Following the St. Louis Cardinals 10-9 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2014 National League Division Series, manager Mike Matheny addressed the media.
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Q. Talk about Carpenter’s at‑bat in the NLCS last year. What did you see from his at‑bat today and just talk about that matchup that he has with Kershaw?
MIKE MATHENY: I imagine this one might be talked about for awhile now, too. But after he comes through with a tough at‑bat and getting us kind of rolling a little bit to 6‑2 with the home run and then watching him foul off a bunch of tough pitches against a very good pitcher, it’s really kind of what we have seen all season.
The guy has such a great knowledge of the strike zone, fights off the tough pitches, and then gets something that he can do something with. He’s a guy that sets the tone for our offense. He had a huge night for us.
Q. You’ve been very persistent that you thought the best was yet to come for the offense. Was this what you were talking about and did it also have shades of kind of the 2013 offense that you guys were in terms of the stringing hits together and the success with runners in scoring position?
MIKE MATHENY: You look at the inning and it was just a real simple approach; guys not trying to do too much and taking what has been given, and stacking some singles on top of each other. Then you just you trust that somebody’s going to come up with a big hit. Matt does that, then Holliday comes back, and gives us a little more room after a great at‑bat by Grichuk.
But this shouldn’t surprise any of us, even though it’s been tough at times to explain what has been going on throughout the long season with our offense, but John Mabry has done a tremendous job. He just stays the course and he continues to give these guys a good approach, a good idea, and an individual approach and idea of how they should go about their at‑bats.
It’s a tough league and there’s some tough pitching. We faced one tonight, but the guys, they stuck with it, they believed in themselves and each other. And even when up until that 7th inning you could still feel guys were fighting. It’s hard to replace that kind of grit.
Q. In the playoffs you don’t want to change your approach, but does Matt do anything, do these kind of situations going up against Kershaw, does that bring out something in him?
MIKE MATHENY: No, I don’t think so. If that were the case, then he would have to apologize for the last 162.
We talk about leaving it all out there and this is a guy that does that. He shows up early and puts everything into every one of these games. He takes a lot of pride in how he goes about every at‑bat, not giving any away. But you can’t just turn it on and turn it off.
This game will humble you and it will leave you behind if you start to do that, if you don’t respect it. Certain guys in situations like today, they just stay with the process and it’s paid off.
Q. Out of curiosity, as that Carpenter at‑bat begins to grow, what sort of things are you looking at, what are you gauging, what are you thinking about as they get closer to that 8th pitch that basically decided the game?
MIKE MATHENY: I’m thinking about my bullpen, what I want to do if we score one, if we score a couple. Trying to put some things together, what they might be doing, looking at their pen, seeing where they might do and trying to make sure that nothing snuck up on us.
But my conversation with Mike at that point was, What an at‑bat. I love to see that stuff. I mean, those are the things you dream about when you’re a kid. You’re up there, facing the best in the game. And we’re not going to deny that, this guy has had a very, very special season. And to watch Matt on the big stage stand in there and put his nose in and fight, man, it’s just, I keep saying that I’m proud of this club, because this is what I see, I see guys that just keep doing this and they fight all the way to the end.
And we can talk about scoring one more than the other team, didn’t necessarily think it was going to be 10‑9, but that’s truly kind of what our club’s been all season.
Q. Does the 7th inning become more special since this was against Kershaw?
MIKE MATHENY: You can’t deny that. I don’t think you can put that out of context when you look at this guy doesn’t give up many runs at all, let alone big numbers of them.
So, yeah, I think as we have time to think about this later, right now, head’s still spinning thinking about all the things that had to happen in order to get us to a spot where that could kind of play out that way.
But, yeah, it’s something that we don’t take lightly, because we give credit where credit’s due and this guy’s had a strong, strong season.
Q. In a short series how pivotal is it to win the first game?
MIKE MATHENY: We have been very consistent with this, it’s just one game, no matter what. Not necessarily putting more weight on any particular game, except the one that’s right in front of us. That’s all we can control.
So, that’s the one we wanted, and now we’ll get prepared after we soak this one in for a little while, because they deserve that. That was a very special win and now to be able to put that behind us and get ready for the next one, just, it sounds like a boring methodical approach, but I believe that’s really what these guys have bought into and what’s going to give us a chance to be successful.
Q. Did it look like Adam was searching for his command kind of from the get‑go and what goes into your decision to let him pitch as long as he did instead of going to the bullpen a little bit earlier?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, he looked good right out of the box. Good velocity and then the ball started to rise. Looked like he was really having trouble timing up his legs. He was getting a little jumpy and the ball was sailing high in the zone and that’s not how he operates. His curveball was very good, he had to go to it a couple of times, probably a lot more than what he wanted to.
If he’s able to locate in the bottom part of the zone, and the corners like he has most of the season, he’s going to have lower pitch counts and you’re going to see less damage. But he was just trying to fight with less than his best stuff and we have seen him do that before.
The idea of sticking with him is, he’s our ace. Up to that point we like him as good as anybody else and then we got into the high pitch counts and an opportunity to bring in a left hander.
Q. Doing this against Kershaw tonight, does that give you guys more confidence going into games 2 and 3?
MIKE MATHENY: Once again, we’re going to keep a pretty simple approach. We have a game tomorrow and not trying to think any further past that. We’ll have a different approach and guys are going to have different responsibilities, get a few guys maybe different in there, too, that get an opportunity to go in and help us out.
But we don’t really take away the joy of a win like this. The guys need to chew on this for awhile. Because we wear the losses really hard. When you do that, you have the right to take a win here. So we’re going to sit on this one for a little while, but it won’t be long before we start thinking about tomorrow’s game.
Q. Are you at liberty to comment at all about the Puig hit by pitch the third inning?
MIKE MATHENY: We’re not trying to hit anybody there.