10/25/05 7:26 PM ET
Brandon Backe pregame interview
Pitcher talks about preparing for Game 4 start
By / MLB.com
BRANDON BACKE: Yeah, I just -- I got myself on a schedule that I thought would fit best for me to start this Game 4. I probably had about three bullpen sessions in between. Two pretty good long ones and one real short one, like I normally do. I'm ready to go. I threw my short one yesterday, and today I'll throw a long toss, and it won't be any different.
What's the difference in this ballpark between the roof closed and open?
BACKE: I don't know really to tell you the truth. We haven't played that many games with it open to tell you the truth. I think the wind might help it blow out to right field, but I'm really not certain. It really doesn't matter, to tell you the truth. It would be nice to have it closed, since we're used to it and the crowd noise is definitely a little bit louder. But for the simple fact of just playing the game it really doesn't matter.
Through the first two games it seems as though the White Sox hitters have had good at-bats. Have you noticed that as well, and if that's true, do you pitch any differently because of that?
BACKE: I won't pitch any differently. I'm just trying to -- I don't know these hitters as much as they don't know me. I think I've faced Podsednik a couple of times, maybe even Konerko when I was with the Devil Rays, maybe a few of those guys, but not very many of them.
But I'm just going to go about the way that I want to face them and Brad, he's going to definitely help me out. He's definitely seen them the last couple of days and obviously tonight. We'll have a game plan before tomorrow and just stick with it.
Andy's been here before, Roger has been here several times, Roy's first time in the World Series, your first time. Could you talk about just being from Galveston and being on stage and pitching in the World Series, your first?
BACKE: Well, just being in the World Series, regardless of me being here from this area, it's just an amazing experience. This is my childhood dream as well as everyone else in that clubhouse. And those of us who haven't been here are definitely excited, but we also know that we have to win these games to fulfill our ultimate dream, which is obviously winning it. It feels great, but I don't think I felt the excitement that winning it would be. Obviously it's not very fun right now because we've lost the first two games. Once we get some wins under our belts and start to get something going, it will feel a lot better. Right now I'm just worried about my game tomorrow and winning tonight.
Three of the four of your starters are from this area or grew up in this area. How much extra pressure is there due to being a hometown guy?
BACKE: I don't think there's any extra pressure, at all, to tell you the truth. I think it's that much more relaxing, to tell you the truth, because we're in our hometowns. We've got our families and our friends in the stands or at home watching us, rooting us on.
I love being here. This is a great team for me, obviously because I'm from this area and the fans really show their appreciation for me out there on the field. It just feels good for me to be out there and just being from the area I'm just glad that my friends and family are able to come watch the games.
Your guys' record at home has been phenomenal, especially lately. Can you tell us about the comfort level you have playing in this place?
BACKE: Like I say, I think it just boils down to being out there on the field, knowing the way the field plays and also the crowd, the crowd being behind us 100 percent. They've really been in tune to the game throughout the stretch of the end of the season and obviously in the playoffs. I think it's just, like I was saying, home field advantage. It's got a lot of different reasons why and we certainly have our own here.
You said before that you don't know them as much as they don't know you. You guys did such a nice job on the Cardinals. After watching the White Sox now, what do you know about them that you didn't know before the thing started?
BACKE: Well, like I said earlier, they seem to just put the bat on the ball. I don't think we've struck them out that many times in the first two games. So they're obviously a contact hitting team with power, as well. So I think you just have to keep them off balance and just like any good hitter. Albert Pujols is a great hitter, but for the most part we shut him down. I think it's making sure that the big guys can't hurt us, and making the little guys make contact instead of walking.
BACKE: Do I have a what?
A roof preference?
BACKE: No, I don't care. It doesn't matter. I don't even think I've pitched with the roof open yet, so it might be interesting for me to do it. It would be fine. I don't think there's any difference, to tell you the truth. Regardless in this ballpark, roof open or roof close you have to keep the ball down. I don't think the roof being open is going to make the ball go up any higher. Like I said, there's no preference.
You've seen Roy pitch all year. What do you expect to see from him tonight?
BACKE: The same, pretty dominant throughout the game, maybe a couple of mistakes here and there. Hopefully in those mistakes he makes, we don't get hurt too bad. But I just expect Roy to be Roy, for him to have quite a bit of strikeouts and some broken bats, just typical Roy. I don't think this game is going to change the way that he goes about his game. I'm expecting the same Roy.
Can you talk about the job that Brad Ausmus does, just handling pitchers, guiding a young pitcher like yourself, all of the intangible things that a catcher needs to do?
BACKE: Brad certainly is a heck of a catcher, not only with the way he blocks the balls and the physical things, but mentally he is prepared for each and every hitter that steps in that box. And he's brought that to my attention as a pitcher, instead of going out there and winging balls up there, guessing which pitch would be good, learning from the way they take swings off the previous pitch. He's been a great help to me, personally, just being so young and pitching and the things that he's taught me each and every day I go out there. I don't shake them off very much. And sometimes I want to throw a different pitch and we'll talk about it on the mound, but for the most part I'm trying to learn his philosophy in the pitches he calls for and just go from there.
Your miked up quite often during these games, do you think people recognize you more from that and what are you going to do with your newfound stardom?
BACKE: I think that's great, the microphone with me, or on me during the game is just another way that the viewers at home that aren't at the game to kind of see what's going on in the dugout with some of the players that are miked up, just -- I guess I'm the lucky guy that the audience likes. Fox has been great with me with coming up and asking me, and they've of given me a lot of compliments. I think it's a good way for them to see me as a different person than just what they see on the field as a pitcher. They can hear conversations I have in the dugout with some other teammates, get my opinion on certain calls or whatever they air. I think it's a pretty good thing. I'm not going to be used tonight, and they tell me I can take it off and hit and run or whatever I have to do.
When a hitter like Podsednik gets a home run, hasn't had a home run the whole regular season and then he hits a winner, is there an extra shock value or negative impact on the pitching staff when a guy like that hits the home run?
BACKE: When it first came to my mind, Scott Podsednik hit a home run, it was probably down the middle. He's a great hitter, he puts the the bat on the ball, and he's a pretty typical leadoff guy, but obviously he doesn't have a lot of home runs in his career, and this year he has two, and that was both in the postseason. He got the count in his favor and hit a home run with a pitch that was right down the middle. It doesn't change any of our minds about him or any of the other guys. I think if each of us make our own pitches, the pitches that we want, put them in the location we need to put it in in a certain situation, we're going to succeed over their hitters. It was a mistake and he took care of it.
You've come across on the TV segments as a pretty excitable guy. Are you normally like that and how much different do you think the emotions would be if it's 2-1 vs. 3-0, going into this start?
BACKE: Regardless tonight after the game I've got to put my series face on, although I would enjoy the good moments we have during the game today. I'm just -- I really love baseball. I'm just showing my emotions out there. Maybe it's a little sometimes unprofessional, I don't know. I just act the way that I act. My team has done so well, my fans, my Astros that I grew up watching have done so well this year and last year and I'm just so happy to be on the team, it's hard to hold back the excitement. I think it's good. There's a lot of guys, other than myself that show a lot of excitement on the bench, I guess I stand out a little bit more. But I think that's just the way I am and the way that some of the other guys are.
Will you be charting pitches tonight? Will you be monitoring the White Sox and what Roy does with them?
BACKE: I've been watching them ever since they were in the LCS, as much as I could on TV and obviously these last couple of games I've been watching them. It's been kind of tough, since Roger got pulled out of the game, we had Wandy go in, which was a left hander, and for the majority of the innings we've faced them, they've been facing left handed pitchers. It's hard to get a read on what I should be doing or what pitches might work. But you can take a little bit of things from them and see what they can handle and what they can't. But that's what Brad's there for. Brad helps me out tremendously. I'll watch some video tonight, watch a little bit of the game on TV from the clubhouse, see where the hitters are lined up in the box and what they like.
Can you tell us if people from outside of Texas, how big a deal this is for Houston? You see the paint on cars and streamers and banners everywhere; how big is this?
BACKE: Just think if you had a high school football team in a small town, they pretty much would treat it the same way, but it's on a bigger stage. This is something new to pretty much 95 percent of the community in Houston. They've never seen a World Series before. And to have the opportunity to come here in person and witness a World Series game or to be able to cheer for your team, which I'll be doing in the dugout tonight, to get that next step closer, it's a great feeling. It's something to watch for. I can't tell you that I actually sat down in front of the TV last year and watched every inning of the World Series. But if I was at home watching the Astros, I probably would be. As a Houstonian, as a person from the area, I think it's just a great opportunity for this area to witness something they never have witnessed before.
With Carlos gone this year, how long did it take you guys to get used to Willy being in centerfield. When he wasn't in for those three games in the NLCS, how surprised was everyone?
BACKE: Well, I wasn't surprised at all. To tell you the truth maybe a little bit, but Burke was swinging the bat really well. I'm not one to question the manager's decision. Whoever he has out there, I have to have faith in, because I'm not going to change the lineup by my words. So I have faith in all my players, whoever is out there I feel like they're going to get the job done, but certainly having him out of the lineup was a little different. But it worked out for the better and you really can't argue with it.
But having Carlos gone, obviously we lost a lot of offense. As a group of pitchers on this team our bullpen, especially, has closed the door in the later innings. It would be great to have that offense, but you have to lose something to gain something.
If Roy pitches as well as he can tonight, is there a bonus for you the next night? Do you get any advantage from that?
BACKE: Not really. It's just -- Roy is going to be Roy and I don't think if he has a bad game it's going to make me change anything tomorrow or even if he has a good game. I'm going to go about my business the way I normally do throughout the day before a game and prepare myself for a battle. I'm sure he did the same today, didn't do anything different. I guess the only thing different would be if he has a good game tonight I've got a chance to tie it up, if he doesn't, then I've got to do something pretty good to keep our season alive.
You obviously have tons of friends and family around here, what are they going to be doing for the game? They've never seen you in the World Series, so what are they going to be doing?
BACKE: No doubt about it, they're going to be at the bar watching TV and having some beer (laughter). I've got a great group of friends. They all enjoy baseball, they enjoy sports. It's just something that I know they'll be doing. They'll have their eyes fixed on the TV and their lips fixed to a mug (laughter). Good old times.
The last few days have you seen much of Roger Clemens and how does he seem mentally to you as a teammate?
BACKE: I haven't seen him very much these last couple of days, but I talked to him and I don't know if he was telling me the truth or not, but he said he felt pretty good. He actually came up to me and told me, I'm going to have a good game, to set him up to have a good game on the fifth day. It looks like he's maybe hurting a little bit, obviously. I've had a hamstring pull before, and it doesn't feel too good. It never really goes away too quick.
But he's a pretty tough person. I don't expect him to give up in any way, mentally or physically. I think they'll try and do everything he possibly can to have another start this year and help us get to our final goal.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.