© 2005 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

10/19/05 6:46 PM ET

Phil Garner pregame interview

Manager describes team's mood, says they're in good shape

They have momentum from Monday night, but you still have to like where you are, you only have to win one game and they need to win two?

PHIL GARNER: It's good for us, we need to win one and they need to win two. The way the outcome came out Monday night, it would have been exciting to do things in our own ballpark, of course. All of you who were there know how wild and crazy it was, but it's unfortunate, that's the way it is. That's why we play a seven game series.

Could you just give us a read on the mood of your club, atmosphere around the locker room, that kind of thing?

GARNER: It's good. Chris Burke is still winning the card game. Doug Mansolino is winning his card game. I think the domino games and Vizcaino dominates the domino games, so it's business as usual in the clubhouse.

What is it about Roy when it comes to big games that brings out the best in him, his mentality out there?

GARNER: Well, his stuff is good, No. 1. And he's able to locate. I think any of these situations when you have the heightened energy levels, you can throw the ball a little bit better, you're just a little bit sharper and Roy has been able to channel that energy to his advantage.

When you can throw the ball like he does and locate the way he does, you're going to have pretty good results.

Apart from the domino games tonight, the ballpark is going to be rocking and I know that your squad has to be prepared, it could be the last game here, as well as another game tomorrow night, talk about that.

GARNER: We certainly feel comfortable where we are with the way our ballclub is in good shape. Our players are in good shape, our pitching staff is in good shape. But you have to win one more ballgame in somebody else's stadium. Our pitching is lined up very well. You couldn't ask for it to be any better.

So, yes, this is their ballpark. They proved that they could win a big ballgame in our ballpark when the fans were against them, and we could do the same thing, here. So it's going to be, I'm sure it's going to be wild out there tonight. But I think that our ballclub has been preparing themselves for this kind of a ballgame almost all season, because all of the games have been important to us since mid May on. It's almost like we've been playing the last game we're ever going to play since mid May for this tonight.

No matter what happens, you have Roger Clemens pitching the next game, is this the sort of thing that where you have some comfort with that, where you have comfort with Clemens?

GARNER: Well, yes, I definitely have comfort with Clemens. By no stretch of the imagination do we take for granted the Cardinals or tonight's game and say, well, it's okay because we've got Rocket tomorrow. My preference obviously would have been to win Monday night and have those guys rested up for the adventure. I think Roy is in good shape. He's feeling fine, he's ready to go tonight. This game is the most important we're ever going to play. You get tired of hearing me say that, but it is. Our next win is going to be the toughest one we ever get. So we've got to stay focused on tonight's game, no matter what we have in store for tomorrow, tonight is where we need to have all of our attention.

I think the Astros in their history are 0-for-5 in games that could potentially send you to the World Series. If it happens that you happen to lose this series, do you worry about that becoming any kind of reputation for you guys, not being able to get over that hump?

GARNER: Absolutely not.

We crossed a major hurdle last year and I'm expecting us to do that again this year.

How significant a deal would it be tonight if Oswalt were to beat this team for the third time in two and a half weeks? To see a team as good as this one that closely condensed, does that make it any more difficult for him tonight, do you believe?

GARNER: Make it any more difficult for Roy? No, I think the nature of our game is such that if you make pitches, you're going to do well.

What we need to do is we've seen Carpenter now fairly often recently. We should hopefully do something against him a little bit better than we've been doing. Same thing goes for him. If he locates, it's still going to be another tight ballgame.

Knowing that you hope to win tonight, I hope I ask this question correctly, when Roger was considering coming back for this year or you got to see him in spring training, did last year's game ever come up as a topic, and if so, now, having him go in Game 7 in a similar situation to last year, just how he came out of that?

GARNER: No, it never has been a topic of discussion.

Now, remember, last year, we brought Rocket back on four days, and you're asking a guy who is giving you his heart and soul all summer long. It's one thing when you ask a 28 year old to do it. It's another thing when you ask a guy that's 42 at the time, I think.

We have not had any discussions about last year, but I feel if it goes to tomorrow, I'm great with Rocket on the mound and that's certainly the way we had it set up.

With the way that Brad has pitched all season and then kind of letting the Cardinals touch him up a little bit in Game 3 and Game 4 and of course in Game 5, do you think it's just a matter that they are getting very familiar with the way that he's pitching at this point of the season?

GARNER: I don't know that. What I do know is that we had one of the best hitters in the game in Pujols, and we had a tough at-bat from Eckstein, which he gives you tough at-bats and he gets a two-out base hit. We didn't get strikes that we needed to get on Edmonds, and we made a mistake on Pujols. That's what he does. He hits mistakes and he hit that one pretty doggone hard.

I think if Brad had made his pitches, we would have had a different outcome, plain and simple.

I haven't seen your lineup, is it the same lineup?


Can you talk about the changes?

GARNER: We'll lead off with Biggio, that's the same of course. Second hitter will be Willy; Willy will be in centerfield. Third hitter will be Lance Berkman playing first base. Morgan Ensberg, Jason Lane, Chris Burke, Brad Ausmus and Adam Everett.

Why did you want to get Willy back in there tonight?

GARNER: Felt good. (Smiles).

Have you talked with Brad since Game 5, Brad Lidge, and can you talk to us about how you will approach using him at the end of this game?

GARNER: Yes, I did. I talked to him yesterday. We got on the elevator and I asked him how he felt and he said, I commented, he probably felt pretty rotten and he said no, he actually felt pretty good yesterday.

I know he had to feel pretty bad the other night, but you guys all know what kind of stand up guy he is. Hey, he made a tough pitch. You can do those things sometimes and they will hit them into double plays. Sometimes they will pop them up. Sometimes they will swing and miss them. Pujols didn't exactly swing and miss that.

It's a tough pitch, but his life nor his career is going to be defined on that pitch. If he has the same opportunity tonight, he'll be right back out there and he'll get the job done.

Yesterday Oswalt said that the flight up here, it was pretty loose. In fact, there was some ribbing of Lidge that they almost got hit by his ball as the plane took off, can you describe what the atmosphere has been like and the mood of the team?

GARNER: I thought that was pretty good. I didn't hear about that until later. There's no sense in sitting around and crying about giving up the pitch. I think a little levity always helps. If you can't take the heat, you don't need to be in the kitchen and Brad Lidge can certainly take the heat.

I thought it was pretty much fun. The fact of the matter is he gave up a pretty monstrous home run. Best thing we can do is laugh about it, go on with it to the next day and have a little bit of fun with it. I think that's what the whole team did.

As I described the clubhouse a few minutes ago, that's what's going on. Everybody's comfortable. We're looking forward to it.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.