PostCards: Mike Matheny, Adam Wainwright talk NLCS Game 3

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St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and starting pitcher Adam Wainwright spoke to the media today in advance of NLCS Game 3 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Oct 13, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (22) during a press conference on the day before game three of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Image Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Q. Can you describe how you go about formulating a pitching plan in the playoffs and how much say Yadier has in it and the coaches and the pitchers?

MIKE MATHENY: I think everybody goes in with a plan, and by the time you leave the bullpen that plan could drastically change. I guess you just prioritize with each pitcher. Sometimes the priority is going to be what I have when I leave the pen. That’s going to dictate how I use my stuff.

We have an idea of what we want to do as far as what we think our weakness is for a hitter. But if it’s a weakness for a pitcher, you’re setting yourself up for failure. So typically go with the strengths of our pitching staff, and depending on how their stuff looks, that will determine whether we stick with that plan or not.

Q. Can you talk about the mentality for your team going into these three games at Dodger Stadium even though you have a 2‑0 lead. Do you have to prevent them from a letdown even though this is the playoffs?

MIKE MATHENY: Well, fortunately, our guys have trained themselves since February to play them one at a time, and regardless of what happened yesterday, good, bad, indifferent; and I think they’ve done a real nice job of staying consistent with that, not getting caught up in too high or too low. We’ve had some brutal losses and the guys came back the next day like it never happened. We’ve had some exciting wins and we’ve come back the next day with a lot of the hunger.

So that’s what we continue to preach. That consistency is really in my mind what separates the good players from the very good players and the good teams from the very good teams.

Q. Along those same lines, what happened last year in the NLCS? Is that helpful at all in that it reinforces that nothing is over until it’s over? By the way, I’m not implying that your team would be complacent. But just that was a painful experience for you guys. Is it something you can draw on?

MIKE MATHENY: Well, I think we draw on every experience we have. I think if you’re not improving and you’re not learning from the things that have happened to you, good or bad, then you’re missing a great opportunity.

Last year, as we went into the NLCS with the Giants, it looked like we were in very good position. That changed quickly. All of a sudden we had a full turnaround in momentum, and I don’t think guys will ever forget that of being that close and then watch it slip away.

So, to me, once again, it gets back to the simplicity of not just this game but this pitch. That’s all we can control. If they put out the distractions, which we talk about so much this time of year, that really is the differentiator is how you can minimize the distraction. One of those distractions is getting too far ahead of yourself, whether it’s being comfortable where you are or thinking too far down the line with the series. Just play the game. Play this pitch. Do your part and expect your teammates to do theirs.

Q. You won a lot of low‑scoring games so far in the postseason. Given the way your offense played in the regular season, do you expect maybe a breakout game here in the next couple of performances?

MIKE MATHENY: I think both of these teams have the opportunity and the potential and have, during the season, been able to throw up some big games offensively. We’ve been that kind of team and so have they. We realize it can happen for and against.

But we don’t really anticipate one way or the other. We anticipate us going out and playing the game the right way. You never know with you’re going to have one of those big innings that turn into a big game. You’re hopeful for them and you grind out at‑bats trying to create them. But we don’t plan for a whole lost anything. We just go out and play the game.

Q. There is no further update on Hanley yet, but he had said yesterday he think he might have a fractured rib. Just wanted to know what your reaction was with him being out of the lineup in Game 2 and how you approach that with him conceivably being out more?

MIKE MATHENY: We look at their lineup and try to put a game plan together regardless of who is in there and try to put ourselves in position to defend as best we can, regardless of who they put against us. They’ve got a very strong team, very deep team. We know that they can put anybody out there that can cause considerable damage every night.

Q. It seemed much favor was given to the Dodgers pitching rotation going into the series with Greinke and Kershaw in the first two games. Can you tell us how you viewed the pitching match‑ups going into this series?

MIKE MATHENY: Obviously, a lot of respect when you start talking about the two pitchers you’re talking about. They’re guys who have accomplished a lot and actually threw very, very good games. We knew going in that we were going to have to put every component of winning baseball together. We were going to have to have some solid starting pitching, couldn’t make a lot of mistakes defensively, and we’re going to have to have some timely hits. Fortunately we were able to do most of those.

But we knew coming in, and everybody knows, this team has talent all the way across, whether it’s in their starting rotation, in their bullpen, or in their lineup.

But we believe in ourselves. We believe if we go about it the right way, we’ve been able to compete well against some of the best in the game and we consider ourselves being able to continue to do that if we go about it the right way.

Q. Given all the young guys that have performed so well, especially out of the bullpen, does that surprise you at all or is it just the make‑up of those guys?

MIKE MATHENY: Well, we’ve had plenty of time to test them when we needed to. It wasn’t part of the plan to test them. We needed guys to come in and step in in big situations, and they were able to earn those spots and earn the higher leverage positions. It’s something that’s, I’m sure, surprising a lot of other people. You see some of these guys you’ve never heard of before, and they’ve done a real nice job of being able to, once again, minimize the distractions and be able to just get out there and make pitches.

We give a lot of credit to our veterans, obviously, with Yadier behind the plate and the ability for him to make in‑game decisions and adjustments. But overall, the guys are staying the course, doing what they know is right, and doing what they did towards the end of the season, that is just stay in the moment and make good pitches.

Q. It seems Game 2 specifically your staff from Wacha to Martinez to Rosenthal, particularly hard throwers. Does this staff in terms of pure stuff remind you of any teams you’ve been around?

MIKE MATHENY: None jump out really in particular. It reminds me of a lot of staffs in the league right now. I mean, there are power arms, one right after another. Every team you face, they seem to be bringing up somebody else that is touching 100. It’s amazing what’s going on. Some of these guys like Martinez, you look at him and you wonder where he can generate that.

But we’ve got a situation in the game right now where there’s a lot of power coming out of these young arms and we’re fortunate to have some that not just with good stuff but they know how to use it. Once again, we’ve been fortunate to have some good, veteran leadership with Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter and Jake Westbrook and Yadier Molina on a daily basis to help teach these guys how to use real good stuff in a way that can get big league hitters out.