Cards NLCS G5 Interviews – Dunc's/TLR/Weaver

St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Weaver, Chris Duncan plus manager Tony La Russa spoke after the Cardinals' Game Five NLCS win. Pitching coach Dave Duncan spoke from Busch Stadium on Tuesday just prior to Game Five.

Tony La Russa – Post-Game

Would you say Jeff Weaver was huge tonight?

Especially you think about that first inning, guy gets on, he's got to get Delgado and Wright out. That was one of the real keys to the game. He pitched so well. To repeat that after what he did in Game 1 after they had already seen him.

The biggest key to our win was the way he pitched.

Could you talk about the trio of guys that have made such a big contribution, Kinney and Duncan, well, those two guys in particular, but also what you think those guys have contributed? And Preston Wilson, also, there's another one, didn't start the season with you but contributed so much.

I gave Walt credit, he made the move for Belliard, got a base hit today, important hit, and Preston. You look at those guys come up in the Minor Leagues, they do a good job in the Minor Leagues to prepare these guys for the big leagues.

Kinney, got his feet wet, he's been okay, came back, he's been nails. Chris is so much fun to watch get better and better and better; right-hander, left-hander, I mean he's got no fear. Randy Flores got a huge out for us. Adam Wainwright, he's got so much composure in the toughest situations, so we've gotten a tremendous lift from those guys.

I realize you have to get to four to win the series, but knowing that the next two games are in New York, how critical was it to get this one, and not having to go to New York and win both?

Well, you know, we're playing at home. We got an edge. So we hope the edge would give us a series edge. I mean, what you do is you just play it. We played it, and if we'd have lost, we'd have been ready for two, and now we may be ready for two as well. But that's a very tough environment to play well, but our club responds to something like that and I know the Mets will respond, so it should be another game like today.

How impressive was Jeff Weaver in the sixth inning getting Wright and then the three left-handed hitters after that?

When you replay that game, and you see the outs that he got, and also, the innings against a club like that, he doesn't have an easy inning where he can just flip it up there. I mean, the more you think about what he did, the more credit he deserves, the more impressive he was. I talk about the first inning because, you know, they can pitch behind, put a crooked number there and you're going against Glavine. He did it the whole time he was out there and the sixth was a great example. They really set up, by him being able to finish the last three innings, our bullpen gave us a better chance.

What does it do for the entire club to have the bullpen come out after a rough game a game ago and come out and perform so well? What does it do for the attitude of the whole team?

Well, everybody's realistic. Guy gets a base hit with the bases loaded, strikes out the next time. This is a tough game. Nobody is automatic. Nobody does it 100% of the time. We've got real good depth and a lot of different weapons in our bullpen and once in a while, you give the other side credit. That's what we did a couple of nights ago, we tipped our caps to the Mets. A lot of confidence in the guys we have out there.

How big was that out by Shawn Green in that sixth inning?

That's an example of why -- we trust that coaches and managers have been watching, I think he's been a Gold Glover this year, he's played defensively so well and in a lot of clutch moments. That's a good example, big play for us.

You said before the game that Albert Pujols could still hit a line drive out of the ballpark, he made you a prophet today. How important was that home run?

We all had visions of getting shut out again by Mr. Glavine. He was working us over. You know, Albert just got enough of it, and you get something going -- I actually think, and I know Albert and right now, Glavine is as effective as he's ever been. He's doing more things to get hitters out.

You know, we were sitting on zero and that got us going and really perked us up. Give Albert a lot of credit and then the guys who came behind to tie it.

Jeff Weaver and Chris Duncan – Post-Game

Jeff, can you just talk a little about how well you contained not only the Mets but Carlos and Carlos in particular, Delgado and Beltrán?

JEFF WEAVER: Well, I think one advantage of playing a team in a long series like this is the opportunity to pitch twice. You get a pretty good read off of their approach last time. You know, you can go and do your homework and even have a better game plan than the first time. So I knew what they had hit before. And more than anything, just try to get ahead of them. Once you do that, you can make pitches in zones that you feel you can get them out with, and they are going to have to be aggressive at it and try to put it in play.

So you know, we had talked prior to the game once again, and just, you know, Molina and myself and Duncan and the rest of the catchers just really had a good game plan. When you have that, it's just a matter of execution and for the most part, it went well.

Jeff, what kind of confidence did it give you that Tony stayed with you in the sixth with Wright and then three left-handed hitters after that?

JEFF WEAVER: Well, I think a lot of that has to do with just, you know, what you have done prior. I think that he knew that I was out there and making some quality pitches. You know, I think it's just huge just to get one more inning, especially in the sixth, that's pretty much the bridge inning to get to the role guys in the bullpen, to make things happen and allow them to be comfortable and come in situations that they are used to.

So, you know, just to get through that inning, especially after we had scored to put a zero up was I think what a lot of us were looking for to keep the momentum on our side.

So La Russa has been great ever since I've been here as far as staying confident with me and letting me work through things. I'm just happy and fortunate to be in this situation right now.

Chris, big at-bat for you, obviously. Take us through kind of your thought process during the pinch-hit.

CHRIS DUNCAN: Well, close game like that, I just want to make sure I took a good at-bat. Just try to find a way to get on base. You know, once I got on the 3-2, I knew in a close ballgame like that, he couldn't walk me so I wanted to make sure I was going to be aggressive in that count and he happened to leave a breaking ball up.

Jeff what does it mean to you to put your team up in this series, 3-2?

JEFF WEAVER: Well, I mean, Game 5, especially when it's a tied series, is a very pivotal game. Especially being here at home, you want to leave on your way to New York feeling good about your chances.

You know, it was just a great feeling, especially you know after I had given up the two runs to see the team come back and battle and get two runs to tie it back up. I think it shows the character of this team, and if we could pull this game out and have a 3-2 lead going to New York with Carpenter on the hill, couldn't ask for a better situation.

There were several instances during the course of the regular season, especially when you were hot, where you got pinch-hit for, what is it like for you to be in these clutch situations against left-handers?

CHRIS DUNCAN: I was just trying to get ready to go whenever he was going to use me. We have a lot of left-handed bats on the bench tonight, and Spiezio has been swinging the bat really well with guys in scoring position, and J-Rod has been taking good at-bats. I had a feeling my pinch-hit might come earlier in the game and just happened to be off a left-hander, and I just wanted to put together a good at-bat.

You came to St. Louis, when you came to St. Louis, you were doing poorly with the other team. Why or how did you come back, Duncan helped you, but you yourself had to do, did you feel you had it in you? You were down when you came to St. Louis.

JEFF WEAVER: Just the fact of being around for a while, there's going to be tough times, and it was unfortunate that things went poorly in Anaheim. But when I came here, I had a fresh start back in the National League where I had done a good job the prior couple of years. Just brought back that confidence where I continued to believe in myself and work and just continued to believe in myself that eventually things would turn around. You know, more than anything, my thought process was things happen for a reason. When I came to St. Louis knowing that they had a chance to win, get to the post-season, I was just concentrating on winning the ballgames in the post-season, and you know, just erasing anything that happened bad during the season.

So the wins that I get during the post-season, I don't even remember the first half of the season. You know, I just put all that behind me, and wanted to help this team win. Like I said, just very fortunate to be in this situation to turn things around.

You hate to get ahead of yourself, but has it crossed your mind or have you thought about the possibility of facing the Tigers?

JEFF WEAVER: Well, I'll let you know after winning one more ballgame. (Laughter.) But it would be an interesting situation. I'm very happy for those guys over there. There's a couple of guys that I played with that have been through tough times. We win one more ballgame, and it will be a good situation to get back

Dave Duncan – Pre-Game

Tyler Johnson has really had a wonderful season, wonderful series, are you at all concerned that the Mets have seen him so often that they are starting to figure him out, that they could figure him out here?

Well, they know what he's going to throw, you know, so it's just hitting it is going to be the task. He has a dynamic breaking ball, especially against a left-handed hitter.

So he doesn't surprise anybody. He goes out there and he throws it and throws it for strikes, and throws it out of the strike zone when he feels it's appropriate to do so.

I don't think it really matters that they have seen him.

Carp told us yesterday that he threw a side with the hope of fixing some specific things between the last start. Did you like what you saw from him there, did you feel like he got whatever it was sorted out? And also, did he go on or is he still here today?

No, he left. He's on his way to New York right now, and his bullpen session was a good session. He wasn't happy with the command of his off-speed pitches in the game the other day, and he felt like that it would be important for him to get a little bit better feel of it, and that's what we worked on.

What had to take place to get Jeff Weaver from where he was to where you got him to where he is now?

I think when Jeff came over, he was pretty beat up. You know, he really had a tough season. I think he had lost a lot of confidence. And I think that was the main thing that we had to do is help him regain some confidence.

So in various different ways, we tried to do that and he started getting some results. His confidence grew as he threw the ball better and got better results, and he's what he is right now, a very confident pitcher that believes he can go out there and pitch competitively against anybody.

Can you just elaborate on the various things that you had to do to try to help his confidence when you got him?

Well, I tried to make him understand that there was nothing wrong with his physical ability. And in different ways, I tried to show him that. Sometimes a pitcher can get snake bit and get some poor results even though they are pitching good enough to be an effective pitcher. I tried to show him different games that he had pitched. He made a lot of great pitches and didn't get the results that you normally get and he was -- you know, he could see that.

I think the big thing is just him finding out himself, hey, my stuff is still good enough. I've just got to keep plugging away, and that's what he did.

Do you think the way he pitched in the San Diego game, not so much the effectiveness, but the way he went after guys, do you think there's value in that going forward and that he kind of showed another way that he could be successful, maybe that puts something in guys' heads when they face him?

Well, if you're not a power pitcher, and I'm talking about a guy that goes out there like Verlander and throws 96, 97 miles an hour, if you're not that type of pitcher, you have to be able to do other things in order to succeed.

Jeff has really shown me the ability to pitch according to how he has to pitch against any given hitter or in a particular game. One thing about Jeff, he has very good control most of the time. There's very few starts that he has made for us where he's gone out there and it not looked like he had excellent control of all of his pitches.

I'm wondering if you and Tony, if you could share your opinion on whether or not a critical situation comes up in, say, the 7th or 8th inning if you look to Adam Wainwright in that situation or would you save him for more of the pure save situation later on in the game?

I think right now we would go into the game thinking that we are going to save him for the save situation. You never know what might happen during the course of the game. Something might lead you to do something differently. But I wouldn't think the 7th inning would be an inning you would see Adam Wainwright.

What are we likely to see from Weaver that we would not have seen on three days' rest? What is he like on short rest?

I don't know. I haven't seen him either. There's no history to go back and look at. I would assume that it's the same for all guys. You know, when they are accustomed to a certain routine, they generally respond best when they follow that routine.

So pitching on short rest is a break in that routine, and over the years, since everybody has gotten programmed to pitch in a five-man rotation, there's occasions when guys do pitch on short rest, but I haven't seen too many of them be really good doing it.

Considering the way that Delgado is not just a success, but the way he's hit the ball, where he's hit the ball, is there an adjustment that needs to be made beyond just the quality of the pitching considering he's hitting everything the opposite way?

Well, he's a good hitter.

It's not fair to our pitching staff to say that he's beat them up, even though he has, because we have not made good pitches to him. What we've got to do is we've got to control the counts better when he's hitting. We haven't done that. We haven't gotten any off-speed pitches over the plate to him. When we have, we've gotten him out.

We have to execute better. You know, that's a tough lineup. Up-and-down that lineup you have to execute. If you don't, you have a game like we had the other night. But looking back at that game, we had a lot of hitter's counts and a lot of balls in a good portion of the plate, and they took advantage of it.

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