“We just couldn’t string anything together.” — Melvin

October 2, 2019

Bob Melvin

Oakland, California

Tampa Bay – 5, Oakland – 1

Q. It seemed like the last week and a half or so the offense, it kind of struggled and it sort of carried over tonight. Just overall what do you think you saw out of the bats?
BOB MELVIN: You know, what I think, it’s a clean slate. I don’t think there’s much carryover once you get to the postseason like that. They pitched really well. We got eight singles, couldn’t do much with it with runners in scoring position. They did more damage on their hits than we did ours.

I don’t think we came into the game thinking about what we did offensively the last week of the season, we just couldn’t string anything together.

Q. Do you feel like Manaea got some fastballs up high, is that what you think was going on there?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, he gives up four hits, three of them are homers, doesn’t walk anybody, strikes out five. Got some balls up the middle they could do some damage with. It looked to me like the same pitch three times. Four hits off him, three are homers.

You’ve got to give them some credit. It’s kind of our game, they kind of beat us with our game. We’re normally a home-run-hitting team, and we couldn’t do much, and they hit the ball out of our ballpark, which can be tough to do.

Q. Your young players might not even know the history. You’re from here. How do you process nine straight losses for the A’s in elimination games?
BOB MELVIN: We’ve lost the last two with this group here. So it’s a different group every year. I don’t think they’re too wound up about that. So get into this Wild Card Game, and a lot of times it comes down to pitching and timely hitting. They got us on the run early in the game, and we really couldn’t answer.

Q. Up to that point, you had gone two years in a row and been eliminated in this game. You won 97 this year. How frustrating is that to go in and out so quickly?
BOB MELVIN: It’s frustrating. It’s very sudden. Baseball, usually you have a series to kind of have a tomorrow and come back and win a game. And we’ve been really good this year about having a tough game and coming back and responding.

There’s no responding in a game like this. So it could be a difficult game. It’s a little out of the norm for baseball. It is what it is. Both teams battled to get to this point and knew it would be one and out. They just played better than we did.

Q. Building block for the future?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, we’ve won a lot of games in the last couple of years. What we need to do is win the division if we want to play a longer series. We’re in a tough division as it is.

But proud of what they did this year. We just got beat one game. And everybody is pretty upset about it.

Q. Can you step back a little and think about all the really young players who had big roles and maybe look at what Luzardo did in three innings this game, and look forward to what’s coming ahead?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, without a doubt. And even more guys within our system. As you see, Puk comes here and Murphy comes here and Luzardo comes here, and we have the Chapmans and the Olsons and guys like that, Laureano back and Canha and Semien and so forth.

So we’re going to get better. As good as this year was, we’re going to get better next year with some of the young pitching arms that you see.

Q. Looking back at the first inning, how big do you think that ended up being? You were able to load the bases, and maybe you got a hit there that changed the momentum of the game, you think?
BOB MELVIN: I didn’t. I felt like it was a successful first inning. We made them throw upwards of 30-some pitches. We made him work. He was walking some guys. Sometimes that sets the tone, and for later on in the game.

But he responded after that. And we couldn’t put together an inning like that where we had multiple guys on base. And his back was at the wall. He made a big pitch when he had to to get out of the first, and never got into a position like that afterward.

Q. You know the Astros so well, and obviously you were fighting for the right to play them. Now that the Rays will, what problems do maybe they present for a team as good as Houston?
BOB MELVIN: Look, the Rays match up as well as anybody in baseball. And they use their entire 25-man roster. They have terrific starting pitching. They have a great bullpen, match up well. They’re going to give any team a problem.

Q. No earned runs against you guys. Do you think with the rotation that’s projected for next year, there seems to be five guys, including the two left-handers coming up, penciled in already for next year. Do you think one of those guys could be somebody who actually does help you get through these early stages of the postseason and finally put the A’s over the top?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, I feel like Manaea is a guy like that, Luzardo is starting next year, Puk will probably be starting next year, too. We have the makings of an even better team next year. And you couldn’t help but think of that as the season was winding down and some of these younger guys came up and played so well. But this one’s a little tough to digest. We’ll move on to next year after we deal with this.

Q. Khris could be the one, but he was overlooked two straight years for this role to start.
BOB MELVIN: We had two good options to pitch tonight, Manaea and Fiers.

Q. You talk about wanting to reward the fans. This is one of the best crowds that you’ve really ever had in your tenure. What would be the message to the fans?
BOB MELVIN: It’s disappointing. We always want to play good with a big crowd here. And that was beyond a big crowd. They came out in full force. They were engaged from the first pitch of the game. They were engaged from the Anthem on, it felt like.

We just couldn’t give them enough to really get into it. But every inning they were up. Every inning they were waving their towels and so forth. And it’s disappointing that we couldn’t put on a better show for them.

Q. On that note, it kind of is an inclination of the type of support you really could have on a day-to-day basis in this community in a new ballpark as things move forward with the young team that you’re putting together?
BOB MELVIN: Absolutely. We see it in the postseason. We see it in big series. They come out for us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

YANDY DIAZ: TWO HRS

Yandy Diaz

Oakland, California

Tampa Bay – 5, Oakland – 1

Q. (Question in Spanish.)
YANDY DIAZ: I’ve been out for two months, but I tried to come out and play as hard as I can. And luckily the results came in right.

Q. To jump back right away against Sean Manaea, what did that do for you guys, just to keep adding on there with another home run?
YANDY DIAZ: When I looked to the bench and saw the guys super excited, it pumped me up to go around the bases. I thought we had to carry that momentum throughout the game.

Q. Yandy, how big is it for you guys, you know you need to win this game, but now you have another tough test to go to Houston and beat a team that won over a hundred games this year? Do you feel like after winning a game here you’re able to go to a place like Houston?
YANDY DIAZ: We have to keep it in mind, we know they’re a good team. Good matchup against us. We have to play the game we know how to play. We just have to keep the same mindset going into Houston.

Q. When the ball cleared, you took a glance at the dugout. Where were you on the bases at that point?
YANDY DIAZ: When I was rounding second base, I turned over to glance at the dugout, and that’s when I saw everyone super excited.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about what the process was like getting back to this level after the injury, and did you think you’d be ready for playoff baseball?
YANDY DIAZ: As everyone knows, I was out for two months, but I did everything I could in those two months to recover as quick as I could. Try to rush it at times to be ready to be here to play for the playoffs.

Q. (Question in Spanish.)
YANDY DIAZ: He likes to throw on the outside edge, so I was trying to just go with it and hit a line drive, and just get a good pitch to hit, and luckily it went out.

Q. A lot of people would say this is a game where you guys are two of the more unknown franchises. You guys are probably the real underdog going forward. Do you enjoy being in that role?
YANDY DIAZ: Yeah, we’ve never been one of the favorites. We’re always the underdogs. But we work hard and go out there and try to compete every day.

Q. You had signed originally with the Indians and played two years in the Majors with them. What were your thoughts when they traded you?
YANDY DIAZ: Yeah, I was a little surprised the Indians traded me. But I know going to Tampa Bay, they have a good young group, they play hard and they’re out there to win, so I was pleased to be on this side.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

RAYS 5, A’S 1

AL WILD CARD GAME

Oct. 3, 2019

Kevin Cash

Oakland, California

Tampa Bay – 5, Oakland – 1

Q. Kevin, pretty remarkable, even yesterday you didn’t know if Yandy was going to play. He hops out of bed and can slug it, and he showed you he can do that?
KEVIN CASH: He did. I don’t know if we expected that type of performance. I said to Buster, in the third inning, he’s made us look a lot smarter than we really are by getting them back in the lineup. He was a presence, especially against left-handed pitching. Got us off to a good start with the home run.

This crowd, this stadium was impressive. To get a lead, that somewhat calmed it. I don’t know if it totally calmed it, but he was a big part of that.

Q. Of course you have to go on a plane and head to Houston. Does this give you guys pretty good momentum going into a series like that after beating a team like the A’s?
KEVIN CASH: Definitely. They’re a tremendous ballclub. They’re ran the right way from the front office that we know of. I couldn’t think higher of Bob Melvin and what that staff does. We’ve talked about the mirroring and everything, but they’ve got a bunch of good players. We’re fortunate to be able to win.

As far as momentum goes, we’ve had to create some momentum here in the last 15 games of the regular season because of the pressure that the A’s and the Indians put on us. We’ve been on a nice roll here lately.

Q. You guys had history of digging up kind of underrated players, guys who maybe not that many people know about and turn them into a productive member of the Rays. What goes into that?
KEVIN CASH: Look, we’re fortunate, we have really smart people that can evaluate talent. And I agree with you, we’ve kind of prided ourselves, this organization, for many years, on maybe finding the players that have fallen through the cracks a little bit.

And we’ve got a handful of them on the roster right now that are main pieces to what we’re trying to accomplish. Ton of credit goes to the front office for recognizing that. It’s easy to turn away on a guy, a young player that doesn’t come out of the gate on fire, but does some special things under the surface. And I think we’ve got a bunch of those guys that do that.

Q. What can you say about what Charlie did getting through the first inning and then settling in?
KEVIN CASH: When the first inning ended, I kind of said to myself, we were fortunate to have Charlie Morton on the mound. We get the 1-0 lead. A young pitcher in that situation, that environment, you just wonder how he’s going to be able to handle that.

But Charlie, been there, done that, his veteran, his experience, I think allowed that. And I would still say, I don’t think Charlie was at his best today, but he certainly made his best pitches when they counted the most.

Q. Before the game Kevin was up here and Austin, and they spoke a little bit about how much this means. You guys have the lowest payroll in baseball, and what this means for your franchise, just showing what you can do in an unorthodox way?
KEVIN CASH: I try to take those things out of it. I’m fortunate to get to work with the people I work with. We’ve got a job to do: Go win games. Doesn’t matter what the payroll is. Find a way to win games, and credit those players for taking that same mentality for 162 games.

Q. I’m sure it was tough to use Ji-Man, some other lefties out of the lineup, how impressive is it you can mix and match, throw in a bunch of righties, and those guys seem to perform all the time?
KEVIN CASH: That’s how our lineup is built. There are certain lineups you run seven, eight guys out there, eight, nine guys out there, and that’s what you’ve got. We’re not built that way.

The reason we were successful this year is by being versatile. We use the phrase buy in quite a bit. It’s tough, because Ji-Man Choi means a lot to our club, and not to be in the starting lineup, players can perceive that as us not wanting them to play. That’s not the case. We’re going to utilize every matchup we can to put in our advantage.

Q. Following up with the previous question, what was it you guys saw about Yandy to trade for him? Did you kind of foresee that he could turn into a guy with some pop?
KEVIN CASH: Yeah, our guys — I remember those discussions that took place at the Winter Meetings. We gave up a good player in Jake Bauers, a young player.

I think the thing that stood out the most with Yandy is how hard he hit the baseball. In the air, on the ground, he hits it as hard as anybody in baseball, and he does it at a consistent clip.

We have not said one thing to him about hitting the ball in the air, any of that. We took the approach of let him be, give him consistent reps. He hasn’t had those because of the injury. But before the injury, he was getting consistent reps, and let the player figure it out a little bit.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

MAPLE LEAFS 5, SENATORS 3

POSTGAME NOTES


Oct. 3, 2019.

ON THE SCORESHEET

  • Frederik Gauthier put the Maple Leafs on the board at 2:20 of the second period. Gauthier recorded three goals and 11 assists in 70 games during the 2018-19 season. The Maple Leafs were 3-0-0 when Gauthier scored a goal last season.
  • Trevor Moore scored Toronto’s second goal of the night at 4:42 of the second period. Moore had a pair of goals and six assists in 25 games with the Maple Leafs last season. He had 23 goals in 46 games with the Toronto Marlies (AHL) in 2018-19, which ranked second on the team.
  • Auston Matthews registered the third Maple Leafs goal of the night at 8:02 of the second period and later had Toronto’s fourth goal of the night on the power play at 14:50 of the second period. Per NHL Stats, he is the fourth player in League history to score in each of his first four career season openers, joining Dit Clapper (1927-28 – 1930-31), Dave Andreychuk (1982-83 – 1985-86) and Sergei Fedorov (1990-91 –1993-94). Matthews has registered multiple points in four consecutive season openers to begin his career.
  • Ilya Mikheyev notched the primary assist on Moore’s second period goal and later had the fifth Maple Leafs goal of the night at 9:43 of the third period. Mikheyev’s assist was his first career NHL point, while his third period goal is his first career NHL goal.
  • Tyson Barrie recorded the primary assist on Gauthier’s second period goal and later had the primary assist on Mikheyev’s third period goal. Barrie’s first assist was his first point as a Maple Leaf. He had seven multi-assist games in 2018-19. 
  • Dmytro Timashov collected the secondary assist on Gauthier’s second period goal. Timashov’s assist is his first career NHL point. He ranked third among Toronto Marlies (AHL) skaters in assists last season with 35 in 72 games.
  • Rasmus Sandin had the secondary assist on Moore’s second period goal. Sandin’s assist is his first career NHL point. He was the top scoring U-19 skater in the AHL last season with 28 points (6-22-28) in 44 games with the Toronto Marlies.
  • Willian Nylander registered the primary assist on Matthews’ second period goal. Nylander had 20 assists and 27 points (7-20-27) in 54 games during the 2018-19 season. The Maple Leafs were 11-3-0 when Nylander picked up an assist last season.
  • Morgan Rielly picked up the secondary assist on Matthews’ second period goal. Rielly registered a career-high 52 assists last season, which ranked fifth among all NHL defencemen.
  • Mitch Marner recorded the primary assist on Matthews’ second period power play goal. Marner led the Maple Leafs in assists last season with 68 to finish fourth among all NHL skaters.
  • John Tavares collected the secondary assist on Matthews’ second period power play goal. In 2018-19, Tavares had 88 points (47 goals, 41 assists) in 82 games to establish a new single-season career-high for points.
  • Frederik Andersen stopped 23 shots to earn the victory tonight.

SHOTS ON GOAL (5-on-5 in brackets)

 1st2nd3rdOTTOTAL
OTTAWA12 (11)3 (3)11 (7)26 (21)
TORONTO14 (8)17 (15)11 (9)42 (32)
     

SHOT ATTEMPTS (5-on-5 in brackets)

 1st2nd3rdOTTOTAL
OTTAWA17 (16)11 (8)19 (15)47 (39)
TORONTO31 (19)28 (25)21 (14)80 (58)

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

  • The Maple Leafs are 1-0-0 at home this season.
  • Toronto’s all-time record is 54-53-3-11 in 121 games against the Senators and 30-22-2-7 in 61 games played in Toronto.
  • Toronto is 1-0-0 against the Eastern Conference this season and 1-0-0 against the Atlantic Division.
  • Tonight’s attendance was 19,612.

MAPLE LEAFS LEADERS

Shots(Matthews)
Shot Attempts14 (Matthews)
Faceoff Wins13 (Tavares)
Faceoff Win Percentage57% (Tavares – 13 won, 10 lost)
Hits(Timashov)
Blocked Shots(Ceci)
Takeaways(Matthews, Tavares)
TOI25:18 (Rielly)
Power Play TOI4:39 (Rielly)
Shorthanded TOI3:33 (Marincin)
Shifts28 (Muzzin)
5-on-5 Shot Attempt Percentage72.2% (Sandin – 13 for, 5 against)

RECORD WHEN…

  • The Maple Leafs were 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and 1-for-5 on the power play tonight. Toronto is 1-0-0 when not allowing a power play goal this season and 1-0-0 when scoring one power play goal.
  • Toronto is 1-0-0 when allowing the first goal of the game.
  • The Maple Leafs are 1-0-0 when trailing after one period and 1-0-0 when leading after two periods.
  • Toronto is 1-0-0 when outshooting their opponent.
  • The Maple Leafs are 1-0-0 in Wednesday games.

OF NOTE…

  • Toronto challenged for offside at 7:28 of the second period. It was determined that Bobby Ryan was offside prior to Ron Hainsey’s goal. The original call was overturned – No goal Ottawa.
  • Tyson Barrie and William Nylander were on the ice for a team-high 26 Toronto shot attempts-for at 5-on-5. Barrie finished the game with a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 61.9 percent (26 for, 16 against), while Nylander finished the game with a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 63.4 percent (26 for, 15 against).
  • Auston Matthews was 3-for-4 (75%) in the faceoff circle when in the offensive zone.
  • William Nylander started 16.7 percent of his 5-on-5 shifts in the offensive zone, which was the lowest mark among Toronto skaters.
  • John Tavares won 73 percent (8 won, 3 lost) of his offensive zone faceoffs.

UPCOMING GAMES:

  • Friday, October 4, 7:00 p.m. at Columbus Blue Jackets (TSN4, FAN 590)
  • 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)

What the Maple Leafs said


HEAD COACH MIKE BABCOCK

On John Tavares being named captain of the Maple Leafs:

Well, I mean, an unbelievable honour to be the captain of the Leafs. Darryl [Sittler] and Wendel [Clark] were in there after. You know, I don’t care who you are, it’s pretty special to say the least. He’s the kind of man and he’s the kind of leader, he’s the kind of person that our guys look up to and does everything right every day. He’s all about winning – he’s not about John – he’s about winning. He’s a great example to all of us. When I ask him a question he doesn’t think, ‘Is this good for John?’ He thinks, ‘Is this is good for the team?’ He’s a man. So, I think it’s great. I think it’s great for Mitch [Marner] and [Auston Matthews] too as they grow in their leadership roles. Obviously, Morgan Rielly is a huge leader here and sets the tone with enthusiasm and work ethic as well. And, so, we’re lucky. You know, Hyman and Muzzin are bigtime leaders on this team too and they’re in our leadership group. We ideally will add more and more to that because it’s important to have lots of guys all in. If you’re going to have success, the Manager or the Coach or the President is not the leader. The players take control of the team, they set the accountability and that’s how you win in the end. So, It took us a while to get to this point, but we’re excited we’re at this point.

On tonight as an important night for the team:

There’s no question about it. I know we all – we’re in a hurry. You want instant gratification, that’s society today. It’s obviously Toronto and hockey. But the reality is you just keep plugging away and doing good things and good things happen. We’re still going to have lots of moments this year where you wonder what the heck is going on. But just keep grinding, doing good things and that’s what makes you better.

On tonight’s game:

Well, I thought it was a perfect start for them. You know, you come out, we’re nervous, bang it in our net and then we get three power plays in a row and we’re borderline dysfunctional, tense, couldn’t move. We didn’t skate. But I thought once we got through that down 1-0, I thought we played. I thought we played pretty good in exhibition at the end – not at the start but at the end. I like the fact that we had the puck a lot, we spent a lot of time in the offensive zone, we shoot it and get it back. We seemed to be working pretty hard. I was really impressed with the Kerfoot line tonight – Mikheyev and Moore and those guys look good. The more depth you have – everyone knows Matthews is good, I know that too – but it’s those other guys that create depth that allow you to be better I think are important for us.

On Matthews’ performance tonight is indicative of what he wants to see from him:

Well, he’s that kind of player, right? He has a chance to be generational player. So, now, what can you learn from John [Tavares]? You can learn John is working every day, working harder and winning every puck, working hard in practice. So, that’s the challenge for our group. We have to get better; we all understand, we’ve laid it out very clearly where we’ve got to get better. We evaluated ourselves after exhibition and we’ll continue to do that where we’re going. Everybody knows what we’ve got to do to have success and, so, we talk about it on a daily basis and we’re trying to work towards that. That, to me, isn’t always going to go good but at least we’ve got a plan.

On what it says about Mikheyev that he can make an impact in his first NHL game:

Well, he’s good is what it says, but he’s way better than you’ve seen. He’s just got to get comfortable and know what direction he’s going and all that stuff. When he understands the language better and he’s – don’t get me wrong, he’s smart, he understands good – but it’s going so fast on the ice, talking to guys, it’s hard for him. But I thought – he’s an unbelievable penalty killer, boy, can he fly.

On if there are similarities between Nicklas Lidstrom and John Tavares:

Well, you know, I always hate comparing anyone to Nick Lidstrom. Seven-time Norris Trophy winner, one of the finest human beings you’ll ever meet. John Tavares is his own person, does things his own way. He’s incredible to be around because he makes you a better coach – not scared to tell you things, not shy, not scared tell the guys things. I don’t know if he ever suffered from peer pressure in his life, but I’m sure he doesn’t now. He does the right thing on a daily basis. Wants to be great, wants to get better. Good man. Good family man. Pretty impressive for us to have a guy like that. I think it helps the other guys become what they want to be too. We’re all trying to get better each and every day and we’re trying to become the people we want to be. That’s a good example.

On the successful Coach’s Challenge in the second period:

[Jordan Bean] was on that. He just, right away he was talking. It was one of those ones where the linesman wasn’t in the way, which, lots of times that play the linesman is in the way and you can’t tell. So, obviously, that’s a big play in the game right there and an important play for us and those guys were on top of it. [Andrew Brewer] and Bean Bag got it right, which is important. We talked before. They went through it, obviously – they don’t want to be under the gun so we went through. The challenges this year, you’ve got to know. You’ve flat out got to know. There’s no pretending you know, you better not. So we talked about that. They were right.

TYSON BARRIE (2 ASSISTS)

On setting up Mikheyev for his first career NHL goal:

I think it’s incredible. I think all three of those guys who played their first game tonight got a point, I’m not sure if that’s ever happened before. For [Mikheyev] to get one there too, it’s pretty cool and something I’m sure he’ll never forget.

On what makes Tavares a good choice for captain:

I think with [Tavares] you know exactly what you’re going to get out of him every night. He’s such a professional, the way he prepares, the way that he plays the game. It’s something we can all get behind, something we can all learn from.  He’s got his head down and going in the right direction every time.

On what he learned playing with Matthews:

He’s a gamebreaker. He’s one of those elite guys in the league that can change the whole momentum of the game and you saw it tonight. He’s a special player.

AUSTON MATTHEWS (2 GOALS)

On being named an alternate captain this season:

It’s a big honor. I think all four of us look at it as a big honour, big responsibility. So, I think, like we’ve been saying all along, there’s lots of leaders in this room. We’re just the guys that are wearing the letters.

On what makes Tavares a good leader for the team:

Well, he’s worn it before, he knows what it’s like and, you know, I guess, the responsibility that comes with it. He’s just the guy that comes in every day and does his job and he’s humble about it, works hard to be a good example for everybody.

On if he’s disappointed he wasn’t named captain:

No, I’m not disappointed. I mean, I’m happy. Happy to be wearing a letter in general. Just playing hockey with this team. We’ve got a special group. So, it’s just been fun. Fun from training camp, and obviously, nice to get it going tonight.

ILYA MIKHEYEV (1 GOAL, 1 ASSIST)

On his feelings after his NHL debut:

I’m very happy today. I have my first NHL game; I’ve been working a long time for. I’ve waited for this moment my whole life.

On what it felt like to score his goal:

Relief. I don’t believe it.

On if his family was in attendance tonight:

No, I have my girlfriend here. My parents are busy now and they have plans to come in November. I hope.

On what he did with the puck from his goal:

I took a picture. I called my Grandma and my Parents.

On playing in front of the crowd in Toronto:

Very great. Great atmosphere, great fans, great organization. This is my first time playing with this many people. Great.

On the biggest challenge of moving to Toronto:

The language because I’m learning English with my teacher in Russia at home. The mentality I bring because in Russia we have a difference. What’s important for me, I don’t know why – I like soup, I don’t know why you don’t eat soup. My girlfriend is cooking and I’m very happy when I eat.

MORGAN RIELLY (1 ASSIST)

On being named an alternate captain:

It’s great, but there’s more important things going on. There’s guys in this room who don’t wear letters that are leaders and expected to be a part of that leadership group and take responsibility for certain things. It is what it is. There’s a big picture.

On John Tavares being named captain:

Johnny’s the perfect guy for the job. You know we’ve talked about it – a poised, confident person who carries himself like a true professional and comes to work every day. Like I said, the perfect guy for it.

On the way the team played tonight:

I thought it was good. Obviously, not the start we wanted but I thought we bounced back and played hard and I thought there were periods of the game where we really controlled it. It’s a good first night.

JOHN TAVARES (1 ASSIST)

On the team using his family to tell him he was being named captain: 

I’ll never forget that moment. It’s been an amazing three weeks. To see (his son Jace) there with (a jersey with a “C”) on, to be the one to tell me, was very emotional and really, really special. It’s hard to really describe to you.

On how hard it was to keep the secret:

I think, just excited to experience the moment and get out there and everyone hearing it for the first time, and just the way the organization did it. From how I found out, like I said, to the last couple days, just preparing. It certainly was nice to get it out there and I think the way we did it was really special. A great way to do it and to follow it up with the way we played just made it that much better.

NATIONALS BEAT BREWERS

NL WILDCARD GAME: BREWERS VS NATIONALS

October 1, 2019

Dave Martinez

Washington, D.C. – postgame

Nationals – 4, Brewers, 3

Q. Can you go through what was the pregame plan for pitching? Did you think about hitting for Scherzer in the third there, and what did you think you could get out of Strasburg?
DAVE MARTINEZ: We thought about it, but the thing is to try to get Stras through the later innings, as well. Scherzer settled down after the first two innings. He was dynamite. We rode him as long as we could. We knew we had to pinch-hit for him.

What can you say about Stras? He comes in out of the bullpen and shuts them down, gives us a chance to get back in the game. You guys seen the rest. The eighth inning we scored some runs, Huddy comes in and closes the 9th.

Q. The at-bats continually come of pass the baton, and Juan comes up with a big hit. What would you expect out of a 20-year-old?
DAVE MARTINEZ: What about that? He’s done it all year for us. That’s why he’s a cleanup hitter. He makes good at-bats, and he comes through when we need him to come through. He’s been unbelievable all year for us.

Q. What did you think of the quality at-bats throughout the game at that point, and was that effective pitching by them or did you feel like the moment got too big for them?
DAVE MARTINEZ: You don’t know. Look, Pomeranz was really, really good. He was. We hit some balls hard. I thought Suzuki’s ball had a chance to get out. And Trea just missed a couple of balls.

And as I said all year, these guys never hit. And their bats got better. We put the ball in play. I was trying to save Zimm to hit it with somebody on base. I knew Taylor had a good at-bat against Hader once. It was the perfect opportunity. If he gets on somehow, we’ve got Trea, and I can pinch-hit for Eaton with Zimm, and that’s the way it worked out.

Q. This is like a lot of your wins this year. Your starter doesn’t get a lot of support early. It’s getting late in the game and then all of a sudden things happen. Can you talk about how this season has gone with so many wins like that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: It’s been going like that all year. But like I said, you know, they played to the last out, you know? Every day, they don’t quit until the 27th out is recorded. And honestly, for me, you kind of got used to it. We’re sitting there and nobody ever thought we were ever done until the last out, really. The dugout was fired up. The guys were fired up. Michael gets hit and simultaneously everyone screamed let’s go, and that’s all it took.

Q. So can you figure out that Corbin will start Game 1, are they there yet?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I will tell you Patrick Corbin will start Game 1.

Q. You mentioned Taylor hit by a pitch. Obviously there was a tense couple of minutes reviewing it. What have you seen since that convinced you that —
DAVE MARTINEZ: He had his glove on the batting glove. It hit his hand and hit the bat, but it hit first.

Q. I know you weren’t here for a lot of those, what can you say for the guys that have been here through those, and how can you use that to move forward?
DAVE MARTINEZ: This was a big win for the guys in the clubhouse, celebrating right now, for this organization. We get to move on and go to LA. But it’s a testament to those guys in that clubhouse. They played hard all year long. We started off horrible, as we all know, and we vowed that we wouldn’t quit. I told the boys, I promise you, stay with it, don’t quit, this will turn around, and it did. And here we are today.

Q. You guys had gotten Hader before here in the summer. When he comes in, does that ever come into anyone’s mind, we’ve gotten to this guy before, and maybe a little bit extra confidence?
DAVE MARTINEZ: The biggest thing is we told the guys to be aggressive, but in the strike zone. Make him throw strikes. Obviously, that’s key for anything, but when he’s throwing 97, 98, you’ve got to get them in the strike zone. I thought we did a pretty good job of that today.

October 1, 2019

Craig Counsell

Chicago, Illinois – postgame

Nationals – 4, Brewers – 3

Q. That game turns on a hit by pitch. How did you see it? What explanation did you get? And how hard is it for a game to turn on something that you probably I assume disagree with?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yeah, I mean you don’t get an explanation, that’s part of replay. Yeah, I mean, I have — honestly I saw it once quickly on the scoreboard. I wasn’t paying attention to it. They’re going to make a call and that’s what the call is going to be. I’d have to look at it a couple more times to tell you what exactly I think happened.

Most of our dugout was saying it’s really close, but I thought it hit the bat first, and then hit his hand which probably is a foul ball. I thought that should have been the call. That’s kind of what we thought in the dugout that the call was going to be.

Q. What do you say, if anything, to Trent? Obviously a 22-year-old is going to feel like that’s on him, when there’s a number of things that could have gone wrong.
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yeah, look, I think that’s about playing in these games. That’s part of playing in these games. And it’s disappointing, and I’m sure Trent is disappointed. But for all these guys, Trent’s why we’re here. Trent got us here, big part of getting us here. The inning was an ugly inning. Crazy things happen, as do happen. And they got a big hit, and unfortunately the ball — Trent was being aggressive and trying to get a throw off, and looked like the ball probably kicked back a little bit on him, because it had some spin on it.

Q. Craig, I’m guessing before all that happened you had it set up exactly as you wanted it. You got the two out with Pomeranz, and two out with Josh. Every team wants more runs, but you must have felt good about that?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yeah, I think the game — it started with Woody, and Woody did an incredible job getting us four innings. It was special. It really was. He was outstanding. Suter got through the inning. It was a struggle. We probably planned on more innings from him, but I just thought that with who was coming up that inning that it was a great inning for Drew to start it. He threw the ball well, and we’re six outs away. If you could have told me we’d hand the ball with six outs to go with Josh, that would have fit our script really, really well. It just didn’t play.

Q. With how well Drew was pitching, was there a thought of bringing him in the 8th, and how quick of work he does in those two innings?
CRAIG COUNSELL: No. I had Josh out there. Drew had done his job. That’s exactly — that’s what I wanted from Drew, get us to the 8th. Drew throws two, Josh throws two. That’s — that was perfect, really. That’s how — we couldn’t have drawn it up any better. It went the way we wanted. I wasn’t going to go past that with Drew.

Q. If you’ve addressed this I apologize, but the fact that you lose Yelich down the stretch and the injuries you had to fight through all year long, what’s your sense now after this is over and your team in general? I’m sure you’re proud of them?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Very proud. These baseball seasons are sacred. You think that you don’t get many of them, and you don’t get many chances like this. And I’m so proud of the way we battled and the urgency that we played with and how together we became, better than anybody thought we could be.

It was a wonderful effort. Things didn’t go our way tonight, but I’m incredibly proud of what they accomplished. It’s an incredible group. They accomplished a lot. They should be proud. This is a difficult night. No reason to hang your heads with the season we have, absolutely none for us. I’m really proud of what we did.

Q. That’s kind of what I was going to ask, that sounds like that was your message to them?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yeah.

Q. How long do you think it will take them to feel that that’s what they did and get over this disappointment?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Well, this is a game you think about for a while, of course, right? You’re going to think about this game because these opportunities are hard to come by. It’s hard to put yourself in the playoffs and get yourself close to winning a Wild Card game.

So it’s going to sting, as it should, as we expect. But I still get left with just how we accomplished what we did. And I think we should be proud of that. And we did it together. That’s how we did it.

October 1, 2019

Juan Soto

Trea Turner

Nationals – 4, Brewers – 3

Q. Juan, could you take me through the at-bat and the single and what you were looking for in the situation that you were in there?
JUAN SOTO: To me, I just step in there. I know he’s in trouble. He going to try to attack me with his fastball up and the slider. I mean, I just step in there and try to hit the ball and single to the middle. That’s what all I think in that bat, hit a ground ball single to the middle and try to tie the game.

Q. Continuing with that, Juan, when you saw him lose the ball in right field, what was your reaction as you ran to second?
JUAN SOTO: I just see the — I want to make sure they throw the ball to the third baseman, and make the rundown over there, and try to make a score.

Q. Trea, the way you guys offensively played that game, seven innings struggling against them, and then the best closure in baseball.
TREA TURNER: You’ve got to give credit to those guys, Pomeranz, Suter and Woodruff were really good. They’re not fun at-bats. Chasing a hundred, and fastball is moving, throwing up in the zone. I think just did a good job pitching-wise. And for me, I think for Max Scherz, for us to keep it close and give us a chance was the key. And they did that, and we continued to fight offensively and put it together.

Q. Trea, if someone who hasn’t been paying attention asked you what’s going on with your team right now, how would you explain what’s going on the past week or so around here?
TREA TURNER: I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I think we won nine games in a row. I think we’re playing good baseball, this time of the year playing against really good teams. We played Philly, who was — and then we played Cleveland.

So we’ve had to play two tough series before this game. And Milwaukee has been hot the past month or so. No easy games. And I think hats off for us to for continuing to fight because we know if we could keep it close we could have a chance at the end. And we’re here now.

Q. Juan, you guys almost got to Hader when they were here in August, and he kind of got out of it. What was the mentality against Hader this time and made the difference to stay in and turn things in your favor?
JUAN SOTO: I mean, most of the guys, we know he likes to throw high heaters, and not much sliders. He just throws a lot of heaters. We try to make him throw strikes. We just make sure he throws strikes. And then when they come up, like I say, I know he going to try to attack me.

Q. Trea, looking ahead now, you have a day to go out to LA and start on Thursday. Facing the Dodgers, the challenge that presents?
TREA TURNER: Yeah, a few years ago, I guess different team, but a few years ago I was here and we played them. They’re obviously a good team, great starting pitching, good lineup and deep and whatnot.

So it’s going to be tough. But I think if there’s a team that’s ever been ready to face some adversity, it’s this one right here. And I guess Corbin is pitching for us. I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that. Also, I don’t have background information on that. So that’s just my thought process (laughter).

But to go against a good rotation over there, it’s going to be a battle, and we’re looking forward to it.

Q. What did you guys think of the way Stephen came out of the bullpen for the first time in his career and cruised through three innings like that?
TREA TURNER: For me I just thought he was efficient. I looked up and I’m pretty sure he got the double play in the first inning, and they got some hits, but I felt like he worked himself right out of the situation real quick and was just efficient and in the zone, throwing pitches like he always does.

And early in the week I was pretty excited when he said he wanted to close for us if we went to Corbin and then to him. So I can’t say enough about him. But that was big for us.

Q. The motto of this team has been stay in the fight. Is this the embodiment of that tonight?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For sure. Like I said, Mike’s at-bat, Tony’s at-bat, Zimm’s at-bat. Everything that led up to Juan’s hit, obviously, it was a big hit in a very tough situation, but the whole inning in general I appreciate because I know how tough it is to face that guy out there.

And you can say don’t swing at the high heater, but it’s a simple concept but not easy. To put those three at-bats together before Juan’s, and Juan put the hit out there to tie the game, and the mistake out there was big. But we’re never going to give up and we’re going to continue to do that until the last at-bat is made.

Q. Juan, you mentioned before the game that your mom cooked for you today. Have you talked to her about coming to Los Angeles with you and continuing to cook for you?
JUAN SOTO: She told me she got to work in the Dominican. I really sad for that, but I try to bring her before everything is done.

Q. I notice you have a helmet on, you have goggles on. Obviously you were prepared for this celebration?
TREA TURNER: I wouldn’t say prepared. This has been sitting in my locker for about four months now. So I figured it was a good time to break it out. And here we are now. But I did not order this or receive this within the last week, it’s been there for a while. I didn’t plan anything it just happened.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

AL WILD CARD GAME Oct. 2, 2019

Pre-game interviews:

Bob Melvin

Q. Were there any particularly difficult lineup decisions? How did you decide especially on the catcher spot?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, probably the last two spots were the toughest ones, Grossman or Brown or Phegley or Murphy. Really could have been a flip of the coin. We have confidence in both. Certainly Phegs had a terrific first half. Murph came in and hit the ground running, both offensively and defensively. Worked well with Manaea. So maybe lean just a little bit towards that. Hit some homers. He’s been struggling a little bit as of late. So really kind of a toss-up.

As far as Grossman and Browny, Browny got off to a really hot start, slowed down a little bit. Maybe the experience just a little bit more on Robbie’s end, runs a little better, switch hits, maybe a little better in the field, has played more left field and can do some different things. Balance the experience and youth with those two spots, went with youth at one and experience at the other.

Q. Was there any consideration to play Sheldon Neuse at second base, or did you want to go with Profar?
BOB MELVIN: No, Pro has been swinging the bat really well and he’s got some experience off Morton, too. Morton can be very tough on righties. We tried to get as many lefties as we could in there today. And like I said, what is he, 4 for 11 with the homer off him? So if we have to make some adjustments as the game goes along, we’ll do that, but Pro has been playing pretty good here recently.

Q. It’s been a while since there’s been a playoff game here at the Coliseum, and I’m just wondering if you could mention maybe some of your favorite memories from here having grown up here. And also what is it about this place when it’s packed that makes it different from other ballparks?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, growing up here, The Who and The Dead in 1975, Peter Frampton in 1976. (Laughter).

No, as a kid, probably going to some of the World Series games in the ’70s across the way with the Warriors. I’ve been to this part of the Bay Area quite a bit. It doesn’t necessarily just have to be baseball.

I think we had a couple of walk-offs in the postseason. Coco had one and Steven Vogt had one, and I remember the crowd’s reaction to that. This place gets really loud when it’s well attended, and with Mount Davis open today, it can be a serious home-field advantage for us.

Oakland fans are unique and can make this place a serious home-field advantage for us, so hopefully we can give them something to cheer about early in the game.

Q. Last night you saw the Nationals go with Scherzer and Strasburg. You have Fiers on this roster. Is your sense that you guys win this game and everybody — you can just dump everybody into this game, or is there any, okay, maybe we have to save a little bit for the next series?
BOB MELVIN: No, we’re playing for today’s game. Until you win this one, we’re not even thinking about what’s after this. So we’re just trying to put the best pitchers on our roster that we possibly can more than anything else. Whether or not he’s used in this game, I don’t think we’re looking at it as Manaea and Fiers. Mike hasn’t relieved. Certainly wouldn’t bring him in in the middle of an inning. We’re just trying to get our best pitchers and be ready for any scenario.

Q. Those of us who cover the team were surprised about a couple things in their lineup today. I wonder what your reaction was to Diaz playing first base, the rookie Brosseau playing second and with Snell being on the roster, what were your thoughts on those things?
BOB MELVIN: I think they’re trying to get as many right-handed hitters in the lineup as they possibly can and guys that have been impactful against left-handed pitching. So the minute you go right, you’re going to see a different lineup. They can make line changes and they do it very well, and they’re very good about pinch-hitting. Their guys are aware of the situations, they identify the leveraged at-bats. So I think they’re trying to play against a lefty early in the game and they’re ready for a righty, and I think that’s why both those guys are in there.

Q. You mentioned Profar a little bit earlier who’s immersed against Morton. He was saying yesterday he feels like the postseason could be a fresh start for him. He’s been a guy who’s actually had the ability to drive in runs. What kind of weapon could he be for you today?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, he’s got experience late in the season. You know, he’s got some history, like I said, against this guy. He’s been playing pretty well here as of late, too. When Sheldon first got here, we gave him a lot of the reps and then Pro played himself back into the lineup, mostly against right-handed pitching, and at times he’s been really good defensively. There’s some balls that he’s thrown away. But there’s also been some really good plays he’s made here, and I think he’s playing with as much confidence as he has basically the entire season.

If you look at numbers, he’s 20 home runs and he’s knocked in some runs, so yeah, he feels pretty good about himself right now.

Q. Every rookie you’ve called up since August on made a pretty big impact down the stretch, and a lot of them are top prospects, but to see them produce at such a high level in crucial situations, how special is that to see?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, I mean, it’s part of what we think will be a bright future, and it’s here now, and a lot of our top prospects are here now. I think in our organization, players know that we give younger players an opportunity right away, and the opportunity to get them in spots where they have a chance to impact the team. And that’s been the case with every single one of these guys, whether it’s Puk, Luzardo, Murphy. Sheldon has done a good job, too, Murph.

Yeah, we brought them in at times we felt like they were playing good and got them in the lineup right away, which gives them confidence, as well. But you’ll see quite a few of these guys around here for a while. These are our top prospects, and they showed up about the right time.

Q. You made a roster move there, Barreto is in. Could you talk about this roster move and how Barreto could be useful to you in this game?
BOB MELVIN: Right, that was the hardest one was not having Steven on the roster, and he worked so hard to get back. You know, there was a time two weeks ago I didn’t think there was a chance that he would be able to even play a game toward the end of the season. He played the last game, he got four at-bats, he looked fine. So that was the toughest one.

I think just the lack of at-bats over the last month-plus played in, and the fact that Franklin gives us a pinch runner, he gives us a guy that can play the outfield and the infield and multiple positions in the infield. You never know where these games go, so you’re just trying to check all the boxes and have potentially a guy in a spot for any particular scenario, and that’s why Franklin is here.

Q. What can you say you might have drawn from the ’14 and last year’s Wild Card losses that you might apply?
BOB MELVIN: You know, well, I think the guys that are here now, last year was the game that they played in, so I think just having the experience in that game and realizing that it’s one thing to think you’re ready for it, it’s another to go out there and experience what it’s like because it’s different than the regular season. I think that bodes well for them, and plus we’re playing at home. I think that’s the biggest thing for us right now is we’ve played really well here at home. Our fans get into it, and it’s just a little different venue than what we were dealing with last year.

Just a little bit more comfortable with the home.

Q. Yesterday Kevin Cash said something along the lines of if he gets into a chess matchup with you, you’re probably going to win. How does it feel getting a compliment like that from your counterpart today?
BOB MELVIN: I don’t know that I agree with him, but you know what, he and I have gotten to know each other over the last couple of years, and I think probably have a mutual respect for how each team does things. There’s a lot of similarities between the two teams and how they do things.

They’re probably a little bit more apt to match up this year than we are. Maybe in years past we platooned at a few more positions and pinch-hit a little bit more. We probably do have 1 through 7 today, guys that we don’t really match up with. So it’s a little different. They continue to match up as good as anybody in the league. Kevin Cash is a premier manager in this league, and the way they do things can be difficult to get the players to buy in, and he’s gotten them to buy in 100 percent. So I think as far as the way they do things, he’s about as good as they get.

You know once this game gets going and once our starter is out of the game that they’re going to match up and they’re going to pinch-hit. They run, they hit and run, they first and third safeties, they do a lot of things to try to take you out of their game, and he’s really good at that.

Q. I know you’re obviously extremely focused on this game, but whoever advances runs into the Astros and that pitching they have. You saw them a lot during the year. What kind of challenge in a short series would that present to whatever it is?
BOB MELVIN: They’re a challenge. We’ve seen them all year. We’re focused on this game. Really not thinking about them too much right now.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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