I think it's just something, you know, you guys like to talk about. I mean, I know the stats are different, but I actually said to some of the reporters after I pitched in Wrigley when we clinched, I said you guys didn't write anything about me pitching well during the game, during the day game, and they laughed and said well, you clinched that day so we had other things to write about. I know in the past I've always pitched well in day games, I've always enjoyed day games, but for some reason this year some have been worse than others. That's the way it goes sometimes.
You had some rough outings early and then you seemed to kind of settle in at some point during the -- the spring, early summer. Was there something specifically that you did that kind of got you over the hump from spring?
There wasn't one thing in particular, you know. There was a lot of things that myself and Dunc were working on during the season to get my mechanics back to where they should be and keeping the ball down in the zone and making better pitches. I left a lot of balls up over the plate early in the season. You know, they're going to get hit, so I mean, my strength is to pitch to contact and get ground balls and get quick outs.
Your last two starts weren't too effective. Were you looking ahead to the post season, or what exactly was it?
No. I don't know. I really don't know what happened. It's not the way you really want to end the season, but that's the way it goes, you know. I mean, the post season's here, so you move on and you're ready to go.
Mark, in Oakland you had good numbers as a post season pitcher. I know the one year you couldn't go because you were hurt. It's a two-part question. How frustrating was that that you didn't get to pitch the one year? The other is do you thrive on the post season? Does that bring out the best in you, generally speaking?
I think it should in everybody, you know. It's a great time of year, man. I know my first experience in 2001, pitching game 1 in Yankees stadium, the first pitch I couldn't feel myself. You didn't know what you were doing, but you get -- there's a different -- if you could honestly take a post season game into every regular season game, I think it would be a big difference, you know. I think a lot of pitchers try to, but it's tough to. It's a different frame of mind. There's more focus, there's more concentration, and as far as you know, missing the one year, I hurt my hip. It was kind of a fluke thing, and it was tough because, you know, it was the Boston series and obviously we were up again, and you know, we ended up losing it in 5. That's the way it goes.
Some would say the Cardinals traded you for situations just like tomorrow and however much longer the post season goes. Do you feel extra pressure knowing that?
No. I mean, that's the way it is. I'm going out there to win a ball game. I think every pitcher, if you don't go out there expecting to win, expecting to do well, then you shouldn't be going out there, you know. You've got to be ready for these situations and you've got to it thrive on it. You want to go out there for the big game. You want to be out there in a big situation, you know. I know I do, and I hope everybody else does.
Mark, what is it like to pitch with outfielders like you've got who have been there before who are healthy now and are producing?
That's kind of our whole team. We have a veteran team. That's different for me. I've been on a younger team that doesn't always know what's going on. This is a team that always knows what they're doing, how to prepare, how to prepare themselves for each game, each situation, you know, and our outfielders have been, with the way Jimmy runs things down and Larry, the catch he made yesterday. I know sitting in the dugout we all thought the pitchers thought it was over his head. Obviously Reggie is healthy now so that's a big relief for us.
What goes into your decision as a pitcher when it's time to try to overcome an injury and keep pitching and when it's time to shut it down and say I can't go into it? Obviously I'm thinking about what happened with Jake Peavy yesterday.
The only time that ever happened was when I hurt my hip a couple years ago. I made three starts with it hurting, and what's funny is at that time I couldn't run, jog, or anything. During those games I didn't have to cover first, I didn't have to field a bunt. I guess I just got lucky. Obviously I didn't pitch that great in those three starts. The fourth one was in Boston. You try to tough it out, but if it's hurting that bad, you're not going to help the team. You're only going to hurt the team. It's a tough situation that he was in obviously if he was hurt.
The Padres right-handed lineup is different than their left-handed lineup. Does that pose a problem for you, or do you go over that sort of thing carefully?
I'm prepared whether they put lefties in there or not. Obviously the more lefties, the better for me, but the righties -- when they throw an all right-handed lineup out there like some teams do -- I don't think the Padres will throw all righties but you can kind of get in the groove with certain pitches. You don't have the different sides of the box. You don't have -- sometimes it helps, you know. It just depends how you're doing out there, if you're keeping the ball down which is a key for me.
You talked about the different environments and mentalities that you came from in Oakland with the younger team to this very professional, mature team. What kind of an adjustment has that been for you?
It hasn't been that much of an adjustment. It's the guys I play with, you see the way they approach the game every day. It's not that it's that much different, but you can see a difference. Guys know when to back down a little bit and take it a little easier on some days. With only Oakland we had an young team. We were out there for early BP every day. It was a good time. These guys are just very prepared on this team, and you can see that right away.
Mark, you and Duncan have both talked about working on your delivery early in the season and Duncan just spoke to us about how you got your delivery going as he wanted to do it. Has that success you had here in the middle of the season, these two starts excluded, different than what you had in Oakland, or is it the same type of delivery, or what did you hit upon there?
I got into some bad habits at the end of last season and was working my way to get out of it, and I did. You know, with a lot of -- obviously with Dunc's help, things have gone a lot better, and you know, I feel really good out on the mound with everything that I'm throwing and everything that I'm doing out there.
Are you a little homesick? Do you miss your friends?
That was a little blown out. That was made up. It wasn't made up. It was just made to go a little bit bigger than it was. When I was talking to Michael Irvin I think who was the guy who was writing it, I was saying to him when I got over here is all these guys are married, so when the game's done, it's sorry, guys, see you tomorrow because they're going home to their families. In Oakland we were young a bunch guys who after the game said where are we going to dinner, where are we going out tonight? Like I said, everybody is married so there's not as much to do. That's all.
I think now that Maddux has fallen by the wayside, you have the most 15 win seasons in a row. Is that a point of pride for you, or do you even think about that?
I'm not thinking about it when the season's going on, but when you get it and his is over now, I mean, sure. I take pride in that. You know, it's consistency, and I think every pitcher strives for that. Everyone wants to be consistent and he's the perfect example of that.