Brewers manager Ron Roenicke spoke with the media following Thursday's 4-2 win over the Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.
Q. We talked yesterday about Randy [Wolf], sometimes he has trouble the first inning, and he breezed through, and a weird home run and he seemed to settle in. It must be good to see that starting rotation finally get a good one.
Roenicke: Great to see. Yeah, right from the first inning, I thought he had location; I thought he had a feel for his curveball. The two homers he gave up, the one to Holliday, I didn't think Holliday thought he got it. I didn't know if he did, either.
And then a real good pitch. I don't know how Craig got down and got a pitch knee high outside corner and drove it out to right-center, but he hit it hard. It was a good at bat by him.
Other than that, Wolfy, great job. We needed it. He came through big, got us deep in the game. Outstanding job from him.
Q. You had a chance to go for more runs in the top of the sixth, and you chose to stick with Wolfy. You were right. What was the decision-making process there?
Roenicke: There was a lot going on there. You know, really, we decided that if we had a great opportunity with Wolf's spot, that we would probably hit for him. But how it came up, really, if we were going to do that, probably we were going to have to also hit for George. So you go through Lucroy and then use a pinch-hitter. If we used Corey, they would have walked him, left to lefty and probably to face Nyjer. There was a lot going on. They had some options. They had Dotel down warming up. They had a lot of options, and we did, too.
I don't know why we decided to leave it as is. We already were up a run, which had a lot to do with it. Felt good with George facing Arthur Rhodes and putting it in play and at least getting us one run. And he did a good job there.
Q. We talked about it again and again, but the home field thing, you get to take it back to Milwaukee now, be it up 3-2 or down 3-2, how much does it mean to be guaranteed that you'll get to play at home again?
Roenicke: Real important for us to go back home. I still think that we can play good ball on the road. But it's important to go back home for sure. Hopefully we'll do it with a lead, but if not, we have got two games there.
Q. Again, the season series is back to even now. What are the challenges that goes along with such an even series throughout the year?
Roenicke: It's the same challenges we talked about at the beginning. This is a really good team. We think we have a really good team, and who executes. I thought we played a really good game today. A lot of good things happened. We got the great pitching. I thought we played good defense.
Prince made a couple of really nice picks at first base, and then offensively, we squared up a lot of balls. Not just the runs that we got, but we hit some bullets. Prince smokes a ball for a double play. Kots hits a liner to left. Rickie hits a bullet to center. A lot of good things, I thought, offensively.
So overall, we played a really good game.
Q. This has been a bullpen series up until tonight when Randy pitched. How big is it for you guys to get to the sixth inning and be able to say, "Hey, my starter is pitching well enough to go another inning?"
Roenicke: It's big, and Randy has done that for us during the year. You know, he stopped a couple of losing streaks that he came in with a game against a good offense, too, and was able to do what he did today.
But it was huge. Any time you get your starter getting that deep against this team, it's a great outing.
Q. Have you seen the replay of Hairston's slide at all?
Roenicke: I didn't see the replay. I know any time he gets in there and he starts getting that body outside to get his hand in there, it's a tough tag. Even though the catcher had the ball, and probably in time, to be able to get back and get down low enough to get the tag on him is pretty difficult.
Q. Ryan Braun has had so many big at bats, and they bring in the hard throwing reliever Boggs to face him with the score tied, and he works him and works him and then finally gets a base hit. That seemed like another huge at-bat for him.
Roenicke: Yeah, real big at-bat there. To get the infield in on the right side there, they left the shortstop back a little bit.
But Brauny, he battles until they make a mistake where he's able to handle it, and he continues to get big hits for us. And some of the other guys, too. Hairston, big hit down the line, Betancourt, nice at-bats. So we did a good job.
Q. Going back to that slide for a second, how big of a play is that at that moment? If he's out, things maybe change a little?
Roenicke: Well, I think so. Yeah, it's a big slide. You know, we hit a bullet to center to give Jay a chance to get it in quickly. And Albert made a nice relay there and made a good throw home.
So important to have a good slide there.
Q. Can you talk about what the demeanor of the team was before the game? Did they seem maybe more focused than recent weeks because of what was at stake?
Roenicke: No, we were the same as we usually are. They understand what's at stake. They understand it's an important ballgame. But they also understand that we play better when we are a little bit loose, so it was the same. There was a lot of chatter going on in the locker room, some laughing going on. And when it's time to play, they know what they need to do when they need to play.
Q. You talk all the time about the eighth-inning save; K-Rod had the heart of the order there and Molina was putting a heck of a battle on. Can you talk about the job he did to get it to Axford?
Roenicke: Yeah, great pitches again. He continues to make that huge pitch when he needs to. Molina has put together some at-bats that were incredible. He fouls off the tough pitches. You keep making good pitches on him and he's fouling them, and then he was able, the one on Wolf, he's able to hit that line drive to right field. But he's a tough guy to get out. Even when you make good pitches, it's not like he puts them in play and makes an easy out for you. He fouls it off, he stays alive, and we know that there's not a lot of room to go to to be able to get him out.
The Molina brothers seem to be the same. They really have great hand-eye coordination with the bats and they are hard to strike out, and they always seem to do something good to get it in play.
Q. How hard is it to hold that offense to two runs?
Roenicke: That offense is very difficult to hold down. You saw, even though you make a good pitch, which Wolfy did on the one down and away to Craig, they still hit a home run. The ball Holliday hits, I don't want to say it was a great pitch, but it was away. Whether it was on the corner or not, it was a little above the knees. But there are so many ways that they can score and keep the pressure on you that it doesn't allow you to relax any because their lineup is so deep.
An interview with Ryan Braun and Randy Wolf
Brewers starter Randy Wolf and left fielder Ryan Braun spoke with the media following Thursday's 4-2 win over the Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.
Q. Randy, we couldn't tell who was most incredulous on the Holliday home run, you or him; can you talk about what a weird thing that was?
Wolf: Yeah, off the bat, I first thought it was a foul ball, and then when I saw the ball staying fair, I thought it was going to be a fly out. But you know, he's one of those guys that has brute strength. He's just a big, strong guy, and you know, I think all three of us, me, George (Kotarras) and Matt, we were all kind of surprised that went out. But he's a strong enough guy. It's like trying to pitch to Brian Urlacher. He's a beast. (Laughter.)
Q. Sixth inning, you guys have a couple of guys on, bottom of the order coming up. First of all, were you expecting maybe to be pinch hit for, and secondly, what did it do for you to maybe be allowed to go a little further near this game?
Wolf: I'll be 100-percent honest with you, I don't even remember that situation.
All I thought about was going back out there and pitching, and I was going to go out there until Ron took the ball away from me. Honestly, I remember having three at-bats. I remember bunting once, and that was my last time up against Arthur Rhodes.
You know, I think that gave it second and third, and two outs with Nyjer up.
Q. This has been a bullpen series for the most part. How does it feel for you to kind of have that big first start for a starter?
Wolf: It was a big feeling just to be back out there again after my last start, the Diamondbacks tied the series 2-2, went back to our place, and we had the most stressful game I've ever watched in my life, and I felt that my offseason sanity was riding on that game.
Just to be able to get another opportunity to pitch again was important. You know, I'll be honest with you, the day after the Diamondbacks start, I didn't eat or shower that day. I don't know if they call that depression, but it was tough to swallow. (Laughter.) So I was just really happy that we came through, Yo came through in that Game 5 and I was assured another opportunity to be back on the mound.
Q. You said you didn't want to put too much emphasis on first innings, even though we have talked in the past about some of the struggles you've had, but when you have a 1-2-3 inning like that, can you take something from it going forward?
Wolf: Well, you can take the fact that they didn't score any runs, and that's big. I think the most important thing, regardless of whether it was a 1-2-3 inning or whether they scored a run in the first inning, the main thing I wanted do is throw strikes. That was my biggest problem in my last game. I threw 50 percent strikes. It's impossible to be successful when you're throwing 50 percent strikes.
So the main thing I wanted to do was get ahead and throw strikes and move the ball in and out and use all my pitches. In the first inning I felt confident to where I knew I was going to be able to throw those pitches for strikes all game, and it's a plus and it's icing on the cake to have a 1-2-3 first.
Q. As opposed to being depressed, you get to be exhilarated, elated? What is it?
Wolf: Does that officially declare me bipolar? (Laughter.)
Regardless of how the game went, I was satisfied with the fact that I was going to have that opportunity. You know, you don't want to have just one opportunity and have it to be like it was. Going into it I knew it was going to be either the Phillies or Cardinals, both very tough teams, but either one, I just really wanted to have had a chance.
Regardless of what that result was, I just wanted to be back out there and have some kind of -- it's kind of a weird word, but it's redemption to go back out there.
Q. A mini series of questions about your runs scored. Were you surprised they hooked Lohse so quick and then do you think their plan with Boggs was to try to overpower you because he throws it so hard? And just the at bat you had, you fouled off some tough pitches and got one you could handle.
Braun: No, I was not surprised that they took him out of the game at that point. That's kind of what they've been doing the whole series. Their bullpen has been phenomenal.
I think Boggs is the type of guy who has overpowering stuff, so it's an opportunity to get either a strikeout or pop up, which is what you're looking for in that situation. I just tried to shorten my swing up and make sure I was able to put the ball in play.
I actually made it hard on myself that both infielders, the middle infielders were back the first couple of pitches. Once I got the two strikes, they did fake me out by bringing the infielder in, late trick. Second baseman came in, shortstop was back and I was able to pull the ball and make sure I got it to the left side to assure us of at least scoring the run.
Q. The larger implication of this is that the series will be settled at Miller Park. Wondering how that feels for both of you guys?
Braun: Feels great. Obviously the goal was to make sure we get an opportunity to go back and play Game 6. If we didn't get to do it, that would have meant our season was over. Obviously, it's well documented we have played well at home. These guys have played us tough at home, too, but it's definitely a great feeling that we are going to have an opportunity to at least get to Game 6 back at home.
Wolf: I agree with Ryan.
Q. Obviously 3-1 is not a foregone conclusion in a seven-game series, but how big of a difference is it between 3-1 and 2-2?
Wolf: It's a huge difference. You have to win three games in a row to win the series, and that in itself statistically and mathematically makes it tough. Historically when you look at teams like the Cardinals who get into the playoffs as a Wild Card who is on fire, they are always going to be a tough team to play. They beat what everybody thought was the best team in baseball going into the NLDS. They played them very tough.
So we knew that going into this series, we were going to have our work cut out for us; and today, to even the series, as opposed to being 3-1, it's a good thing for us. It's a very good thing for us.
Q. Game 2 at home, you still had a bad game, and as Ron said, just wasn't played well; but does that game do anything to shake your confidence playing there, or are you the same as all year?
Braun: No, we'll never lack confidence. I think we'll feel really good about ourselves regardless of where we are playing or who we are playing against.
Obviously, we've played really well at home. We've had a lot of success there, and one loss is not going to deter us from feeling the same way and feeling good heading into Game 6 back at home. But these guys are tough. They are not going to be intimidated by coming to Miller Park by any means either. Regardless of where we're playing, we know it's not going to be easy. But certainly we like our chances getting the opportunity to go back home.
Q. Can you talk about the fact that the offense finally got the timely hitting that had been lacking the last few games and was able to produce those runs?
Braun: I think the key to success against a team who is playing as well as these guys are is taking advantage of the opportunities you get with runners on base.
We were able to do that tonight. I think they deserve a ton of credit. The last couple of games were really making big pitches in big situations. Their bullpen has been phenomenal all series and tonight we are were able to get a couple of key hits in key situations, and that's obviously extremely important in finding a way to beat these guys.
Q. Randy, remarkably, it took until Game 4 for a starting pitcher to make it past the sixth inning, considering how many great starting pitchers there are in this series. Can you just speak to the toughness of the two offenses and how hard they can make it on pitchers in this series?
Wolf: It's two really tough teams. There's no way I could put it into words of just the intensity that's there every inning. You know how important every out is. You know how either team, if they have an opportunity to score, how good they are at taking advantage of that opportunity.
So the main thing you want to do is stay out of trouble, but you know, fortunately today, we had some big hits, got that two run lead, which I think just afforded me to be able to go a little bit longer and a little deeper in the game. If it's 2-2, 3-2, I may not be out there in the sixth or seventh inning. They might hit for me when I bunted. There's a lot of things that kind of factor into it, so I think to get those two runs after the tie game, those were huge runs.
Q. Were you confident if you kept it there that your teammates would rally and get that game?
Wolf: Yeah, I said earlier that even though it is the playoffs, we are the same team, and the one thing that has held true this year is that as a starting pitcher, you give the offense a chance to score runs, whether it's three, four or 12. As long as you get their runs to a minimum it gives us a chance.
We have a good offense that's balanced, that takes advantage of opportunities, and I felt that I was throwing the ball well. I felt those two home runs were actually good pitches. Allen Craig did a great job of hitting and Holliday forearmed the ball out of there. I thought I was throwing strikes and I felt I was confident to where I could keep them at that score.
A postgame interview with Jerry Hairston
Brewers infielder Jerry Hairston spoke with the media following Thursday's 4-2 win over the Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.
Q. Speaking of your forearm, can you talk about the slide that you had to make to score that run?
Hairston: Well, I tell you what, I wish Yuni would have hit like a 35-hopper through any hole so it would be a lot easier for me to score. He hit a bullet right at Jon Jay, and I had kind of a late jump because you want to freeze on a line drive, and I took off and thought I might get held up, but I was just still running hard and I just found out that Albert cut the ball off.
So I just wanted to get in there. I knew Yadi was getting ready to receive the throw, and I saw a little bit of an opening and I was just able to get in under the tag.
Q. Ryan just got done telling us that the goal was obviously to take the series back to Miller Park, and you've only been around since the end of July. What have you seen about that home-field advantage in that short time, and how much does it mean that you get to have that again?
Hairston: Well, it does help. Our fans are unbelievable. The atmosphere is definitely electric. I remember going in as a visiting player when I was with the Cubs, Reds, it was always a tough place to play for the visiting team.
But that being said, the Cardinals are a great team no matter where you play. We got beat up pretty good in Game 2, so even though we lost last night's game, we felt we played a really good game. We gave ourselves a chance to win, and we felt that if we play that way tonight, we'll be right there, and we're able to scratch and claw.
Obviously, Wolfy pitched an unbelievable game. That's one of the best lineups you're going to see. It reminds me of an American League type of lineup. They are a great hitting team, and we were able to fight tonight and get a win.
Q. Just expand on that a little bit, about how great Wolf looked this evening and what was working for him this evening that wasn't working in his NLDS start?
Hairston: Well, I mean, first of all, he was able to kind of get ahead. I think in Arizona, it seemed like he was always 2-0, 3-1. The Diamondbacks are a really good team and swing the bats well, and tonight he was able to establish his curveball, obviously his cutter and sinker and he was able to kind of get ahead.
Obviously, Matt Holliday did a tremendous job hitting. That's not an easy pitch to hit out anywhere and he was able to hit it out. Craig did an unbelievable job. I saw the pitch, and, wow. But he didn't get rattled. He kept us there and gave us a chance and we were able to fight and fight back and get a win.
Q. How do you approach that slide? You have to come down and touch the plate, but you can't come down too early, otherwise you're going to run into his arm.
Hairston: Not the biggest guy out there, so usually running over a catcher is not an option, so I'd better learn how to slide. Yadi does a great job behind the plate, blocking the plate. So I just wanted to get there as soon as I can and avoid his tag, and I was able to do that. It's not that easy, but just try to find a way to find the plate and I was able to do that.
Q. What do you think of the job Ryan Braun is doing in the post season?
Hairston: Everyone says what a hot streak he's been on. He's Ryan. He's been doing that all year long. Probably him or Prince will win the MVP, both deserving of it. He's a complete player. He can run, hit for average, hit for power and he's been clutch for us all year long. So having him do this, it's not surprising. He's been doing it for us the whole season.
Q. Television cameras caught Alex in the beast costume. Go back to that a little bit and why it's so important for this team to stay loose. You've said that it's imperative for success.
Hairston: Oh, man, that beast costume, he looks great in it actually. You know what, we are a loose bunch of guys. Even when we were getting beat pretty good in Game 2, we were still kind of loose. They just caught fire and really beat us pretty good, and I think one of the guys said we need to score two touchdowns to get back in the game.
That's the type of team we have to be. We have to be loose, because you know, I think it was in late August or early September, we tried to tone it down and we lost three or four games in a row and we said, you know, we can't be that way. We have to go out there and have fun. No disrespect to any team, but we have to go out and have fun and enjoy ourselves, and we've been doing that and we've been successful.
Q. You had lost eight playoff games in a row on the road; that streak is gone. Does that do anything for you tomorrow going into tomorrow with one last game here?
Hairston: Eight? Oh, like in '82? (Laughter.) Come on man. I guess we can blame them for most of those losses; right?
They were a great team, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor.
Listen, that was a long time ago. We felt that we had been a pretty good road team the last six weeks of the season, and we felt our team really started to get complete. We felt we could play anywhere.
Now we went to Arizona and ran into a team that really swung the bats. I think they hit two grand slams. It's one of those things where they beat us up. We didn't necessarily play bad, it's just they swung the bats. We don't really think about that type of thing. We just go out there and try to play our game, have fun, and play good baseball. If we do that, we feel that we have a pretty good team and we have a chance to win the game.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.