One step at a time
Just because it’s the playoffs, it doesn’t make us immune to what’s going on, so I was able to appreciate what Kenny Rogers did tonight as a fellow pitcher. Kenny was probably the best we’ve ever seen him, and he’s been really good against us in the past. He’s had two of his best games of the year here in the playoffs, and I can definitely appreciate that.
I don’t think we need history to rely on, thinking about what the Red Sox did a couple of years ago. If we can just stay focused and worry about playing the game one step at a time, one fundamental at a time, we won’t get too far ahead of ourselves and feel like we have so much to overcome. It’s definitely possible for us to win the game tomorrow, and if we can do that, we move on to the next day. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves and say, "OK, boys, we have to win four straight," because anyone who does that is going to come up short.
I think Rich Harden came out a little juiced up, a little amped up. This was his first playoff start, and no matter how you think you’ve prepared, it’s just a different situation, and I think that’s why he was throwing some balls to the first couple of guys. He was just juiced up, and that’s kind of been his pattern. Once he gets past the first inning or so and settles in, he just dominates, and that’s kind of what he did today. He started finding control with his heater and his change. Monroe hit that fastball good; it was a decent pitch that was down. But other than that, there was nothing, and Rich really showed a lot after coming off a tough year with a lot of injuries, and he really did what we asked.
He just happened to go up against Kenny on one of his best days.
Kenny was changing speeds and throwing everything for strikes when he needed to, and then he’d get guys chasing balls out of the zone. That’s what his M.O. is when he’s ahead, and that’s tough on our guys. Kenny makes his money on balls out of the zone, and that’s kind of the way I am, too.
I watched Glavine pitch yesterday, just a crafty lefty getting it done, and then today I watched Kenny completely on top of his stuff. That just goes to show you that you don’t need blazing fastballs to get big-league hitters out. You just have to change speeds and hit your spots and have an idea of what you’re doing.
I feel good about Dan Haren tomorrow. I’m sure he’s excited to get out there, and he’s got nothing to lose. None of us have anything to lose. We just need to play with a lot of heart tomorrow and not play like we have to protect anything or play not to lose. We can’t worry about anything that’s happened earlier in the series. We just have to let it all hang out, play with heart and not hang our heads.