October 15, 2019
Washington D.C. – postgame 4
Nationals 7, Cardinals 4
Q. I know it will take some time to digest this a little bit, but in the immediate aftermath, what do you see as the key factors in Washington winning the series?
MIKE SHILDT: The pitching. The pitching by far. I say that, but probably a great starting point. They beat us, clearly. Hats off to them. They played really good baseball. They pitched very, very well. Their bats heated up as the series went. They played in the game the right way. It’s a class group. Like I said, they beat us, and we tip our hat to them and wish them nothing but the best.
Like I said, it’s a very classy group that plays the game right, a lot of veterans that have a lot of time in, but their pitching was the difference in this series.
Q. I know you’re not going to have all the answers 20 minutes after the final game, I just want to ask about 48 total strikeouts in four games. I know their pitching is good, but is there something from your offensive approach that could have been better to avoid all those strikeouts?
MIKE SHILDT: Yeah, sure. You average 12 strikeouts a game, but you’re also talking about — it’s just a blend, right? It’s a blend of their ability. I was just talking to a couple of the guys and just honest evaluation of it. We could have always done better. Talking about three elite strikeout guys in this league. So it’s a combination of things.
Q. Mike, for Dakota to throw so few pitches speaks to the aggression they had coming out against him tonight. Is that something you were a little bit surprised by, or what do you think the response is to that?
MIKE SHILDT: Not at all. It’s an aggressive team. Not surprised at all. I think most people have a similar hitting philosophy. It depends on where the pitches are and if you can execute them sometimes. They were looking for good pitches to hit, got good swings on it. The ball was up a little bit and they got the ball in the air and obviously got the lead. Appreciate a couple of things, and I’ll get to this, whether the question is asked or not. At least for this game and then talk about the group.
Can’t ask for much more fight out of this group tonight. You’re down 7-0. You’re down 5-0. You’ve got your — one of your leaders, Waino, that was like, I want in this game if something happens. He goes out, base hit to left, gets his inning out of the way. Great job by the bullpen — Hels, Gio, Miller, terrific.
Then I’m sure people were paying attention. There’s a lot of heart and fight in this club. There wasn’t one guy that didn’t expect to win that game. Yadi gets us started with the homer, and they couldn’t have felt real comfortable over there, which is how competition works. We just weren’t able to bring it home.
A lot of teams — I can’t speak to a lot of teams. I can only speak to our team. It’s a special team that is down and could easily have packed it in. We had the go-ahead run at the plate with a guy we have confidence in, you know, take the lead. So a lot of positives took place, but not enough of them.
Q. You see him, he goes down 0-2. He’s fighting back from 0-2, evens the count up. What are you thinking as that at-bat is progressing?
MIKE SHILDT: Get a good pitch and get a swing on it. I thought the one he fouled off was probably his best pitch. But just get a swing on. Clearly, he would have liked a Roy Hobbs kind of moment and hit one out the ballpark. Just get a ball in the gap, get Kolten up there, and we got Wiety behind him. So just get a good swing and drive the ball somewhere.
Q. Mike, this is a lot of your guys’ first postseason experience. It’s your first postseason experience as manager. What do you think they and you can really take from this experience moving forward?
MIKE SHILDT: You always learn from things. I will say this. I didn’t feel like that anybody made any of the moments in the postseason bigger than they were. I felt like people were present, including our staff, myself. I’m not saying we made all the right decisions, but I’m saying we were into the competition. We were aware what was taking place. We normalized that during the course of the year.
But experience is a good teacher. You always look to grow from it. We will. We’re a very growth mindset staff and team and organization, but there’s not anything that you look at, at least immediately — we talked about this as things were going, are we missing anything? Are we going to look back and have a regret?
Yeah, we strike out 48 times in four games, and there’s some frustration there, but as far as how we competed, how we prepared, the decisions the guys made, we made, I didn’t — you know, I felt like we were in a pretty good place.
Q. Two quick questions, please. In the first inning, Corbin was getting strikeouts with the fastball, and then as the game went on, his slider seemed so good. From your vantage point, what makes his slider so effective?
MIKE SHILDT: Late, just late. It comes out of his hand like his heater. Like any guys with a plus pitch, it’s going to have something that, again, comes out looking similar to something else, and then it’s going to be late. Rivera threw his gutter and could pretty much tell you it was coming and couldn’t really do a whole lot about it. This ball comes out of his hands. It’s a harder slider, and it’s got that late downward break.
We ran into guys with elite pitches with experience, and they performed.
Q. Clearly, you wouldn’t have won the first series without Paul Goldschmidt. This series he wasn’t the Paul Goldschmidt we know. Clearly, he was trying hard, but what were you seeing from Goldschmidt in this series?
MIKE SHILDT: Again, they’re gonna pitch all our guys tough. They pitched Goldie tough. He got a few pitches that he fouled back, but I thought he was taking his normal at-bats. Again, they made a lot of quality pitches to him. It’s interesting. It’s the beautiful part of our game, right? You go from series to series and how you maintain that, and it’s a challenging thing, but I felt like Goldie was in a good place mentally and physically, just didn’t get the results.
Q. There were some good defensive plays and then a couple that you guys did not make in the first inning, the play at second and the ball that dropped at right field. Can you discuss those a little?
MIKE SHILDT: Play at second, just trying to get a force and weren’t able to catch it. Kolten is a Gold Glove guy, so just didn’t make a play. Same thing with Josey. Ball was hit in one of those areas that we couldn’t quite communicate with, couldn’t make a play, and clearly, both were big plays because it allowed the inning to continue and allowed that crooked number to grow.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, thanks for everything. Division winning season, NLCS appearance. Excellent season for the Cardinals.
MIKE SHILDT: I just want to say that, listen, I don’t know how much more anybody wants to hear me talk, but just how much respect I have for our team. When you look at it, this is a complete team that just got through performing and competing. A lot of respect, and I know we’re proud of our body of work. We’re disappointed with what took place, but I’ve got a lot of love for our group. I know our fan base does as well, I would hope. We laid pretty much everything out there we could possibly lay out there.
When I say team, this is a team first group, indicative of just Dexter today. Clearly, he wasn’t in the lineup, been a staple for us all year, had a great season, and had his head in the right place to go up and draw a walk. That’s just indicative of what this team’s about and how they competed. This group is all in and laid it out there for every single day starting in Spring Training. There was not one guy or one staff member that backed down, and everybody had a common goal. Unfortunately, we didn’t reach our ultimate goal, but we did have a nice season.
We’ve got unfinished business moving forward, but I just want to get out there how much respect we have for our team and how they competed this year.
Q. How important would it have been to get a lead early tonight and take some of that crowd out of the game a little bit for a while anyway? Then you got hit with a gut punch right away.
MIKE SHILDT: We proved — and this doesn’t require advanced Sabermetrics. You have to get a lead to win a game. So we weren’t able to do that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports