Oct. 11 Allen Craig pregame interview
Q. Last couple of years the perception is you've played better in the post season than the regular season; do you feel that way, and if it's true, why do you think that is?
ALLEN CRAIG: I think last year's experience in the playoffs, we got a lot of experience, a lot of confidence built. Just going to the World Series and winning the World Series, having to play a Game 7 and come out on top; I think that you're seeing a lot of us use that experience so far in this post season. We had a tough do or die game in Atlanta and came out on top, and after we won that game, I think we started to feel really good about ourselves and get that feeling like we had last year.
Today is a big game, and I think we'll be all right.
Q. With the way the bottom of the lineup has produced in this series, Pete (Kozma) and Daniel (Descalso) how much depth do you think that adds to your lineup and how much does that help the guys who are in the middle of the lineup?
ALLEN CRAIG: I think it adds a lot of depth to our team. You know, Daniel and Pete are really good ballplayers, and they have hit pretty good throughout their career. So, you know, when they are doing what they can do at the bottom of the lineup, it definitely helps the guys out in the middle of the lineup. If they are getting on base and producing themselves, it only makes us that much better.
Q. You mentioned the confidence that you guys have as a group going through what you did last year, but do you feel like you've used that to your advantage in this series, obviously going up against a team that does not have that same advantage?
ALLEN CRAIG: Yeah, I mean, I think that experience in anything helps. You know, there are certain times when we use that experience to our favor.
But with that said, it's a new year and we have some new guys in the clubhouse and we have to find our own path.
You know, the core of our team is virtually back, so that experience that we had last year is helping us I think.
Q. You guys faced this team really late in the regular season. Do you see that as an advantage psychologically because you hit their pitching well or in the preparation because of the familiarity?
ALLEN CRAIG: I'm not sure. We came here towards the end of the year and they beat us pretty good and they really showed us what they can do. We had an opportunity to play them at our place at the very end of the year, and we kind of showed them what we could do. So it kind of evened up a little bit I think. So far this series, you've seen a pretty even series. They have been playing us tough, and that's it.
Q. What do you make of what Pete has been able to do? I know in his Minor League career, his numbers were not what he wanted them to be and now here, doing something he has not done before; what do you make of what he's been able to do offensively?
ALLEN CRAIG: I'm definitely not surprised by what he's doing, but I think it's pretty remarkable, what he's been able to bring to the team defensively and even offensively, too. He's got some huge hits, and you know, his baseball instincts just seem to be really good, running the bases and just making the right play in a lot of cases.
You know, he's really stepped into shortstop and played really well for us. Furcal was a big part of our team in the clubhouse and on the field and losing him was a big blow, but having Pete come in and step in and play like he's been has been really big for our team.
Q. You probably have known him as long and as well as anybody. I wondered what you thought of sort of the development of Jon Jay this season and how he's fit in defensively and then taking over Furcal means, him moving into the leadoff spot for you guys?
ALLEN CRAIG: I'm not surprised by anything that Jon's done. I have had the opportunity to play with him for a long time in the Minor Leagues, and we won a lot of games down there together. I have seen his defense firsthand in the outfield in the Minor Leagues.
This year I think he's really solidified himself ... I think he's the best center fielder in the game, just his preparation and positioning guys in the outfield and making big plays and just doing the right thing out there. He's definitely a leader on our team and a leader on the defense.
Having him at the top of the lineup is huge, too, because he has good at bats and puts the bat on the ball. He's just a great player.
Q. Can you elaborate, you played obviously right field next to him. Can you elaborate what you mean by that, like him calling out positioning based on hitters, based on approaches?
ALLEN CRAIG: The guy is just always thinking the game. He's always thinking about, you know, where the guys are going to hit the ball based on what pitch is coming. He watches video on where he's going to play guys. His preparation is second to none. He really knows what he's doing out there, and he takes great routes and he is just always making the right play out there. Having him up the middle of the field is huge for us.
Q. Last year I remember some of you guys talking about guys like Carp and Albert (Pujols) went around and talked to younger players in particular about just trying to keep everything slowed down. One, has anybody done that this year, and two, how much of that has even been needed with what you guys did go through last year?
ALLEN CRAIG: Well, I think we are always talking amongst each other about how to deal with certain situations. You know, we still have Lance Berkman in the clubhouse. He's always very vocal about his past experiences and how he's been successful at getting through some things.
You know, I wouldn't say anything in particular, but you know, we have a good group of veteran guys. Furcal is in our clubhouse now. He's not playing, but he's still a veteran presence there, and he's there to support us, too. Us young guys and the other guys on the team have a lot of support.
Q. How much of a fan do you let yourself be this time of year watching other games in the series, and what did you think of the games last night, the wild finishes in both of those games?
ALLEN CRAIG: Oh, I love it. Getting a chance to play in October is really special, and you know, those games last night were really exciting. We stayed up late to watch the Detroit game to find out if they were going to win or lose, because that determined when we were going to play. It's just a really exciting deal to be a part of. There's a lot of good baseball being played, so it's fun to watch.