St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny addressed the media prior to Game 4 of the 2014 National League Division series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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Q. Lineups, do you mind sharing or can you disclose what you’ve got going today?
MIKE MATHENY: It looks exactly like it did yesterday, with a different pitcher, that’s it.
Q. Why Wong this time as opposed to last time?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, he was pretty good yesterday. That had a lot to do with it. And we have a lot of faith in Pete Kozma who threw out there for the first time against Kershaw.
There’s a guy that’s swinging the bat well and he’s showing that he’s putting together good at‑bats against lefties just like he is the righties. And he’s somebody that once he gets going in a good direction, we just try to keep him going. Most of the guys the same way.
They have a night like that, even though he did hit into a couple double plays, that last one could have very easily been a couple more RBIs, and just like the swing path he has going right now.
Q. If there’s a Game 5 will you go with Adam as your starter?
MIKE MATHENY: We’re going to worry about today. But, yeah, he’s moving that direction. But we also have the flexibility of using Lance Lynn in that spot, too, with regular rest.
Q. I know you guys have some good left‑handed batters against good left‑handed hitters. Can you talk in general how having some left‑handers in a lineup against a lefty can break up a rhythm instead of an all right‑handed loaded lineup?
MIKE MATHENY: I think there’s something to be said about that, especially lefties that have had a lot of success against the righties. You see that they kind of get into a groove. So kind of bounce them around can make a difference. When you see guys who have been successful as Kershaw has been this year, there’s not a whole lot that the rest of the League hasn’t tried against him already.
It just comes down to putting together those good at‑bats and fighting off the tough pitches, laying off the borderline ones, and getting something across the plate you can drive. There’s no real secret or somebody would have already caught on to that.
Q. Given the success Matt Carpenter had a couple of years ago and then the regular season he had this year, did you see any frustration with him over the course of the summer? Did you ever have to have a pep talk or is he a guy you leave alone? And then I guess the follow‑up to that is, did you see this coming at all or did it sort of come out of nowhere this last couple of games he’s had?
MIKE MATHENY: A lot of questions have come up like this. And I’m going to stick with the fact that Matt Carpenter had a solid season. And the statistics don’t always show the whole story. He’s put together great at‑bats from day 1, in our opinion. And a lot of hard outs.
Now, we weren’t seeing the power, necessarily, that we’re seeing right now. We knew it was in there, but he’s staying with his approach. And of course he, like everybody else, had periods through the year that he was frustrated. I’d say right at the beginning was probably the most frustrated we’ve seen him, mostly because we were seeing a lot of swing and misses, which were very atypical to his swing.
He’s a guy that stays in and fouls off pitches and has a real good idea of his strike zone. You don’t see him leaving the strike zone. It happened a little bit early. He was frustrated.
He’s a guy that’s been able ‑‑ I don’t know exactly how to attribute this, to his makeup, you don’t see him coming in and breaking stuff and throwing tantrums. He gets frustrated and he gets to work. And usually that’s almost his nemesis is going to work too much.
And there were times this year we backed him off and wouldn’t let him hit it. It was like grounding him. But he needed to take a break. And the times where he would take a little bit of a breather you’d see him get right back into the guy we’re seeing now. He’s been very, very consistent for us.
Q. Another on Carpenter. He said the other night that he kind of likes facing the best. And that might have something to do with his success against Kershaw. Does that fit in with what you know about him, that he would relish that opportunity rather than shy away from it?
MIKE MATHENY: He doesn’t scare. He doesn’t get intimidated by a situation or by the circumstances that he’s in. And I think we have quite a few guys in that spot. And a lot of it comes down to being in a spot before. We talk about the experience. And there’s experience on both teams here in this series. But being in this spot before and being able to have some success in this spot takes away doubt and that helps lead you in the direction that could set you up for success moving forward.
But all in all, it’s just staying with his approach, not trying to do too much. And I would argue that I’ve seen him take the exact same approach against guys that aren’t as well‑known or had as much success. He seems to be very consistent with how he goes about it every day. He doesn’t give at‑bats away. That’s a term we use a lot. But he has three hits already, he’s taking that last one like it would be the last one he ever has.
And that’s something we always used to say about Albert. And there’s just a few guys who just stay that kind of focused all the way through, 162, and hopefully into October.
Q. Remember the first time you ever saw Rosenthal or what you thought and also if you could summarize his journey this year to get to the level he’s showing in this series?
MIKE MATHENY: The first time I saw him was in Peoria. He was in A ball at the time and he was a starter. And really liked what I saw. We didn’t see the 99, 100 on a consistent basis. You saw a good arm. You saw a confident disposition on the mound. Saw him in big situations. They went into the playoffs that year. You could tell that he didn’t scare, either, in the big situations. He kept making pitches.
We brought him in a couple of years later into spring camp straight out of Double‑A. He just was going into Double‑A, and really impressed us with how he threw the ball. So we were able to rush him along through the system. He’s been able to answer the bell.
We brought him in in kind of some different roles like we do a lot of the young pitchers, and he’s worked himself in where he can get the job done in the 9th, which very few people can do at the level he’s doing it.
Q. This year?
MIKE MATHENY: This year he’s continued to improve. This is the first time he’s had this position as being our closer from the beginning of the season. And we worked him hard. And he continued to make good strides. There were times he was pitching with less than his best stuff. And figuring out ways to even stay in the strike zone and pitching himself sometimes into some very tough spots. We put him into those one‑run games. No matter what the situation was, no matter how hot it got, he was the same guy. And that’s a rare quality.
And the other thing is he has short memory. He had some times when it just didn’t go his way. He was able to move ahead and forget it, not completely, but enough to learn from it and get ready for the next opportunity. And that’s, once again, that’s a great quality to have when you’re pitching in that inning.
Q. Given that you have two games to win one to advance. How aggressive you might be with your pitching choices today? But the fact that you’ve emphasized the urgency it takes, going to the bullpen and if that might be a move like there’s no tomorrow? And if Wainwright and Lynn would factor in at all coming out of the bullpen as a result of that?
MIKE MATHENY: You never want to show all of our cards. But I wouldn’t anticipate seeing a Wainwright or a Lynn right now. I think we have enough weapons to get us through regardless of the situation. We’ve got guys that can go multiple innings. We’ve got left. We’ve got right.
Are we going to do anything different? Just wait and see what it looks like. We’ve done that all season. We’re not drawing up a plan ahead of time that we’ve got to do things any different than what we’ve been doing. And we’ll watch our guys close. I feel like we’ve been doing that all season.
Yeah, there’s always that opportunity to go in with a little shorter leash. But it depends, once again, how our starter looks, how Shelby feels, how the ball is coming out of his hand. If it doesn’t look right we make a move, because we do have some guys that can come in and fill those different spots.
Q. Like Trevor has talked before about how you instill confidence, very motivational about how you talk with him. And you’ve talked about it with Shelby at times. What about Neshek, is he a guy that likes to be kicked or patted on the back?
MIKE MATHENY: Like most of our veterans they have a pretty good idea what they need. For me it’s keeping in communication with him, and that more so than anything else. He’s done a nice job of having an incredible season by motivating himself. He’s been around this long enough that he knows what he’s got to do and realizes that he’s having a special season.
And so I haven’t really got in his way much. Just let him continue to do what he does. And try to just figure out from him when he needs a little time. Just like we were talking with Rosey, that’s one of the situations we got ourselves into, is we worked Pat and Rosey so hard. I was trying to figuring out the days they could use a little more.
Pat was good about knowing himself and knowing when he needed to back off a little bit. Wasn’t a lot of days where we pulled him out. But he was helpful in getting us to a spot where we could get him rest to where he would be at his best.