“He’s about as unique a story as you’re going to find, and in a way, probably that whole story and everything that goes along with it is probably what’s made him who he is and what’s allowed him to take this journey and find his way to the big leagues. He’s been great. It’s been fun to watch him.” -Rocco Baldelli on Twins’ Game 2 starter Randy Dobnak.

AL DIVISION SERIES: TWINS VS YANKEES

October 5, 2019

Rocco Baldelli

New York, New York – pregame 2

Q. Rocco, do you have a firm plan on when Berrios will pitch next, or is it contingent on what happens the next couple of games?
ROCCO BALDELLI: We don’t. No firm plan right now. We’ll play today, play today out, and treat it kind of one day at a time after that and then kind of probably plan for a few different scenarios, but definitely nothing yet.

Q. Rocco, with your starter today, Randy, he’s had an interesting last week to ten days since he started last. So what’s been his routine? How is he staying sharp for what is going to be the biggest start of his life?
ROCCO BALDELLI: So Randy doesn’t complicate things. He’ll talk about everything that he’s going to do before today’s game, which is probably just sit around and do very little and treat it as a regular outing. We wouldn’t want him to change a thing. This is — there’s a lot going on here. We’ve got the playoff game. We have media sessions. We have all kinds of stuff. This is a guy that he shuts all that stuff out really well, and he’s going to probably do nothing different from any other outing that he’s ever had.

He’s treated his starts even earlier this year almost in a funny fashion. He just walks out there kind of later than anybody else and throws a few pitches and gets loose pretty quick and takes the mound, and he’s thrown the ball very, very well. He’s about as unique a story as you’re going to find, and in a way, probably that whole story and everything that goes along with it is probably what’s made him who he is and what’s allowed him to take this journey and find his way to the big leagues. He’s been great. It’s been fun to watch him.

Q. Rocco, when you’re facing a team that you know is going to likely go to its bullpen relatively early and match up aggressively, does that affect the way you construct your lineup, or are you just still — I mean, I know you have a bench, too, but are you still just basically making a lineup regarding the starting pitcher?
ROCCO BALDELLI: One strength I think that we have is that we are able to put a pretty balanced lineup out there. It’s something that we’ve gone with for most of the year. You do get to go away from that a little bit in September if you want because you have so many different options to turn to over the course of a game, but in a scenario where you’re in this type of situation, I think it’s helpful. It allows us, especially with our switch hitters, to balance things out. You don’t get into many runs where you end up with several left-handed, right-handed hitters back to back.

So this is the way we’ve operated all year. It’s worked very well for us. I think it’s forced pitchers to change their approach and what they’re trying to do on a batter to batter basis, and I think it’s something we’re going to continue to roll with.

Q. Rocco, after playing all but just a handful of games in left field this year, you have Eddie in right field for this series. What were the factors that went into that decision, and would you expect that to be the case at Target Field, as well?
ROCCO BALDELLI: It may change. We bounced Eddie back and forth a reasonable amount. Eddie is also — he also has some history going back, playing some right field earlier in his career. I believe he also did in the WBC. He’s very comfortable playing anywhere. He’s been very open about being willing to play pretty much anywhere on the field. Also, Cave, Marwin, these are guys that are very comfortable. I like having these guys as interchangeable pieces that are able to do some different things.

I think Rosy’s arm plays well, too, in right field, but Marwin has a great — I mean, Marwin can throw really as well, too. There probably wasn’t one reason for it. There probably wasn’t even two. Just factoring in the big picture and all of these smaller factors, we decided to go with him in right. It definitely does not come down to one or two things.

Q. Rocco, did you have to check with Arraez this morning to make sure his ankle was okay before putting him in the lineup, or were you pretty comfortable after last night’s game that he’d be good to go today?
ROCCO BALDELLI: We always check with our guys, especially the guys that are coming off something, but we were pretty confident with the way he came out of the game that he was fine. It’s easy to talk — he’s coming off this injury, and the ball certainly found him many times yesterday. He was involved in a lot of different plays. I thought he actually ran well. You can certainly see in a very minor way that it’s certainly not as a point where he’s at an absolute 100 percent. He could go out there, and you’re not going to see any sign of it, but I think he’s fully capable of playing.

He actually ran, speed-wise, well. I think I saw Doe’s tweet — do it, Doe. Was it you? I thought it was you — sitting at home last night that he actually ran down the line pretty well, verified it. He came back pretty good. But, he was fine. The plays in the field. Those are plays that I think he makes tonight, he probably makes 95 percent of the time. We probably should have turned the double play anyway regardless.

And I think he had good at-bats. That’s also something he’s done from beginning to end, and we would anticipate to see that from him again. He looks fine swinging the bat.

Q. Rocco, you mentioned Randy’s story. When did that first hit your radar? What do you remember hearing first about him?
ROCCO BALDELLI: We’ll get — periodically, through the year, you start hearing about guys in the system, guys that are throwing the ball well. Dob’s name started to come up. You know, sinker, slider, real sinker, real slider, commands it well, competes well over the course of an outing, and that’s really where it was for a little while.

We’re playing throughout May — well, through the middle of the year, really. Then you look up, and he’s pitching himself into a place where you’re talking about him, and that’s — in and of itself, that’s an accomplishment. Then as the season continued to move on, we were talking about options initially for our bullpen, for who knows what. Spot starts, bullpen, but guys that can come in and help us. He put himself in a spot where he was going to be a big leaguer and we were going to use him.

We’ve used him in different ways since he’s shown up. Would we have expected, when he arrived, that he’d be pitching Game 2 at Yankee Stadium in the playoffs? I don’t know. If anyone was thinking that, I would love to meet that person and have a chat with him. He’s earned all of this. He’s throwing the ball exceptionally well. Every time we hand him the ball, he gives us a chance to get through that outing or gives us a chance to win if he’s starting.

I feel good about handing him the ball today. I’m excited to watch him go out there and do what he’s been doing. He’s been phenomenal.

Q. Rocco, how much has the grind, the workload of this managing job compared to what you thought going into it? And how much do you think it’s changed from when you were a rookie playing for Lou?
ROCCO BALDELLI: Wow, we could probably talk for a while about that. Those are — I like talking about the players and everything that they’re doing. I’ll try to keep it short, though.

The role is definitely different than anything I’ve ever experienced. The one really cool part about the role — not really part of your question, but I figured I’d add it in — is you get to watch other people succeed around you and reach their goals and do great things, and to be a part of it, as the manager of the team, is very, very fulfilling. It’s probably the best part of the job. And every day we get to see that.

And we’ve seen a lot of guys go out there — not just the players. I’m talking staff. I’m talking everybody that’s involved here. We have a wonderful group. We support each other very well. It’s something that I personally take pride in, the way that we conduct our business. But those are the moments for me. The wins and losses matter, and they’re great, and that’s what we’re here for. We want to win a World Series. On top of all of that, though, the important part is the people and creating that environment that allows people to succeed. Again, that’s what makes me feel good.

It’s probably different than 2003 and walking in and working with Lou, and I learned a lot from Lou. He was always very, very good to me and very supportive of me, and I thank him for that very much. I think the environment, the people, everything about what’s going on at the big league level is probably different than it was at that time. That’s probably for a different day and a different place to really talk about and get into.

Q. Rocco, the home runs have obviously been a big part of what you guys have done this year and part of the offense last night. Also, Polanco stole a base, which has been pretty uncommon for you guys, and it looked like C.J. was trying to execute a hit and run on the one where he kind of threw the bat out. I’m just curious with the way your lineup is constructed and sort of the game, the way that it’s played now. What does the calculus look like for those small ball kind of moves, especially this time of year?
ROCCO BALDELLI: I think it totally depends on your personnel, what they do, what they’re capable of, their skill set, and then how the particular game is playing out. There have been a few times this year where we’ve looked to move a runner or steal a base and things like that. For the most part, we will swing the bat, and we’re going to give our guys an opportunity to impact the ball. I think that gives us the best shot to win, looking at our players and what they can do.

But, again, a lot of these particular scenarios where you might end up playing some sort of small ball, they’re there, but I think they have to play out in a very particular — the game has to play out in a very particular way where we’ll see them with the guys that we have.

We have some pretty talented — you talk about Polanco, he can do a lot of different things. If you do need something late in the game, he can do pretty much anything. He’s capable. He’ll lay a bunt down for a hit. He’ll move a runner. He can steal a base. He can move, he can do some things. We can see it, but it’s going to have to be with a particular group of players in a certain spot in the game.

Q. Rocco, when you look at the bullpen last night, how concerning was it, and what is one — is it a matter of guys just got to throw more strikes? What do you take from last night?
ROCCO BALDELLI: Well, for one, we talked about this in here already, our bullpen’s been great. Our bullpen has carried us throughout this year. We’ve given our group small leads many times, and they’ve brought us to victory. We’re going to continue to rely on those guys. I’m not concerned with our group at all. It really just comes down to executing pitches. Again, when you throw the ball fine, when you throw the ball just okay, that’s probably not good enough against a good offense. You’re going to have to do a little bit better than that. But I have complete faith in all of our guys from the very top to the bottom of our bullpen that they can do that.

We won’t get into every single guy that we brought in. Every situation is different. Every guy we brought in responded a little bit differently. We’re going to go back to these same guys again and hopefully some of the other guys that actually didn’t get in the game last night.

Q. Rocco, why Dobnak in this game and not Jake? And how much was experience, especially with the importance now of this game in considering deciding not to go with the guy who has pitched in this stadium before?
ROCCO BALDELLI: We certainly discussed it a lot. I think this stadium is a pretty unique venue. We talk about the energy of being in a playoff atmosphere here, that’s one thing. It’s also a stadium where you probably want to keep the ball down as best you can. Dobnak hasn’t pitched in the big leagues for long, but he keeps the ball down and on the ground probably as well as almost any pitcher in the big leagues, I think. So that’s definitely a factor.

We’re going to have Jake coming back regardless at home. I think we were all very comfortable with that decision. I think the pitchers themselves were comfortable with it too. I feel good about throwing Dobnak out there. I don’t think of this game as any different than any game that we’ve played. I don’t think, even in the five-game series, that there’s any added emphasis on today’s game. Every game is important. It doesn’t change the importance based on what happened in the previous game until you’re down to the last game and both teams know that they have to win that game, it’s not going to change the way that we’re really going to operate with our personnel.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Yankees have won 11 consecutive postseason games vs. Minnesota (since 10/6/04), their longest postseason winning streak ever vs. a single opponent.

POSTGAME NOTES ALDS GAME 1 NEW YORK YANKEES (1-0) vs. MINNESOTA TWINS (0-1) FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2019


R H E LOB SERIES MINNESOTA TWINS 4 7 1 9 0

NEW YORK YANKEES 10 8 1 7 1

STARTING TIME: 7:09 p.m. TIME OF GAME: 4:15 GAME TIME TEMPERATURE: 58 degrees PAID ATTENDANCE: 49,233 (Sellout #1)

WINNING PITCHER: Tommy Kahnle (1-0)

PITCH COUNTS (Total Pitches/Strikes): LOSING PITCHER: Zack Littell (0-1)

Yankees: James Paxton (86/50) SAVE: None Twins: José Berríos (88/54) HOME RUNS

(POSTSEASON CAREER HR / INNING / RUNNERS ON BASE / OUTS / COUNT / PITCHER / SCORE AFTER HR)

YANKEES – DJ LeMahieu (#1 / 6th / solo / 1 out / first pitch / Stashak / NYY 6 – MIN 4) Jorge Polanco (#1 / 1st / solo / 1 out / 1-1 / Paxton / MIN 1 – NYY 0) Brett Gardner (#2 /6th / solo / 2 out / 0-1 / Stashak / NYY 7

TWINS – Nelson Cruz (#17 / 3rd / solo / 2 out / first pitch / Paxton / MIN 2 – NYY 0) Miguel Sanó (#1 /6th / solo / 0 out / 0-2 / Kahnle / MIN 4 – NYY 5)

NEW YORK YANKEES NOTES

• The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five ALDS…are 9-2 in their last 11 postseason openers (since 2005).

• Have won 11 consecutive postseason games vs. Minnesota (since 10/6/04), their longest postseason winning streak ever vs. a single opponent…are 14-2 all-time in postseason games against the Twins (7-2 at home, 7-0 on the road)…are 16-2 against the Twins at Yankee Stadium since 2015, including the postseason.

• Trailed, 2-0, in the middle of the third inning…tied for fourth in the Majors in the regular season with 43 comeback wins (second in the AL to Oakland-44).

• At 4 hours, 15 minutes, was the second-longest nine-inning postseason game in Yankees history, behind 2004 ALCS G3 at Boston (4:20).

• Yankees batters scored 10R in a postseason game for the first time since 2011 ALDS G4 at Detroit (10-1 win)…set a club postseason record with 3SB in the seventh inning (incl. 2SB by PR/LF Cameron Maybin).

• 1B DJ LeMahieu (3-for-5, 2R, 1 double, 1HR, 4RBI) hit a solo HR in the sixth, his first career postseason HR and RBI…added a bases-clearing double in the seventh…led the Majors in BA with RISP in 2019 (.389)…his 3H matched his total from his first five career postseason games (3-for-20, 2 doubles, 0R, 0RBI w/ Colorado)

. • Is the second player in Yankees history to record 4RBI in his first postseason game with the club, joining Bobby Abreu (4RBI in 2006 ALDS G1 vs. Detroit)…is the first player to record 3H in his first postseason game with the Yankees since Jason Giambi (3-for-4 with 1HR, 3RBI in 2002 ALDS G1 vs. Anaheim)…is the first Yankee with at least 3H and 4RBI in a postseason game since Robinson Canó (3-for-5, 1R, 2 doubles, 1HR, 6RBI) in 2011 ALDS G1 vs. Detroit.

• Is the fourth Yankees leadoff hitter to collect 4RBI in a postseason game, joining Johnny Damon (4RBI in 2007 ALDS G3 vs. Cleveland), Hank Bauer (4RBI in 1958 World Series G3 vs. Milwaukee-NL) and Frankie Crosetti (1938 World Series G4 vs. Chicago-NL).

• CF Brett Gardner (1-for-4, 2R, 1HR, 1RBI) hit a solo HR in the sixth…was his second career postseason HR (also a solo HR in the 2017 AL Wild Card Game vs. Minnesota)…hit third for the second time in his postseason career (2018 ALDS G1 at Boston)…tied for the AL lead with 9HR in September.

• 2B Gleyber Torres (1-for-3, 1R, 1 double, 2RBI, 1BB, 1SB) hit a go-ahead two-run double in the fifth inning.

• RF Aaron Judge (1-for-3, 2R, 2BB) reached base three times…raised his career postseason OBP to .381.

• DH Edwin Encarnación (2-for-5, 1R, 2 doubles, 1RBI) doubled in his first two at-bats…had been 1-for-21 (.048) in his previous seven postseason games (since 2016 ALCS G5 vs. Cleveland w/ Toronto).

• LF Giancarlo Stanton (0-for-1) drew 3BB…had 1BB in 22PA last postseason.

• LHP James Paxton (4.2IP, 5H, 3ER, 1BB, 8K, 2HR) made his postseason debut and took a no-decision.

• Is the fourth pitcher in Yankees history to record at least 8K in his postseason debut, joining Dave Righetti (10K in 1981 ALDS G2), Red Ruffing (10K in 1932 World Series G1) and Lefty Gomez (8K in 1932 World Series G2).

• RHP Tommy Kahnle (0.2IP, 1H, 1ER, 1BB, 1K, 1HR) earned his first career postseason win.

• Yankees relievers allowed just 1ER on 2H over 4.1IP (5BB, 5K).

MINNESOTA TWINS NOTES

• The Twins fell to the Yankees in ALDS Game 1…have lost their last 14 playoff games, the longest losing streak by any team in postseason history (broke a tie with Boston-13G from 10/25/86-10/6/95)…of those 14 Twins losses, 11 have come against the Yankees, including each of the last eight.

• This series marks the Twins’ second postseason appearance in the past three seasons (also 2017 AL Wild Card Game) after missing the playoffs in their previous six seasons (2011-16)…marks the Twins’ 13th postseason overall since the franchise moved to Minnesota.

• Fell to 2-14 all time in postseason games vs. the Yankees…have lost 11 straight postseason games against the Yankees (dating back to 2004 ALDS Game 2), Minnesota’s longest losing streak against a single team in postseason history…have lost all five completed postseason series played against the Yankees: 2017 Wild Card (0-1), 2010 ALDS (0-3), 2009 ALDS (0-3), 2004 ALDS (1-3) and 2003 ALDS (1-3)

. • Are now 25-41 (.379) all time in the postseason.

• Twins batters hit 3HR tonight, their most ever in a postseason game.

• Have been held to 4R-or-fewer in each of their last 11 postseason games (since 10/3/06), tied for the third-longest such streak in modern postseason history (since 1903)…trails only the Brooklyn Dodgers’ 18-game streak from 10/09/1916-10/1/47 and the Oakland Athletics’ 12-game streak from 10/17/74-10/6/88.

• RHP José Berríos (4.0IP, 4H, 3R/1ER, 3BB, 6K) made his career postseason start and did not record a decision…marked his second career postseason appearance (also a relief appearance in the 2017 AL Wild Card Game).

• In four career appearance vs. the Yankees (both regular season and postseason), is 1-3 with a 5.57 ERA (21.0IP, 13ER).

• SS Jorge Polanco (2-for-3, 1R, 1HR, 2RBI, 2BB) reached base four times…hit his first career postseason home run in the first inning and an RBI double in fifth…hit a career-high 22HR during the regular season

• DH Nelson Cruz (1-for-3, 1R, 1HR, 1RBI, 2BB) hit a solo HR in the third inning, his 17th career postseason home run and his sixth career home run in the division series.

• His 17 career postseason home runs are the second-most among active players, trailing only Albert Pujols (19HR)…is hitting .371 (13-for-35) with 6R, 1 double, 3HR and 8RBI in his last nine postseason games…in 13 career division series games, has hit .320 (16-for-50) with 11R, 2 doubles, 6HR and 9RBI.

• 3B Miguel Sanó (1-for-4, 1R, 1HR, 1RBI) made his postseason debut and hit a solo HR in the sixth, becoming the eighth Twins batter to homer in his postseason debut since the franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961…was the first to so since Eddie Rosario and Brian Dozier both did it in the 2017 AL Wild Card Game.

• LF Marwin Gonzalez (2-for-4, 1 double) has hit in each of his last five postseason games and in 10 of his last 11…is hitting .350 (16-for-44) with 4R, 5 doubles, 2HR and 9RBI in his last 11 postseason games.

2019 AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES SCHEDULE

Game Date Opponent Probable Pitchers (2019 Regular Season Stats) / Results Time (ET) TV Game

1 Fri., Oct. 4 vs. Minnesota YANKEES 10, Minnesota 4

Game 2 Sat., Oct. 5 vs. Minnesota RHP Masahiro Tanaka (11-9, 4.45) vs. RHP Randy Dobnak (2-1, 1.59) 5:07 p.m. FS1

Game 3 Mon., Oct. 7 at Minnesota RHP Luis Severino (1-1, 1.50) vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi (15-7, 3.51) 7:37 or 8:40 p.m. FS1

Game 4* Tues., Oct. 8 at Minnesota TBA vs. TBA 8:07 p.m. FS1

Game 5* Thurs., Oct. 10 vs. Minnesota TBA vs. TBA 5:07 or 7:07 p.m. FS1 * – if necessary

“We had some good swings. We had our moments. Just by chance, there was no one on base when we popped a few balls over the fence.” Rocco Baldelli

YANKEES 10, TWINS 4

October 5, 2019

Rocco Baldelli

New York, New York – postgame 1

Yankees – 10, Twins -4

Q. Could you talk about the Game 2 plans at this point?
ROCCO BALDELLI: Pitching-wise? Dobnak is going to start for us tomorrow. And I can announce Odo is going to start Game 3, as well. Again, I wanted to make sure we got through tonight and we were set to name these guys anyway. So that’s what our plan was originally, too.

Q. (No microphone)?
ROCCO BALDELLI: A fine line. It was not an obvious move in any way. I think in this ballpark, the guy that throws the ball, keeps it on the ground pretty well was a good guy to look to. Dob’s been throwing the ball great for us, so I thought it made sense.

Q. Do you expect a lot of the games in this series to go like tonight and the difference will be with the home runs, who hits them when runners are on base, and there will be a lot of strikeouts? Just the timing of the home runs with the offense will be the key?
ROCCO BALDELLI: I would expect it to be a decent part of it. When you step out on the field and watch our team, the Yankees, there’s a lot of big strong guys out there. I would expect at least a few balls to be hit over the fence at some point. We had some good swings. We had our moments. Just by chance, there was no one on base when we popped a few balls over the fence.

But, again, that’s probably going to be at least part of the story line on a regular basis this series.

Q. Rocco, how much did those extra outs in the third inning that the defense kind of gave them affect the way you had to manage Jose?
ROCCO BALDELLI: Overall, I thought Jose threw the ball pretty well. I think he pitched with his fastball pretty well. His breaking ball kind of came and went, but I think he was able to work through a few situations and do it pretty well.

We didn’t make all the plays behind him. It did make it tough. We had to get some extra outs. We had to throw a lot more pitches. So he did have to work because of it and probably shortened the outing a little bit, which caused us to have to go to the pen and have to cover some more innings. So it’s all related.

But overall, again, I think he competed well, kept us in the game, and certainly gave us a chance. Having to pitch through those instances that you mentioned, I think he did it reasonably well.

Q. Zack had a lot of problems with his control. Stashak centered a couple of pitches. They’re rookies that are new to this. How much of that would you attribute to a big stage and their first time on it?
ROCCO BALDELLI: There’s no way to know that. These are guys we have leaned on heavily throughout the year. We’re going to continue to lean on them heavily. We’re going to see them back out there and throwing in important situations. Because of the way the game played out, one or both of those guys was going to end up in this game pitching in probably an important spot at some point.

We tried to grab those outs early from Littell in the fifth, and it played out the way it played out. But our guys are resilient. Our guys have had outings here and there over the course of the year that didn’t go as planned, and they come right back, and they’re ready to go.

Q. Rocco, you’re well aware of how patient and methodical the Yankees can be, but does seeing it happen on the stage in a playoff game difficult to prepare for experience-wise?
ROCCO BALDELLI: I mean, it looks like the same Yankee team that we’ve played against a handful of times already this year. They have a good offense, so they’re a team that you know is going to have good at-bats. You know that they’re going to generally lay off pitches out of the zone, and they’re impactful. You know what, I think they resemble our team a lot, too.

Tonight overall, they played well and got the win, but our team, as a whole — I mentioned our bullpen guys a few minutes ago, but our team as a whole has bounced back exceptionally well all year long. Regardless of what happens, the TVs will be on in the clubhouse, the music will be playing on low to medium volume, and guys will be just getting changed and getting ready for tomorrow.

Q. How did Arraez come out of the game? And did you think his ankle kept him from either making a good throw to first base or from getting to that pop-up in right field?
ROCCO BALDELLI: I don’t think so. I mean, we saw him make all the plays yesterday. We worked him out pretty good yesterday. If he had a regular week of work, would he be making a better throw on the double play? Who knows. There’s really no way to know that.

I’m going to bet on him every time being ready, making those plays. I think on the pop-up, it was kind of an odd play. I’m not sure if there was a visual issue or just missed straight out — you know, a play that he probably makes more times than not. He comes right back, puts a good swing on the ball, and gives us a chance to do something on the other side of the ball.

So I thought he was fine, and I really wasn’t worried about the injury issues at all. He came out of the game well.

Q. Rocco, in your bullpen with some of your leverage guys — I’m thinking of Romo and Rogers in particular — you’ve saved them through the season for late leads. Now, is there a point in the series where that might change, either due to results or process?
ROCCO BALDELLI: It could. We don’t generally commit to anything early, but I think there’s a chance that we end up running some of our guys that have pitched very late in the game. We could run them out there, probably still reasonably late in the game, but maybe push them up a little bit. Again, with the five innings we’re going to cover out of the bullpen tonight, we could have seen — we could have ended up seeing something like that. So that is definitely possible.

Tomorrow, after not throwing today, maybe it’s even more likely that they get out there for more extended outings.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

“Ten runs. I think it was so difficult on them, and we were able to break through in a couple of big spots.” -AARON BOONE

AL DIVISION SERIES:

YANKEES 10, TWINS 4

October 5, 2019

Aaron Boone

New York, New York – postgame 1

Yankees – 10, Twins – 4

Q. Aaron, just walk us through some of the bullpen decisions, specifically going to Britton in the seventh, and then was Happ, was that a by-product to D.J.’s double?
AARON BOONE: Yeah. We were prepared to be aggressive there, and we were prepared to try to split up the seventh, eighth, and ninth with Britton and Chappy in that spot, but once we got the lead leverage, we decided to go with J.A. there for an inning. It was good to see him get in the game like that where, obviously, a different role for him, and I thought threw the ball really well.

Q. And not sticking with Green longer? That was a matchup thing or —
AARON BOONE: A little bit in that we felt like we could split it up the seventh, eighth, and ninth and kind of wanted Greeny’s potential length for tomorrow, as well. So, yeah, a couple factors leaking into that.

Q. Obviously, you’ve watched Torres hit a lot over the last two years, but I wonder if there’s a level of appreciation, bases loaded, down 0-2, to a guy who’s pretty tough on right handers, in that situation for what kind of at-bat he had there.
AARON BOONE: It was — I mean, you nailed it. A big time at-bat against a guy that was really tough on righties. To work himself back into that count, I think the 3-2 pitch that he kind of three-quarter swing spoiled to keep surviving and then finally got a pitch he could do something with and smoked it. It was a huge at-bat, obviously, in that game. We’re kind of looking for that kind of hit. We created some pretty good traffic to that point, and that hit, I think, really, really got us rolling from there.

But it was a big time at-bat and a tough spot against a tough matchup.

Q. Take us through the thought process a little of the decision to leave Paxton in for Polanco. I’m sure there were pros and cons there and why you came out the way you did to leave him in.
AARON BOONE: We just — I felt good about him going through Polanco, and Polanco had a great night, but we’ll keep him on that side preferably. He had a great night and a great at-bat against him, but I felt like Pax was pretty strong to that point, and had Otta, obviously, ready for Cruz. But I felt good about the matchup there.

Q. When you started the inning, might you have used Ottavino for that batter had Paxton looked differently? I assume you watched him closely. You had Ottavino up at the beginning of the inning —
AARON BOONE: Yeah, he was just getting ready. It was more for Cruz.

Q. LeMahieu drops the pop-up. You probably didn’t expect to see that. What’s going through your mind when you see that?
AARON BOONE: Weird things can happen sometimes in the playoffs. You’ve got kind of a windy night, cold, one of those where maybe he thought Gleyber was going to come over, so I don’t think he was real committed at it. Then it skips off, and then we end up turning the huge double play, obviously, to get out of that inning.

Then D.J. goes and says enough and finishes off an impressive night.

Q. You’ve talked about wanting to be aggressive with the bullpen, but I think at one point there you had two of your high leverage guys get two outs, face five batters. You’ve still got a bunch of outs to cover. Did going through some of this last year make you more comfortable to sort of get in that position? Because it could also go the other way there if you don’t expend a lead where you have to cover some innings with some of your best guys.


AARON BOONE: I just think there were some spots that I felt good about certain guys in, and the other good thing about tonight is I feel like all of our guys are back in play for tomorrow, and we’re not pushing them necessarily.

So I just felt like there were certain times in the game that matchups we wanted to try to slam the door, and fortunately, the offense was able to add on to allow us to change things up a little bit and keep Britt to an inning. So it just kind of unfolded that way for us.

Q. (No microphone)?
AARON BOONE: Yeah, it obviously felt like that was a big point of the game, wanted Otta for Cruz. Cruz worked a really good at-bat on him. I thought Otto threw the ball well. If he gets out of that inning, then Kahnle has a clean one there for the sixth with everyone behind him. They made it tough and had some good at-bats, so we had to get Greeny in the mix obviously, but still felt like we were covered.

Q. Even before Torres’ hit, you had guys lay off some pretty tough breaking stuff. Is that kind of in the scouting report against them? And Torres, is that emblematic of his slow heartbeat when you guys talk about him up in that spot?
AARON BOONE: That’s controlling the strike zone, and that’s, I think, what allowed us to win the game tonight. We won a lot of 3-2 counts tonight. I thought the guys by and large, up and down the lineup, really made it tough on their pitchers because they stayed in the strike zone. When you do that, you’re able to have a night like tonight where you throw up — we got ten, right? Ten runs. I think it was so difficult on them, and we were able to break through in a couple of big spots.

Q. Just how concerning, if at all, was Stanton’s defense in left field today?
AARON BOONE: Not at all. I mean, the ball he dove for, I thought he moved really well on it, laid out, didn’t quite get it. Yeah, I’m not concerned at all.

Q. Does Aaron sometimes forget he’s 6’7″ out there in right field with the defense he was playing out there? He made some aggressive plays and a big one, too, with the line drive in the corner there.
AARON BOONE: Yeah, huge. He’s so good out there. Obviously, two great plays where he lays out for balls. You see the other things he does so well just fundamentally sound, just getting behind balls to get himself into position to make throws. And then on the offensive side, I felt every at-bat he had tonight he was all over everything. Just what might get lost in that ten-run game is the two big defensive plays that he made out in right.

Q. Are you ever going to get over him hitting the deck like that, Aaron? I know you feel great about the play, but afterwards is there a little bit of a worry to it?
AARON BOONE: I stepped up on the top step, but I felt like I saw it pretty well and kept it on the chest. I felt like we were okay with that one.

Q. How was J.A. Happ coming out of the bullpen, and could we see him start this series?
AARON BOONE: Yeah, I thought he was really good. I thought he threw the ball well. Lost Kepler, where Kepler worked a tough at-bat off him, but I thought he threw the ball great. It was good to get him out there because I really think J.A. Happ is going to play a big role for us if we’re going to go deep in this playoffs, and it could be in so many different roles. It could be in a high leverage situation for short. It could be a matchup situation. It could be starting a game. It could be in a lot of different roles, and the fact that he was ready for that tonight and came in and picked us up was big.

Q. We always talk about Gleyber’s approach at the plate, but what is it about his personality and his mental game that allows him at 22 to thrive in these kinds of situations?
AARON BOONE: He’s smart, and he’s confident, and that’s a really good combination when you’re talented. But I think those are the two biggest things. He’s shown an ability to make adjustments, to understand what teams and pitchers are doing to him, and he has a lot of confidence in his ability and came up big tonight again.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

MAPLE LEAFS POSTGAME NOTES: Mike Babcock moved into sole possession of eighth place in NHL history with 693 wins (Dick Irvin – 692).

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (2-0-0 – 4 Points) vs. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (0-1-0 – 0 Points)

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2019

1 2 3 OT FINAL TORONTO 1 1 2 – 4 COLUMBUS 0 1 0 – 1

ON THE SCORESHEET

  • Mitch Marner opened the scoring on the power play at 12:04 of the first period and later scored his second of the night at 2:16 of the third period. He added an assist on Matthews’ third period power player goal and has points (2-2-4) in consecutive games to start the season. Marner was tied with Morgan Rielly for the team lead in power play points last season with 21 (3 goals, 18 assists).
  • Cody Ceci scored his first of the season and first goal as a Maple Leaf at 10:35 of the second period. Ceci recorded 26 points (7 goals, 19 assists) in 74 games with the Ottawa Senators last season.
  • Auston Matthews scored on the power player for his third goal of the season at 14:04 of the third period. Matthews’ has three goals through the first two games of the season. Tonight marks Matthews’ 21st multi-goal game of his career.
  • John Tavares registered the primary assist on Marner’s first period power play goal and later set up Marner for his second of the night. Tavares has points (0-3-3) in consecutive games to start the season.
  • Morgan Rielly picked up the secondary assist on Marner’s first period power play goal and later set up Cody Ceci on his first goal as a Maple Leaf and registered the primary assist Matthews’ third period power play goal. Rielly has consecutive points (0-4-4) through the first two games of the season. Tonight marks Rielly’s 25th career multi-assist game.
  • William Nylander recorded the secondary assist on Cody Ceci’s second period goal. Nylander has registered an assist in consecutive games.
  • Jake Muzzin registered his first point of the season with the secondary assist on Marner’s third period goal.
  • – Frederik Andersen stopped 28 of 29 shots to earn his second win of the season.
    SHOTS ON GOAL (5-on-5 in brackets)
    1st 2nd 3rd OT TOTAL
  • TORONTO 10 9 10 – 29
  • COLUMBUS 9 11 9 – 29
  • SHOT ATTEMPTS (5-on-5 in brackets)
  • 1st 2nd 3rd OT TOTAL
  • TORONTO 15 15 10 – 40
  • COLUMBUS 15 15 10 – 40

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

  • The Maple Leafs are 1-0-0 on the road this season.
  • – Toronto’s all-time record is 14-11-1-3 in 29 games against the Blue Jackets and 8-5-0-1 in 14 games played in Columbus.
  • – Toronto is 2-0-0 against the Eastern Conference this season and 1-0-0 against the Metropolitan Division.
    MAPLE LEAFS LEADERS
    Shots 4 (Marner, Matthews)
    Shot Attempts 8 (Muzzin)
    Faceoff Wins 10 (Tavares)
    Faceoff Win Percentage 88% (Kerfoot – 7 won, 1 lost)
    Hits 3 (Moore, Sandin)
    Blocked Shots 3 (Matthews)
    Takeaways 2 (Ceci)
    TOI 23:33 (Ceci)
    Power Play TOI 3:45 (Matthews)
    Shorthanded TOI 3:25 (Muzzin)
    Shifts 33 (Rielly)
    5-on-5 Shot Attempt Percentage 87.50% (Spezza – 7 for, 1 against)

RECORD WHEN…

  • The Maple Leafs were 4-for-5 on the penalty kill and 2-for-5 on the power play tonight. Toronto is 1-00 when allowing a power play goal this season and 1-0-0 when scoring more than one power play goal.
  • – Toronto is 1-0-0 when scoring the first goal of the game.
  • – The Maple Leafs are 1-0-0 when leading after one period and 2-0-0 when leading after two periods.
  • – Toronto is 1-0-0 when tied in shots on goal with their opponent.
  • – The Maple Leafs are 1-0-0 in Friday games.
    OF NOTE…
  • Cody Ceci was on the ice for a team-high 22 Toronto shot attempts-for at 5-on-5. Ceci finished the game with a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 53.66 percent (22 for, 19 against).
  • – Alexander Kerfoot was 7-for-1 (88%) in the faceoff circle tonight.
  • Jason Spezza made his Maple Leaf debut tonight. Spezza led all skaters in 5-on-5 shot percentage (80.7% – 7 for, 1 against).
  • – With a victory tonight head coach Mike Babcock moved into sole possession of eighth place in NHL history with 693 wins (Dick Irvin – 692).

UPCOMING GAMES:

  • Saturday, October 5, 7:00 p.m. vs. Montreal Canadiens (Sportsnet, FAN 590)
  • – Monday, October 7, 7:00 p.m. vs. St. Louis Blues (TSN4, TSN 1050) –
  • Thursday, October 10, 7:00 p.m. vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (Sportsnet Ontario, FAN 590) –
  • Saturday, October 12, 7:00 p.m. at Detroit Red Wings (Sportsnet, TSN 1050) – Tuesday, October 15, 7:00 p.m. vs. Minnesota Wild (TSN4, FAN 590)

MAPLE LEAFS 4, BLUE JACKETS 1 “I thought in certain breakouts we didn’t rush it, we took our time, we stopped and came back as a group.” – MITCH MARNER (2 GOALS, 1 ASSIST).

HEAD COACH MIKE BABCOCK

On Andersen’s steady presence to start the game: Any time you come on the road you know you’re going to have to try and weather the first ten and do good things. I thought we did a good job of that and got through that. We got playing pretty good when we went ahead 2-0 and then we got carried away turning the puck over a number of times. Then giving them a goal there and they got some momentum. I thought we got ourselves reset in between the second and third and came out and played well.

On how the power play is coming together early in the season: Obviously you want it to be real dangerous. We have good people on it and a good scheme. I thought Little John did a great job tonight, taking away the goalies eyes which really helped on two of the goals. One wasn’t a power play but two goals. That’s a big part of it but obviously you want success on your special teams.

On what he thought of the fourth line, drawing a penalty and the sequence that led to the Ceci goal: Yeah we had [Kefoot’s] line out there and then Spezza’s line got out there and their centre was out there for a minute and thirty. It was kind of back-to-back-to-back there which was a real good job. I thought Spezza was real good. I thought he was real happy to be doing what he’s doing. He was great on the bench, he was great on the ice and he was good in the room. I thought he did a good job for us so good for him. Now we’re going to go right back the way we were tomorrow and give those guys another opportunity and then we’ll come back again the following game.

On if Spezza’s job on the penalty kill is to win the faceoff and get to the bench: That’s his job basically and we do the same with [Gauthier] on the other side at the start and then we play him later in the penalty kill. We’ve got some real good penalty killers, Mikheyev’s going to be a real good one and then when you put in the guys like [Marner], [Moore] and [Kapanen], those are good guys and we want them out there first but we need someone to get the draw. I thought he did a good job of that. He got caught the one time but I actually put him out on the end which probably screwed him a bit. He was breathing out his eye lids when he got back to the bench. I asked him if he could take the faceoff and he said for sure and didn’t and they seamed him. Got running around a little bit but that’s part of it. I was impressed with him tonight and he was happy to do what we needed him to do.

CODY CECI (1 GOAL)

On if it feels good to score his first goal of the season: Yeah for sure. First game was a little overwhelming with playing the old team and everything but tonight felt a little better. It was nice to get that first one out of the way and help the team win.

On the importance of getting traffic in front of the net: It was all [Johnsson], he was in front of the net all night. He made it possible for us to get them through. To have that screen is huge, especially in this league. Goalies are going to stop you if you’re 1-on-1 but having the screen helps a lot.

On Matthew’s shot: It’s just amazing. You see it day after day is pretty amazing. Usually you see it on SportsCentre but now I get to see it every single day. It’s pretty cool, cool to watch and nice to see how fast he can get it off.

MARNER (2 GOALS, 1 ASSIST)

On what went well tonight for the team: I thought our puck moving was good. I thought in certain breakouts we didn’t rush it, we took our time, we stopped and came back as a group. I thought when they had their rushes we came back as a unit and stopped them. That’s what we need to do more this season, coming back as a five-man unit and stopping those rushes. Like I said, I thought our puck moving was good, a lot of guys shooting it and getting second opportunities from it.

On Andreas Johnsson tenacity in front of the net: You saw that last year and the year before. He’s a guy that isn’t overly big but not afraid to get to that net. That’s something you love on your team and love to have. He’s been a lot of fun to watch and his skill set around the net but also when he has the puck is spectacular. He’s been a big part of this team and will be going forward.

ANDERSEN (28 SAVES)

On the importance of weathering the storm early: Yeah of course on the road you want to start playing simple and obviously don’t turn it over too many times but I thought we did a good job of sustaining the pressure and getting on with the game.

On Matthew’s shot in the third period: That was very accurate. That was crazy. His shot is second to none and also I thought [Johnsson] in front did a hell of a job and also on Mitch’s goal. He’s done that a few times now and that’s equally as important. I don’t know if the goalie would have stopped it anyway but a presence in front of the net like that is really important.