09/30/11 9:49 PM ET
Postgame interview with Joe Maddon
By / MLB.com
THE MODERATOR: All right, we have Joe Maddon here.
Q. For a hard decision, Matt Moore made you look pretty smart. Talk about his composure out there against this lineup?
JOE MADDON: He was outstanding. Even from the first inning, you can see where Kinsler was not comfortable with him in the first at bat, and I really took that as a good sign. The fact that he was throwing strikes really made all the difference in the world.
I know that's a stupid statement, but pounding the strike zone right there with all of his pitches gave him and me and us a lot more confidence in the moment.
He's got that kind of composure. You saw the composure all night. You saw that a couple of 2 0 counts, boom, comes back with the strike, able to throw his other pitches when I was behind in the count. For a strike or getting a chase on some 1 0, 2 0 counts kind of thing.
You can't be more impressed. What he did tonight was spectacular. What, seven innings, 97, 98 pitches, two hits. Great night.
And also I want it to be made very clear: I was no genius with that. That was a group decision among our scouts and our people. We had a great discussion yesterday regarding who we should start tonight and why, and the consensus was to start him.
So, believe me, I am not that smart. I had to get a lot of opinions on this one.
Q. First of all, congratulations on the win. But the momentum you guys brought from Tampa and winning there, it carried over. And also this Rangers team had a hot bat. You were able to cool them down today.
JOE MADDON: Yeah, we needed that kind of pitching performance to do what we did do today, and tomorrow we have Shields coming back.
We have nothing but the utmost respect for the Rangers, what they did the last couple of years and what they did to us last year in the postseason. I love Wash. Wash is a great guy. And you can see their team is a bunch of real professionals over there. They play the game properly every night, and that's why they are such an incredible opponent.
We did what we had to do tonight. We have been playing well, too. But we got the kind of pitching performance that we needed tonight from our starter, and he was outstanding.
Q. Joe, can you put into words how difficult this is to ask of a 22 year old to go against the Rangers lineup and have that kind of performance?
JOE MADDON: In this ballpark, let's include that, also. You really have to have a lot of faith in the make up. I mean, a lot of times you'll see young pitchers come up with this great stuff. You'll see 95, 97, 98. That's wonderful. You'll see a decent curveball. That's great. Or a change up.
But you have to be able to handle the moment. You have to have the right pulse or the right heartbeat. He does. He just does. I mean, I don't know him for a long time. I have had different conversations with him. He looks you right in the eye. His answers are straightforward. He already shows that he's very accountable, and that's a big part of what we do here. We need accountability to be good.
I see all of those qualities. And this is like I know this guy from one handshake in the parking lot at Port Charlotte, and then you listen to our scouts and our Minor League people talk about him, and as advertised.
Q. Does it make you rethink what you might do with him the rest of the season?
JOE MADDON: Well, of course we'd like to utilize him at some point if necessary. That was 97 pitches on a Friday. We will see how it all plays out as we move forward.
The other point about it is when you have a young man with this kind of ability, you don't take unnecessary risks or chances with him as you move forward.
I feel that as an organization; I feel that for him personally. I mean, I really try to be aware of the personal welfare of the player and his future, family, whatever.
So all of those things are considered in making these kind of decisions, but 97 pitches wasn't so bad. And he wasn't really challenged a lot, so that was a good 97.
Q. The other side of the coin, talk about the offense, the bats. Kelly Shoppach hit the two home runs, Johnny Damon, the veteran, led off with a home run. It seems like he sparked it on the offensive side.
JOE MADDON: Before I talk about Shop, because that was outstanding, I'll talk about Johnny. Johnny's home run was big, but I loved even more beating out those two ground balls. How about that. In today's game it is not often I see a 37 year old Hall of Famer running down the line like that.
Those two plays, which most guys would put in their back pocket, they think they're going to be out, but he did not. And one led was in front of Shoppach's home run and the other one right there scored a run. I don't care what the score was.
That's what we have to be about as the Rays, and Johnny right there showed the guys on the bench today, as well as all of our Minor League players that were watching, and I really believe in that stuff. So beyond Johnny's home run, I loved him running to first base like he did.
Shop, on the other hand, he has been swinging the bat a lot better more recently. How about it. Two homers. He just looks a lot more comfortable at the plate. And historically he's done well against left handed pitchers, and furthermore he caught a really good game with a rookie pitcher.
So all of those things are pertinent, but I really can't overstate what Johnny did tonight. Not the homer, but running hard to first base twice.
Q. Joe, do we overrate experience?
JOE MADDON: No, I don't think so. I honestly don't. Experience matters a lot. We have we have a lot of young, kind of experienced guys on this team. You look at Longo, he has been through a couple of playoffs. B.J. has. Zobrist has now. Matt Joyce was involved last year.
So we have some experience in that regard, but it's hard to do what we're doing at this point of the season with the lack of experience that we have. However, we do throw people into the fire, and I think that we're our coaching staff does a great job of instilling confidence in our guys. And to the point where, yeah, we look experience, but they know they're supported and they know they're going to get a chance to play.
So in some way I think we're always trying to accelerate learning curves around here or maybe trying to accelerate the experience curve also. That's part of what we do. A lot of this, what you are seeing with those players, again, our coaching staff's not talked about enough. Our guys do a great job of getting our guys prepared nightly. So you see what Matt Moore does. That goes to scouting and development, then it comes to us.
I don't want any credit for Matt Moore whatsoever. That is great scouting. That is great development. And then he shows up and pitches that game tonight.
So I think we do it right. And, again, it's a cumulative effort that starts with scouting and eventually goes to development and then the finished product. Not always the finished product arrives here; we have to do more work here, too.
THE MODERATOR: I think we have everything. Thank you, Joe.
JOE MADDON: Thank you.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
Postgame interview With Matt Moore and Kelly Shoppach
Q. Hey, guys. Matt, can you talk about your emotions from the time Joe talked to you about starting and then today walking out on the mound against this club in this park?
MATT MOORE: Yeah, I think -- I don't know if it was a plan or what. They didn't give me a whole lot of time to get nervous and to think about it a lot. I think it was about 6:30 last night when he let me know that I was going to get the start. So at that point it was just a matter of getting to sleep and getting some good rest.
Q. You guys study these players for the Rangers. And you had Hamilton up, Beltre, what was in your mind that you had to make the right pitches to those guys?
MATT MOORE: I never faced this lineup before and I was really -- I had to trust what Shop was putting down. And I know he studied these guys a lot before and he played against them a lot. So really whatever he was rolling with I was rolling with, too.
Q. Kelly, what was different about C.J. tonight? What was different perhaps in everyone's approach to C.J. tonight given the history against him, why it worked so well?
KELLY SHOPPACH: I really think Johnny's home run in the second gave all of us a little fresh air. Took some of the intensity, the pressure that we were putting on ourselves early. I don't know if Matt will admit it, but I know for a fact when you get an early lead it helps. It helps a lot. Especially for a guy on a big stage.
So Johnny hitting that home run early kind of gave us all a chance to just breathe. But he was falling behind hitters, and the ball Johnny hit I think was a 3-1 count. So when any pitcher, no matter who it is, is falling behind hitters and they get a chance to get a better chance at getting a fastball to hit, you get a chance to do some damage, and Johnny helped us out big there.
Q. Kelly, can you talk about how special this moment was for you being from here and taking the bull by the reins, so to speak?
KELLY SHOPPACH: Well, crazy. I have historically never played great here, but I think it is such a neat deal for all the people who helped me along the way, to have a chance to see me play in this atmosphere.
You know, we came in here last year and I didn't play in either game, so I know I had a lot of family and friends here that were spread out. I got texts all day that were spread out all throughout the stadium, with their Rangers gear on, I'm sure, but rooting for me silently.
It is nice to come back and play for these people who helped me get to this point. And what a day. What a way to honor those people.
Q. Kelly, how much did you feel like you two were on the same page? And how often, if at all, did he shake you off?
KELLY SHOPPACH: He shook off a few times. That was very impressive. A lot of times with a young pitcher that doesn't happen. They put almost all of their faith in the catcher, which I think that I put in enough time, and, like he said earlier, effort to know that he knows that I will try to put him in a good situation to succeed, which is ultimately what I am doing every time I call a pitch.
It is one of those days where this guy is pretty good. And I think it was about the fifth inning and I said, Well, I'll figure it out what you want to do. But at that point we had a big lead and we were very relaxed.
And he was amazing the way he pounded the zone. That was really impressive for a guy on a stage like that. It was a great building block for him and a great win for us to start.
Q. Kelly, obviously you had a little bit of a rough season at the plate, but it seemed you got it going the last week and obviously now today. Talk about your confidence level and where it's at.
KELLY SHOPPACH: I mean, any time you play well, you feel confident. But I'm not going to change what I have been thinking all along. Sometimes they throw it where I'm swinging, and when they do that, I have a chance to get some hits.
Q. Kelly, you've caught a lot of pitchers over your career. Can you talk about how impressive it is for a 22-year-old kid to walk into the ALDS against this lineup and this park and pitch the way he pitched?
KELLY SHOPPACH: No. You really can't. I mean, I don't know that he's old enough to even understand how well these guys hit at this park. Which can be good. It could have played in his favor. We got here so fast.
You know, three weeks ago we had no chance of making the playoffs, and a rain delay and some timely hitting on the last game of the season, and here we are. We don't have time to feel any pressure. It's time to play. And he commented on it earlier about 6:30 getting the nod for Game 1.
But this is definitely lineup that is feared. There is no doubt about it. Especially in this ballpark. They are very confident here and for him to come out and get ahead, I thought it was in their game plan early. I could see that they were going to try to make him get in the zone. A lot of times the young pitcher, especially a young pitcher with great stuff, has a tendency to fall behind and has to rely solely on his fastball. But they took -- I believe the first five hitters may taken first pitch.
I felt like he was able to pound the strike zone, and it's pretty impressive to see what he would do. I hope that he can learn from some of the mistakes that were made and can continue to grow because, as it looks like, we are going to need him here in the future.
Q. Matt, Joe said -- or you said that he told you sometime around 6:30 last night you would be starting. Did he give you any idea before that that you might be in the running, or did you have any suspicion that you might be in the running to start Game 1?
MATT MOORE: You know, not really. We hadn't talked about it a lot. It was one of those situations. I figured I wasn't pitching. I didn't throw in the Yankees series. And, you know, I think maybe if we had to play the 163, I think that was kind of the plan from the get-go. And then wound up not getting to pitch, and kind of the opportunity fell in my hands and I am very grateful for it.
Q. Matt, did anything surprise you about tonight? Were you more calm than you thought you would be? Any expectations that were different than what you thought?
MATT MOORE: Well, the thing is, my last start was at Yankee Stadium, and these guys put up two touchdowns by the fifth inning. And, you know, here we are again after I think the fourth or fifth and we had 8. And as a pitcher you see that many runs, your job is to get your team in the dugout as quick as possible. And the fastest way to do that is pound the zone, like he was saying.
And, you know, we didn't shake off a whole lot, so that sped up the game. And some great plays behind us, so.
Q. Matt, Kelly just mentioned, kiddingly, I know, but I'm not sure you are old enough to understand how good the lineup is in this park. Did you have a sense how good this team is in the lineup and did that affect how you approached their lineup?
MATT MOORE: Absolutely. I know everybody's name in that lineup. I never faced them before, just kind of one of those things I didn't want to be out of it before I was in it.
Having said that, I was going to take it, just take it like any other start. I tried to be as normal, as normal and as calm as possible. And it was just a matter of getting comfortable, and there on it was throwing strikes.
Q. Kelly, you only had a few weeks to get to know Matt, what works for him, what he throws. What has that process been like, going through that in such a short period of time?
KELLY SHOPPACH: I didn't know if it was the curveball or a slider until we went through warm-ups in the bullpen before the game.
He hasn't pitched much. Actually, I knew nothing about him. I saw him throw from the side. I actually went upstairs and watched on TV to try to get a feel when he was throwing Yankee Stadium, trying to get a feel for what he was trying to do to hitters.
When a guy can command all of his pitches, it makes it easier for me to pick one to call. And he was able to execute everything today. So learning him is a growing process. Like I said, in the fifth inning he shook a few times and actually had to step off the mound because I really wasn't sure what he was thinking. And he came back and he knew what he wanted to do and he executed the pitch and got a strikeout on it.
So I went back in then and said, Okay, I will figure out when you want to use this pitch and where. And a lot of credit to him. He was very relaxed. We joked in the bullpen. Some guy was quacking like a duck, and we couldn't figure that out. But he laughed at that.
And, you know, definitely his emotions were good. He was in the right place, and I think he understood, too, that he had to relax and do the things, the mechanisms that you have to do that.
So very impressed. I don't want to talk too good about him. I am going to need him to be focused and go out there again and get it done.
Q. Matt, flip that around. How difficult is it for a pitcher now yet a new catcher. These are things we see in Spring Training, this trust and relationship develop, and you have done this in a couple of weeks.
MATT MOORE: You know, this is a different level I have never been to. And everybody here is really good. Shop's receiving and defense back there, it was really just a matter of getting on the same page with pitch selection, what we wanted to do and a game plan.
You know, the visual target down there obviously was outstanding, and it was really just a game plan we had to figure out, because everything else was set up the way it needed to be.
Q. Matt, can you remember what you were doing last October at this time? Were you watching the Rays on television when they were playing the Rangers?
MATT MOORE: Yeah, I was watching these post-game interviews. And I was watching them play here in Texas, you know. I am glad we got off to a good start, and we have two more to go.
Q. Shop, when they called up Matt a few weeks ago and you saw him for the first time walking across the clubhouse, how old would you have thought he was?
KELLY SHOPPACH: (Laughing) actually the nameplate said Matt Moore. And I said who is Matt Moore? I thought we had an Adam Moore in our system. Nobody will forget his name now. That's a huge stage. But we have been hearing about him for years. I was just confused on his name. We have been hearing about him for years.
And, you know, what he was able to do in the Minor Leagues, and we all saw the Futures Game, and there is a lot of excitement for him to be here. We actually said the first of September: Why isn't he here yet? We could use him.
But he's handled himself well. He is a humble kid. And I believe the first day that he showed up in Baltimore he went in the clubhouse during batting practice and brought bottles of water out for everybody, you know.
So he understands that he has to put some work in. And it is a good way, a good start to get your foot in the door. Like I said, this is a huge stage. Very impressed by the way he handled himself. You know, the stuff speaks for itself. But you come out here and you're ready and you are a man and you step up to the plate and perform, you gain a lot of respect from other players.
Q. Did any Ranger as they come to the plate say anything to you, like who is this guy or where has this guy been all year?
KELLY SHOPPACH: No, there's a good group of guys over there. They are always very talkative. We always have good conversations when they come to the plate.
But I think they were really focused on trying to get a feel for what he was trying to do. He mixed his pitches well. Was able to throw them all for strikes. When you haven't seen a guy ever and they have that kind of stuff, it's a challenge.
So I know that they were very focused on what they were trying to do up there. And I thought that was kind of the chess match that we had to do, figure out a way to keep him off balance.
Q. We have been talking about how you handled Matt and everything behind the plate, but offensively you hit two home runs, two key home runs. Talk about what you were looking for and how you were successful in knocking it out.
KELLY SHOPPACH: If you had held it to your word, we would have went two more questions. I have been deflecting that the whole time.
I don't know. You know, I have gotten to play a lot here recently. That helps. That helps a lot when you see pitches. And you don't know if you're going to play the next day, so it helps to get out there and see a few and you feel more relaxed at the plate.
Like I said, Johnny's home run right in front of us, that was a huge relief for all of our offense. You know, what we do offensively is different than most people. I mean, we don't have a bunch of boppers out there. We have a little bit of speed and athleticism.
So Johnny hitting that home run helped people relax, and we took advantage of C.J. falling behind a few times and got some up-count hits.
So, like I said, he threw a couple of balls where I was swinging and, you know, they went out. So I don't know. As they came to the plate, and said, you know, what do you swing at. I don't know.
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