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Oswalt's off-day interview

Oswalt's off-day interview

Q. What was the mood on the plane today, and then last night going home?

ROY OSWALT: We had two more games, and they are trying to catch us; we are not trying to catch them.

So that was my mood last night going home.

The mood on the plane was actually pretty cool. The pilot had a pretty good joke for us on the way here, pretty good mood on the plane.

Q. Can you tell the joke?

OSWALT: That stays between us. (Laughter)

Q. A pitcher has to be tough-minded under any circumstance, but particularly during the playoffs. Considering what happened last night, what an emotional jolt it was, do you have to be particularly tough-minded tomorrow?

OSWALT: Well, if it happened in the regular season, we would have been off to play another series with somebody else. So same with Brad [Lidge], he's the type of closer that has amnesia, he won't think nothing about it next time he gets out there. You have to be as a closer, that's your job to come and get the last three outs. He's been doing it all year for us, made one mistake last night, cost the game. He'll come out tomorrow, end of the game, and I'm sure he'll be lights-out just like he always is.

Q. I was asking about you.

OSWALT: Well, since I didn't get in the game, it [was] hard for me to contribute last night. But as far as tomorrow, I'm going to pitch the same way I pitch, I never go out there with the mindset that I'm going to lose. I always go out there to win. Doesn't matter what happened yesterday. A lot of guys get caught up in what happened yesterday. You have to go do your job that day you're out there. Can't worry about yesterday.

Q. Obviously, as a pitcher, you're not going to get many opportunities to clinch a World Series berth for your team, so how much do you want to close it out for your team and get it done tomorrow and not stretch it to a Game 7?

OSWALT: It would be nice, for sure. The thing with me [is], if the team wins, it doesn't matter how I do. If give up 10 runs and we win, 11-10, I would be just as happy as if I won, 1-0. I'm not a big statistics guy. All I want to do is win ballgames. If I win, it would be great. If the bullpen comes in and wins it behind me, it will be even better.

Q. You've faced [Albert] Pujols a lot of times, how does he compare to the other top hitters around the league?

OSWALT: He's a good hitter. The thing about Pujols is, he's got power to all fields. That's one thing that a lot of power hitters usually have: Power to a certain part of the field. With him, you can make a pretty good pitch away or make a pretty good pitch in, and he'll hit it out to either left or right field. A good hitter. You've got to respect that he can hit the ball out of the park, but you can't be afraid of him, for sure.

Q. How do you compare him to [Barry] Bonds? If I remember correctly, you gave up his 659th home run?

OSWALT: From last year, that was a pretty good pitch, I remember that. I don't think he's in that classification yet, just because of the years, he's only been playing the same years I've been playing. You can't classify a guy that has 130, 140 home runs, however many [Pujols] has got, to a guy that's got 700. It's hard to compare.

Now, if he does it over a stretch of time the way Bonds has done it, yeah, he could be classified in the Bonds category. To be classified as a great baseball player you have to do it year after year for ten or more years. That's the way I classify it. You can't just do it a few years and be classified as great. I wouldn't put my classification anywhere near a guy that's been pitching for 20 years, even though it may that be his first four years and my first four years are the same. He's done it for 20 years; I've only done it for four or five.

Q. So basically you are to Clemens as Pujols is to Bonds?

OSWALT: That's the way I would classify it. I wouldn't classify it not even close to Clemens. You have to do it for a long period of time to be classified as a great in the game.

Q. Last year, when you guys came here up [three games to two], you didn't get to start in either of the final two games; how anxious or excited are you to finally get this opportunity, when last year, because of the way the pitching lined up, you didn't get to pitch?

OSWALT: It's nice. You know, one thing [about] coming back to St. Louis, this is the last time you're going to play in [Busch] Stadium. This stadium has a lot of baseball memories in it, and to come back here and pitch in this stadium before it's gone is great. Hopefully, the biggest thing with us is to get going early, get in a groove early and get some momentum going our way.

Q. With what happened to Brad last night, some teams react differently when a closer blows a game. In a case like that, do you say anything, or do you just treat it like another game, so it doesn't draw attention to him? Obviously, the media is going to draw attention to it, but in-house, how do you treat Brad?

OSWALT: Oh, we kidded with him the whole time on the plane today. We actually told him we almost got hit by the ball when it took off. (Laughter) That's the thing about baseball, once it happened last night, it happened last night. You can't do nothing about it today. I'm sure he didn't sleep too well last night, but ... I was here when Billy Wagner was here, I've seen Billy Wagner give up a home run and come out the next day and strike out three in a row. That's the life of a closer, you have to go out and have amnesia and be the guy.

Q. This is off-topic, so I apologize. Can you tell us something about Roger that we don't know?

OSWALT: (Laughing) You guys know a good bit about him.

The only things I know, I need to keep to myself so he won't bury me when he gets up here. (Laughter)

Q. How hard is it to pitch to a hitter like David Eckstein? He's a guy that will get on base anyway possible and seems to have a pretty good grasp of the strike zone, and how much easier is an inning when he's not on base?

OSWALT: You know, he's a classic, what I'd liken to an old-time baseball player. You know, back in the old days, it wasn't so much around power, it was so much about getting the bat on ball and creating havoc on the field and getting on base by an error or hitting a ball in the infield.

He's a good player. I didn't get to see him when I played in the American League, but I've heard about him. Once I came over here, I got to face him a good many times. With him, you have to defend against him the way you pitch him, that's how you get him out is you have to make your pitches against him to make him hit it where you want him to hit it. He's going to put it in play. You're not really trying to strike him out. You're trying to make him put it in play, but you've got to play defense right, too.

Q. Roy, do you feel any need to conserve pitches more than usual tomorrow, in hopes of taking some of the burden off the bullpen, and maybe going the distance in a key Game 6?

OSWALT: You know, I read a few things off the tape I did last time, maybe I could conserve a few pitches here and there.

Overall, the bullpen has been doing a great job for us. I feel like if I can get seven or eight innings in, that I can hand it over to the bullpen anytime. One-run game, give it to them against anybody. Just because one game last night happened the way it did, doesn't mean that we lost face in the bullpen. The bullpen has been doing great for us. One out of 80 games, it happens.

Q. How did the memo about growing the beards come up, and did you start growing yours right away?

OSWALT: No. Actually, I didn't get the memo. (Laughter)

I started noticing these guys having pretty good beards probably about five days ago, and I didn't get the memo. So I didn't really start on it the same time they did, so I didn't want to jump in after they got it going.

Q. [Wednesday night], obviously, is the first game you'll pitch where you can clinch a pennant; how do you feel going into a game like this?

OSWALT: Probably the biggest game I pitched [was for] the United States in the [2000] Olympic games. If we didn't win my game, we [would have] competed for the Bronze Medal instead of the Gold Medal. So it was a little bit of pressure there.

A few Wild Card berths here and there. But I don't treat it different than any other game. I do what I do. I'm going to go after hitters and make them hit the ball.

Q. Talk about playing for Phil Garner. Obviously, he goes with his gut a lot. Some of that comes from his playing days when he was a gritty competitor, talk about what it's like playing for him, and how you see his style of management maybe coming from his style as a player?

OSWALT: This is my fifth year [in the Majors] and I've had three different managers. First manager was [Larry] Dierker, and he was a real big pitchers' manager. He'd leave you in there to throw 120 to 150 pitches a game. I loved that.

Then we went from that to Jimy Williams. He used the bullpen a lot more than most managers do.

Then we went back to Gar, and we went back to the pitching mentality of it. He'll leave you out there to get through crucial situations and times. I think it's great for young pitchers, especially like [Brandon] Backe and Wandy [Rodriguez] to be out there in crucial situations, to learn to get themselves out of it. The way he manages is aggressive. He tries to make things happen. The difference between him and other managers is we do a lot more hit-and-runs, sacrifices, squeezes, anything to produce havoc on the field. That's the way he played and that's the way he manages.

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