Here’s the transcript from manager Buck Showalter’s media session following the Orioles’ 3-2 win over the Yankees in Game 2 of the American League Division Series:
Q. I know this is going to be a piercing look into the obvious, but how important was it to get out of here 1-1 instead of 0-2?
SHOWALTER: “Well, you know, the math is you’ve got to win three or lose three, so I think ... you know what I’d be talking about if we weren’t able to win. It’s one win closer to winning three. We got through Texas knowing that we had to win 11 games and starting out winning three is hard. We know it’s a tough task ahead of us, but you like the mathematics of it after tonight. At least you’re one step closer. But nobody assumed anything one way or the other coming in here. They knew it was going to be a tough task, and they’re very talented. (Andy) Pettitte was very good tonight again, but that was kind of a given going into it.”
Q. Can you go through your strategy in the seventh inning, (Darren) O’Day for A-Rod, you bring in a guy to walk a lefty-lefty with (Robinson) Cano and then go after (Nick) Swisher?
SHOWALTER: “If I let Darren walk Cano, then I don’t have an option to counteract a potential pinch-hit for Swisher, because with his numbers off of (Brian) Matusz, that’s a possibility. So I want to have the ability to either have Brian face Swisher or have a counteract if he brings somebody off the bench. If I let Darren walk him. then I don’t have that option.”
Q. Just the idea of walking...
SHOWALTER: “Well, he’s one of the hottest hitters in baseball. That seems like every week. No disrespect to anybody hitting behind him, but it’s just a chance we took. Ninety percent of it had to do with the confidence I had in our players. The way Brian is throwing the ball, he would have presented himself well regardless of who he was facing. (Wei-Yin) Chen was the key to that ballgame. We had some big outs late, but Chen ... of course, (Jim Johnson) coming in, Jimmy was really, he was on his game tonight.”
Q. Could I ask you your strategy in keeping Chen in the game in the seventh rather than going to the bullpen right there?
SHOWALTER: “I thought he had pitched real well. They should have scored the first ball. He had a hit, that’s a hit, and Mark (Reynolds) doesn’t have a play anywhere. So he had two infield hits off of thumbs and another one back to Chen, so I liked the idea. I think he was 0-for-6 or something coming into the game against Wei-Yin and I wanted to take him through there. I knew I wasn’t going to let him face (Alex) Rodriguez. But also I don’t want to bring (Raul) IbaÃ±ez off the bench. If I bring in a right-handed pitcher, that’s why we let Brian face (Eduardo) NuÃ±ez, too. We want to keep IbaÃ±ez on the bench if we can, and Chen allows us to do that, as did Matusz.”
Q. Going into New York, this year you’ve played in three series, you’ve won three all series in New York. Does that play here at all as far as confidence in the clubhouse and guys being more comfortable going there than maybe if the situation was reversed?
SHOWALTER: “Well, obviously the way that the schedule is set up, and we can debate that, we’ve been there ... just because you’ve been there, I don’t think anybody thinks that that’s any preclusion ... a given on how you’re going to play. I think our guys are very realistic and very ... they understand the tough task ahead of them regardless of what’s happened in the past. I think all of that gets thrown out the window when you get to this situation. So I’m just real proud that the guys continue to compete and do it with a lot of let it fly mentality. There’s no back off in them at all. We pitched well the last two nights. In order to match up with guys like (CC) Sabathia and Pettitte, you’re going to have to have outings like we got from ham he will and Chen. (Hiroki) Kuroda at times has been as hot as any pitcher in the American League. That’s why they have won; their starting pitching, they get what they pay for.”
Q. I know they always say about closers after they blow a save or whatever that they’ve got to get right back on that horse again, and obviously that’s what happened. Did you say anything to Johnson last night or today?
SHOWALTER: “No, I would have got the J.J. look if I did, as he looks down at me like he does most people he meets, and he wouldn’t insult him like that. The players have to know that a manager doesn’t live in a ‘what have you done for me lately’ world. It’s real easy, like I said last night, to trust Jim Johnson. He’s done it a few times for us. He hasn’t had many ... it really wasn’t a blown save, it was pitching in a tie game in the ninth inning. Regardless if it was or wasn’t, Jimmy would have been out there again tonight. He’s having a special year, a special year.”
Q. Do you think that Chen fully comprehends how important this win tonight was given that there’s a language barrier and the fact that he outpitched Andy Pettitte?
SHOWALTER: “I didn’t think he outpitched. I’d say he pitched as well. He had to have it. I’m real proud of Wei-Yin. All year long, you think of all the challenges that have been with him since day one of spring training, and I think his teammates have done a great job of making his path easier and making him feel good. Probably one of our best conditioned athletes. That’s why the five-man rotation he’s been so good with, and we got him at 26 out of Japan before you get a lot of guys at 30, 31 that have had some wear and tear, and he’s from Taiwan, not Japan.”
Q. For a while you’ve talked about having a chance to give these fans what you’ve given them the last couple of nights. Can you just talk about what it’s meant to you, your staff and everybody in that clubhouse?
SHOWALTER: “It means a lot. It means a lot to us, and I know it means to them. There’s not a city in America that loves their baseball team more than this city, and I’ve seen it on both sides. It’s a great feeling for our players to give back the faith that they’ve had in them this year. We put them through some tough times, and the challenge will be after this season is over keeping that feeling. It’s not chemistry, it’s Ws. Show me the end game. They like good baseball. They like this team. The city is a lot like this team, and I think they share a real kinship with the way our guys approach competition.”
Q. I asked you a question in spring training about home runs given up. So far, the Yankees have hit 245 home runs this year. You’ve given up one in 18 innings. Do you like those odds?
SHOWALTER: “Well, I’m going to come looking for you if they hit about 12 on Wednesday, OK?”
Q. How are you doing it?
SHOWALTER: “Pitching well. Pitching well. And if we don’t pitch well, the ball will end up where the grass doesn’t grow. If a pitcher is on top of his game and the hitter is on top of his game, this time of year pitchers win. That’s why people are playing in October is because of their pitching. You can talk about all the other stuff and statistics, but it’s the one common denominator of everybody here is that you’ve pitched pretty consistently, gotten deep in your games with your starters.”