Braves Dansby Swanson and Adam Duvall answer questions following their heroics in the ninth inning that gave Atlanta a 3-1 win in Game 3 of the NLDS in St. Louis. The Braves hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five National League Division Series:
Q: Manager Brian Snitker said you’re built like this. Do you take it personally that the guy in front of you is intentionally walked that the pitcher wants to get to you instead of somebody else?
DANSBY SWANSON: I saw it coming, even just getting ready in the dugout, just how the inning was playing out, that that could definitely be a possibility, so personally I like to be prepared for every situation imaginable, and that allows me to be able to kind of go out and play confidently when you’re prepared for those situations.
So give a lot of credit for willing to be in those situations. Playing a lot of basketball growing up and being a multi-sport guy, you just kind of get put in those situations a lot. And I love being in them, and I’m just I’m thankful and blessed that I was able to come through it tonight.
Q: Dansby, after Game 1, their manager had been asked why he didn’t walk you in the eighth inning when walking you would have made the Braves make a choice and maybe get Melancon out of the game. He said basically that he really kind of like that Martínez-Swanson matchup. Today he said he liked it again, that you were 0-6 against Carlos. But do you feel like he likes it a little bit less after the fact?
SWANSON: I mean, maybe. That’s his personal decision and I except he’s wanting to play it by the numbers. That's his decision and his job to do so.
My job is to put together a professional at-bat every time I go up there. Doesn’t matter who I’m facing. So just happened to be in that situation, I was able to come through.
Q: Adam, I guess this is your biggest postseason moment since last game. What has this been like for you, just to go from a guy who spent so much time in Gwinnett and trying to come back? Freddie talked about your acquisition late last year and they were hoping for that last year, and now here you are a year later you’re doing this. What’s it been like for you? Is your head still spinning?
ADAM DUVALL: Yeah, there's a lot of work that's been put in this year. And I just try to go up there and have a quality at-bat, play quality defense, be a good teammate and hopefully everything else takes care of itself.
But we put a lot into this. We sacrificed a lot — family, we’re on the road a lot — we sacrifice a lot for moments like this. And so you just hope you can come through for your team when they call you.
Q: Dansby, you also had some moments this year where things didn’t go your way and you had to fight through some adversity. After missing the postseason last year and then being hurt for a month this year, how great does this feel now, to be able to be in those moments you talk about wanting to be in?
SWANSON: Yeah, it’s truly a blessing, especially to be able to do it with these guys. I think it can never be talked about enough how much we enjoy being around each other, how much this team loves to spend time with one another. I can consider everybody on that team to be close friend and like family to me.
So being able to play with them is something that I'll forever cherish. And one of the big focal points right now is just enjoying each moment with them and being able to compete with them on a nightly basis.
Q: You couldn’t do it last year; you had to watch?
SWANSON: Never liked watching. I had to do it at points this year, too. It’s not fun, but you can grow and learn in every situation you're faced with. In times of adversity you learn and grow the most. I'm thankful for the ups and the downs and it's kind of led me to this moment now. Like I said, just so thankful to be able to do it with these guys.
Q: Dansby, I think Carlos struck you out on a fastball in Game 1, correct?
SWANSON: Yes, correct.
Q: But tonight he starts with you a slider and obviously you’re ready for the slider. How were you able to do that?
SWANSON: God blessed me with good hand-eye coordination. In those situations, you just try and breathe and relax. It’s easier said than done. But as Duvy mentioned, trying to have quality at-bats, play quality defense. It’s not about being perfect; it's about continuing to be good and that's just kind of the mindset.
Q: Adam, the way you’re being used here and your success, do you feel like a late-inning reliever when you come in?
DUVALL: I’m just trying to be ready. I’m getting ready from about the second or third inning on. So just so that when they call my name I’m fully ready to go into the game and prepared. And like Dansby was saying earlier, that kind of lets me relax a little bit, knowing that I’ve put in the work before the game that way, just go out there and react. So I’ll be ready whenever they need me.
Q: Dansby, Atlanta the last two years kind of struggled with runners in scoring position in the playoffs. Is there a learning curve to learn how to deal with the emotions in tense moments there? And how much can what you guys were able to do in the ninth inning kind of spin forward in terms of your confidence in those situations?
SWANSON: I’ll go ahead and answer the second one first because that’s what I’m thinking about. I think momentum’s huge in series. And the ability to sustain the momentum from the ninth inning on until tomorrow is going to be huge.
We obviously believe in our guy that’s going out and pitching a lot tomorrow. So we’re going to go out and try to continue what we were able to finish off tonight.
Q: I’m wondering if there’s a learning curve in terms of batting (indiscernible) in big moments in the playoffs. Do you learn the more you get experience, does it help you?
SWANSON: I think experience is everything, especially in this game. You see tonight, with Wainwright and Yadi, just what they’re able to do and they’ve been there and done that.
And for some of us, first, second time, there’s a lot of learning curves, and we’ve got a good group that can learn quickly. So it’s nice to be able to see the growth of each guy, especially, like you said, in those moments you’ve got to really relax, breathe, not try to do too much. Try to put the barrel on the ball and hopefully it goes where they’re not standing.
Q: The way both starters were balling and you guys down to your final strike, Freddie told me it’s the greatest game he’s ever been a part of. Want to know where it stands for both of you?
DUVALL: I mean, yeah, it’s pretty well said. I think this is the postseason. This is what we play for all year. And so to come out with a win when you’re down in the ninth, that’s huge because every game's a must-win game from here on out. So it’s important to get every one you can.
SWANSON: I think tonight was kind of like baseball in its purest form, with two guys that were tremendous on the mound, the pace of the game, just the ability to throw strikes, get ahead of hitters. And even if you were behind you could still get back into counts using different pitches.
I think their guy was awesome. Our guy was awesome. They were opportunistic early in that second inning with Ozuna’s double and then Yadi able to get him to the third and Matt getting them in.
So there’s a lot of things tonight that were baseball 101 and, like I said, in its purest form. So being able to compete in a game like that is amazing.
Q: You said earlier that you kind of saw the inning play out a little bit while you were in the dugout. How specifically? Did you think, okay, McCann is up there with the base open; they're going to go to me. How specific were you thinking?
SWANSON: I normally start — I mean you’re always watching the game; you’re always watching the inning. I started getting ready as soon as I get in the hole, I start to play the scenario out. And that’s just kind of how it was ending for me.
I was ready for that move. And I would have been — I personally would have been surprised if they would have pitched to Mac just because of his postseason experience and everything. So I was ready from the moment I started putting my batting gloves on in the dugout.
Q: Adam, you also hit a slider 0-2, and it looked like it wasn't a terrible pitcher's pitch, like you were almost maybe protecting a little bit. Can you describe that a little bit?
DUVALL: The pitch before that was 99 kind of in. So the ball I hit was probably a little bit off. But at that moment you kind of gotta protect, you can’t necessarily leave it in umpire's hands there.
It was close enough for me that I thought I could get the barrel to it. So, I made the move on it.
Q: When Martínez hit Ronald after that, did you guys make anything out of that — when Martínez hit Ronald Acuña with the pitch in the ninth after you guys had scored did you make anything out of that after what happened the other night?
SWANSON: No, especially with the count, you know being 3-2 and everything, I think they probably thought that was just a good pitch, especially with some of the stuff Wainwright, with all the curveballs he’s been throwing, just figured that maybe there could be another breaking ball or something like that, so maybe try and rush him up and in.
But like I said, we're not playing into that; we’re thankful that we were able to come out with a victory.
Q: They always say closeout games are the hardest. How does one sleep tonight knowing you’re a win away from doing something that this franchise hasn’t done in two decades, get to the NLCS?
SWANSON: History, we don’t really play into that. This is now. The one thing that we’ve talked about all year and that makes this team so special is we come out and we play tomorrow's game. We don’t worry about what happened tonight; we’re not worried about what’s happening in the future. We always stay where our feet are and that moment is to come out each inning, each pitch, and hopefully be able to come out of here with a victory.
Q. How good was Soroka tonight? Because we’ve seen him really good all year but that seemed like another level.
SWANSON: Just Mike being Mike. People say he’s 23, acts like he’s 62. Just his confidence and his ability to pitch on the road, I think, is something that you don’t see very often and you can take for granted very easily. He goes up there takes the ball, executes his pitches and never gets rattled with whatever situation comes about.
We talked about count leverage and stuff. There’s times where he was able to get ahead, but even when you’re behind, being able to get back in the counts or make them have weak contact in good hitter’s counts is something that doesn’t happen very often especially during the postseason. For him to be able to do that with multiple pitches, whether it was his two-seamer or his changeup or his slider, he was able to do it in so many different ways. And I think that's kind of what made it so tough for them. I think he retired, what, like 17 in a row at some point.
And there wasn’t really many loud outs. I give him a lot of credit because he wasn’t over the middle of the plate very often. And when he was, he's got so much movement on his stuff and he keeps people unbalanced or off balance. And I give a lot of credit to Mac as well.
His game planning and his feel for the game with our starting pitchers has been phenomenal all year. And I think it should get highlighted even more right now during the postseason.
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