PHIL GARNER: Well, I don't know that...clearly he wasn't the Rocket that we've been seeing, that's for sure. He's fine. He feels fine. But I think maybe the sticky part of the mound got to him a little bit, just seemed like he never really got in a groove, never really got comfortable. Tried a couple different things. In the last two innings he got some of his pitches down a little bit. But he didn't look to me like he really got comfortable with his slider all night long, didn't locate down with his fastball like he normally does.
That only shows that he's a little bit human.
What went into the decision to bring Brandon Backe into this game in relief?
GARNER: Well, he hasn't pitched in a while, he's going to go in Game 4. Wanted to get him on the mound, let him pitch.
Could you assess what Smoltz did tonight?
GARNER: Well, we had him on the ropes early. And as is the case with a lot of guys, and even in Rocket's case, you know, they didn't put us away. Rocket kept us in the ballgame. You're three runs behind, four runs, we feel like we have a shot at the ballgame. But in Smoltz's case, we had him early on the ropes a little bit. We couldn't come up with a big hit when we needed it. At one point I think we had five hits, they had four; we had run, they had five. So that's so much for small ball.
We didn't get a couple of big hits when we might have gotten them, and maybe made it a little more difficult for him. Then we gave him some few innings, easy innings in the middle of the game, and this is why he was able to stretch out a little bit.
But that's vintage Smoltz. I've seen him better, but he was still really good tonight.
Down the stretch you used (Mike) Lamb a lot more, (Orlando) Palmeiro in leftfield. Were you hesitant to put Lance (Berkman) out there because of the weather?
GARNER: No, no.
Palmeiro as opposed to Lance, can you talk about it.
GARNER: Little better defensive situation in this big ballpark. So that's why I decided to go with Palmeiro tonight, last night, combination of that plus he had some success against (Tim) Hudson; he'd seen him a lot.
I knew that you guys are always surprised when Roger isn't great. When he gives up a home run to a 21 year old rookie catcher who's never seen him before, is that a shock?
GARNER: It's a surprise, because he's very good in close ballgames at not getting hurt with the long ball. He's really good at it.
And so it gives you a kind of clue that he was struggling just a little bit with his location.
Can you quickly explain the pitch that he threw to McCann?
GARNER: Fastball. Quick enough (laughter)?
I think he got a little too much of the plate.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less