PostCards: Mike Matheny talks after 2014 NLCS Game 1


St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny addressed the media following Game 1 of the 2014 NLCS against the San Francisco Giants.

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Q. Mike, what was your perspective on the challenge call there?

MIKE MATHENY: Just didn’t look right. It looked as if there may have been some contact made before he had the ball. And if that was the case, needed to have that checked out.

But you could tell the tag was made, but the base was definitely blocked. It was just whether or not he had the ball before he did block it.

Q. Did you realize that Juan was inside the baseline running down first base all the time?
MIKE MATHENY: If he was inside the baseline, it was irrelevant for that play. That would only come into affect if the ball hits him.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about this Giants offense? They didn’t have a beginning against you guys, a couple of runs, base hit, sac fly, error. It wasn’t a bad performance by your pitching team.

MIKE MATHENY: They capitalized. We knew that going in, it’s going to be that kind of a game and that kind of series. You have two teams who find ways to score and capitalize on the other team’s mistake.

Q. Can you go into what you saw of Wainwright tonight and coupling this start with his one last start? How is he healthwise, and where does that put with you him moving forward?

MIKE MATHENY: As you break down how that played out, Grichuk almost makes a great play. He holds on to that ball and we make plays we typically make, you’re looking at a 0‑0 game. He doesn’t hold on to that ball, you’re looking at a 1‑0 game and that’s pretty good. That’s giving us a chance.

It comes down to us doing the things we do on a consistent basis. And our pitchers need help at times. And I thought he did a nice job of fighting without his best stuff again, and that’s very consistent with what we’ve seen if him for many years now. He goes out there and finds a way to get it done.

Q. Any indication that his elbow was bothering him?

MIKE MATHENY: No. There are some days that it feels better than others as far as his “stuff,” and you can tell he was working hard. He was working deeper counts. You start looking at that pitch count in the middle innings, and that’s not very typical of Adam when everything feels right.

We’re talking “feel” for the pitches, not so many as “feel” health‑wise.

Q. Did you think the magic was coming and you had a bad break not getting that balk call, maybe?

MIKE MATHENY: Balk call would help only to the point of putting something on that board, and then that’s a momentum shifter, for sure.

So that did hurt. We don’t necessarily put a star by the seventh inning or anything else. We just know that we stay the course and we needed somebody to come up big there and get a big hit for us.

And Madison Bumgarner was good today. He kept us from having that big inning.

Q. This is obviously just one game, but what’s the perspective for tomorrow, game plan? What do you look for in turning the page and moving forward?

MIKE MATHENY: At this point, we played so many games, the guys have had some heartbreakers. They have had some great wins, some tough losses. They have been very resilient about coming back the next day and getting back to business and taking care of what they can take care of and not trying to win two games tomorrow.

We got an opportunity to come back and play a better baseball game, and I’m certain that’s what we’ll do.

Q. Can you go through the process of choosing to go with Cruz at that point versus what your other options are?

MIKE MATHENY: A whole bench‑full of options, and most of ’em left‑handed. Like our chances to get anybody up there that can come through big for us.

Giving Tony a shot, we can look at some of the numbers. Danny has had a little bit of success against him, but it’s a tough assignment for a lefty. It’s a tough assignment for anybody. We need one of our guys to come up big. Tony had a nice swing on a foul ball. His timing was right on, but ended up chasing a high one late.

Q. Mike, could you speak to just the pairing of having a guy like Waino, who isn’t probably at his best right now, against a guy like Bumgarner, who seems to be in great form and to what deficit does that put you at with the two guys matched up?

MIKE MATHENY: I don’t believe we’re at a deficit. Once again, we make a few plays and we could still be out there playing right now. I thought our bullpen came in and did a great job of picking up the slack, but there’s going to be those times. We had ’em all season long, where our starters just had to work and find a way to keep us in the game.

That’s their job. And Adam has definitely set the tone for our club in that regard and has been‑‑ he’s been amazing at how he goes out there with whatever stuff he has and figures out a way to keep us there. And what he’s normally asking for without saying it is going to need a little help, whether that’s offensively or defensively.

And tonight a couple of plays, once again our defense has been so good all season, and errors are going to happen, mistakes are going to happen. It’s just a matter of how much we can pick each other up. And once we have them, let ’em go and get ready for the next play or for the next game.

Q. What kind of problems does Sandoval give you in the middle of the lineup, particularly from the left side of the plate or as a switch‑hitter?

MIKE MATHENY: He’s been very good this year against us. And you look at the pitches he’s hit and they’re not pitches in the middle of the plate. He’s squaring up balls that are outside of the zone, and that’s pretty difficult to pitch to at times.

Just like we say, this time of year, it comes down to the “hot” team, and it also comes down to “hot” hitters. This guy is doing a nice job of finding the barrel of the bat even on pitches that are outside of the zone.