CHIPPER JONES quotes
on his go-ahead RBI hit: Skip [Bobby Cox] originally told me I was going to lead off the inning, and we knew Mac was going to hit third probably, hitting for the pitcher. Then he throws ‘Ski [Hinske] up there [pinch-hitting instead of Chipper] to lead it off, and he told me he wanted me to hit for Infante. And you know if we get that deep in the inning that the game is going to be on the line. There’s going to be ducks out there. So I was mentally ready, ever since their guy hit the two-run homer to tie it.
“They’ve got some guys who can run it up there really good in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning, 97-98 miles an hour. I missed the first [pitch], but got just enough of the second one.” [he laughs]
On the team’s lastest last-at-bat win: “It’s not often than you leave as many runners on base as we did today and you come out with the win. We left the bases loaded a couple of times, less than two outs – against good ballclubs that’ll come back and bit you, but we were resilient enough today to get the job done late. Another last at-bat win, just keeps on giving us confidence in those late innings, that someone’s going to step up and do it.”
On whether the Phillies are due: “With that lineup it’s just matter of time before they bust loose. Fortunately I like our pitching staff, and I think our pitching staff can continue to hold them down. We miss Halladay. We miss Moyer, who we haven’t scored on this year. That again works in our favor. We’ve got Tommy, Tim and D-Lowe maybe? So we’ve got our top three pitchers going.
“Don’t get greedy, just go out and win the series. We’ve got to hold serve here at home. We’ve been playing really well this month. Let’s end it by starting off tomorrow on a good note against the Phillies with a win.”
On Kawakami: “It was kind of a downer for him, thinking he had Jones struck out, then came back and walked him. And really the only bad pitch he made all day was the next one, and the guy hit it for a two-run homer. Just goes to show you, you can’t let up, no matter who you’re playing, no matter who you’re facing. It’s unfortunate – he deserved to win. We’re trying like heck to get him that first W, but I think that he’ll tell you he’s happy he kept us in the game and allowed us to win, at least.”
On Braves’ turnaround in recent weeks: “We go through a nine-game losing streak and everyone’s saying we’re going to be 10, 15, 20 games out late in the season, and low and behold the Phillies go through a streak similar to what we were going through in April. It happens. It’s like when you’re hitting rocket shots at people and they’re getting caught. Eventually you’re going to hit a couple of jam jobs that fall in to help you win a game.
“It all keeps coming back around if you just keep pressing on.”
Turned around when: “We got the best on-base percentage guys we’ve got at the top of the lineup. Obviously with the way Nate can run, it’d be ideal to have him up there if he were hitting better and his on-base percentage were better. But Prado and Heyward in the top two spots, my on-base percentage is up around .400, it gives the rest of the lineup a lot of opportunities to hit with guys on base and hit with guys in scoring position. You’re seeing Mac’s numbers go up, Troy’s numbers go up, everybody’s numbers are going up. It helps. It’s a domino effect. I said early on in the season, when the top of the lineup starts clicking, we’ll score runs. Unfortunately we weren’t doing that in April.”
What can you say about Heyward at this point? “I mean it’s becoming old hat. I honestly thought that he was going to do something special in that last at-bat. You’re facing a left-handed submarine pitcher, you’re 20 years old, never seen him before, and he hits a rocket-shot triple, down 0-2 [in the count]. It’s just … he’s amazing. Nothing surprises me. He’s playing like an All-Star.”
On mood going into Philly series: “Relaxed. It’s not a series where we have to go out and win all three games to go out and fill good about ourselves, which is the way it’s been the last year or two. We’ve been six, seven games out and had to make hay against them and try to sweep them. That puts a lot of pressure on you. We’ve still got a hundred-plus games to go. We’re playing well, they’re struggling a little bit. Just go out and play, have fun, do the same things we’ve been doing for the last month and whatever happens, happens. It’s not do-or-die whether we win the series, whether we lose the series. We’re certainly going out there trying to take tomorrow’s game, and hopefully at least one more win will follow.”
BOBBY COX quotes
On Kawakami: “He’s had back-to-back beautiful ballgames. Ended up walking Jones, and Clement hit a fastball out. But he threw great all day long. He’d only given up one or two hits going into that inning. I thought he did a great job. He held us there.
“I wish we had gotten him five or six runs during the course of that ballgame. We left a lot of guys on. But we got ‘em in at the end. I guess that’s when it counted the most.”
“Our bullpen just did a fantastic job, and clutch hitting – Chipper got the winning run in, and the kid, he just [never] ceases to amaze everybody. I think the count was 0-2, and he hit a bullet. Those were huge [hits].”
On Philly series: “We play the schedule. Every series is big for us. That’s the way we play the schedule. That’s the way we do it.”
On having Chipper and couple other regulars to pinch-hit Sunday: “When you rest people, you’ve got a lot of weapons on the bench. It could be in the fifth or sixth inning, or whatever. A lot of people don’t look at it that way, but I’ve always talked to other managers about resting guys and tell ‘em what a plus it can be to give a guy a little bit of a rest, and if you really need them you’ve got all these weapons sitting on the bench ready to go at any time.”
“Those three guys at the top, we talk about it a lot, but they’ve been getting on base so much. That’s a tremendous 1-2-3 punch of high on-base percentage for the other guys. Troy drove in the first two runs today.”
on Prado: “Prado can hit first, second or third, for me. He’s that type of hitter. And he’s not only having a great year with the bat, he’s having a great year with the glove. He’s been fantastically polished at second base.”
On last at-bat wins: “You better have some of those. Most teams at the top are winning games like that.”
More on the Philly series (a few reporters wouldn’t give up): “We play the schedule. You want to win in your division. We’ll give it everything we’ve got, but if another club was in here it’d be the same. I’d expect nothing less.”
On whether he got to talk to Kawakami: “I talked to him downstairs and I talked to him after the game. What are you going to do? He knows he pitched good; that’s the most important thing. And the team won. That’s all he cares about.”
on the rain threatening in ninth inning (again): “That was as dark as it got all day. When the ninth inning started, I said, ‘Ed [Mangan, groundskeeper], it can’t be. It can’t happen.’ He said, ‘We’re ok.’”
JASON HEYWARD quotes
on importance of Phillies series: “As a team, we’re taking every series the way we have been all year. Going out and doing it.”
How nice going in with first place on line? “I mean, you play for first place all year. I don’t think anybody plays for second place or anything lower than that. We’re going out and looking forward to playing a good series again.”
On last-at-bat wins giving them confidence: “We’re comfortable as a team throughout the whole game, and even more so in last at-bats. We seem like a very patient team, not trying to do too much. Every at-bat’s a team at-bat. I don’t think anybody gives any at-bats away, from the first inning to the last. That just helps us even more late in the game.”
On Kawakami not getting a win: “To be honest, today I’m happy he didn’t get the loss. That’s the biggest thing, I’d have to say, because that game could have gotten out of hand. They had the big home run after that little misread play or what have you. It would have been easy for anybody to lay down out there. It was 2-2, but we came back and made it 3-2, and ended the game 5-2. That was huge that we hung in there and saved the game for him.”
On Prado: “Does his role. Doesn’t try to do too much. He can swing the bat, hit the ball out of the ballpark, move runners, go deep in counts and whatnot. I’d have to say that’s a good guy to have at the top of the lineup.”
On having three triples already: “I don’t know, how many of those am I supposed to have? It’s just big that we got the two extra runs.”
On expecting first place after Phillies series: “No expectations, as far as standings or anything like that, as far as right now. It’s the end of May going into June, we just expect to go out and keep playing the way we have.”