Following the 4-2 win over the Boston Red Sox in World Series Game 2, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny addressed the media.
Q. Can you just talk, two‑parter here, about the seventh inning, the move of Kozma for Freese and then the double steal, can you talk about that?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, we’ve done that quite a bit this year with double‑switches, getting our defense set, an opportunity to get Koz in the game. Regardless of what may have happened yesterday, he is a plus defender and we have a lot of confidence in him. So we want to get him in the game. Also you’re looking at an opportunity to increase our baserunning speed, and it ended up playing in.
We’re not a huge base‑stealing threat, as you look at our numbers, but I believe we’re opportunistic and when it presents itself, we have a few guys that can take advantage of it, and they did a great job keeping their eyes open.
Q. Can you assess Michael Wacha‘s performance tonight?
MIKE MATHENY: The kid continues to impress. I don’t know what else you could ask. Put him on any stage and he does a real nice job of limiting distractions. He and Yadi work well together and make good adjustments along the way. He stuck with his strengths and really went out and was aggressive, and that’s exactly what we needed him to do.
Q. Can you talk about your bullpen and the fact that you’re now 1‑1 going back to St. Louis?
MIKE MATHENY: I felt the bullpen did a great job. Carlos Martinez, we saw a little bit of him yesterday, and what we saw here today is a lot more of what we’ve seen here recently of Carlos. And just the life on the ball. He’s a kid that can carry it into a couple of innings, too. So we’re keeping an eye on him, but the ball was coming out of his hand really well.
He got an infield single after an error. You could tell he had good movement on the ball, so it was a good opportunity to leave him in the game. He got us out. Then got an opportunity for Rosenthal to get in, that’s what we’ve seen Trevor do for a good part of the season.
Q. What did you think of Beltran’s performance? And how encouraged are you for his viability for the rest of the series?
MIKE MATHENY: Very encouraged. We were all kind of sitting around waiting to see how things would turn out today. We didn’t know how he was going to feel. But obviously he feels pretty good. He was moving well, too. Just watching him run the bases, watching his jumps in the outfield. He didn’t have a lot of action out there, but you could see he was feeling pretty good overall.
So hopefully a good rest day tomorrow after a tough flight tonight, and hopefully get him feeling even better for the next game back home. But Carlos is such a pro, you know. He knows how to handle when he doesn’t feel completely a hundred percent, which he probably hasn’t felt since February. But he’s the kind of guy that knows how to make the best of what he has.
Q. Is there anything that you saw with Breslow that allowed the double steal? You mentioned those guys were opportunistic, did that come from the dugout or those guys seeing something?
MIKE MATHENY: Can’t give you all of our secrets here. We’re always working together. We had an opportunity to use our coaches, use our bench, use the guys’ instincts, and we play it every way.
Q. In the eighth inning how difficult or simple was it the decision to leave Martinez in against Ortiz?
MIKE MATHENY: It’s not an easy decision. Knowing that we have a left‑hander up and ready to go. A lot of it has to do with what we see, how the ball is coming out of Carlos’s hands at that time. We have two guys on base, one by an error and another by a ball that made it’s way kinda through the infield. Looked like he had real good life. And if we get through Ortiz, then we have an opportunity to use Carlos’s good life right there against a Napoli, where we don’t have to bring Trevor in more than one.
Not an easy call, but we liked the way Carlos was throwing the ball at that particular time.
Q. How important was it for the young players on this team to get a taste of World Series experience that was something over than the adversity of yesterday?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, and that’s kind of ‑‑ that was the hopeful anticipation of get them on the mound, get their spikes dirty, and let them feel what it’s like to get in a World Series game. We were hopeful that today would be an opportunity for them to get in there and do it when it really counts. And they did a great job.
Carlos gave up the run yesterday. He wasn’t happy with how he went about it. He was very animated about how badly he wanted to pitch again and get back out there. And he proved that it wasn’t just a lot of talk. He went out and did a great job.
Q. Is working deep counts against the Cardinals as effective a tactic as it is against other teams, just given the strength of your bullpen?
MIKE MATHENY: No, I think everybody is going to have their own offensive approach. Other people like to ambush and get in there as quick as they can. We take a very similar approach to working the deep counts ourselves. I don’t think you’ve seen it as much these last two games as to what you’d see over the long haul with our club.
We’re not necessarily trying to work deep counts, but being selective, and fighting and grinding out at‑bats once you get to two strikes. I think this team, obviously, has done that well all season. They did it well today. That’s the kind of club we consider ourselves to be, as well. And it can be effective. But I don’t know if that’s necessarily an overall philosophy that’s a benefit. We don’t go in there trying to run deep counts, that’s not our philosophy.
Q. You got three games coming up at home in St. Louis now, can you talk about carrying the momentum of this over to St. Louis and your home fans?
MIKE MATHENY: Excited to get home. I know everybody is. Being able to take the World Series back to St. Louis and have our home fan base supporting us. But it’s been ‑‑ these last couple of days, the guys, it meant a lot to be able to play here in Fenway. It’s a pretty unique experience for a lot of guys that have never played here before to be able to do it on this stage. But there’s no place like home, there’s no doubt about it.
Q. My observation, not yours, but relative to his last couple or three starts, it looked like Wacha was ‑‑ had to battle a little more tonight. Didn’t quite have the command of the strike zone that he has had. If that’s true, if you agree with that, is that another sign of how unusual his maturity is at this point?
MIKE MATHENY: I think it’s a sign of how good the other starts were. The kid gave up three hits, one of them was a bloop. He gave up a couple of walks, and just happened to give up the big hit. But I think that it appeared that way because he’s been so sharp in the other ones, which I thought he was very sharp today as well. It was the timely hitting. The two‑run home run there makes a difference behind a walk. But overall you can’t ask for much more from that kid or anybody else.
Q. After the Ortiz home run this place was really rocking. How important was it for you guys to respond that next half inning to get the momentum? I know it’s not football, but to respond like you did, how important was that?
MIKE MATHENY: I believe it is a momentum sport. I don’t think there are statistics to back it, but I do know when we’re able to turn that around, what our environment is inside our clubhouse and our dugout. And these guys feed off each other. Michael goes out and pitches that kind of game, when we pull him out and know he’s going to come out of the game, and give him an opportunity to put some things together offensively. And the guys stayed aggressive today. That’s the difference between yesterday and today. You saw aggressiveness offensively. You saw guys taking charge, and the same thing with at‑bats. It was not a tentative team, which we haven’t been all year. So it was good to see them turn the page on that, and that aggressiveness was able to generate runs, when we got guys on base, and let guys do what they do best.