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Oct. 9 John Gibbons pregame interview

October 9, 2016

Q. Can you give us an update on Devon and Francisco as well, and whether you think Francisco will be able to stay and watch the game, be with the team?JOHN GIBBONS: Well, Devon, Devon's feeling better today, not good enough to start the game. It's one of those deals,

Q. Can you give us an update on Devon and Francisco as well, and whether you think Francisco will be able to stay and watch the game, be with the team?

JOHN GIBBONS: Well, Devon, Devon's feeling better today, not good enough to start the game. It's one of those deals, I'm not sure if there's a time where you could actually flip somebody, but we need him to be able to come off the bench in emergency-type situation, possibly.

And if he's unable to do that, the thinking is we may end up having to flip him out with Goins because we were short-handed to begin with. Right now he does feel better. Hopefully we can get him through the day and things are fine. Otherwise, if we're fortunate enough to advance, you would end up losing him.

But that's the predicament we're in. As far as Liriano, he felt better, came home. Today he wasn't feel particularly great today so he went home today. But the rule says we put him on that seven-day DL yesterday. Of course if we do advance he would be eligible to come off in a week, which would be next Saturday.

So that's the plan there. And the way they structure everything now the protocol, he's got to run through a series of tests. So he wouldn't have been eligible really until Wednesday anyway.

So we didn't think we could be shorthanded. So that's the reason for that move.

Q. What's the thought process now on Travis then will you decide at the end of today or how do you go about that?

JOHN GIBBONS: I'll get with the trainers here when I leave this room and find out and make definitely sure if we need him tonight he would be available. That kind of thing. So I'll have a little bit better idea perhaps in the next half hour.

Q. Last year you talked about in Game 3, when you brought David Price in early, you talked about the best chance to win a game is to never let the team even have a pulse to get back in the game. Do you feel sort of the same way about the series as a whole when you're coming home up 2-0 like this?

JOHN GIBBONS: We know how good the Rangers are. It's obvious, best record in the American League. That's a pretty good feat there. So you won't see David Price today if that's what you mean.

But we think we've got the right guy on the mound and we'll let the game dictate how we do things. Is that what you're talking about?

Q. Like if you wanted to try to take them down now given, like your breathing room for the first time in a long time. But your previous way you run games suggest that you don't care about that breathing room you just want to put it away if you can.

JOHN GIBBONS: I think that way. But we don't have another starter to come in early. That kind of thing. So our bullpen, and the way it sets up that will dictate some of it, too. You really hope Sanchez is good tonight and that will determine a lot as well, so...

Q. The bats got a lot of attention the first two games, but you guys were also really good defensively. I'm wondering if you think that since it's not really part of your identity being good defensive team necessarily, do you think you're underrated in that regard on a national scale, I guess?

JOHN GIBBONS: I don't know if I agree with that. I think really we have a pretty good defensive team. We were all year. We had a couple of rough patches, but that's baseball.

But when you look around the field, there's pretty good defenders there. So, yeah, maybe that doesn't get a lot of attention. But I think we're better than that.

Q. Not that you would need him, but have you thought -- I'm sure you've thought of, when might you settle on who is going to start tomorrow if necessary?

JOHN GIBBONS: Stroman will pitch tomorrow.

Q. And when would you have told him that and how do you tell him that?

JOHN GIBBONS: Well, I don't know if we've even announced that. Did we announce our first four? That's our top four guys right there. So kind of a no-brainer type thing. He's been so good anyway. Hopefully we don't need him. But we always look forward to him pitching.

Q. You guys got so much from your rotation this year. Number one in innings in the Majors, number one in ERA in the American League. When you got to Spring Training did you know this rotation was going to be as good as it's turned out to be?

JOHN GIBBONS: No, to be honest with you. You know, we knew we were getting Estrada back. We re-signed him. He was unbelievable last year for us really. So we just are really hoping, I'm speaking for myself, hoping that he could equal that. But he was so good you didn't know for sure.

We knew Happ. I didn't necessarily expect him to go out and win 20 games and pitch as well as he did. That's so hard to do in the American League. We knew where Dickey was. Every year he gives you a lot of innings, gets double figures, that kind of thing. Stro, we felt we would have him on a full year missed most of the last year and pitched at the end, pitched big for us at the end. We figured he's going to be really good.

And Sanchez, you know, we didn't know what to expect. He started with us last year, had his struggles early and he was getting better and better before he had his injury. But the big question was: Is he even going to be in the rotation?

So we liked our guys to expect them necessarily to lead the league in ERA and things like that. And I don't think we ever focused on that, on any group, because that's so hard to do. But I think, really, in the baseball world -- I don't think anybody looked at that as our strength. And really they've been -- they've answered the bell and come through for us all year, even in some lean times.

Q. Going along with that, the question earlier about the defense, how much has the defense helped them, turning the batted balls into outs and letting them go deeper in games than other teams?

JOHN GIBBONS: It's been huge. You look at our staff, Stroman gets a lot of ground balls, one of the top in baseball. That's what Sanchez is, a sinkerball. Happ's turned into a ground ball guy, where he never was in the past. Estrada's an extreme fly ball guy. And Dickey could go either way.

But without a good infield, they're not having the, good defense period, they're not having the years they're having. That makes a huge difference. Sometimes it gets overlooked when you have really good staffs. But sometimes it's just not good enough for the Big Leagues to make the routine play. Sometimes you've got to take away hits and we've done that a number of times.

Q. Osuna has had extended innings for you in the last weeks pitched well is that an option for you tonight or would you prefer to keep him to three outs?

JOHN GIBBONS: Ideally, yeah, simply what happened to him last week and even before he had to come out of the game, threw a lot in Boston that final weekend. So really our whole bullpen the final month playing so many close games. We weren't scoring a whole heck of a lot. And I mean in games you had to win. So those guys, they were getting used quite a bit.

Really at the end of the year not many off days to let them catch their breath. So I don't think -- you can't go two-inning saves from here on out every night, it would be an injustice to the kid.

But there may be a time he's gotta do a little bit of that, so...

Q. When you look the way you've produced down in Texas, and even the Wild Card game here, do you feel like your guys have finally just caught their breath after, like you mentioned just, such a grind down the stretch that even though this is supposed to be sort of the most pressure-packed time of the year, they've kind of been through the worst of it in a way and they can just play their game?

JOHN GIBBONS: Yeah, maybe. We turned the page on September. It wasn't necessarily a good month for us but now we're in October. So that's sometimes the way the game works too, month-to-month.

But we've got a good hitting club. We definitely cooled off in September. That's for sure, especially early on. But we managed to win some big games we had to with some big hits maybe not necessarily a lot of hits but some key ones and that's usually what wins you games but it's a veteran group out there. Most of them have been through it before so they know what it's like, and they can lock in at the right times.

Q. Wondering if you can talk a bit about Carrera. Seems like you trust him a little more now. He had a good September, and he might not give you the power that a Saunders, Upton does, but seems like he does a lot of little things well?

JOHN GIBBONS: Z's been huge for this team. Look back, he was our fourth outfielder last year and great at that role. This year, the same thing.

When you look back, when Bautista went down twice, first was a toe injury, he stepped in. It was really kind of a spark plug for us. And then when he hurt his knee later in the season, when, oh, Z came back, Z went back to the bench. Then when he got hurt again with his knee, he stepped in and continues to do a great job. And towards the end we started playing him a little more and basically took over the job.

He's been on a nice little roll and he's being rewarded for it. He's been an ideal extra outfielder for us. He's one of those guys -- not everybody can come off the bench and do well after sitting for a week or so. But he's one of those guys that can.

He's a good outfielder. He's got pretty good speed. So he can do some things on the bases for you and gives you a good at-bat. And yeah, shoot, he earned a spot right here and he's really been a key guy down the stretch here.