
NED YOST: Yeah, that's exactly right. I don't know if it takes four years, but it does in these situations, the game tends to speed up.
For these kids here, right now, it's definitely slowed down. And they're like you know, they're in such a zone right now, that every one of them is so locked in that the game is just right where it should be pace wise for them. They're on their toes, they know what is going on. They're having really good at bats.
There's been one instance since these games started saying, what are we doing swinging at that pitch? When before it was like six times a night before the playoffs started. They're definitely locked in.
Q. Following up on that a little bit, with Mous in particular, how has he evolved from the guy that was in Triple A in May to what we're seeing now in the playoffs?
NED YOST: Mous is a guy, I know it's only Spring Training, last two springs he was the best player in baseball. He'd go through the entire spring with 35 RBIs, and hitting home runs off of left and right handers, and start pressing from the get go at the start of the season and really find himself all year long. He's a guy that has a lot of pride in his play. He's a very competitive guy. And when he looks up and sees that he's hitting 190 or 150 or 160, it gets to him.
And then he tries all that much harder. And it was just a cycle. But at the end of the year, especially like the last two weeks, when we were really pushing to win, he forgets about that. And his focus was, 'I'm going to do whatever I need to do to win.'
And all of a sudden once the playoffs started it's not about the average anymore. All it's about is winning a baseball game. And it's freed him up to come out and play his game as well as he's played. He's doing everything, playing great third base, hitting huge home runs, pressed out a bunt when we needed to win a ballgame. He's willing to do anything that he can to help this team win. And his average or his anything doesn't come into play. It's all about his team.
Q. How much credit do you give to Dale Sveum?
NED YOST: I give all my coaches credit. But Dale Sveum, I had Dale in Milwaukee with me. He was a bench coach. He was my third-base coach, but he was never my hitting coach. But when I left, he went back as a hitting coach.
The thing about Dale is Dale is a phenomenal baseball guy and really does his homework. Hitting is a passion of his. He's studied hitters, Ted Williams, you go down the line. He can tell you about all these guys, all the old time hitters. He's got pictures everywhere, loves it. Loves to talk hitting.
When he came in his approach was really simple, all right? Forget about mechanics, what we need to do is really focus on using our hands and start hunting pitches up in the zone that we can do damage on. We're swinging at way too many pitches down and away, we can't do damage with pitches down and away.
It changed their mindset a little bit, started hitting pitches up, and using your legs and driving through the ball.
The thing he does so well, too, is his video analysis of the pitchers. Our players would say, 'What has he got? What has he got?' Sit down, watch the video and you tell me what he has. All of a sudden now we've got guys in front of the computers watching, you know, watching the opposing pitching, looking and seeing, what does he do on 2 2 counts with right hand hitters, with right hand hitters and runners in scoring position and nobody on?
He's showing them all how to be more complete offensive players. But he's done a great job. And my coaching staff has done a great job, too, they're all phenomenal.