Cliff Lee: Just Phenomenal in Game 3

Amazing.

How does that describe Cliff Lee? That was a pretty special pitching performance, and a pretty good pickup. If Ruben Amaro were here right now, I’d pat him on the back. Cliff fits in with this group of guys so well. He’s just like the rest of us. 

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He just goes out, does his job and plays as hard as he can. He’s like everybody in here. It’s kind of funny. Usually you’ll get this guy or that guy who is different or separate from the team. He just fits in with the rest of us.

Clubhouse chemistry is huge. If you get three or four guys who are standoff-ish from everyone else, it creates a little animosity, you know? It creates a little separation. There is no separation here. If you need anything, everybody here is willing to help each other out, on and off the field. If you needed help moving, you could ask just about anybody on this team. Every team is like a family, but this is like a big one. It really is. That’s how I feel about it, anyway. I know for people like myself and Paul Bako, we were thinking this might be our last year. But he’s having so much fun and I’m having so much fun that you have to think about it. This was going to be it for me. But then you start to play with these guys for a full year and you realize how fun this group is to be around. It makes you want to continue to play. Obviously, it’s huge that we win. That’s obvious. But even if we lose a few games in a row during the season, which we did, you still can’t wait to get to the field the next day.

We bust on each other all the time. You can do it to anybody. It’s that type of group of guys. You can mess with anybody, and you have to be prepared to be messed with. We’re as loosey-goosey as you can get in a clubhouse and still obey the rules. Nobody breaks the rules. Nobody is above any rules in here.

So it’s great that Cliff not only pitches well, but that he fits in so well, too. And I’m sure Cliff wanted to finish the game tonight, but we do have more games to play. And the fewer the pitches the fresher you can be. You never know what could happen.

Looking Up, We Got A Split

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I’m sure everybody back in Philly is upset about what happened today, but we’ve got to look at today’s loss differently.

We came into a place that is tough to play and split. That’s how we feel. Do we think we could have won today’s game? I believe so, but Vicente Padilla threw a very good game.

Jim Thome was 0-for-7 in his career against me when I faced him in the eighth. I just left a slider over the plate. It didn’t break. I watched the video and it just cement-mixed spun up there and he hit it. It was bad mechanics. My arm was down low. It should have been higher. If it’s up higher I drive the ball down and get that break. If I throw a good one he either rolls it over to first or swings and misses. He just filleted it into right field. He didn’t even hit it that good.

We’ve got a 4 1/2 hour flight home. We’ve got a workout tomorrow. We have Cliff Lee on the mound in Game 3 on Sunday against Kuroda. That’s not a bad situation to be in. If we had gotten our butts kicked twice in a row, I think it would be different. But we played two good games against a really good team.

We’ll try to relax on the flight home, eat the nasty food on the plane and move on. We split. You’d love to go 2-0 on the road. 0-2 stinks. But we’re going home to play three with our fans with a split.

Wear your winter coats and be ready. We’ll need you.

Red Bull and Game 1

It got a little intense out there, didn’t it?

Especially for me. I drank a Red Bull in the fifth inning and said to myself, “Man, this thing didn’t do anything for me today.” And then I started warming up in the eighth inning and the Red Bull kicked in hard. When I got on the mound I was like, “Whoa, man. I’m wired right now.” I had to step back. Sometimes you get that much adrenaline going …

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… I actually think that’s what might have happened with Madson tonight. He has the stuff to close anywhere in any situation. His stuff is great, but sometimes I think he gets so fired up that he tries to go harder. That’s the one thing I learned a long time ago — take that breath and relax. You pitch in the big leagues because you’re good at what you do. You’re not here by accident. Nobody is here by accident. Everybody is here because they can do this job. Sometimes you have to step back and trust your stuff and take a deep breath and relax. I don’t want to sound all Yoga instructor on everybody, but I took it before and it seems to work …

… I actually was pretty relaxed in the ninth. I think if the first two guys would have gotten on, I would have faced Loney. But once Brad got the double play, I was like, “OK, I’m done.” I wasn’t going to leave the mound, but I knew I was pretty much done because they had used their pinch-hitters. I basically just stood on the mound and listened to the fans yell at me until Brad finished it off.

But winning this first game is big, especially in a seven-game series because we still have three games at home. Tomorrow will be a huge game now. Going to our park with our fans for three games? The possibility of being up 2-0 would be really cool.

And I am very much looking forward to watching Pedro pitch in the postseason tomorrow.

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I actually grew up a Dodgers fan. I lived here the first 15 years of my life. My dad is a huge Dodgers fan. When I played for the Giants it actually was hard for my dad to root for the Giants. He’d root for me, but he wanted us to lose, 1-0. He’s rooting for me now, but he’ll tease me and say he’s rooting for his Dodgers. I know for a fact he wants us to win and he wants us to be successful. He just doesn’t want us to play the Dodgers.

Feeling Good

People like to ask us what we’re thinking heading into this series against the Dodgers.

Where are our heads at?

I think we could be down 3-0 in a series and I don’t think our clubhouse demeanor would change. I really truly believe that. I don’t think anybody in here knows how to come to the ballpark in a bitter mood or thinking we can’t win. I don’t think anybody in here thinks we can’t win any game, no matter who is starting. I think everybody comes to the field thinking we’re going to win. We just come with the attitude of we’re going to come to the park, have fun and play. And that starts with Charlie. He says it. Have fun and play hard. Play hard, but enjoy it. One time he told us to enjoy our surroundings. Enjoy what we’ve got. Make it worth it. If we’re here we might as well play hard. He’s great that way.

I heard today that for the first time in a long time that teams with the top two records in the National League and American League are playing each other in the NLCS and ALCS. It’s Phillies vs. Dodgers and Angels vs. Yankees. You’ve got your Final Four right there. That’s exciting to me because sometimes you win 100 games in the regular season and you get swept in the first round. That happened when I played for the Giants in 2003. We lost in four to the Marlins. We had 100 wins. We had the most wins in the National League and we lost.

But this team makes you want to play. Just being around these guys makes you want to come to the field every day. It is an inspiring bunch of guys. Just go out and have fun. That’s we try to do.

There are two pretty good teams playing in this series. Hopefully, it’s as exciting as the first couple games in Colorado. I loved it.

Now That Was Fun

Unbelievable.

That was an instant ESPN Classic. I’ve played in some good games. I’ve played in some fun games. Right now this might be my favorite game ever.

While we were celebrating on the field tonight, I told Brad Lidge, “I’m tired of setting up your saves!” He was laughing like crazy when I said that. I got the second out in the ninth inning and I was telling myself, wow, this really would be the coolest thing to get a save right here. I hadn’t gotten a save since 2004. And now I had a chance. But I had to face Todd Helton, who is one my favorite hitters to face. He’s unbelievable. When he came up I gave him a little head nod. I think he nodded back. I’m not sure. But I thought it would be the coolest thing to get the save. I wanted it so much I overthrew the last fastball to Helton, and he singled to center field to put runners on second and third with two outs. Charlie brought in Lidge to get the save at that point, but I really didn’t care. I just wanted to win.

After the Rockies had taken the lead in the eighth, I was thinking, ‘Man, I really want to go to LA tomorrow.’ And then base hit, walk, double. Whoa. It was ridiculous, especially when Ryan Howard doubled because they were playing a no-doubles defense. Crazy.

And then Charlie called me in to start the ninth. It was the biggest spot I had ever been in. That’s it. We either go back to Philly to play tomorrow, or go to LA. But I’m happy. I gave up a jam-shot single to a guy hitting .750 in the series in Carlos Gonzalez. And then I gave up a hit to one of the best hitters in the last 12 years. What are you going to do, you know?

Well, I know I’m going to LA and I’m pretty excited about that.

Never a dull moment, you know?

A Great Night for Lidge

I feel great for Brad Lidge.

He got a Good Guy Award recently from the Philadelphia baseball writers. How many guys do you know who blow 11 saves and still stand in front of their locker every day and take full responsibility? I’ve never heard the man make an excuse. He has never blamed his knee. He has never blamed the weather. He has never blamed anybody. It’s a pleasure to be around somebody like that.

I pull for everybody in our bullpen, but when he got into the ninth inning in Game 3, I was pulling for him more than anybody. Think about it. If he can do what he did in the playoffs last year, that puts Ryan Madson back in the seventh and eighth inning. That put me in the sixth to eighth inning. It makes every one of us better. That’s not to put pressure on him, and he knows that. He doesn’t care who gets the save. He’s not an ego maniac. He’s a prideful man, but he keeps himself in check. But if he can pitch like he did last season, I think you’ll see our bullpen really fall into line.

But this was a big win for us. We really battled back.

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I sprained my right ankle in the seventh inning. They’re calling it a mild sprain. I’ll be able to pitch. You can bet on that. Ruben Amaro Jr. would have to hold me down and tie me up and that’s not going to happen because I’m bigger than he is. I know I’m one of only two left-handers in the bullpen. I also know this might be my last season in the Majors. I’ll be fine, but I sure would love Cliff Lee to throw a seven or eight innings in Game 4 to give me a couple days to rest it.

Snow, Cold No Conditions for Baseball

Nobody wanted to play Game 3 tonight.

I read a great quote by Jim Tracy, which I think summed up today’s weather pretty perfectly. He said the first two games of this series have been great. They’ve been well played. The players played well. The managers made good decisions. You don’t want to have a game like we had last year in the World Series, when Jimmy Rollins is missing a pop up and the Rays are tying the game in terrible conditions. You don’t want to make that mistake again. I think they did the right thing. And I think it works out well for us in terms of pitching.

It’s still going to be cold tomorrow night, but it’s not going to be as cold as it is today. Honestly, I don’t think the guys in the bullpen should complain a whole lot about the weather. We get to sit down there with a heater. Shane Victorino is going to be frigid. Jayson Werth is going to be cold. Everybody is going to be cold. We’ll be fine back there with the heater. So I hope tomorrow night the weather won’t be as much of a factor. Guys are going to come to play. I mean, if you get jammed on a ball it’s going to hurt, but I don’t think anybody is going to complain about the weather. You have to play through it. We’re at the most special part of the season.

The only thing I don’t like right now is the start time. That’s bad, but that’s the time most people can watch. Well, it’s the time most people in Denver can watch. I think Phillies fans are getting the short end of the stick. And I think Rockies fans would rather come to an earlier game, which would allow more Phillies fans to watch the game, too. That’s what bothers players — when kids can’t watch the games. My kids couldn’t stay up to watch the World Series games last year. They fell asleep in the stands. We understand we need to play the games at the optimal times for viewers, but it still stinks because the games are supposed to be about the kids.

Getting Ready for Game 3, Cold Weather

The pitchers have been geting asked a lot the last couple days about pitching in cold weather. It’s supposed to be freezing and snowing for Game 3 tomorrow night at Coors Field.

Sounds like fun.

I can say that it is harder to get a grip on the ball when it is cold. You will see guys step off the mound and blow on their hands, just to try to keep some moisture on their fingers. Guys use the rosin bag to get a better grip. I don’t use rosin at all because I lick my fingers too much. So if you put rosin on your fingers and lick it — it’s nasty. I’ve done that before. I remember I was on the mound in San Francisco in 2003 or 2004, and I started spitting on the mound because I had that taste in my mouth. It does not taste good. I grabbed my jersey and actually started licking my jersey to get the taste out of my mouth. It was terrible, but it was actually pretty funny.

Getting loose isn’t so bad in cold weather, but staying loose can be a problem. If you have to get up and sit down and get up again, that’s hard. But just getting up is not a big deal. At least it isn’t for me.

I will not be wearing sleeves tomorrow. I don’t like sleeves. I won’t be wearing Under Armour, either.

Are the concerns about the weather tomorrow legitimate? Yes, but both teams have to play in it.