Mike, can you talk about Juan Rivera, is he OK, and how big has he been for you in this series, and do you think there's any extra motivation because the Yankees let him go?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: First of all, I don't think there's any extra motivation. I think there's a lot of guys that have played for the Yankees, played for other teams. Maybe when you accomplish something, it's an extra feather in your cap, but you don't need that kind of motivation when you're playing in a playoff scenario, and Juan certainly doesn't. He's fine. The head-first dive, really, we were going to pinch-run for him anyway, so he was coming out of the game. But he came out of it fine, and he'll be ready to go tomorrow.
Mike, I was wondering if you thought about any possible lineup changes, especially with your left-handed batters against Randy?
SCIOSCIA: There will be some changes to the batting order and personnel. We'll have our lineup ready for you tomorrow. I know Steve Finley will be out of the lineup, and most likely, that will be the only lefty that will be out of the lineup.
We have to really keep defensive continuity, also, and especially guys on the right side of the infield, Kennedy and Erstad might be the best right side of the infield in our league, and it's going to be important for us to keep them out there, especially with Paul pitching.
How about pitching in Yankee Stadium, it's such a big spot and in this environment, do you think that's something that will be easier to handle, or is that something that you have to keep in mind when you go out there?
PAUL BYRD: I think the biggest thing about Yankee Stadium is, you just don't change anything. If you become intimidated by the crowd or if the umpire misses a call and you lose it mentally because of that, that can take you out of your game.
So, you know, just try to throw strikes, hit the corners and that being said, nothing changes when I take the field.
But, you know, it is going to be fun, regardless of where we play just because it's the playoffs and every pitch matters. I love the atmosphere as far as that goes.
Any thought at all of bringing Bartolo back on three days in Game 4, and if there's a rainout, and what do you do there?
SCIOSCIA: Well, there's a lot of things that can happen now with a rainout. As far as our normal rotation and where we would be, right now Bartolo on three days is not as much of an option as maybe it was last month. Before he had injured his back as we were getting into September, we had a couple rotations that were working very favorably for all of our guys and had Bartolo coming back on short rest a couple of times, it would have given him an extra start or would have kept him fresh for the playoffs depending how the last weekend went.
Unfortunately, we had to scrap those when his back was bothering him, and we brought him back on short rest to line him up for the playoffs. He pitched in Oakland on short rest and pitched well, but, you know, I don't think it's going to be right now in the plans to bring him back on short rest. We've got some guys throwing the ball very well, and to have maybe a diluted Bartolo would be what we're looking for.
If we have a rainout, it's obviously something to consider, and we'll take a look at that.
Do you get a sense that because of the win last night, that there's more of a confidence in the team than there was after the first loss?
SCIOSCIA: Well, you know, the playoffs are funny. Momentum swings so quickly pitch to pitch. Sometimes hitter to hitter. Certainly inning to inning.
I think we saw that evident in the first game, when we had some momentum getting guys out and they have two-out rallies and all of a sudden, there's four runs on the board, and then we get going and come back maybe a little later in the game.
Yesterday's ballgame there were momentum swings throughout the whole game. The fact that we ended up winning puts us in a better position. I don't need to be getting hit with a brick in the head to know that. But I think the fact of momentum swings, you really have to encapsulate every pitch, every inning and try to win those little battles and hopefully, it ends up in winning the ballgame. Momentum swings many, many times during a playoff game, and it certainly has the last couple of games.
Do you feel pretty fortunate to be 1-1 right now in this series, considering Shawn Garrett and Vlad have not done what they normally do, and how important is it to get them involved in the offense?
SCIOSCIA: Well, it's important. Fortunately, we have some other guys that are swinging the bats well enough to have gotten enough runs to have won yesterday's ballgame. We need Garrett and we need Vlad and we need Figgy to set the tone. Orlando has got some big hits and Juan Rivera, you're not going to have every guy in the lineup swinging the bat well at same time. But when we talk about the middle of the lineup, especially Garrett and Vlad, we absolutely are going to need offense from them if we're going to get by in this series.
What's it been like for you the last couple of days going from possibly pitching out of the 'pen to being a starter tomorrow?
BYRD: You know what, once the season is over, you kind of put your personal goals aside. Not that it's not a team concept during the season, but there's just so many games and during the postseason, all you want to do is win the World Series, get there first and win the World Series. I've kind of put all of that on the back burner and just said, if they want me to throw out in the 'pen, I'll throw there, and if they want me to start, I'll throw there. I think that's primarily the attitude of everybody on the team, we just want to do whatever we're supposed to do whenever we're called upon and put egos aside and help this team win.
I know there's no time you want to pitch against Randy Johnson, he's just as dangerous in June, but how much is he in particular able to raise his game in the postseason?
SCIOSCIA: I think he already has. I think the reports when we saw him in the summer, he wasn't throwing the ball as well as he's thrown it down the stretch. Our reports on him probably mirror the reports on him that you saw in Arizona when he was pitching in the playoffs and certainly at some times later this season. I don't think there's anybody that doesn't see that Randy is throwing the ball to his capability now, and it's come at a great time for the Yankees.
It's going to be a challenge. He's a challenge no matter if he has great stuff or not. He's going out there with great stuff now, and you can see how well he's pitched recently for those guys.
Paul, without giving away specifics of how you pitch to the Yankees, can you tell us generally about the lineup and maybe the thorniest ones in the order?
BYRD: Well, I don't know if there is a thorniest one, if you look at the first two games, in my mind is Cano, and that's not a guy that you would put in the forefront of worrying about. I think that one of the keys is you don't let up on anybody and think, "Hey, I have a break, I'm facing the eighth hitter," that doesn't happen with this lineup. So you respect everybody and don't change your game plan and be aggressive and go after them.
Back in July, you started Bengie and José Molina in the same lineup against Randy -- I think they both hit home runs?
SCIOSCIA: July? We're going back to July? OK. (Laughing.)
Is there any thought of going with that kind of alignment tomorrow and maybe sticking Juan in left?
SCIOSCIA: We have bounced around some ideas. You know, one thing, Randy is a special lefty, we know that, but our left-handed hitters do hit lefties well.
That being said, we're going to make some adjustments to our lineup. I don't know if we're going to go as far to give that -- it worked well on that day, but we're not going to commit to that right now. We're still looking at some things, but I would not anticipate anything totally radical as to what might happen tomorrow.
Last night, late in the game, I think, you had three consecutive balls bounce off home plate. Sometimes you can make your own luck and sometimes just the baseball gods swing to your advantage. How much of that do you guys feel is important in this series?
SCIOSCIA: You know, breaks are going to happen for both clubs. You know, Sheff bounced a ball off the plate that A-Rod was able to score on to second and third to Figgy that bounced hard and he was able to score on it.
You know, I think if you're playing at a high enough level, you should absorb the bad breaks and whether it's a bloop hit or a call that maybe you thought should go your way from an umpire that doesn't.
We were fortunate on a couple of instances last night, Rivera started the rally off with a high chopper; Adam's bunt when he was moving guys over took a kangaroo hop, and Juan could catch it and go to first base with it.
There were some bounces that definitely went our way. But I don't think it was a game of breaks yesterday. I think if you're playing at a high enough level, you're going to create situations for yourself and sometimes you'll get breaks. I don't look at last night as a game of breaks, other than they opened the door with a couple of miscues that helped us. I thought we played good fundamental baseball and we beat a good team.
Vlad has only hit one home run since Sept. 15 in 52 at-bats. Do you see anything with his swing right now that is keeping him from showing his power?
SCIOSCIA: I think it's been well-documented with Vlad. Those guys have seen him every day have seen other clubs kind of pitch around him or just not pitch to him at all. Vlad's an outstanding hitter, but at times he's had to take what pitchers are giving him. His RBIs have been fine. He's hitting the ball -- there's a number of times where he's shot the ball to the right side and with runners in scoring position to get a run in, and that's the way Vlad plays the game. So home runs aren't part of what we need from Vlad, but we certainly need production and hopefully, that's going to come.
How would you compare your style to Randy Johnson's?
BYRD: That's like comparing Figgy and Bengie running, isn't it? Is that bad to say? (Laughter.)
Yeah, the Big Diesel Freight Train versus the Little Engine That Could. I'm just a guy that is not going to overpower you. I'm going to change speeds, I'm going to work corners and try to keep you off-balance. I think he has more of an intimidating style, where he just tries to overpower you, and he's got that really nice complement of a hard fastball and then a nasty slider that breaks at the back leg. So it will be as different or contrasting styles as could possibly be in my mind.
I'm not sure if it's something that you preach to your players or maybe your players just have this intangible about them, but they don't seem scared at all that they come to play the Yankees, whether it's in Anaheim or to come here and play in this stadium; even Joe Torre says that you guys are not a team that seems to be afraid of this Yankee mystique and playing here.
SCIOSCIA: We talked about the Yankee mystique last week. In our mind the Yankee mystique is, they play the game right, they play it well and they are talented. That's the challenge, not coming into the stadium. The challenge is going to be playing against the Yankees. Take that a step further, our challenge is really how we play the game, not who we're playing or where we're playing. If we can focus on our game and worry about the challenges that they bring, I think we have a better chance of winning. It's a great place. I think the guys -- I know that these guys that we have right now on this club are excited to come here. They love this field; the atmosphere is always electric.
As far as beating the Yankees, it's those nine guys on the field, and that's what we focus on. It's not easy. They are a talented club. When you play them, you know that you have to come in here and bring your game, and our guys have been able to do that. We've won our share, but by no means has there been any kind of dominance or anything. We've taken it on the wrong end a lot of times here, too. You just have to bring your game and then hopefully, it's going to be enough to win.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.