Q. The way your team is playing right now, you get another great start from Kyle and you took advantage of an opportunity when it presented itself. JOE MADDON: Yeah that was a really good game. Strasburg was outstanding and you had to pitch as well as Kyle pitched today
Q. The way your team is playing right now, you get another great start from Kyle and you took advantage of an opportunity when it presented itself.
JOE MADDON: Yeah that was a really good game. Strasburg was outstanding and you had to pitch as well as Kyle pitched today in order to beat him. Kyle, we've talked about that the last several days, how well he's been throwing the baseball, pitching. You saw the velocity on the board. For him to maintain those numbers for the entire game is really impressive, and with that, that's why the changeup becomes an even better pitch at that point.
So yeah, that was -- we took advantage of a mistake. The third baseman is outstanding. We got lucky right there. But again, the two-strike knocks, KB and Riz had difficult first four at-bats combined, and after that they come up with two pretty big hits. Pretty spectacular.
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Q. Do you need a certain amount of luck?
JOE MADDON: Of course you do. Of course you do. Neither team -- we made some plays. How about Javy's catch on that pop up? You have to make plays, you can't give extra outs and fortunately we did not do that tonight. You have to capitalize on mistakes if they are forthcoming, especially a game like that.
There are some other games like 9-8 tonight and all those other high-scoring games may be a little different. But when pitchers are at the top of their game, you have to score on outs. You have to make your own music somehow, because it's very difficult.
From the side, both those pitchers were unbelievable tonight. Strasburg with that changeup -- now, I know he's had it, but I mean, I've not seen a lot of this guy, but that is such a weapon to go with the other things that he does. And then Kyle, like I'm saying, with added velocity. You saw called strikes, taken strikes that the hitters knew were strikes because he was so effective locating velocity -- his velocity.
So yeah, you have to take advantage of mistakes under these circumstances.
Q. You mentioned before the game, hopefully you get a lead and you can make defensive changes. Did that go according to plan?
JOE MADDON: The team we had in the field in the ninth inning out there, I couldn't be happier with that defensive alignment. That's about as good as it gets for us. If we could finish every game like that having the lead, I'm take it.
For instance, taking Jonathan Jay out, if they were to happen to tie, that's Doolittle anyway. So there comes Almora is going to hit and we have to do something with the next spot. Tonight it was perfectly put for us in regard to that and the ability to finish the way we did, Martin in left, Almora, and Jason in the infield, that's a warm fuzzy from the dugout, man.
Q. You talked yesterday about experience and knowing. When Strasburg is pitching that way, does that experience come into play in terms of your hitters not starting to chase and sort of try to do more than what they do?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, I think -- and some of our guys had really good at-bats. I thought Addison had great at-bats all night. I thought Jason Heyward had really good at-bats all night. It was actually the bottom of the batting order, Schwarber, first at-bat, really good.
I think the knowing is that just keep going, boys, just keep going. Look for that little thing to occur that you can jump in there. And then -- but then your pitcher has to be, you know, in line with what their guy -- otherwise, it doesn't matter.
And so their guy was that good; so was our guy. And eventually you just look for the opening. So great baseball game. Obviously a great way for us to start here. The fans for them were totally into it from jump street. It was really an energized situation tonight.
Q. The crowd and everything that was going on, you know, you guys had to just hang in there. When Kristopher Bryant gets that base hit, did that -- that gave you an extra boost. It must have made you feel really good?
JOE MADDON: Yeah it did give us an extra boost, and it always makes me feel good when KB drives in a run. The thing right there, you knew that it was going to be a low-scoring game. Kyle being able to go as deeply into the game as he did really permitted us to do what we wanted to do at that latter part of the game. I liked CJ at that part of their batting order and of course here comes Wade.
So any time you can get that kind of a start, especially in the Postseason, seven innings strong, my gosh, that makes everything different. Now tomorrow -- with guys warming up, Strop was up a couple times, but that's the nature of the beast in such a close game. Now you can't take anything for granted, you have to be ready for the next moment if it occurs and the fortunate thing, after tomorrow's game, there is a day off.
Q. How was Kyle's performance compared to his best?
JOE MADDON: Like last year, he was obviously in the Cy Young discussion. This is as good as I've seen him. The last -- I mean, the last 2 or 3 starts.
Why? Because the velocity is ticking up. He's actually hitting a lot of -- I don't know how accurate their gun is, I don't know if it's a little bit hot or not; sometimes I wonder but if the gun was accurate, he hit as high as 91. He probably pitched at 87 or 88 which is good but he touches 90, 91.
As a hitter when he's able to do that with that movement and you have to honor that. Plus that, the changeup, it makes him even more effective. You can see his delivery, how well he repeated it, pitch after pitch after pitch. He's such a technician mechanically. You can tell immediately when he's on top of that, meeting his mechanics. I talked to him during the course of games off about whether he's on or off, and when he's on, I don't say anything, obviously.
You can see it from the side when everything is coming together and he really gathered momentum, I think, about the fourth inning, started feeling really good about himself.
Q. Winning games, how much is that about grabbing home-field advantage?
JOE MADDON: The thing about the playoffs, to me, I think it's overblown, honestly, the home-field advantage. Like last year, for instance, we did okay in Cleveland. It's this time of the year, you're playing a lot of really good professional baseball players.
Now, obviously the fans, a loud ballpark, which that was tonight and we have a loud ballpark at home, too. Cleveland took advantage of us last year at Wrigley. I honestly believe this time of year really comes down to the pitching component of it, regardless of where you're playing.
So their crowd was great tonight. We pitched a little bit better than they did. I really lost this thing about the home-field advantage in baseball in the playoffs. I don't know that it's really outstanding or not.
Q. In terms of facing Gio tomorrow, what is the biggest problem that he presents for you guys?
JOE MADDON: Well, you know, he's had a really good season and he's very tough on lefties. He's extremely tough. We've had a couple guys with not very good numbers against him. So with Gio, a big thing about him, for me, historically is you've really got to make him throw the ball over the plate. He's really into getting you to chase a little bit. So if we could really command our strike zones, that would be probably the biggest thing we can do. He's very competitive, good guy. I've had conversation with him in the past. Very good coming off -- he's on a good season right now.
I think from our perspective is to make him come into the zone; if we're chasing, he's going to have a real good night.