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10/09/10 11:39 PM ET

Postgame interview with Joe Maddon

Q. Joe, you played better defense, you walked, you got timely hits. Did that look a little more like the Rays to you?

JOE MADDON: You mean, when I was screaming in the dugout about the seventh inning? Yeah. And it all set up by Matt Garza. Pitching the way he it permitted that to happen. Without Garza pitching the way he did, it doesn't happen. That's the way we have been all year, very good starting pitching. Defense and the timely hits shows up. It finally did show up tonight. I am really proud of the way our guys didn't really cave in. A lot of stuff, hit a couple of balls well at 'em. The "at 'em" ball is part of our offense, hopefully it will change from now on. More than anything to be in that kind of game down like we were and to come back against that bullpen like we did is pretty good stuff.

So I am very proud of our guys, I really am.

Q. To follow that up, tell me about the seventh inning in the dugout.

JOE MADDON: Just yelling. I mean, that looks more like us. When we start making plays and better at-bats it looks more like us. We haven't been playing our game, and I have told you guys that. The first two games back at the Trop we did not play as well as we can. And then today, I am not saying we didn't play well in the first part, but we could not get on top. It is like a wrestling match, you have to get on top. Eventually we were able to do that and then hold on with our very good bullpen.

So everybody really picked up. The whole attitude within the dugout, the spirit, everything just came to life. And then again, the one concept we always talk about are the add-on runs. We call them jug runs. To get the three in the ninth inning also to really ease the pressure a bit on Rafael because they had a pretty meaty part of the batting order coming up at that part of the juncture. So a really good team win. More like us.

Q. Joe, he struggled in September, you even sat him for a couple of days. Carlos up tonight, for all we know it could have been his last at-bat as a Ray. Two hits in two innings. Talk about it.

JOE MADDON: He's been working very hard to get it right. He has been out there doing a lot of extra work. He has been grinding all year. And a guy like him, he's the kind of guy that all of a sudden can do those kind of things. I mean, a lot of times you get power hitters that tend to be streaky with their power. And with him you're going to get some strikeouts, some walks and fun results at certain moments, which we did tonight.

So with Carlos I have a lot of faith in him, always have. Here is a guy that truly cares. He definitely is a team player. And beyond his offense it is really difficult when we do take him out of there defensively; we miss him every time. But Carlos has a lot of perseverance in him and it showed up tonight.

Q. Joe, your goal is to win one game, you are hoping to turn around the series. Is there a significance in how did you it tonight against their closer and bullpen?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, you have got a noon game tomorrow and then what we did tonight late against a really good bullpen. I mean, these guys are firm. They match up lefties and righties. They have all kinds of stuff. They have under armors, 97 miles an hour, they have got crafty left-handed veterans, all kind of goodies out there. So when you are able to come back and beat them late, it does something for you.

Again, I would prefer not having to do that again. In other words, get a lead a little bit and hold on to a lead early on and avoid that component of their team. But we have done that a lot this year. If you look at what we have done, we have been a really good late-inning team. That's one of our concepts to play well late in the game in the 7th, 8th, 9th. Anything we normally do a better job and I would like to us do better.

Q. Can you highlight the defensive play, especially Carl Crawford dives and the play Bartlett made at shortstop.

JOE MADDON: Started with Zobrist the bullet that Vladdy hit up the middle, he back-handed, and obviously a huge play when Bart was able to snare the line drive. And everything starts working in your favor and all of a sudden Carl makes the great playing going down left field. It is a contagious thing. It is very contagious where you are missing balls by inches and now all of a sudden you are catching them. The balls that you are hitting are being caught and then all of a sudden they are falling. It's just a crazy game. The momentum game that eventually ended up in our dugout tonight. We need to get mo back in the dugout.

Q. I know you've loved Mikey all year, the way he competed. A couple of up at-bats and a passed ball, talk about his at-bats and how he used that?

JOE MADDON: I've talked about him a lot. And the thing about Mikey is that he always has good at-bats. I mean, I have a hard time recalling his last bad at-bat. He always works a good at-bat. He's never flustered or frustrated by an umpire, he is able to move on to the next pitch. He is able to shut down his swing borderline pitches that are balls. And I was really honestly, we were just chatting in the dugout, wanting to get him up in that moment right there, knowing that he would work a good at-bat. And J.B. drawing a walk, big-time right there. J.B. drawing the walk, that's part of who we are, also. To not make an out right there is huge by J.B., and gets Mikey up there and he gets the knock.

The thing about Jaso, how many balls did he block well? He blocked a lot of balls. You talk about maybe a passed ball but he blocked a lot of pitches well. The nice throw on the steal and the debatable call at second base. And again, how many times do you see a guy that young, that inexperienced demonstrate that kind of calm in those kind of moments? That's what a really -- that is my take away from him. How he's able to maintain his calm demeanor with such a lack of experience.

Q. Joe, were you ever worried at some point that the offense may not come over 2 1/2 games? Is that why you decided to shake things up in the seventh?

JOE MADDON: Of course. We do that, we disappeared in the past a little bit, but then all of a sudden we do what we did tonight, we'll come back. There were different things that needed to be done right there. You know with Matt -- which shake up are you particularly talking about, pitch-hitting for Joyce?

Q. No, your demeanor --

JOE MADDON: The dugout. You know.

Q. Was it desperate I guess?

JOE MADDON: I'm not really the desperate type. I really want us to understand the moment and just stay involved. Stay involved, stay in the moment. Fight. Let's fight. If anything, if we just fight I'm happy. If you don't win that game you and fight and you lose that game, I'm very happy. So I just want us to fight, that's all. We have that in us. We've been kind of dormant a little bit for the last couple of days. Tonight the fight showed up again and that's a good sign.

Q. Along the lines of the fight that you asked for, are you ever just not amazed? Is it an ordinary day when you see the resilience in your club persevering the way it did today?

JOE MADDON: That's who we are, what is it, 96 wins this year? 96 wins just don't happen. 96 wins in our division in this league. That speaks a lot to the group. It's about the group and how they go about their day. And when things do go badly, they don't cave in, they don't give up and that's the part about our group that I really love.

So again, it did not surprise me that we were able to do that tonight in spite of the adversity that was obvious. Our guys are like that.

Q. Joe, it certainly sounds like you feel that the team that you expected to see finally is here. Is there a reason that it came with only a handful of outs left? Can you point to something that may have finally kicked it out?

JOE MADDON: You know, a lot of it had to do with Cliff Lee, a lot of it had to do with a C.J. Wilson. When you really face difficult pitching like that they can make you look bad. And when you don't hit, the malaise that takes over your team, it happens to every team, and we just weren't hitting. So all of a sudden maybe you're not as sharp on defense even though we normally are. And knowing that this is the playoffs and we want to advance to the next round. So you have got all of these weird thoughts going on in your head. Because we were facing very good pitching and they executed well against us. Finally we were able to push that rock in the other direction tonight. And I'd like to believe we're going to come out with that same kind of offensive attitude tomorrow.

But again, what happened in the first two games had a lot to do with the Texas Rangers and how well they played.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Joe.

Postgame interview with Crawford and Pena

Q. Carlos, you had your struggles in September, a lot of us knew that but that could have been your last at bat for the Rays. Talk about how about the last at bats and how big they were.

CARLOS PEÑA: We knew that coming into today, we're facing elimination. And at the same time, we were trying to come out loose and personally I was trying to do the same, just basically living in the present and not thinking too far ahead.

And I think sometimes we have a tendency to try to take on too much and it's just not conducive to success. So kind of get all that stuff off our backs and just come out and be ourselves. Come out and be myself and do the best I can to help the ballclub win. I am just so happy to contribute.

Q. C.C., Joe talked about things being contagious, not just with bats, but the glove as well. Talk about Zobrist and J.B. at short and your catches and how the defense came back tonight.

CARL CRAWFORD: That is the strength of our ballclub, defense. We play defense and that's what we have been doing all year. The bats are struggling, that's the one thing you tell yourself to do, try to play defense every day. And we did a good job of it tonight.

Q. Carlos, how tough is it to block out the fact that you guys are five outs or so away from elimination and you are up there against Oliver? That was difficult to stay in that presence knowing were you so close?

CARLOS PEÑA: It is extremely difficult. Obviously we know we are facing Oliver and he has been outstanding during the regular season and throughout his career. And he has pitched for a long time and he has done an unbelievable job and we all knew that. But it's one of those things that in sports you get to experience those moments where maybe your back is against the wall and everything seems to be going against you, and all the odds are against you and it's just, you know, you make this pause and all of a sudden you are able to focus on the task at hand. And I think the ballclub was able to do that today. And when we do that, stay in the present, that is extremely powerful because obviously your talent can express itself freely and obviously that's exactly what happened today, not only with the guys swinging the bats, but Garza on the mound. I mean, this is what we dreamed of often when we were younger. Here we are he living our dreams. We don't want to ever forget that.

Q. Carlos, in the fourth you just missed the 3 1 pitch. Did that at bat tell you something that you were able to carry into the final at bats the rest of the game?

CARLOS PEÑA: I felt really good on that swing. In fact when I hit it, I thought it might have had a chance and it just hung up there and never really materialized into what I wanted it to be, which was a three run homer. It felt good on that swing and basically told myself stay right there, don't let it discourage you, just keep it coming and believe, and thankfully good things happen.

Q. Carl, when you guys finally started hitting, getting some things to drop in the eighth inning, was there a feeling of relief, finally here we are?

CARL CRAWFORD: It definitely was. We kept telling ourselves to keep running out, keep running out, stay positive. We definitely didn't want that to be our last game. We started hitting and it felt better. And you can tell the guys started putting together better ABs and it happened. And hopefully we can come out and play like that tomorrow.

Q. Carlos, first can you talk about the pitch you hit for the single, the pitch you hit for the homer. And Carl, your thoughts on that, too.

CARL CRAWFORD: I hit a fastball I think 3 2. Right there I fought off a few pitches and was finally able to catch up with them. I thought mine was a fastball.

CARLOS PEÑA: The two pitches I had were fastballs, also. These guys throw hard, you know. And I mean really, really hard, to the point where sometimes it just even fools your eyes. When when you think you are on it, you're late. And they couple it with some pretty good off speed stuff. These guys have a great pitching staff. For us to be able to get some runs across home plate, you know, it means the world to us. It's actually fun when you're able to score a run, support the great pitching performance that we got from Garza today. An all around great ballgame for us and we live to see another day.

Q. Carl, describe your feelings right now in trying to balance a little bit of relief with trying to conjure up that hunger again tomorrow because you're far from out of this?

CARL CRAWFORD: Right now I am just happy we won. I was so nervous hoping that we didn't get swept. That was the main thing, just don't get swept. We got so close, just to get out of that, it feels so much better. I almost feels like it feels like we winning the series right now. So we are definitely going to come and play our style and try to play aggressive tomorrow and try to tie things back up. But we definitely feel good about ourselves right now.

Q. For either of you, whoever wants to answer: You guys had a tough time in '08 closing out the Red Sox. Can you talk about the position the team gets in when they are that one win away from closing out a postseason series? You guys experienced it and you were able to win a couple. Rangers had a chance to close it out, is it a tough spot to be in?

CARL CRAWFORD: I remember that's a real tough spot to be in, it is like it is right there and then you have to do so much, so you kind of have to find a way to relax and still, you know, do things that you normally do without tensing up so much. So, you know, it is like that last game is definitely the hardest game to win because you just want it so bad and you are not doing things you normally do.

THE MODERATOR: Do you have anything to add, Carlos?

CARLOS PEÑA: I think that was very good. (Laughter).

THE MODERATOR: Thank you both very much.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.