Q. Is it a big stride forward for your guys between thinking they can do a thing like winning in the playoffs and actually proving to themselves that they can do it?
CLINT HURDLE: I think it's a big thing for anybody in any walk of life. You draw up a plan and then when you meet the plan, that's called achievement. We were able to achieve something significant last night. That's the first as I said, another mile marker along the way in the journey that we're on.
Q. Your crowd last night seemed to have some effect on that game on the opposing pitching. Is it safe to assume you're confident that the crowd tomorrow night won't have any effect on A.J. Burnett, at least in a negative fashion?
CLINT HURDLE: I haven't even given it a thought and I'm not going to give it a thought. A.J.'s pitched in big venues. He's pitched meaningful games late season, postseason.
It's a great crowd here. It's a sea of red. It's going to be a sea of red. They'll be enthusiastic. It will be fun. It's going to be competitive. I'm very confident in A.J.'s abilities and demeanor, so I don't anticipate any restrictions from A.J. or any complications due to the crowd.
Q. Who is going to start Game 2 for you, and do you plan on having Francisco go on his regular turn on Sunday?
CLINT HURDLE: I will get with you tomorrow on who will start Game 2, not today. And Francisco will start. The third game would be Sunday, correct? Yeah, he will start the third game.
Q. What kind of distractions generally present themselves in postseason play, and if you haven't already counseled the young players on how to deal with them?
CLINT HURDLE: Reporters with hats. (Laughing.) Stay away from the guy with the hat that comes in the clubhouse.
I don't think distractions? We've been very, very much improved I think in dealing with distraction. We talk about it. A distraction is anything that takes your focus off of the job you want to do. So I think we may present ourselves for opportunities to share, communicate with the media. If they overload, we get out. We go. We say no thanks. I've done it many times with Jimmy T. this year. Enough's enough. We all have a job to do.
We've got to make sure our folks have preparation where it needs to be. Outside of that, the biggest distraction any player is ever going to have this time of year is the ticket requests. And I have my wife handling mine, so I'm good.
Q. Marlon Byrd has been a strong addition for you guys at the plate. How would you describe what he's brought to the team in the clubhouse or even in the dugout during a pressure packed game like last night?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, Marlon's a veteran presence. He has layers of mental toughness, physical toughness, mental discipline. He plays with an edge. He is the culmination of a lot of years of experience in the Major Leagues. A lot of ups, a lot of downs.
If you go over the rosters of all of the postseason teams right now, why don't you dig in to see how many men played ball in Mexico last winter at the age he played at? He wanted to improve in an area of his game that was complicated as far as hitting breaking balls and chasing pitches out of the zone, so where better to go than Mexico to face a league full of pitchers that spin the ball and really don't care about establishing fastball command. They're going to spin the ball and continue to spin the ball to get outs.
He doesn't have an ego. He has no fear and a lot of respect for everything that he does, and that is kind of the way our team is put together. No fear. Fear nothing, respect everything.
So he's added in a lot of different areas: The stability in the middle of the lineup, the ability to produce runs, get big hits, and he's a very good defender as well. But I do like the presence of the man, the edge that he brings.
Q. Could you share why Cole was throwing the bullpen last night during the celebration? There was some confusion and various reports
CLINT HURDLE: On whose part? On whose part was the confusion?
Q. We were just getting bits and pieces outside of it. So we saw him throwing, but then
CLINT HURDLE: I'm confused on where the confusion was coming from. If you saw him throwing, where's the confusion?
Q. As to why he was throwing a bullpen then instead of maybe like today or something like that.
CLINT HURDLE: Because he might be in line to pitch the second game.
Q. How would you best describe the season that your team had getting up to this point?
CLINT HURDLE: It has been a season that's had a lot of energy to it, a lot of challenges. Every season does. Very few seasons do you have the way you draw it up in the beginning is the way you play it out through the season.
But I think as much as anything, to have six consecutive non losing months spoke volumes of what the improvements we were able to make throughout the season, the performance we were able to do off the mound and out of the bullpen. Our offense has probably grown throughout the season, and we've got more growth in front of us, but we've defended the ball very well. We've pitched the ball very well. 94 times during the season we scored more runs than the other team. So we have a good team.
We've continued to grow, I think, as far as game experience with our young players and the core group of guys that have been together for three years, experienced a lot of challenges, met the challenges. Met the challenges in the second half and continued to push forward, finish stronger than we started.
So more growth, and with more growth comes more opportunity, and they're very, very hungry.
Q. In terms of October baseball and pushing the envelope a little bit, is there anything you learned with Colorado in '07 or 2010 on Ron Washington's staff in Texas that you're drawing on this October?
CLINT HURDLE: There is a synergy to your club that I think you've got to make sure that you're in touch with. Our guys have been able to really find a good place where they've all attached themselves to a common goal and nobody cares who gets the credit.
The clubs that you're talking about in '07 and '10 both had that same mindset. It sounds simple, it sounds easy. I've been in this game getting close to 40 years, and I haven't been on 40 teams that all had that mindset, where truthfully everybody has the same goal in mind. Nobody cares who gets the credit. You're going to show up that day, ready to play, ready to do whatever is asked of you and that's it. If you're not in the lineup, you're not in the lineup and you move on. So many times you hear in this game that guys are all in until they're not in.
What I've seen this club really develop into is an all in mentality and a next man up mentality. It was evident in '07. We used ten starting pitchers the second half of the season. It was evident in Texas with the second half moves we were able to make. We also made those moves this year, not so much in Colorado in '07.
But at the end of the day, are you truly vested in what's best for your ballclub, even if it affects you personally or individually? And that's what I've seen these men grow to get to that place. It's provided the biggest benefit for us in the long run.
Q. With the way the season ended yesterday, again, you could use them as you wanted to, not as you had to. Is your bullpen as rested as it's been in a long time?
CLINT HURDLE: It is. Yeah, the bullpen is fresh. We're in a good place out there. A very good place. Our guys are ready to go, so we're looking forward to just the freshness of it so we don't have that carrying any kind of issues. Couple days, nobody's tight, nobody's sore, nobody's for October 2nd it's as well rested a bullpen as you can have.
Q. What is your vision of the Cardinals' culture of winning the last however many years?
CLINT HURDLE: They probably don't want me back because they didn't win in '87 when I was here.
CLINT HURDLE: Good point, they did win in '87. Thanks. That's why they won. It's fantastic. That's one of the things that was so exciting to come here and be part of as a player. As I said, sea of red, the history, the tradition. It is one of the historic organizations in all the game. Just a person and event that you can continue to pull upon and pull upon and pull upon to draw its significance. The uniform is as clean as anybody's uniform wears in the Big Leagues.
So from that aspect, the thing that impresses me is sustainability, and they've been able to have sustainability throughout change many times. So obviously the scouting program is in a very good place. Their player development program is in a very good place. They've been very creative at the Major League level when they've gone out and sought external options to bring in. They've had very good leadership in the general manager seat and obviously the manager's seat. The coaches do tremendous work. So they are a team that many look to when you try to model success.
Q. For a team that hasn't been in the playoffs, how much of a benefit is it playing St. Louis, a team you played so many big games against this season?
CLINT HURDLE: I don't know if it's a benefit or not. We know them. They know us. There won't be any ball tricks, I hope. No Statue of Liberty plays. We've seen a lot of each other. Our scouts have done a great job. We were prepared in a number of different ways to go if we needed to go. Maybe from that point you made, that we don't have a lot of playoff experience, that might be a benefit to us.
Q. In your mind is McCutchen the NL MVP?
CLINT HURDLE: The NL MVP should be the baddest dude in the league, and the baddest dude in the league for me is Andrew McCutchen.