Following the completion of NLCS Game 4, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny addressed the media.
October 15, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (22) watches game action during the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game four of the National League Championship Series baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Image Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Q. You made a lot of moves tonight that seemed to work out exactly the way you wanted it to do, the pinch hitter, the change in the infield defense. Can you talk a little bit about that? Last night you guy his some bad luck, and tonight it seemed like everything went your way?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, we just had some good players put into position to do what they do, and they did it well tonight. We have some guys that are prepared to come off the bench and take big at‑bats, and sometimes I think teams may overlook a Shane Robinson and what he can bring to the plate. But no real secret with Pete Kozma. We’ve done that a lot on nights when he doesn’t start. Tried to figure out ways to get him in the game and help us out defensively if we have a lead. He came in ready.
So you definitely acknowledge and tip your hat to the guys that, when it’s not their night to start, that they’re ready to go when they get the opportunity.
Q. With Freese, are you hoping can you have him tomorrow?
MIKE MATHENY: No, Freese is fine. That was a defensive move. So he felt pretty good today. But we are conscious to make sure that everything still looks good, and right now everything does.
Q. With the 3‑1 lead, but having Greinke and Kershaw the next two games, does it keep people maybe a little more grounded than to get too confident?
MIKE MATHENY: Right now we’ve got no problem celebrating this one. Every one of these in the postseason are so tough to come by. We really don’t get too much beyond what we have tomorrow and realize that we have to go out and play a good game. We’ve got to have the solid pitching and play a clean defense, a great move forward in that department tonight, much more characteristic of our club. We just go out and get ready for tomorrow’s game.
Q. How much does your catching experience and background come into play in terms of determining how long to go with a guy like Lynn on a night like this?
MIKE MATHENY: I think, hopefully I’ve learned a lot from everybody I’ve been able to be around. My time as a catcher, I believe, can be used as an asset. But not nearly as powerful as the staff that I’ve put together. I lean on them a lot. We talk about what we saw. Our pitching coach, Derek Lilliquist, has a great sense. In my mind, we have one of the best on‑field managers you can have and Yadier Molina behind the plate constantly in conversation of what he sees and keeping him up to speed on what we’re thinking of doing and getting feedback from how he sees the life out there.
But besides that, we’re able to bring in some talented kids that can make a decision look good because they come in and do their thing.
Q. On the pickoff play on Punto, is it Yadier? Is it Kozma? Is it daylight for the pitcher? Tell us how that came about?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, that was unbelievable. That’s instigated by Kozma, so great head‑up play by him. Then it has to be natural instincts and athleticism by Carlos Martinez, and I don’t know many guys that pull that off. He has such athletic moves. He’s quick in everything he does. Then to have the guts to wheel and let it fly like that in a game like we have right now, it’s off the charts.
Q. Does this game kind of underscore what you’ve always talked about in terms of this club’s resilience? You had a difficult performance last night and then come back?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, we talk about that a lot and take a lot of pride in being able to learn from the rough ones. You’re going to have them. We’re not going to sit and sulk in them though. We’re going to improve from them and then come back out with a vengeance to prove something different.
I think the guys have been very consistent with taking those games and putting them behind them and having an edge of I’m going to prove the kind of player I am and the kind of team we are. I think they showed that once again today.
Q. What did you see from Lynn? What were your thoughts on his performance tonight?
MIKE MATHENY: They did a good job. I thought he even got better as he went. I’d say a real gutsy performance with a lot of heart. He got himself in trouble a couple times. Wasn’t afraid to make tough pitches in tough situations and put people in scoring position to get to a spot that he wanted to be. Then he made the pitches he had to. He had a good rhythm going, and he used his defense effectively.
Q. You are obviously in a wonderful position right now, 3‑1. But you also know baseball history, 3‑1s are not a guarantee to win. What is your attitude right now? What do you tell your players? Do you make sure they don’t get too up after this great win?
MIKE MATHENY: We certainly don’t talk about wonderful positions. What we talk about is we’ve got a game to play tomorrow. We’ve got a huge responsibility to go out and play it the right way, to take a lot of the positive that we had in our clubhouse and on our bench and out on the field that we saw today and continue that.
Hopefully we can throw some offense together like we were today a little bit and keep some positive thoughts going. Hopefully just execute, not get too far ahead of ourselves. When we start talking about where the series is, I think it’s a distraction. What we’ve got to do is play a game.
Q. Could you walk us through the fourth inning with Lance? It seemed like that was a speed bump. The pitch to Puig got everybody revved up and the inning slowed down at that point. From what you saw could you talk about how he handled that situation?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, we had men on first and second, so we’ve got emotions high. If guys didn’t have emotions at a high level right now, they probably shouldn’t be playing. Now it’s just a matter of how we can control. Lance did a nice job as the crowd got into it at that point of getting back and just pitching. He got himself into a little bit of trouble, but he was able to gather himself and keep us with the opportunity to hold the lead.
But he’s an intense guy, and I think that’s something that he’s fought probably more in the past than he’s doing right now. He’s able to control himself and get back to making pitches, and Yadier did a nice job of getting him back into a good spot.
Q. Can you expand a little bit on what Carlos Martinez gave you today and throughout the playoffs?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, we asked a little bit more of him today. We got into a position in the game where we were kind of in between, and he’s done such a nice job for us in the 8th inning. But today we got to a point where we had a couple right‑handers and a tough lefty in the middle when we were stuck in a spot. We needed to come in with our best, and Carlos has been very good. He’s been efficient enough to get to the first one, and we let him ride to the second, got us out to the point where we could get the ball to our closer.
He’s been pretty resilient. Hopefully tomorrow he’ll feel okay. He didn’t make too many pitches. But just the way this kid has handled anything we’ve given him, I think everybody in baseball is stopping to notice him.