Results tagged ‘ John Lackey ’

This is what we play for — a shot at the ring

This is my sixth postseason, and it’s a whole new season. It doesn’t matter what you do in the regular season. It’s all about who wants it more. You see guys who hit 30, 40 homers, drive in 100 runs, and they don’t do a thing in postseason. You’ve got pitchers who dominate in the regular season and don’t win in the postseason. It’s the same game, but different. 

I think guys here learned from last year, losing in four games to Boston. I’m not saying any names, but I can hear it in their voices, see it in their eyes. It’s totally different. The younger guys have that bulldog in them now. It’s what I was waiting to see, and I’m seeing it now.

I love this time of year. It takes me back to high school football in Pine Bluff, Ark., when I just wanted to go out and hit guys. I still want to hit — just a different kind of hitting.

Even though it’s the same game, the adrenaline and hype of it take you up to another level. You’ve got to block it out, go out and have fun. I don’t think anything needs to be said. We finished off on a good note, winning seven of the last eight, and we’re carrying that momentum into the postseason.

One thing about the playoffs – you don’t need any coffee. You don’t want to get too boosted up. I hurt my knee jumping up and down on a play last year against the Red Sox where I thought I was safe – and I wasn’t. The adrenaline was going crazy on me. I’m drinking straight water. Pure adrenaline is going to take over for you.

My whole focus is on the Red Sox, of course, but I’ve got to say, that Twins-Tigers playoff game was awesome. I watched it at home, and I caught myself every once in a while cheering for the guys I used to play with in Minnesota. They battled through it and got it done, and to do it without Justin Morneau, one of the best pure hitters in the game, and Joe Crede, that was impressive. But I know those guys, how much heart they have, how they battle.

Now they go on to New York. In 2003 and 2004, the Yankees put it on us. Hopefully, they can get it done. I texted most of the guys after it was over and told them how happy I was for them. It was a roller-coaster ride, and I was really excited for Alexi Casilla, getting the big hit, and of course for Joe Mauer and the rest of the guys.

Now they just go on straight adrenaline. The Twins probably have momentum, coming off a playoff game, a great win, but that’s a good team they’re playing.

The Twins are probably the closest team to us in their style. They’ve got a batting champion in Mauer, and they always play hard. I think we might have a couple more athletes. Put us on a football field, and we’d win. We have some old quarterbacks on this team – John Lackey, Jeff Mathis, Scott Kazmir, myself. Mathis would be our QB. He was a division I recruit, by Florida State.

I’ve got a lot of confidence in Lackey in Game 1.  John’s a bulldog who wants the ball every fifth day. He’s not afraid to throw strikes. The passion he has on the mound, when he comes into the dugout, either he’s upset or excited. I always like our chances when he’s out there.

As for our offense, you can’t say enough about what Bobby Abreu has brought to this team. Bobby’s whole thing is swing at strikes – whether it’s the first pitch or the last pitch you see. It’s simple, but it’s hard, especially for young guys and a hitter like Vladimir Guerrero, who’s always been so aggressive. Vladdy’s Vladdy. He’s been playing and doing it his way for a long time. And he’s a Hall of Famer.

Bobby definitely had a positive impact on me. I’ve been playing for years, but I’m getting better. Besides his approach on the field, another thing Bobby brings is the way he prepares himself. He gets here early, does his running, lifts his weights. Guys see that, and they want to be like Bobby. They know he’s always on the field.

The way Bobby carries himself, that’s another thing he brings to the clubhouse. He’s always relaxed, always singing. He’s a bad singer, but that’s OK. He’s suave. One of a kind.

I really like the way we set up with Chone Figgins and Bobby up top, then the rest of us. Those two guys know how to get on base and run the bases. Guys like Vlad, Juan Rivera, Kendry Morales, we’ve got some bangers in the middle. We have a lot of weapons.

I think we’re ready. Now it’s time to go out and get it done.

 

 

Pumped for Escobars return

Saturday is a special day for the Angels. Kelvim Escobar will be on the mound in a big-league game for the first time since October of 2007 when he was one of the best in the game.

I’m excited he’s coming back, probably almost as excited as he is. One of the reasons I came to the Angels was Kelvim, along with John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver. That’s five good starters right there, as good as any group you’ll find when they’re all healthy and dealing.

This will be my first time playing behind Escobar in a real game, and I’m pumped. His first start in a year and a half, that’s big – for us and for him.

You want him to come out and dominate, but that’s a big-time lineup he’ll be facing. The Tigers can rake. Plus, you’ve got to give him a little space, make sure he doesn’t try to do too much too soon. He’s a fierce competitor, but he’s still working on it, trying to get it back. It takes time in this game. Nothing happens overnight.

Nobody has to convince me how good Kelvim is. I have first-hand knowledge of that. He used to have his way with me when he was with the Blue Jays and I was with the Twins. He was like a Torii Hunter specialist. Seems like I had to face him all the time, and he always had that little smile on his face. No wonder.

I’m a .130 lifetime hitter against the guy. Three hits in 23 at-bats, with one home run and three RBIs. He struck me out seven times and I walked twice.

You can see why I’m happy to be on his side now.

What makes Escobar so good is his stuff and his attitude. He’s tough, and he has a deep bag to go into for any situation. I don’t think there’s any pitcher in the game with more variety than Kelvim. He has the four-seamer he gets up in the mid-90s, the two-seamer that moves, curveball, slider, split, changeup. The whole package. He’ll throw you anything, and you never know what’s coming.

I might as well have gone up blindfolded when he was with the Blue Jays. I didn’t know what was coming. I’m just glad I don’t have to hit against him anymore. That’s one less nightmare.

One thing I’ve learned about Kelvim, being his teammate, is that he works as hard as anybody, including those of us who play every day. He’s fit and strong, and that’s why I think he’s been able to come back after a serious shoulder surgery.

He’s smart, too. Kelvim’s always drinking water, staying hydrated. He knows what he has to do to get back on the field – and stay on the field.

Angels fans should be really excited about this. I know I am. I’ll be like a kid tomorrow. I can’t wait to see what Kelvim does. But it’s important to keep in mind that this is just the first step back in the journey.
 

Pumped for Escobar’s return

Saturday is a special day for the Angels. Kelvim Escobar will be on the mound in a big-league game for the first time since October of 2007 when he was one of the best in the game.

I’m excited he’s coming back, probably almost as excited as he is. One of the reasons I came to the Angels was Kelvim, along with John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver. That’s five good starters right there, as good as any group you’ll find when they’re all healthy and dealing.

This will be my first time playing behind Escobar in a real game, and I’m pumped. His first start in a year and a half, that’s big – for us and for him.

You want him to come out and dominate, but that’s a big-time lineup he’ll be facing. The Tigers can rake. Plus, you’ve got to give him a little space, make sure he doesn’t try to do too much too soon. He’s a fierce competitor, but he’s still working on it, trying to get it back. It takes time in this game. Nothing happens overnight.

Nobody has to convince me how good Kelvim is. I have first-hand knowledge of that. He used to have his way with me when he was with the Blue Jays and I was with the Twins. He was like a Torii Hunter specialist. Seems like I had to face him all the time, and he always had that little smile on his face. No wonder.

I’m a .130 lifetime hitter against the guy. Three hits in 23 at-bats, with one home run and three RBIs. He struck me out seven times and I walked twice.

You can see why I’m happy to be on his side now.

What makes Escobar so good is his stuff and his attitude. He’s tough, and he has a deep bag to go into for any situation. I don’t think there’s any pitcher in the game with more variety than Kelvim. He has the four-seamer he gets up in the mid-90s, the two-seamer that moves, curveball, slider, split, changeup. The whole package. He’ll throw you anything, and you never know what’s coming.

I might as well have gone up blindfolded when he was with the Blue Jays. I didn’t know what was coming. I’m just glad I don’t have to hit against him anymore. That’s one less nightmare.

One thing I’ve learned about Kelvim, being his teammate, is that he works as hard as anybody, including those of us who play every day. He’s fit and strong, and that’s why I think he’s been able to come back after a serious shoulder surgery.

He’s smart, too. Kelvim’s always drinking water, staying hydrated. He knows what he has to do to get back on the field – and stay on the field.

Angels fans should be really excited about this. I know I am. I’ll be like a kid tomorrow. I can’t wait to see what Kelvim does. But it’s important to keep in mind that this is just the first step back in the journey.
 

We’re alive — and dangerous

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We’re alive and kicking. That’s all we asked for, one win to keep us going. We’ve got a heartbeat, and like I said all along, as long as this team has life — as long as we’ve got innings, pitches, a pulse — we’re dangerous.

Let’s get the play that cost us three runs out of the way first. It was my fault; put it all on me. I should have gotten there, called off Howie Kendrick and caught that ball. We haven’t had a single ball fall like that, in that spot, all season — and it happens in a game we have to win. But you’ve got to move on, let it go. That’s what I told Howie between innings. It was in a tough spot. I was shading Jacoby Ellsbury toward left-center, and Howie had a long way to go. But it’s my turf out there, and I should have made the play.

It’s kind of strange, really. I didn’t make an error all season, and the other night in Anaheim in Game 2, Mark Kotsay hit a ball to me that was acting like a knuckleball, and it went off my glove. It’s crazy. But you can’t let things like that get you down. Not in this game, when you play every day. You’re tested all the time.

I love how our guys responded in this game, playing big when it counted. Our young guys have come alive. They’ve gotten over their anxieties and trying to do too much, and they’re settling in and just playing now. Erick Aybar got that big hit for the winning run. Howie got a couple of knocks and put down that bunt after Mike Napoli’s single in the 12th inning. Man, Napoli was incredible. That guy is so strong. He was swinging from the heels in the first game, but tonight he was smart, taking good swings. He’s so strong, he can hit it out without a big swing.

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Reporters are asking me why I tried to stretch that single in the ninth inning. I hit it down the line, and from what I saw, it was going to take a great play to throw me out. If Jason Bay doesn’t put it where he did — if it’s a little wide either side of the bag — I’m at second with nobody out, and we’re in business. I was hustling, going for it, and a guy threw me out with a good throw. It happens.

That’s six straight games we’ve won at Fenway Park. One more and we’re going home with a chance to go to the ALCS. Hey, I’m not getting ahead of myself here. We know all about Boston, how dangerous those guys are. But we’re dangerous, too. They know that. You don’t get beat six straight times in your own house and not have some respect for that other team.

We really like playing here. The fans are great, the park is great. It’s intense, and I think we thrive on that.

I’ve got a lot of confidence in big John Lackey going against Jon Lester in Game 4. Lackey comes after you and pounds that strike zone. I love that. He keeps his guys in the game. I think we’ll have a better idea with Lester the second time around, especially the younger guys who were still new to all of this.

You learn a lot about yourself as you go through these postseason games. I love how our guys have responded. Nobody got down after losing the first two. We stayed cool, stayed supportive of each other. That’s how you win in October, by hanging together, playing hard and smart, making good things happen.

We’re alive. We’re kicking. Now we just want to keep it going and bring this series back home to our fans — and our Rally Monkey. No more talks about losing streaks, no more negativity, please. That monkey is off our backs.

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Were alive — and dangerous

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We’re alive and kicking. That’s all we asked for, one win to keep us going. We’ve got a heartbeat, and like I said all along, as long as this team has life — as long as we’ve got innings, pitches, a pulse — we’re dangerous.

Let’s get the play that cost us three runs out of the way first. It was my fault; put it all on me. I should have gotten there, called off Howie Kendrick and caught that ball. We haven’t had a single ball fall like that, in that spot, all season — and it happens in a game we have to win. But you’ve got to move on, let it go. That’s what I told Howie between innings. It was in a tough spot. I was shading Jacoby Ellsbury toward left-center, and Howie had a long way to go. But it’s my turf out there, and I should have made the play.

It’s kind of strange, really. I didn’t make an error all season, and the other night in Anaheim in Game 2, Mark Kotsay hit a ball to me that was acting like a knuckleball, and it went off my glove. It’s crazy. But you can’t let things like that get you down. Not in this game, when you play every day. You’re tested all the time.

I love how our guys responded in this game, playing big when it counted. Our young guys have come alive. They’ve gotten over their anxieties and trying to do too much, and they’re settling in and just playing now. Erick Aybar got that big hit for the winning run. Howie got a couple of knocks and put down that bunt after Mike Napoli’s single in the 12th inning. Man, Napoli was incredible. That guy is so strong. He was swinging from the heels in the first game, but tonight he was smart, taking good swings. He’s so strong, he can hit it out without a big swing.

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Reporters are asking me why I tried to stretch that single in the ninth inning. I hit it down the line, and from what I saw, it was going to take a great play to throw me out. If Jason Bay doesn’t put it where he did — if it’s a little wide either side of the bag — I’m at second with nobody out, and we’re in business. I was hustling, going for it, and a guy threw me out with a good throw. It happens.

That’s six straight games we’ve won at Fenway Park. One more and we’re going home with a chance to go to the ALCS. Hey, I’m not getting ahead of myself here. We know all about Boston, how dangerous those guys are. But we’re dangerous, too. They know that. You don’t get beat six straight times in your own house and not have some respect for that other team.

We really like playing here. The fans are great, the park is great. It’s intense, and I think we thrive on that.

I’ve got a lot of confidence in big John Lackey going against Jon Lester in Game 4. Lackey comes after you and pounds that strike zone. I love that. He keeps his guys in the game. I think we’ll have a better idea with Lester the second time around, especially the younger guys who were still new to all of this.

You learn a lot about yourself as you go through these postseason games. I love how our guys have responded. Nobody got down after losing the first two. We stayed cool, stayed supportive of each other. That’s how you win in October, by hanging together, playing hard and smart, making good things happen.

We’re alive. We’re kicking. Now we just want to keep it going and bring this series back home to our fans — and our Rally Monkey. No more talks about losing streaks, no more negativity, please. That monkey is off our backs.

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Let the dogs out!

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We’re down a game in this series, but we’re not out by a long shot. I know what a team can do when it comes together and plays the game with something to prove. I’ve seen it firsthand.

My first exposure to the postseason was in 2002 with the Twins. In ’01, we were in first place the whole season until Cleveland came back and beat us. We were up by five games in July. We were a young team, with guys like David Ortiz, Jacque Jones and Corey Koskie. We would up in second place, and it was devastating.

That winter, there was all that talk about contraction, how they were going to contract the Twins and the Expos. I was getting calls all winter, people asking me what was going to happen. I thought I was going to be somewhere else. But we got everything worked out, and we came into the 2002 season determined to show everyone what we could do with our $40 million payroll.

Ron Gardenhire was in his first season as the manager. Nobody had us winning the American League Central, but we ended up taking the division with 94 wins and going to the AL Championship Series. That’s when we ran into the Angels, and you know how that turned out.

We went up against Oakland in the AL Division Series, and they had that rotation that was the best in baseball — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. We had to beat the best rotation in baseball. Johan Santana was in our bullpen. Our starters were Joe Mays, Eric Milton, Brad Radke and Kyle Lohse.

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They were up on us, 2-1, but we came back and won the fourth and fifth games. When Eddie Guardado threw that last out at Oakland, and Ray Durham popped it up to Denny Hocking, there was this incredible feeling of joy and accomplishment we all had. I mean, think about it. The winter before they were talking about contracting us, and here we were beating the best rotation in baseball and going on to the ALCS.

We didn’t know John Lackey was waiting for us with his 97 mph gas, and Frankie Rodriguez was coming after us. And the Rally Monkey, making everybody go crazy. And, oh yeah, Adam Kennedy with his three home runs in Game 5 after he hit seven all season.

The Angels beat us at our game. That’s when I really began to admire the Anaheim Angels. I saw similarities with us — and nice weather with a great stadium. When they went on and won the World Series against the Giants, it gave me hope. If we’d beaten that team, it probably would have been us winning the World Series.

You can do great things in this game with talent and the right attitude. The Twins that year showed how far you could take it, and so did the Angels. Play the game right, play together, with everything you’ve got, and you can move mountains.

What we have to do now is come out and play with emotion, not play scared. But we also have to play smart. Be patient, take the walk if it’s there. Let somebody else drive you in. We’ve got weapons all through out lineup. Move the runner over, hit the cutoff man, run the bases aggressively, but be smart about it, too.

Hey, we know what we can do. You don’t have the best record in the Major Leagues and win 50 games on the road without having some mental toughness to go with the talent.

The Red Sox are the champions. We’re trying to take the crown off their heads. To do that, you’ve got to get that dog in you. That dog means being a little more aggressive, not being too timid. It’s time to let the dogs out. Woof-woof.

Time to get busy, not down

hunterreverseswinging550x25.jpgThis one was hard to take. I felt like we were ready to take it to the Red Sox, to play our game, and we didn’t get it done. Jon Lester was tough, man. Sometimes you have to give a guy credit. He was dealing some nasty stuff, and we couldn’t get the big hit when we needed it.

Big John Lackey was on his game, too. John deserved better. We should have scored more runs for him early when we had chances. It’s frustrating for everybody, but we have to get it out of our system and come out with the right attitude for Game 2 on Friday. You’ve got to have amnesia in this game. Hopefully, some of the younger guys can let this one go. This is still new to some of the guys, and they have to come out and play with the same fire and energy and confidence they had all season.

Maybe it helps, having the day off between games. Maybe we can use it to get rid of this game. We have to do that. We have too many good athletes in this room to get down on ourselves. We played great baseball all season, and there’s no reason why we can’t pick it up against Daisuke Matsuzaka and get back in this series.

I feel good having Ervin Santana out there for us. He’s been lights out all year. This kid has great stuff, some of the best stuff in the game. We all have confidence in him, and we’re going to get busy and get him some run support.

In the playoffs, one thing you can’t do is let something take the edge away from you. That might have happened when Vladimir Guerrero got thrown out trying to go to third when I hit that blooper over first base. He didn’t know it was going to fall in, so he hesitated for a second. I was surprised he kept going, but he was trying to be aggressive, make something happen.

hunterfollowthrough275x375.jpgVladdy is a great player, an all-time great player. He’ll bounce back. You don’t do what he’s done over his career without having the ability to shake something like this off. He was swinging the bat good, hitting some shots, so that’s a good sign. We have to focus on the positives now, not get caught up in the negatives. That can take you down if you’re not careful.

I was saying before the game that this reminds me of high school football, Friday night lights. I had all that adrenaline going for this game — I didn’t need any coffee, I can tell you that. My eyes were huge tonight. The key in big games like this is to use all that energy to your advantage, to take it to the other team. You’ve got to play the game with all your heart and soul, and you can’t be second-guessing yourself about things. Go with your instincts, let it flow.

We know who we’re facing here. These guys, the Red Sox, are the champions. You can’t just play them. You’ve got to beat those guys, take it to them. They’re not going to let you have it.

I think this was a good experience for the young guys, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, Mike Napoli. We’ve got veterans, but we’ve also got these young guys, and they’re learning about themselves. They got the first game in, and now they can go out and play. These guys have a ton of talent. We saw that all season. They’ve just got to trust their instincts and let all that talent flow.

We’re coming to play in Game 2. Friday night lights. We’ve got to go after it with everything we’ve got. We’ve got to take it to those guys.

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