Oct. 10 Bob Melvin pregame interview
Q. Verlander in Game 1, you guys had him kind of on the ropes. You had six base runners left in the first five innings before he settled down. And you helped build up the pitch count. What's your plan with him, without going too deep into it, to tip your hand?
BOB MELVIN: Well, we have to get there first. I think even more so the game we got him late in the season we got his pitch count up even higher, and got him out after five innings. I don't believe we won the game. But there's there's more than one way to try to beat a good starting pitcher. You don't always have to beat him. If you can wear him down, again, run the pitch count up, try to get him out of the game sooner than later, stay with him, that has a little bit of effect, too. Trying to get a starter early in the game before they get in their rhythm, that's another way. You don't necessarily have to beat that particular starter to win a game.
But I think there are a lot of teams that try to do that with him. The problem is that he'll throw 130 pitches in a game. Even if you get his pitch count up there, it doesn't mean he's going to come out of the game at 100 or 105 pitches, he's a tough customer.
Q. What are your thoughts on your pitching overall in the series. I think the Tigers have had exactly one run scoring hit in this series.
BOB MELVIN: It's been good, other than -- I think both sides would probably be pretty happy with how the pitching has been. And that's typically how it is in the postseason. You're always going to get a tough starter. And usually there's 2, 3, 4 guys in the bullpen that come in in games when you're ahead or tied, and those guys are used quite often in the postseason. I think that's been the way with both teams. We had the one game where we didn't play great. We battled and came back, and did some good things, but we didn't play as crisply defensively like we did last night.
But I think all the way around our pitching and our playing and so forth, the executing of pitches has been very well -- has been very good, the problem is it's also been good on the other side, too.
Q. If you got in a situation early where you needed long relief, would you consider Parker or not?
BOB MELVIN: I think we have some other options for that. Our bullpen's in pretty good shape. We just used our three late guys, Scribner has done a nice job for us coming in and shutting some stuff down at time and moving on farther in the game. Travis Blackley is a true length guy for us. I think we're in pretty good shape. I wouldn't forecast using him.
Q. How did you think Jarrod handled himself in Game 1? If you do get to Game 5, how do you think it will benefit him?
BOB MELVIN: I think anytime you get experience your first time in the postseason, now all of a sudden the next time out you know what to expect and know you can handle it.
His season as a whole has been you've seen him get better and better and better and handle some things, whether it's getting a few guys on base and getting his pitch count up earlier in games, being able to combat that and work past that, you know, as the season goes along, he's just gotten better and better.
Now that he has a postseason start under his belt, I'm sure he'll take all the confidence that we got out of that one to the next one. But, again, we have to get there first.
Q. You mentioned yesterday your 10th man advantage with this crowd, Bob. Home crowds tend to be home crowds, but what distinction would you place on this particular fan base here?
BOB MELVIN: It's a true blue collar fan base, if you ask me. They're very loud. And our writers here have often heard me talk about it always sounds like double the attendance that we have here. If it is 10, it sounds like 20; if it's 20, it sounds like 40. We had what, 37 last night. It sounded like well over 50. It was good to get them into the game early and Coco had a lot to do with that with the first inning hit, scoring a run, making a great play in the outfield. Got them involved early in the game. And I think that made us feel good, and just had an additional dynamic to the early part of the game that we knew that 10th man was there, we could feel him right away, and we rode that emotion.
The last series, last six games of the season they were very involved, as well. So we feel them. They're loud. They're loud before the game starts. And once you get something going they get even louder.
Q. Having faced predominantly right handed pitching, any concern how do you keep Gomes fresh, how do you keep Carter fresh, and any concern they might lose their edge?
BOB MELVIN: You always have that concern. You always think something will come up over the game that you get them into the game. It hasn't happened to this point. I think there were times during the season too where we faced a stretch of left handers where we weren't getting our right handed excuse me, the left handed hitters in the game for four or five games. So you do the best you can to combat that in batting practice and so forth. And it just is what it is.
There are going to be stretches where you get a lot of right handed pitchers and a lot of left handed pitchers. And you just have to deal with it. At some point in time we'd like to get the guys in the game, whether it's the right matchup or so forth just hasn't happened to this point.
Q. How, if at all, would you say that you've changed as a manager since you led the D backs through the postseason in '07?
BOB MELVIN: You know, you're constantly going through change, so I think when you're part of it every day you're just trying to get better and learn from your experiences. Probably people that can speak more to that that aren't with me or my team every day that can see from afar how things have changed. But I try to get better every day and learn how to deal with players, learn how to deal with the opponent, try to find new things that make you more game ready for certain situations, and I think it just comes with experience.
Couple that with having different types of teams, I think, makes you better, and understanding of whether it's a veteran team or younger team. I've had both of those at this point in my career now. But you're always trying to get better each and every day. It's a great thing about baseball, it seems like something pops up almost every day that you can take from that and try to make yourself a little better.
Q. In your infield you've got some guys, you've used some guys who aren't really playing I guess their primary positions.
BOB MELVIN: Right.
Q. How did you arrive at doing that and how long did it take for it to start working for you?
BOB MELVIN: Well, it's been a little bit of a work in progress. I think our defense is as good as it's been all year now. We have a first baseman who was an outfielder. We have a second baseman who was a shortstop his whole career. We have a third baseman that was a catcher. And Stephen who is the one guy in the infield right now that is his natural position. It's been work-in-progress all year.
And the way Brandon Moss has played first base since he's taken it over has been magnificent through hard work, and he's a very good athlete. Can play any of the corner outfield positions on top of that.
The one that we benefited the most from recently has been Cliff Pennington moving to second base. He looks like a natural second baseman. And those are all different angles. Balls take different hops, you're not looking in the same direction, turning double plays, spin on balls, all those things he's had to deal with very quickly, he's handled as well as anybody I've seen. And on top of that I think he's gone through some offensive struggles for him this year. And since he's made the position change, I think he's completely forgot about his offense, because he's worked hard on his defense, so now the offense has picked up, too. He could probably play anywhere in the infield and be good at it. We're lucky to have him there.
Josh Donaldson is a great athlete. His position is catcher, but he could probably play anywhere on the diamond. He's a football player, baseball player, truly a guy that could probably play anywhere on the diamond. We're lucky to have those athletes.
Q. What's the quality of this team? What makes the team that even though it has a dozen rookies, there's no sense of nervousness or no sense of pressure? How is the team able to do that and what role did you play in making that possible?
BOB MELVIN: I think it's -- the coaches prepare each and every day. We try to insulate within that. We try to not worry about tomorrow. It's a very selfless group that just worries about the win or loss at the end of the day. They don't worry about being pinch hit for, no one takes it personally. No one takes it personally if they get three hits one game, we get a different type of pitcher the next day and we match up accordingly. Everybody has bought into it. It's a credit to the players and their willingness to -- understanding that we're trying to do the best thing for the team on a particular day and just worrying about winning or losing and keeping it current, I think that's what we've benefited from. And the coaches have done a great job preparing these guys each and every day.
Q. On Drew, how much of your relationship with him going back was part of the reason why you've got him here? And since he's been here, obviously he's gotten over the ankle injury, because of the way he's playing. How long did that take for him to really get back into the mode where he was typical Drew?
BOB MELVIN: Not long. And we do -- Chip Hale had him even longer than I did. Chip had him for a brief period in the minor leagues before he came to the big leagues. From the day he got there, he was an all around player, offensive guy, defensive guy. He's become more of a leader when I last left Arizona. He was the younger player and wasn't really a vocal type leader, where he is now. And he's just been a great fit for us.
I think once we got him in the games every day and he knew he was going to be out there every day, I think the injury part, he just doesn't think about anymore. Physically he's able to do it. I'm not sure he was getting to play on a regular basis when he first came back from Arizona. Now he knows he's going to be in every day and prepares accordingly. It was a great pickup for us to get him here, a true shortstop. And he's played very well all the way around.
Q. Did you know that you guys were going to be the first team ever to start three rookies in a postseason series, rookie starting pitchers?
BOB MELVIN: Based on the fact that we had five there for a while (laughter) it was going to happen regardless. But I wasn't aware that there was nobody else that has had three rookie pitchers. But we've been dealing with that all year. We've had a number of rookie pitchers here, whether it's in the rotation or bullpen that we count on very heavily. Feather in their hat that they're able to handle it.
Q. What do you think about the poise overall switching into the postseason?
BOB MELVIN: It's been terrific. At this point in the season you're really not a rookie anymore, especially for a guy like Tom Milone that's been here all year with us. You get through three quarters of the season and now all of a sudden I wouldn't classify you as a rookie, now you get past the season and into the postseason, you get postseason starts under your belt, end of the season starts feel like the postseason a little bit, these guys have been phenomenal. And certainly in Parker and Milone's case, they're not pitching like rookies.
Q. Seems like Gomes has been a real leader for this young club all year. Do you get that, do you sense that from him even on the days that he's not playing?
BOB MELVIN: Absolutely. And I've often said here, too, that it's very rare that you find a player as well respected as he is in the clubhouse that doesn't play every day. Those are usually the guys that are the leaders, they lead by example out on the field and then the respect comes with that. He's not out there every day, but he's as respected a guy, if not the most respected guy in our clubhouse, very vocal leader, one of the guys that does keep everything very loose. He plays into this team more so than just the results he's gotten statistically. He's way more important than just that for us.