October 2007

Strong start

I think we had a great game against C.C. Sabathia. We made him pitch. The biggest thing was that we made him throw strikes and laid off the bad pitches, and for us, we just went out and attacked the pitches we could hit and laid off all the pitches we couldn’t. Guys had great at-bats and had timely hitting. That’s the biggest thing: timely hitting.

Our whole goal was to get him out of the game as quick as we possibly could, but sometimes, it doesn’t work because you’re facing such a great pitcher. Tonight, we were very lucky to work the counts and get the pitch count up, and basically we just battled and had great at-bats. We forced him out of the game, and that was the key to the game for us.

Lowell

Of course, we had Josh going and he pitched another great game. The ball Travis Hafner hit might not have been a home run on some days. He hit it so high and so far that it just caught up in that wind. When the wind is blowing in, that ball is not even close to getting out. Tonight, the ball got out and you have to tip your cap. He’s such a strong guy, that ball went a long way.

But Josh bounced back and threw the ball well. I think the thing that hurt him was the long innings.

David and Manny are on a roll right now. They’re just having great at-bats. They’re seeing the ball real well and making the guys not try to do too much, and that’s the biggest thing with David and Manny — when they’re locked in, they’re not trying to do too much. They do a really good job of seeing the ball and just hitting the ball and getting on base and driving in runs.

As a lineup, we’re starting to get it going. I think when those guys get it going, it makes it easier and more stress-free for the other guys in the lineup. That’s the big thing right now, we’re having all the guys contribute on every level. When you get this team, from one through nine, hitting well, it’s one of the toughest lineups to face.

We need to keep the pressure on in Game 2. We have Schill pitching, and if he throws the ball the way he can, and if we can get to Carmona — our big thing is we want to get Carmona early and get his pitch count up and try to do as much as we can to get him out of the game quick — we’ll be successful.

Bring on the ALCS

I think we’re just really excited to just get this going and finallyplay a game on Friday night. It should be a great ALCS. Two great teams —
the Red Sox and the Indians — two of the best teams in baseball right
now. The winner goes on to the World Series. For us, we’re just
excited to get it going and try to win a ballgame.

The Indians have their two big guys that come out there in Sabathia and
Carmona. They’re going to come at you and try to pitch well, and they
have a good lineup with good young players. They’re a team that is
young and has some veterans on the team to help them out.

They are one of those teams you can’t take for granted. They have a lot
of young talent that is up and coming in the Major Leagues. They aren’t
established names yet. One of the reasons the Indians have had so much
success is because of the guys they’ve brought up through the Minor Leagues.
They’ve done a great job with it.Dice

The Indians have those pitchers in their rotation, but I think we do
also. Not just Beckett and Schilling, but also Dice-K. I think a lot of
people count him out. He was our Game 2 starter in the last round; now he’ll
pitch Game 3. I think we have three and even a fourth with Wake. In
these series, the No. 1 is the big guy, because he’s going to pitch a
lot. For us, we’re trying to jump on C.C. tomorrow, and get a lead and
get him out of the game as quickly as possible. You don’t want guys like
C.C. to stay in the game long. You want to get them out as soon as
possible.

Manny and David were both red-hot in the last round, and it’s harder for the
pitcher when those guys are both hitting and getting on base. Sometimes
when those guys get on base, the pitchers think they can rest, next
thing you know, he leaves the ball over the plate for one of the guys
behind David or Manny and they do a lot of damage. That’s a big key. If
those guys get on base, we have Mike Lowell and J.D. behind them to
drive them in.

I have one playoff series under my belt as an everyday player now and
I’m ready for this one. I think it helps, but I take it as any other
game. I just see it as a game. I don’t put too much pressure on it. I’ll
just go out just like in any other game, and play every pitch and be
ready for every pitch and not take one pitch for granted. Some people say
that’s a flaw of mine — that I get too excited for the whole year. But
these are the times when it pays off. It seems like a normal game.

We’ve had a few days without a game, but we’ve been here at the field
every day. We’ve been facing live pitching and doing the little things
here and there. It’s come quick. The days go quicker and quicker as it
gets near. For us, we’re excited and we just want to get this all
started and come out with a "W" in Game 1.

Guys on the team are excited just to get on the field. There’s so much
media around right now and in the clubhouse that people just want a
game situation to get here, so we can answer questions about something
relevant. I think the questions are getting a little old. The media and
the players don’t get along a lot of the times anyway, so four days is
getting even a little more frenzied than usual around here. I think
it’s a little stir crazy on both sides. For us, we want to get this
game started.

How sweep it is!

It’s a great feeling to sweep the Angels. We played a great game today, swung the bats well, pitched well.

I think the biggest key to any series is to end it, and that was the key today. We came in not wanting to prolong it and just take care of things, and that’s what we did.

This was a phenomenal game for us. Curt Schilling was great. He threw the ball well. He spotted all of his pitches and got out of the jam that one inning, in the third. That was unbelievable. It just shows his heart and his dedication, and how great of a pitcher he is, to go out there and do that today. We’re so proud of his effort.

Schilling2_500_100707 Right after Schilling got out of that jam, Ortiz and Manny hit the back-to-back homers. That’s huge. That’s awesome for them, and they had confidence coming in and that’s what we needed, was those guys having confidence in their hitting. When those two are hitting, it makes our lineup that much better.

I think that we’re starting to click here. We’re pitching well, we’re playing our positions well and we’re hitting well. We’re getting timely hits. That’s a big thing this time of year — getting timely hits and playing great defense. But I always say that it comes down to our pitching. As long as our pitching is going good, this team is going to come out on top.

Now we’re going on to the ALCS against the Indians or Yankees, and we’re real excited. That’s one step away from the World Series. We just have to be focused and have to be ready to play Game 1. We have to be ready to win, whoever we play. We have a little rest here this week, but we just have to stay in game mode and be ready once we start again on Friday.

We’re just going to enjoy what we have right now with this victory and go home and prepare tomorrow. We can’t worry about anything yet, because today we just have to enjoy and celebrate. Tomorrow, we’ll wake up and be ready to get focused on practicing for the next series.

Well, it’s time for another long flight. Once we find out who we’re playing in the next round, I’ll be back on the blog to look at that matchup.

Manny walks off a hero

It was unbelievable once the ball left Manny’s bat. We all knew it was gone, but just for him to put that great of a swing on the ball was unreal. That’s why Manny is so unbelievable. That’s Manny right there.

I don’t think too many people can hit a ball as far as Manny hit that
ball. I don’t know where exactly it landed, we’re all guessing it might
have hit a car on the Mass. Pike.

Manny_500_100507_6

The game was long, definitely longer than the first one, but we were excited and having the home-field advantage is the big thing, and we protected. To win this game and to go to Anaheim with a 2-0 lead is huge for us.

I think all of us, now, we just want to win. We know with one game, we can end this quick if we go out there and play well and win that ballgame out there on Sunday. We want to win the first game in Anaheim. We don’t want to play another game. For us, we’re just going to go out there and play our game, and hopefully we can wrap up the series as soon as possible.

It’s great to have Curt Schilling out there for Game 3. Schill is going to be prepared and he’s the most prepared pitcher we have when it comes to knowing what he wants to throw in certain situations. We’re excited to have him out there. If he goes out there and pitches six strong innings, we’re going to hopefully give him some run support and get a "W."

When you have a six-hour flight, like we do tonight going to Anaheim, it’s huge just to have that advantage of having a "W" and not having to go out there with a loss. The flight will be a lot more fun. When you’re winning, you get an enjoyable rest on the plane. When you lose, it’s a long flight with a lot of people sleeping and not in a good mood.

Anyway, I have to catch the bus to the airport, so I’ll have to wrap this up now. I’ll talk to you all again after Game 3.

Something Ill never forget

4lm9kkcsTo hit a home run in my first at-bat of my first playoff start was definitely a huge adrenaline rush. I was worried it was going to hit off the wall, so I started sprinting around first base and then I saw it go out. For me, it was just an unbelievable feeling. It’s something I’ll always remember for the rest of my life. For my first hit in the playoffs to be a home run is an unbelievable thing.

Just to get ahead in the ballgame was the biggest thing, knowing that we got a run for Josh Beckett. Lo and behold, it wound up being enough to win the game, although we did end up winning, 4-0.

To be honest, the day leading up to the game felt like a normal day. I did everything like I normally do. I tried to take a nap for like 20 minutes or so at home. I was on the same schedule and I didn’t feel really that nervous.

Once the game started and all the craziness, I felt a little bit of nerves, but for the most part, I felt pretty calm. For me, it caught me off-guard. Usually, I get so amped up. I felt pretty calm and just played it like a normal game, and it’s probably just due to the postseasons I’ve watched for so many years, especially when I was on our bench in 2004 and 2005. I think that helped out a lot.

As far as the home run I hit, it was on a 2-1 fastball. I was just trying to put a good swing on it and not try to do too much, and that’s when you hit the ball the best sometimes, when you try no to do too much and just try to hit the ball solid. I got a good part of the wood on it and it traveled over the fence. It’s not easy hitting them out to left-center sometimes. It was just great — a great feeling overall.

It was a good way to start, but I told myself, "Hey, don’t try to do too much. Stay with your approach and get on top of the ball." Sometimes when you hit a home run in your first at-bat, you think you can hit a home run every time. So for me, I just need to stay on top of the ball, and my next at-bat, I got a curveball that was over the plate and I put a good swing on it and I got a double.

The big story tonight was Josh. It was unbelievable just to watch him out there. You never knew when we were going to take him out or if we wouldn’t. And we didn’t. It just shows you how great Josh is, and for me, it doesn’t surprise me any time he pitches like that.

Someone asked me, "Do you think he can throw a no-hitter?" I was like, "Yeah, there’s a good chance he might be able to."  It’s unbelievable how good he is. You just have to tip your cap to what a great game he pitched. We’re excited to have him. Hopefully we don’t have to see him again this series.

But we’re not going to get too high over this one win. For us, it’s just a matter of enjoying it, but also waking up tomorrow and saying, "Hey, we have work to do and we still have a bunch more games to play."

We have Game 2 Friday night; we have to be ready for that. That’s a big game for us. If we win that game, it sets us up for just having to win one out of three games. For us, coming out in Game 2 and trying not to look past that is the biggest thing for us.

We’ll be facing Kelvim Escobar. He’s a great pitcher — you just have to lay off some of his splitties and make him work. I think for us, the key is trying to make him work and get good pitches that are in our zone and take advantage of some mistakes. If he can make mistakes, that’s the key to getting to Escobar.

Dice-K Matsuzaka gets the ball for us. We have confidence in Dice-K and all of our pitchers every time they go out. For us, we’re just excited to have our pitchers go out there and pitch. If our pitchers pitch well, we’ll go a long way. We’ll throw any of our guys out there.

That’s all for tonight. Talk to you all again after Game 2.

Excitement for the playoffs!

I’ve been in the playoffs twice before — when we won the World Series in 2004 and when we lost in the first round the following season. But this is my first time as an everyday player and it’s exciting. It’s a lot of fun going into the playoffs as a starter, and knowing you’re one of the guys who will be relied on heavily.

It’s come full circle now. I got to sit back and watch it. Now it’s time to actually go out there and play. I’m truly excited to just go out there and play and have fun out there, and try to win Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Wednesday night.

To me, I think going through it and just watching it a couple of times will help me in the fact that I won’t be as nervous for my first playoff game. Now I just look at it as, I’m playing and it’s just another game. I think when you play every day, you just get used to the grind of playing every day and just going out there and playing.Fenway500

It’s going to be exciting. I think when game time hits, I’ll definitely be nervous. Every player out there, everyone is going to be nervous. But I get nervous before every game and I get excited to play. There’s always nerves kicking around. It should be fun — a lot of fun.

When I watched the playoffs the other years we were in it, you just learn that every pitch, every at-bat, every play in the field is a big deal. You have to go out there, and whatever has happened in the past, you have to let it go and move on. You can’t do anything about what happened before. You have to play for the moment. For me, I learned a lot about that. It’s all about winning and doing whatever you have to do to get the job done — moving runners over, driving runners in and making smart decisions on the field and on the basepaths.

The Angels are a great team. We can’t take anything lightly in the postseason. The playoffs is when you throw all the stuff out that has occurred in years past and this year, and it doesn’t matter anymore. Anyone can win any day. The fact is, you have to play for each game. You can’t look to the next game or the next pitcher. You have to focus on every pitch and every at-bat that you get.

They’ve got a lot of good pitching. They have good team speed. They play the game pretty well, they know how to run the bases well and they make you make errant throws. I think the biggest thing is trying to slow them down. We need to try to make the game kind of speed up on them a little bit. Not in the sense of running, but just try to speed it up in the fact that they can’t have those opportunities to run.Fenway275

The key to this series, as with any series, will be pitching. You win championships with pitching. You saw last year with Detroit: it pitched great through the playoffs, but then its pitchers made a lot of errors in the World Series. The Tigers didn’t field the ball well, and that’s what lost them the World Series. Pitching is the key. Your pitchers have to go out there and they have to throw well. Offensively, you have to score runs, but if your pitcher holds them down, that’s the key to winning.

As for me, I was able to get back out there the last week of the season after my wrist injury. I feel good. Once you get your adrenaline going, the pain kind of goes away. For me, I’m not going to think about anything. I’ll just hopefully be full of adrenaline and a lot of excitement.

Obviously, we like starting playoffs with Josh Beckett on the mound. We all feel that he’s deserving of the AL Cy Young Award this year. We’re confident. We feel he’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. He’s been in the postseason before — an MVP of the 2003 World Series for the Marlins — and so we’re excited to have him on the mound. Hopefully, he’ll go out and pitch a great game.

I’ll be back for another post after Game 1, and I’ll be blogging after each playoff game, so keep coming by!

Talk to you later,

Youk