St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny addressed the media following Saturday’s game.
Q. Could you discuss the general level of work with Michael Wacha in the sixth inning, in particular? And in that context, your decision to walk Gonzalez which also worked out?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, I mean, at that point Michael’s throwing the ball so well, and an aggressive play defensively ended up putting him in a tough spot and taking our chances with a right‑handed hitter. It comes down to a young pitcher being put on the big stage in high leverage and making pitches. I guess the pop out to get us out of that and then the following out. The way this kid has gone about it has been‑‑ it’s really hard to describe. I don’t want to keep describing it, because I’d like to watch it happen a few more times. But he’s going about it the right way, there is no question. Just watching him continue to improve is pretty impressive.
Q. Your decision to walk Gonzalez intentionally?
MIKE MATHENY: Once again, it’s just putting us in a situation where we have a right‑handed hitter instead of ‑‑ Gonzalez is obviously a very, very good hitter in those situations, and it’s like most of the guys in their lineup are. But you try to give yourself an opportunity to give yourself your best chance to get out.
Once again, Michael did what he needed to do getting the pop‑up. But he’s been doing a nice job of getting a lot of swings and misses. So we’ve had other opportunities in the game to pitch around people, but that one seemed to present itself.
Q. There’s been a lot of talk about his poise, obviously. Is that situation in the six inning, how much was that the ultimate test of his poise?
MIKE MATHENY: We’ve been talking about the ultimate test here for a while. We pitch him down the stretch. He gets one out away from a no‑hitter with the fans going crazy, and we throw him in Pittsburgh and he continues to answer. Throw him in the National League Championship Series, and he continues to throw the same way. I hope he sees it as a test and continues to go about it like a test if that’s what it takes, because whatever he’s doing, we don’t want to change anything.
Q. What is the mindset in the terms of being able to beat Greinke and Kershaw going into Los Angeles and before your ace Adam Wainwright has even taken the mound? Where do you see yourselves at this point being up two games to nothing?
MIKE MATHENY: We don’t get too far ahead of ourselves. We don’t deny also what’s happened here the last two days. Those were two very good wins, two very tough wins when you face starters like that. When you go into the game today the way their pitcher was throwing and we get two hits, we end up leaving one guy on base, and that was the first guy of the game. Those situations typically come back and bite you.
But did a lot of little things right, made some good defensive plays, but this game came down to pitching. It came down to Michael being pretty good.
Then after that, a few young kids coming in and getting some big outs in a big situation.
Q. Also, not that they’ve all been blowouts, but I think this is three straight this season that you guys have been able to beat Kershaw who is considered maybe one of the best pitchers in the game. Any thoughts as to what the success has been against him?
MIKE MATHENY: Once again, we’ve got two hits on the day, so we’re not sitting around talking about how our offense exploded on him. The guy is‑‑ there is no question. Nobody has any doubt this guy is an elite pitcher. Our guys know we’ve got to go out and do all the little things right. We were fortunate, really, when you have a leadoff triple, we don’t get him in. That’s a momentum shift.
Then after that, one little mishap in the infield that put us in a bad spot, but fortunately, good pitching got us around that. Typically when you’re facing a pitcher like him, you can’t make many mistakes, if any. But we had some things go our way. David getting a big hit, ball getting past so he could get to third. And then Jon Jay putting together a tough at‑bat against arguably one of the toughest lefties in the league to be able to get the run in. That’s a great job of doing the little things right.
Q. There seemed like there was a little bit of tactical maneuvering going on there when you got Kershaw out of the game by bringing Siegrist in, and then the next inning Choate gets Crawford. Could you discuss just kind of what was going on there in terms of was it your intent to get Kershaw out of the game? And why Choate as opposed to Siegrist to start the next inning?
MIKE MATHENY: Obviously, all the things you said go into the equation. We try to think things through in what might be the countermove. At that point you realize when the pitcher position comes up, he’s a left‑handed hitter who already had a base hit. There is a left‑handed leadoff hitter behind. This will give you an opportunity for to you bring your lefty in, and Siegrist has done a nice job for us bringing him in in that situation.
As far as the next inning goes, a lot of that has to do with just what we feel at the time is going to give us the best opportunity. We feel good about Randy Choate in that situation today. Could be different next time we play him, but it worked out this time.