But, like I said, whether we're up or down, I definitely want to get out there and get some work in tonight.
What has made Phil Garner a good fit with your club?
LIDGE: I think for me, I just remember when Jimy Williams left us in 2004 last year, we had -- obviously had a lot of talents on our team. I think we were going to play well anyway.
But Garner to me was different than Jimy Williams in that he was a lot more hands-on, a lot more vocal with the players. He seems to talk to guys a lot more and kind of want to know how they're feeling day to day. I think right when Garner came over, I remember him saying, "You're going to be my closer. This is how I want to use you. This is the kind of things we want to do, and just tell me if anything doesn't agree with you or what you want to do."
So that was a little bit different than Jimy Williams. I think that's one of the things that helps him kind of relate to the guys and know the team really well.
What do the guys think of his aggressive style of managing at times? He'll do things that maybe go against the grain, but obviously, you've seen a lot of it work.
LIDGE: I think guys love it. Sometimes I think when you're out there in the game and if your manager is kind of passive, I think that that's kind of -- that's the only time players kind of get frustrated maybe.
I think if you're aggressive and you're trying to take chances and make things happen, then the players love that. I mean, you want to be aggressive out there. You don't want to be on the heels of your feet. So I think everybody really appreciates his aggressive style of play and the things he does and the decisions he makes.
Brad, last year, in this series, Phil brought you into the seventh inning. He hasn't ruled out doing that again. What was your reaction when he did that last year, and what's the most difficult part of trying to come in that early in the game when you're so attuned to coming in late?
LIDGE: I think last year I guess I wasn't real surprised when I came in. Toward the end of the year, I've been throwing quite a bit in the eighth and ninth, and he'd let me know before the Division Series started that I might possibly be throwing as early as the seventh inning. Normally, he'll kind of tell me day to day, you know, strategies that he might have and stuff like that.
I think the biggest thing for me, though, this year, and I know that he might do that again this year, but fortunately we've had guys, Chad Qualls, Dan Wheeler, that have done a fantastic job setting up, and I haven't had to throw in the eighth inning nearly as much this year.
That being said, I'm certainly ready to do that. You know, I'll be ready to do that. He lets me know all the time kind of where I stand and if he's going to want to get me early more. I think for me, if I do come in earlier in the game, it just means that I need to make sure I'm stretched and make sure I'm focused on the situation obviously earlier than normal, which is something that down in the bullpen you don't have a lot of trouble doing.
It doesn't make too much of a difference. Sometimes I wish I get in games earlier because it's just you have so much adrenaline, so much anxiety before you get in the game, it's not a bad thing to get up and get going sometimes early.
You said that he lets you know. What has he told you about this series? Has he talked to you specifically about that?
LIDGE: This series he hasn't been real specific yet, but I think he's addressed me enough times in the past for us to kind of have a mutual understanding that if he needs me to get up in the seventh inning, then I need to be ready to do that.
There was a game within the last couple -- maybe -- I think it was in St. Louis, where I actually got up in the seventh just in case something may have happened.
He knows that I know that that's a possibility. So he hasn't directly told me anything, but at the same time, I need to be aware that that could certainly be a possibility. I need to make sure I'm ready to throw as early as the seventh inning.
Fortunately, this year, it hasn't had to happen a lot because of how well our setup guys have done.
Has it been to your advantage the last couple of years to have gone down to the last day of the season to get into the playoffs, first of all, and having a little momentum? You won your first game each of the last two years.
LIDGE: Yeah, I think that can help you sometimes. I think for us, certainly, it makes us play at the top of our level consistently right into the playoffs. I think, you know, obviously, if the team clinches early, there can kind of be a lull there where you have to get fired up after that. Obviously, teams can do that.
At the same time, if you never have that lull, you have to keep playing at the top of your level. You don't ever really have a period of time where you're not going at 100 percent. Kind of feeling like every game is a must-win situation for us makes this first series not a whole lot different from what we just had this whole last month. I think that can be an advantage.
Did you notice any kind of change around the players after getting the first win or getting on the right track?
LIDGE: I'll tell you what, I don't think there's a huge difference in the clubhouse although today, obviously, you know, last night and today we're certainly happy and upbeat that we won that game. Knowing that you're going to go back to Houston with at least a split, facing two great pitchers here in Atlanta is a real nice feeling.
I hope that will relax us today and let guys go out there and do what we did yesterday. We looked real relaxed at the plate yesterday. We had good game plans and executed when we needed to. Hopefully, we can keep that same attitude and approach today.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.