Q. You had a pretty successful time against Severino, Brian. You had a walk and a hit, and, Joe, you had an RBI single. What was the approach last time, and do you stick with that approach or make an adjustment to it this time?
JOE MAUER: We know he's got great stuff. It's -- obviously, it's a one-game Playoff, and you're going to come with your best. He's the best on their team, and we're looking forward to it. It's going to be a tough challenge, but we'll formulate a game plan. We kind of just got to New York, and we're going to go over that today.
But we know what he's got. He's got good stuff, and we know it will be a tough day.
BRIAN DOZIER: He's stuff is electric. He's hard throwing, throws the slider very hard. I think it's good for us to kind of get to him early last time. I think a lot of us got to see what he was trying to do to them, so to speak. He's starting the game, but we also know their bread and butter is their bullpen and how quick it is to go to their bullpen. I think it was good for us to see pretty much every one of their pitchers last time, last week actually.
But he's got good stuff. Hopefully, we can get to him early.
Q. Joe, you hear a lot of people talk about -- ball players talk about the protection behind them. How different is it for you when Miguel Sano is batting third? And if he's not in the lineup tomorrow, how big a difference will that make?
JOE MAUER: I think we've had a lot of lineup changes throughout the season. The only one that was constant was this guy hitting first. I've had different guys behind me. Polanco has been doing a great job as of late, and Rosario is having a heck of a year too. We kind of have the mentality it's the next man up. A talent like Sano, obviously, we all saw what he's done and what he's been able to do. But you know what, we'll see what happens. I'm not sure what the lineup will look like tomorrow. I think we've been rolling pretty good, and I'm sure we're going to put our best out there.
Q. Joe, it's been a long time since you've been in the Playoffs. At this stage of your career, what does it mean to have another shot at it?
JOE MAUER: It's great. Somebody asked me earlier, does it feel like seven years? I said, yes, and all of that. It feels great. I'm really excited for this group to experience this. There's a lot of guys in our club house that this is their first go-round. I was just real happy. It's been a special year to see these guys kind of grow, and to experience that with this team is pretty special. So it's good to be back.
Q. You guys have a reputation among other teams as being a really good base running team. Last year they talked about the influence of Mike Napoli and how he changed that. Can you give us a sense or that history of how that process changed for you guys?
BRIAN DOZIER: Base running in particular? I think in Spring Training we set out a lot of different goals to reach, I guess, so to speak, and to clean up a lot of the things that went wrong last year. One of the main focuses was base running obviously, on the defensive side of the ball, we cleaned a lot of that up, but base running, good base running wins you games, especially close games. We got away from that last year.
When we got to Spring Training, we did numerous amounts of things, not only on the field, but majority of things in rooms. Like we call skull sessions, to go over a lot of different things, the fundamental aspects of base running, and we cleaned a lot of that up. But at the same time, we're very, very aggressive, and you don't want to lose -- even though some of the things that we were overly aggressive last year, that cost us a lot. You never want to lose that aggressiveness of putting other teams on their heels, so to speak.
And remaining aggressive on the base pads has kind of been our goal this whole year. And to put pressure on the defense, and I believe we've done that. Obviously, when you've got some guys that can steal some bases, people like to focus in on stealing bases and high percentage and all that kind of stuff, but it's about the little things. We talk about it each and every day of taking first and third, testing outfielders' arms, going sideways. A lot of different things that win you baseball games, especially close ones, and we did a good job of it this year so far.
Q. Joe, there's been a lot of talk this year about resiliency and how many points in the season that things could have really pivoted for you guys, and it didn't. You seemed to get stronger. Where do you think that comes from?
JOE MAUER: I think it's kind of what Brian was just saying, just paying attention to the little things. I think we brought in some really quality people, some high character veterans this season to help a lot of our young guys recognize those things. We've been able to put tough losses behind us very quickly and move on to the next game. I think that's a credit to a lot of the leadership.
You know, you talk about Brian right here next to me and the Matt Belisle's and a lot of the guys in that club house, the Jimenez, Chris Jimenez. I think it's just kind of that one thing, everybody pulling for each other. If one guy doesn't get the job done, the next guy is going to have to pick him up. It's been a great atmosphere all year long. Like I said, I'm proud of this group we have.
Q. You guys have known Ervin Santana for a while now. What is it about Ervin as a teammate that makes him so special, and also as a pitcher what makes him so effective?
BRIAN DOZIER: He's a joy to play behind, works fast, commands all of his pitches. He's magic. He's calm, cool, and collected.
The thing about Ervin, he's been around the game for a long time. He knows how to win baseball games. He does all the little things right and fills up the zone. When you combine all that, that's pretty good that we've got him going. He's on our team.
Yeah, we relied on him for a lot, but at the same time, it's kind of just keep doing what he's been doing the whole year, magic.
Q. For both of you, you kind of addressed this before, but can you reflect on how you felt a year ago right now, how you felt about the team, and what is responsible for such a great change this year?
JOE MAUER: I don't think it's particularly one thing. Obviously, it's night and day compared to last year, losing 100 games. Now we're sitting here in front of you guys in the postseason. You're talking about the postseason. So obviously, we're real excited. You know this is a goal of ours that we kind of set out beginning of Spring Training, and in our club house, we felt really good about it all year long. I know maybe on the outside it didn't look as good.
But it's kind of what I was talking about the other day. It's checking one of the boxes off of our list, and we're not done by any means, and we're looking forward to Tuesday night and hopefully beyond. It's a totally different feeling. To point out one particular thing, it's tough to do, but I think our young guys, another year under their belt, experience, paying attention to those little things, learning kind of as you go, throwing in a couple veterans that you know how to play the game that are true professionals. It just created a great atmosphere and a winning atmosphere. Here we are.
So there's been a lot of things, I think, that can point to that success.
BRIAN DOZIER: Just to kind of piggy-back what he says. Talent doesn't win you games up here. Everyone's kind of all right here. When you get away from the fundamentals of the game, that's when you lose 103 games, like I told Buster earlier. In Spring Training, we wanted to clean a lot of that stuff up. Keeping double plays in order, hitting cutoff men, all the little things per se that's supposed to always happen at this level that we got away from. We cleaned all that up, and it's been by far a totally different team. You start to see guys starting coming into their own, so to speak, the Buxtons, Rosarios, those guys.
When you look at what we've done defensively, I guess, with Byron Buxton kind of leading the charge and all that. It picks up our pitching staff. Our offense has been exceptionally good this year. 1 through 9, everybody gets on base. Everyone's kind of bought into the fact that, like we say, keep the line moving. Don't try to do too much. Take what the game gives you. You mix all that together, and we're here now talking about tomorrow night.
Q. Joe, it's no secret that through your whole career really, the Yankees played incredibly well against you guys. How do you account for something like that happening for such a long time against one team?
JOE MAUER: It's been seven years since we've been to the postseason, and I look in our club house, and that's a total different groups. Obviously, we were talking about those years before, we ran into some pretty good teams. I think '09 you guys won the World Series. I think looking back for me, those early 2000s, 2010, 2009, stuff like that, those were very close games. We just couldn't come up with the wins at the time.
I had a couple of questions about that earlier, about coming here and what that means. Really this team it doesn't mean a whole lot. I'm probably the only one that it means a little bit more maybe. It's a different team, and they've got a different team over there. So we're looking forward to tomorrow night and then see what happens.
Q. This is for either of you. Without bashing the MLB's Wild Card format, you guys talk about Spring Training. Here you are in February, grinding it out 162 games, and now it's just one game. It's just one game to move on. I mean, talk about wild. That is crazy, is it not?
BRIAN DOZIER: I enjoy it. I know we always -- in baseball, it's always series, three, four, five, seven games, whatever it is. I don't know, I like change. This is, obviously, my first postseason. This is all I know right now. I think it's good for the game. Another way for another team to get in. We're here now. Taking it in stride. I'm enjoying it.
JOE MAUER: It's exciting. I guess I have a little experience with the Game 163s, back in '08 and '09. Been on both sides of them. I'll tell you that the winning side is a lot more fun.
You know, in baseball, there's not that many spots in the postseason, and 10 out of 30 teams. We've got one of those spots. I think there's 20 other teams out there that would be excited to be in our shoes. I know we are. We're excited for the opportunity. We're looking forward to tomorrow night. Yeah, it's the postseason, and it should be fun.
Q. Brian, a year ago, there was so much talk about you possibly being traded as the off-season begin. How much do you possibly believe in your heart when you would be with the Twins, and when did you know for sure you were going to be a part of the '17 Twins?
BRIAN DOZIER: Yeah, obviously -- I'll touch on it briefly. Last off-season was kind of hectic for myself, my wife and I. Lucky, in my hunting land, we don't get service. Every time I got close, we would just go to Vicksburg, Mississippi, and just hunt for the weekend. It was kind of up and down. There was never really a time per se that, up until after Twins Fest, leading into Spring Training, when I kind of got the final call per se from Derek that we're here, we're rolling, let's go, get ready for Spring Training.
The beautiful thing about it is I love communication is one of the things that I value most in people is an organization and stuff. They communicated very well with me during the whole process and where everything stood. I respect that more than anything.
Even though it was a lot of -- at times it felt like it drug out publicly more than I would like it to have, but at the same time, behind closed doors with conversations with Derek and Thad, they were very open and respectful to the fact that I value communication. And I'm glad I'm here.
Q. The fact that you guys have been here so recently, does that help at all in anticipating what the atmosphere could be like here tomorrow night?
JOE MAUER: I think it helps that, if we haven't played -- it wasn't very long ago that we played them. So there's some familiarity there. I think it's going to be a little different. I think it's going to be a packed house. It's the postseason. It will be a little different. We're excited for it. Trying to let some of the guys know what to expect.
All in all, it's the same game, trying to keep the boys doing what we've been doing all year long. If we can be able to do that, we're going to be okay.
BRIAN DOZIER: Yeah, I think the beauty is one of my favorite restaurants is here in town. I get to eat there twice in two weeks. So I'm excited about that tonight.
Other than that, the more you treat it as just another game, but also reach back a little bit and take your game to the next level, that's what's fun about it. We've got a good group of guys in there that all believe the same thing. All hands on deck tomorrow. We'll see what happens.