BRANDON BACKE: Tremendously. Just to be through the playoffs last year and to succeed last year in those games definitely helped a lot for this year.
Kind of knocked the nerves down a little bit. There's always going to be butterflies before the game, even after the first pitch. So I'm looking forward to those butterflies, actually, because it's really a good feeling to have them.
When you have postseason tried pitchers like Pettitte and Clemens on your own staff, how much do you use them as sounding boards when approaching a game like this?
BACKE: Just like the regular season. I watch them intently and see how they go about their business out there on the mound, how they work through troubles they get involved with, and just see what pitches they throw to certain hitters in certain situations, what hitters are having trouble with what pitches, you know.
I just kind of mirror that with my outing. But I also have to go out there with my own ways of getting them out, because I'm obviously not a Roger Clemens; his fastball is probably a little bit different than mine. Same with Roy's.
But you just get a rough draft. You get a look at them, see how they're doing off of my pitchers or my teammates, and I can just get a little idea of how to face them.
BACKE: I spoken to him a little bit, as much as I need to. I mean, just watching and evaluating him is pretty much all I need to do. Just taking notes down and going about your business the next day.
But if I have a question, I normally go up to him and ask him.
Before you got injured, the side injury, it seemed like walks were really a problem in the three or four starts before that. It hasn't been an issue since you came back. What's been different, and will that be the key tomorrow, keeping them off with the walks?
BACKE: Yeah, obviously, walks can kill you. They're usually the ones that score, and if it's a home run, it's usually not a solo home run, it's going to be a two or three run homer.
I think sitting out for seven weeks and realizing what my difficulties were before the injury had occurred, I sat back and thought about it and, you know, decided that I needed to walk less people each outing and just keep the ball in the ballpark. That way, I can give my team a chance to fight back from any deficit that we're in and keep ourselves in the ballgame.
BACKE: Well, I would love to be able to clinch it, let's put it that way. It would be great, to be here in Houston, clinch it and go to the next series. It would be awesome.
But right now I'm just -- I'm really worried about what's going to happen tonight. I'm going to cheer my team on and do whatever I have to do to get us a win.
But tomorrow's going to be a game that I have to be prepared for regardless of what the situation is. My goal is going to be out there to stop them from scoring and to come away with a win. Just have a good outing and keep the game close if we haven't scored any runs. It's going to be the same regardless of what we do tonight.
These aren't exactly the same Braves you faced last year in your first postseason start. They've got quite a few talented rookies like (Jeff) Francoeur and (Brian) McCann. How do you approach those guys and the team as a whole with different faces?
BACKE: I don't think there's any advantage with me facing a rookie or a rookie facing me. I think we're both at a stalemate; they don't know me, I don't know them. I'm going to pitch them. Obviously, I'm going to watch tonight's game. I obviously watched Roger's game and how he pitched them, what they hit, what they didn't hit.
Like I said earlier, I'm just going to take that as much as I can and work with it. They're obviously talented, the numbers that they put up throughout the season were very good. They're going to be I'm sure they're going to be a tough at bat. They're going to be just as excited out there as I am, or as I was last year.
Each hitter up there is a Major League hitter, and they're usually pretty tough to get out. So hopefully they get a little bit more jittery than I do and it hurts them.
I'm just looking forward to facing them and getting them out.
Biggest difference psychologically approaching this year's postseason as opposed to last year when you didn't have that experience?
BACKE: I don't think there's anything different, to tell you the truth. Yeah, it was my first postseason last year, but I just took it as another game, another game that I was pitching. And as long as I just stayed with my routine and kept it -- kept everything pregame the same, I wasn't going to feel any different going into the game.
And the only thing that felt different last year was after it was all said and done, what I had done in the playoffs and how far we had gone and how well we had done, you know, and how close we had come.
So until it's all said and done, I don't think, you know I'm not going to really get too caught up in the moment. That's something that can hinder me, going out tomorrow. So I'm just going to treat it as another game. I'm going to come here early, go through my pregame warm up, and hopefully have a good game.
You've probably been asked this one: The numbers say you're pretty different home and away. I'm just wondering, what factors go into your success here at Minute Maid?
BACKE: I don't know. The only thing I can narrow it down to is just being out here time and time again. You know, if you go to a different ballpark, I know it's 60' 6" foot from the rubber to the plate, but the backgrounds are much different. Some plates look like they're closer than others. Some mounds are different than others.
I really don't know the -- there is no excuse. I don't know the reason why my numbers are a little bit worse on the road than at home. But obviously the crowd, being here, my hometown, coming from my house, sleeping in my own bed and just being on that mound over and over, I pretty much think that that's the reason why I'm a little bit more comfortable out there maybe, or the numbers are better. There really is no certain reason. If there is, I don't know what it is.
Have you thought much, I know you've been asked this question a few times, but how far you've come with this organization in such a short time?
BACKE: You know, this is what I internally have projected for myself. So, really, I don't think about it. Maybe the people outside, you know, they might see it a different way. But the day I got drafted I wanted to make an impact on whatever team I was going to be drafted by. So this is what I'm supposed to be doing. In my eyes, I'm supposed to come here, I'm supposed to help this team win, and that's the way I've taken it.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less