Q. How was your day?
JOE MADDON: Long. It was unusual. You saw what happened last night, and then of course we had that medical emergency on the airplane, and that caused us to be in Albuquerque for a long period of time.
So we did not leave till ten o'clock in the morning Albuquerque time, 10:30, to get in the air to come all the way to Los Angeles.
So hopefully I'll speak some English today, and if I don't, please accept my apologies in advance.
Q. Can you share with us your Game 1 starter and the reasoning behind that decision?
JOE MADDON: No. We haven't decided yet. Honestly, as soon as this is done, I've got to go back to the hotel. We got together with Theo, Jed, and all the coaches, and we'll decide at that point. We have not determined anything yet. Of course, John is in the running, Q is in the running, all these guys. Those two guys are primarily in the running.
So we'll go back, try to get information, and try to make our best decision. So I promise you, the white smoke, as soon as it occurs, you guys will know about it.
Q. What exactly was the itinerary, and what was the general mood on the plane as night became day and kept going?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, somebody got ill. So everybody was fine. Everybody understood the reasoning behind it. I thought our guys handled it extremely well. Biggest concern was that there might be enough food for everybody. But big 767, plenty of room. We all settled in. We knew there was a reason.
The problem was the pilot -- the pilots had to go off duty at that point, otherwise, could have landed and taken off right after that, but unable to based on their regulations. So we understood all that. I was really, really proud of the guys. They rallied around the person that was ill. There was a lot of support going on.
So from that perspective I was looking at it from the camaraderie, the family kind of component to the entire evening.
So in spite of the inconvenience, and it was, and in today's world, with all the events that are thundering down upon us, I thought it was kind of a bunt, so I thought we handled it well.
Q. Are you going to try to get an extra bullpen guy this time around? Might have to steal somebody from the roster this time because of how much work you guys have had?
JOE MADDON: You know, we didn't -- again, that will be part of the discussion. I don't know that we want to get an extra guy but maybe change guys is a possibility. But, again, that would be, I think, the more likely scenario as opposed to adding somebody new or an extra one.
In spite of what you saw, I still think the guys, of course CJ had his problems with his command, but he's still a big part of our success, and he will be moving forward again. Stroppy was good. Montgomery, I mean, Montgomery's throwing the ball really well, and I think he was actually throwing the ball through his break, a lot of 93s and 94s. The ball wasn't sinking as much, but good stuff. And Duensing, the same way.
Of course, we've got to be really mindful of Wade after throwing 40-some pitches and getting seven outs last night. So all those things need to be considered. But you need the bench to match up like we were able to match up in some of these games. The pinch-hitting being aggressive, the defensive maneuvering being aggressive. So all of that, it's just the way of the world right now. The days off still are beneficial, two on, one off, three on, one off. It's still beneficial regarding keeping your bullpen in order.
So, honestly, we're going to go back and discuss. You're right, that's a possibility, but I don't see it right now.
Q. If it was Lackey, does that mean someone would come out of the rotation or go in the bullpen or how do you look at that?
JOE MADDON: No, not necessarily. Just a matter if it were then everybody would move back, but you have to be cognizant of Game 5. That kind of stuff. How do you want to play Game 5 when you get to that point, and how comfortable are you with that? Based -- that was pretty much of a heavyweight fight we just went through. We had to utilize everybody as we did in order to get the win. You just do what you have to do to win to advance.
Now, Lester, what, 55 pitches the other night. Not bad, not bad. Kind of a heavy workout moving forward. So he's not far off. Quintana last night, 12 or 13, so that's not awful either. That's almost like a workout night for a side piece as it turned out. So he's not bad.
Jake, 90 pitches, four innings the other day, he's good. And Kyle moving forward, 4 and 80-something last night.
So they're not awful. It's just this first game. That's what you have to try to figure out. So the other guys will definitely have to be part of the whole routine. We just have to figure out our best method for the first game and then advance from there. I think it will become more comfortable after that.
So a lot of it is going to be requiring conversation with the pitchers, like: How do you feel? We just don't know yet. So being just perfectly transparent with you, I don't know, but those are the thoughts going into the meeting tonight.
Q. After everything that's happened this year, you're back where you were a year ago. How would you describe your level of either surprise, or is this where you expected to be all year long?
JOE MADDON: Well, we wanted to be here. Honestly, you know all the talk all season long. Not easy to get there, probably a little bit more difficult to get to this point than it was last year, obviously. I talked about the hangover being a real thing. I thought we dealt with it up front, and I thought our guys did a great job. I thought we caught our stride at the right part of the season, meaning August, September, it really came together for us.
Right now we're playing with that same kind of mental acumen and edge that I've seen the last two years. Probably from the second half of '15 to last year to right now, it's very familiar. The first half of this year was unfamiliar. Now this is becoming more familiar again. Why? Because, like I'm saying, I just think the guys became more mentally engaged. I thought the All-Star break was pertinent. The fact that we didn't make the team, and guys got rest, it absolutely mattered, totally mattered.
I thought Quintana's addition was large coming into that second half with the pitching staff. Struggling a bit, and all of a sudden they found their momentum also. The pitching staff starters really getting it together mattered probably as much as anything. And the position players, of course, started scoring some runs again.
Just different, like almost like two different seasons this year. Pre All-Star break, post All-Star break. Not unexpected, in a sense. Kind of expected. But then when you're going through it theoretically, you have your ideas, you don't know if they're going to work. You think they're going to work, but you don't know if they're going to work.
So the big meaning for me was rest. I just thought to not push the guys too early in the first half based on my experiences with Tampa Bay primarily, and even with the Angels back in the day. That's where we're at.
Q. So for Game 2, understanding you're still setting all this up, would Lester be in position to come back then for you?
JOE MADDON: Yeah.
Q. You think he'd be okay for Game 2?
JOE MADDON: Again, I think he will. That's the conversation I'm talking about. Exactly what I'm talking about. I think he will, but I don't know that. So when you -- you trust your guys giving you straight-up feedback, you talk to the pitching coaches -- Bass and Lester and Mike Borzello -- you talk to these guys and you believe them, you trust them.
So we'll do that. We'll do all the kind of conversations that are necessary. You look at the actual physical numbers what they did and how many days before they've done it, what is this like with their history and how they react to these situations, and you just try to piece it together as well as you possibly can.
That's what's going to happen when I get back. If we have a 5:30 meeting, I'm going to sit down and try to discuss exactly what we're talking about right now.
Q. You know you're going to get Kershaw in Game 1. What's been your experience when you've had to face that guy?
JOE MADDON: He's good (laughter). He's very good. Experience has been normally you've got to get after it pretty quickly. If you let him settle in, it's very difficult. They are more rested. They've had this opportunity to put it together, and they deserve to based on the season that they've had. But the fact is we've been through this before ourselves. So you saw what just happened over the last five days, and it even goes into the middle of September. How our guys responded in Milwaukee, I was so pleased with that. That's really where this all began this year in Milwaukee, that four-game series, middle of the month, they're definitely pertinent at that point.
We had to really distance ourselves from them and the Cardinals. I thought our guys really did this mental thing, really accelerated thing.
So we're going to be tired tomorrow. Who cares. They're going to be ready to play. They're going to be ready to play tomorrow. They're going to be ready to play on Sunday. Yesterday, 4-1 down, you come in our dugout, and you would not believe the attitude in our dugout after Taylor hit the home run. Beautiful, spectacular, we were definitely not out of that game.
So I anticipate the same kind of mental effort tomorrow regarding -- regardless of being stuck on the runway, getting in late. Whatever it takes, our guys are ready to play. Kershaw's good, but so are our guys too.
Q. People from the outside would look at you guys and say, oh, they're beaten up, they're exhausted. What is your experience with adrenaline in this situation? How much can it carry you and how long before it fades away do you think?
JOE MADDON: Obviously, the day off's going to be important. We have to really maintain this -- again, I always talk about the mind, but it's true. The adrenaline will be supplied. You walk out there, you get your handshake and on the lines, all the people in this ballpark that you're playing for. The adrenaline's going to be there. The guys are going to show up.
But the day of rest is going to be really vital. We have to get to that day in good shape, I think. So we have to battle through these first two games. Hopefully win one of them. Getting two would be incredibly difficult, but possible, of course. Then you get to that day and you regroup, et cetera.
But what our guys have been through the last several years, they're young. They're really young. I can't say they're inexperienced anymore. I can't say that. I can't use that line anymore. We're young, but we're not inexperienced. So the boys have responded properly and well. I'm really proud of it.
Again, when you're in the dugout with our guys and in the clubhouse or on the airplane like last night with our guys and how they dealt with all of that, these are young men, it's pretty impressive. So a couple less hours of sleep, the fact it's so exhilarating to win the way we just did, I think that will supply the energy, hopefully, for the next two days.
Q. You look through the numbers of the series you just played, and about the only one you won was the final score?
JOE MADDON: Exactly.
Q. I'm curious what you learned, what happened there? How did that happen?
JOE MADDON: I hate to be redundant, but I guess we all are at times. It's about the heartbeat, brother. You know? I said that last year, and it's true. You're going to watch TV tomorrow and you're going to read all the stat-cast stuff and all this numerology that's being thrown out there right now and all the data that's going to be presented. It's all beautiful and it's all theory. There's theory and then there's reality.
Right now I think we're just playing in real time. Our guys wanted to win last night. We didn't hit the ball that well. We scored in a lot of awkward situations against a really good team. We get down badly with the guy throwing for us that's been pitching great. They got their best dude coming out of the bullpen in the middle of the game. All these things are stacked against you. But it doesn't matter. If you keep playing -- one thing I did tell them, I told them in the meeting -- my third meeting of the year before the first playoff game, the line by Tyson is still the best. Everybody's got a plan until you get punched in the face.
I still think that's the best line ever regarding what we do. So we got smacked a couple times the last couple days, but we didn't stop. Everybody's got a plan, and then something bad's going to happen. How do you react to that? So numbers be damned, they don't help you right there. It's what you've got in your chest that matters.
So I love our heartbeat. I love the way our guys are interacting right now. They're supporting of one another. Zobrist didn't play yesterday. Didn't start. How about that? Zobrist is pretty darn good. Walked up to him before the game. He knew the exact situation we were looking for, and he was ready for it. He knew it. I didn't even have to tell him that.
Schwarber last year, a hero in the postseason, has not been playing a whole lot. He was ready for his at-bat yesterday. Thomas La Stella, five or six in a row coming off the bench, and he's ready for that moment. Our guys are just playing baseball right now. That's what I prefer. I prefer real baseball as opposed to fantasy baseball right now.
Q. Last time you were here you were swept, and the Dodgers did something very unique, attacking your hitters with high fastballs. But last night Anthony was saying that the slate's clean. It's all over. How much have your hitters grown from that point? Because you got swept here. You got swept in San Diego. Everybody's wondering has the sky fallen at that point?
JOE MADDON: Of course it was. It was crashing. It's no big secret, but what they try to do -- I went through the same thing when I was with the Rays, that was part of the blueprint is to get elevated fastball pitches. It's a great blueprint. I've always been concerned about old-school pitching coaches always trying to get elevated fastball pitches to throw the ball down in the zone. Stop. Certain guys do pitch well about letter high.
Our counterattack is to either not swing at it or really force them down, and you've got to be prepared for the ball that's not exactly there. But if they're executing their pitches, they're going to be tough, period. I don't care what anybody says. It's true. It's true. It's a great way to pitch. So we have to -- like I said, either you got to foul it off or you've got to get to the next pitch if you've got to take it, it's a ball and you have to force them down into your lanes.
The biggest thing I've talked about over in Washington, I thought we were outside of our lanes. We were really expanding our strike zone way too often, and that's part of the demise regarding why we didn't hit so well. We've got to get back in our lanes. Why we weren't, I don't know. Well, I do know. Strasburg's changeup is about as good as you're ever going to see, ever. Like how many years this game has been played, that's one of the best changeups you're ever going to see. And Scherzer's pretty good.
So we saw three world-class pitchers -- well, Strasburg twice, Scherzer once, and then plus -- world-class pitchers over the course of five games. That's where the offense went quite frankly. So the Dodgers have a method. Totally understand it. They have to execute it, we have to execute our side of it, we'll see what happens.
Q. Back in August when the Dodgers were at their peak percentage-wise, you said you liked the way your team matched up a lot with the Dodgers. They went into a tailspin after that. Do you like this matchup even more now?
JOE MADDON: I guess I like it equally as much. I like the fact that we're present. Meaning that we had not really played. I think when I was posed with that question we were kind of ascending, not quite where we needed to be yet. So it was more unbelievable from outside looking in. But you know what you've got. It's like you know what you've got in your house. You know what you've got.
I figured once we got back to our normal Addie being -- Addie coming back, Javy moving back over, all that stuff would matter, and eventually we just started playing our game. The defense tightened up. The pertinent hits started to occur. But primarily the pitching got better and all of that really came together.
So, yeah, I love it. Listen, you start the year defending champs, you go to Spring Training without the same expectations that you had the year you weren't the champs, and you get through a tough start. Then eventually the guys start showing up. I'll take it.