Q. As a guy who played for Milwaukee in the '80s and early '90s when there was only one playoff spot in your division, can you talk about what the urgency was like back then?PAUL MOLITOR: Yeah, you know, the game has evolved in a lot of ways, and playoff
Q. As a guy who played for Milwaukee in the '80s and early '90s when there was only one playoff spot in your division, can you talk about what the urgency was like back then?
PAUL MOLITOR: Yeah, you know, the game has evolved in a lot of ways, and playoff formats, you know, significantly different than that generation. Yeah, I think my very first year we won 93 games, and it was the year the Yankees and the Red Sox played 163 here or whatever it was. But yeah, I think it's for the better. I think that we still are in a better position than we don't have half our teams going to the playoffs, but it's up to a third, but it's changed, and now this whole idea of a one-game format, there's some debate about whether we should consider changing that. I think in general the fans have responded to the winner-take-all in the wild card scenario. It's our first go-around. I think it's going to be a lot of fun, and as long as they keep coming with ideas that help teams have a chance to play, that's fine with me.
Q. You guys have been pretty good, really good on the road this year, but were swept here. How big an advantage is home-field advantage tonight?
PAUL MOLITOR: You know, got to play the game. I think that these guys know we've had a good year overall on the road. Our record at home improved throughout the year. This was a different animal. We're coming into a situation where we know that we need to win if we want to keep playing, and it just happens to be in New York, a place that we were here very recently, didn't have a good outcome. I don't think our guys are dwelling on that or intimidated by that. They know that they -- they believe that they're going to go out there and play a good game tonight, and I think that they have a lot of confidence in our starting pitcher. Got to play the game. I think everyone is a little anxious to get started. I know that I am.
Q. Molly, your team has scored more runs than any team in the American League since the All-Star break, and they seem to score them in batches. How does that happen, and is hitting truly contagious?
PAUL MOLITOR: It's just, you know, if you talk to the guys, it's been about the fact that I think a lot of pressure has been removed from anybody feeling that they have to carry the team. When you know the guy behind you has got a good chance and the guy at the bottom has got a good chance, there's just been a good flow. There hasn't been a lot of times where we've gone into droughts. We've had a couple, maybe a game here or game there where runs have been tough to come by, but we've got a lot of guys going the right direction.
A game like tonight, most likely scenario, runs are going to be at a premium, and you just hope that guys can take good at-bats when they have an opportunity to do some damage, runners in scoring position or move a runner or whatever it is. But yeah, being the highest scoring team in the American League the last couple months has been great, but we know tonight we've got to find a way to score enough to win.
Q. Yesterday in here you said you were hopeful that Sano might be able to play --
PAUL MOLITOR: I was.
Q. What went into the decision to shut him down for this series?
PAUL MOLITOR: Well, we've talked about a lot here. I think Miguel did everything he could to try to get himself ready. Yesterday before he went on the field, he went down to the cage, and I knew that Sunday he had -- obviously was dealing with discomfort in trying to play the game, and then yesterday when he tried to take his swings, it was just too prohibitive as far as not being able to use his front leg as a bracing leg, if you will, to try to generate any kind of a bat speed or power, and it was emotional for him because I know he wants to play, but we had to decide, that at least for now, it's not the right thing.
Q. You played in some winner-take-all games with the Brewers, '81, a couple in '82. Tell me about the first one because it was in New York. What do you remember about that atmosphere?
PAUL MOLITOR: Well, it was a long time ago, for any of the older people in here that might remember. But it was the year with the two halves because of the strike. Yankees came to Milwaukee, they won the first two games, it was best out of five. What I remember about that was that we checked into the hotel, checked out, won, checked back in, checked out, won, checked back in, checked out, and then we lost the last game.
But I think that being a younger player, whatever I was, 24, 25, that you didn't really think about a lot. You just kind of went out and played even though your back was against the wall, trusting the veterans are going to kind of lead the way, and I think our young guys kind of feel that, too.
Q. As a former hitter, what advice would you give to your guys about facing a guy like Severino with his type of stuff?
PAUL MOLITOR: Everyone has their own style of hitting. I think that our messaging -- we all understand the caliber of stuff that he can bring to a mound, three plus pitches. You know, I made the comparison just off-the-cuff the other day of Pedro in his prime. If you try to look for all three and hit all three, it's probably not going to work particularly well.
I think you try to own something the best that you can, what your best chance is, and then when you get the two strikes you've got to fight. You know, you hope that you get some hitters' counts and things, which increases your chances of getting certain pitches. But if he's on, he's got all three working, we are going to have our hands full. I mean, that's kind of a given. And we hope that they have their hands full with Ervin, too. But yeah, I think my advice, and James Ralston, our hitting coach, we're going to go up there, we're going to try to be aggressive and try to keep him in the zone, see what's working for him, see if we can eliminate pitches, all that type of stuff.
Q. Was Grossman an easy decision as DH, or did you give any consideration to Vargas?
PAUL MOLITOR: It was pretty easy for me. You know, Vargas is probably a bigger threat to run into one and hit a homer. The game today, I'm going to go with the chance of maybe getting four better at-bats that maybe that one long shot. No disrespect to Kenneth at all, but I'm just trying to find the best fit for all nine guys and have somebody be able to flow up from the top -- bottom to the top.