How different are the feelings for you getting prepared for these big games now and having the experience you had last year against these Cardinals and that game you pitched last year?
BACKE: You know, I'm just trying to not get too amped up about what's going on, just like last year, I told myself to basically treat it as another game. Although it's obviously a little bit more hyped up and it's the playoffs, you know, I'm just trying to keep myself under control and just go out there and not try to do too much. I just want to go out there and give my team a good outing and keep us in the ballgame as long as possible.
How much will your success last post season, particularly that it was against the Cardinals, help you in this situation, even confidence wise?
BACKE: It's a huge boost. I mean, this is a very tough team offensively to go through the lineup, especially once you go through on the second and third time.
The success that I had last year against this team in particular is definitely a big confidence boost, and it just allows me to know inside that I can defeat them and do well against them. So the success that I had last year is definitely big to carry over this year and I'm just looking forward to repeat it as close as possible.
Along those same lines what does this Cardinals offense present and is it any different than a year ago?
BACKE: To be honest with you, I think last year it maybe was a little bit more potent in the lineup. I think this year they just have a lot more pest, so to speak. It starts off with Eckstein who is just a tough out, even a tough guy to not even put the ball in play. He's pretty much expected to put the bat on the ball and keep it fair and maybe even foul a bunch of pitches off and get the pitcher's pitch count up. So I think it starts off with him, as opposed to last year they had Renteria who could put the ball out of the ballpark at any time.
I think they have a really balanced offense this year as far as guys that can get on, and obviously the power that they have in the middle of the lineup. It's pretty similar to last year, but I don't think it's as powerful as last year, so just going to have to pitch them a little bit different, try to get some groundballs early and keep the pitch count down.
I know you're treating it like just another game, but is it hard to not be influenced tomorrow if you're up 2-1, as opposed to being down 2-1?
BACKE: Yeah, it's definitely going to be a little bit different. Regardless of what happens tonight, I've got to go out there with a clear head and just keep my emotions under control. The worst thing that can happen to me is getting put out of the game early and having the bullpen get worn out for the rest of the series.
But I'm looking to go out there and as soon as I step on the mound, I'm looking to win and have a good game. I mean, I'm excited for this opportunity. I just want to take advantage of it and just looking forward to another good game, just going to have fun out there and play a good ballgame.
What do you take out of last year's experience? Last year you opened the series in St. Louis and now you're following the big three.
BACKE: Well, it seemed like last year, you know, obviously we had to go five games in the first Division Series, so it kind of messed up our rotation so to speak so we could not start off with the big guys. The team kind of was counting on myself and Pete Monroe to get things started, and obviously we went 0-2 for the first two games.
This year is a little bit different. Obviously we've got our rotation set up pretty much perfectly, and any time that you can start a series off with those three guys, you've got to think that everything is going to be to our advantage, advantage our way.
Just following these guys, watching them all year long and even last year, it's just been great and just watching them and their experience and what they do, the way that they handle certain situations, it just reflects on me and how to just kind of copy the way that they go about their business out there on the mound.
What about personally for you, from what you did last year?
BACKE: It's just a big confidence boost. Like I said earlier, just the success that I had alone in the playoffs last year helps me relax, helps me just basically know that I'm not going to let the playoff atmosphere affect me in any way because I've been through it before, and I've also succeeded.
So really it just helps me out from going through that experience last year.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.