On coming through to get a win on day when pitching was so sharp again and bats struggled most of day
“Always nice to win. So if I’m having bad games and we’re winning, for some reason I just feel like I’m doing alright.”
On getting some days off early
“You’ve got to take advantage of your time off and get treatment and all kinds of stuff, and just whatever you can. Taking care of yourself now is really taking care of yourself at the end. So even if you’re not sore, take precautions.”
Did this one, with 11 strikeouts, surprise you among all your starts this year?
“I wasn’t even keeping track. I couldn’t have told you how many strikeouts I had. That’s pretty cool to go out there and go into double digits in strikeouts. I felt good. I was attacking the zone. Me and Gerald got on the same page right away and just kept trying to keep everything rolling.”
On whether that’s secret to replicating success he’s had
“Yeah, you have to go out and be aggressive. If you’re not trying to pound the strike zone and get that first strike, you put yourself in a hole and you’re not as able to make the hitters go after your pitches. When you fall behind you’ve got to go right back over and you’re making pitches over the middle and that’s when you get hurt.”
Do you pitch with anything to prove coming out of spring training, with a chip on your shoulder?
“No, I think the biggest thing was just — I mean I guess you could look at it that way, I didn’t have a lot of teams calling me this offseason, so they’re might be a little something there like, hey, I can still do this. I’m just going to keep going out there and do what I’m doing.”
On rest of rotation pitching so well
“You think about it. I mean, obviously with the way the rest of the guys are throwing, you don’t want to be the lame duck out there when you get out there. You kind of feed off the other guys and hope they’re doing the same thing. We’re having a lot of fun right now. We’ve got some young guys who are only going to get better with experience.”
On being especially tough with runners on base
“Everybody’s always said I’m kind of a stickler when runners do get on base. I pitch a little tougher. I never thought about it, but I had other coaches tell me that before, that it’s like I get in a second gear when I have runners on. Obviously you get in a situation where you don’t want them to score. It maybe will get the team a little jacked up, get the guys jacked up when you can get out of your own jams.”
With offense struggling, do you pitch as if there’s little margin for error?
“You’ve got to go out and not think about that kind of stuff. When you start thinking about that, that’s when you’re out there trying to be too perfect, and that’s where you get yourself in trouble and can make more mistakes. Mentally you’ve just got to go out and focus, go pitch-by-pitch. The guys are out there wanting to play behind you and make plays. The faster you can get through an inning and get the guys back up to bat, hopefully they can get something started.”
On starters’ terrific early season performance
“We weren’t expecting it. I mean, hopefully it stays like that until our guys wake up.”
On getting a day off Thursday
“I need it. It’s a perfect day off for me, relax, study some film and get ready for the next series.”
On Harang giving up one or no runs all but one start, team knowing he’s going to pitch well
“I mean, our offense hasn’t been like it has been in the past, hasn’t been hitting home runs like crazy or putting up big numbers on the board. But we’re still managing to win series. So that’s pretty impressive. If they (pitchers) can keep doing that and our bats can start matching what we did last year or what the pitchers have been doing, we’re going to be really good.”
“I’ve played with him since I signed and seen him do this since the beginning. The only thing is, he used to hit those balls (line drives), he didn’t lift them. He used to scare the shortstop and third baseman. But yeah, I’ve seen it enough where you kind of call it before it happens.”
“He doesn’t get fazed by anything. He’s locked in. No words. He doesn’t think, he just goes up there and does what he does.”
On Harang giving up one or no runs almost every time
“You don’t expect him to give one or no runs every time, but I’m impressed, and happy that he’s doing it. Hopefully he keeps doing it the whole year. Hopefully he’s that guy. But you don’t expect that, day in and day out. But it’s nice to see it though.”
“He’s pitched really, really well. He gives us a good opportunity to win a ballgame every time he’s gone out there. He had 11 punch-outs today. It was nice to see him, a veteran guy, mix some pitches, still has 90, 91 in his pocket, with command on his fastball. It’s nice to see. I thought we won the game there in the seventh inning, with Walden. Came in and faced those two left-handers. They pinch hit for Mathis with Saltalamacchia and then Dobbs. For me that was the turning point of the game. I know the eighth got a little hairy there, but for me that was a big inning to get out of it.”
On advantage you get carrying three catchers, being able to pinch hit Gattis
“It’s a luxury, especially with Doumit who can play the outfield and you feel good that you could leave him out there and give him some at-bats that way, but if something happens he’s your third catcher. Better than your third catcher, really, and have a bat like Gattis lurking around the whole game.”
This feel like Gattis of early last season, with the late-game hits?
“Yeah and he’s got a short simple swing. And you talk to him about hitting and he feels like he’s the one who gets himself out most of the time. He feels that he’ll chase out of the strike zone or get pull happy, but he’s got a short swing and it sure is nice to give him a day off and still bring him in in a pinch hit situation and it still impact the game.”
On a way to explain Harang and what he’s done
“No, I really can’t explain it other than he’s got an opportunity to pitch with a good team in a good organization and he sure is getting the most of it. And he’s doing a terrific job.”
Not bad for a guy you picked up on the 24th of March?
“On the cheap, too, right? (laughs) Good for our scouts. He was in Arizona and all our professional scouts are out there watching spring training, they said this guy is pitching pretty good. He was on our radar during the winter time and we decided not to sign him but we’ve liked him for the whole winter and an opportunity came to be three days before spring training ended, he had that walk-out clause and he chose to take it and we got him. Good for us.”
On winning this and other series despite some spotty offense
“You look at that run differential and really it’s our pitching and knock on wood has been giving us a terrific chance to win games. Off the top of my head, we’ve lost two games 1-0, and those are the ones that you keep hanging around, hanging around, you’ve got a chance to win those. Our pitching has been terrific, our bullpen is kind of getting to where you know you’re going to put them in situations and getting straightened out, so it’s a good feeling.”
Reassuring to see Kimbrel return to form?
“We were just talking about that. You guys panic all the time. You guys think all these guys are machines. Sometimes everybody goes through a little whatever but it’s nice to keep running him out there and he’ll be fine.”