on striking out the side: “I don’t think you draw it up quite like that. I mean, that’s a fantasy-type situation. But I had ‘em swinging at some high pitches so, you know, you take it. Because it doesn’t happen very often.”
Well, how does it feel to get to 400? “I don’t remember being so nervous about 399. I know that all today my kids were talking about coming to the game so they could see this, hoping I got the chance. It was fun to be out there.
“It was nerve-wracking because we’d lost, and you don’t want to put yourself ahead of the team. Knowing we needed this win, if you get out there and you start using that anxiety to go out there and you start going all over the place and get yourself in trouble. So just stay under control and make pitches, and tonight I made enough to help us win.”
Did you anticipate this when you came to Atlanta, reaching this milestone? Surely you expected to get 15 saves (for 400):
“In April I wasn’t so sure. [He smiled.] But saves and stuff like that go in spurts. You’ve got to be ready and take advantage of every one of them, because when they come they come in bunches, and you’ve just got to be ready to go out there every night.
“When you go out there and pitch for 14 years, you start to put some numbers together. This is just a credit to the hard work and all the people behind me that always made the plays and made me look good.”
Bobby says half-seriously that they’re gonna try to talk you out of retirement.
“Yeah, well, no chance.”
Was it more gratifying that you struck out the side in your 400th?
“You know what, if I’d had three pop-ups it would have been just as fun. I think dream about situations like that. About as good as it would have been would be to get to 400 throwing nine pitches.
“It was fun. It was exciting. When you’re in that situation you’re always worried about that one bad pitch, so you just have to stay focused and try to make the good pitches.”
When the bullpen door opened tonight, what was the feeling?
“Every night, that fear of failure, that anxiety, that ‘don’t screw up,’ that all plays into the role of the closer, and you go out there with the intention of going as hard as you can and not making a mistake, and if you do, getting away with it. But going out there as many times as I’ve run out there, I think you know that you’re going to have those days and you can’t worry about them.”
On importance of Brooks Conrad’s late homer: “That’s always good. An extra run is always good. A one-run lead against these guys or any team, you’re just a pitch away from a blow save and a potential loss. So that insurance run made it a little easier to go right at hitters and not worry about if you do make a mistake and give up a home run, it doesn’t kill you.”
on Billy’s 400th: “For me that was the coolest part of the night. I’m going to be able to tell my kids I caught Billy Wagner’s 400th save. That’s something I’ll have in the memory bank for the rest of my life.”
Does Wagner look as good now as when you broke in?
“Absolutely. I mean, when he’s locating like he is right now and he’s throwing 98 miles an hour. All his pitches … his curveball has great depth. It’s hard to hit.”
On Medlen: “He was awesome. He was locating his pitches, kept them off balance. You know, he attacks. The thing he does best is, he goes out there and competes every fifth day. He’s earned the respect of everyone on this team as a starter. He’s just been pitching great.”
On his own power stroke coming around:
“I’ve got a long ways to go. I mean, it’s getting there. I’m not having the year that I should be having, but it’s still a long season and I’m hanging in there and battling every day. We’ll just go from there.”
On tonight in general: “It was just a big game. It was a great game, all around. We needed the win, that was the most important thing that happened. We needed this win. Medlen stepped up.”
“The honor and privilege of getting the win – first of all, we needed the win – but to be part of that was pretty cool. I’ll remember that the rest of my life. It’s cool.”
Settled in after rough first inning:
“I was overheating a little bit. Once that inning was over I was down in the tunnel in front of the fan. After that I felt good and the defense played awesome behind me.”
“Wags came in and dealt, like always.”
On the Tigers not being able to advance runners when they had chances after the first inning: “I don’t know. Just the competitiveness in me. I just try to battle. Any situation I get in, I feel like I can get out of.”
So the 400th save is what you’ll remember most? “Oh, easily. My first win, my first hit, blah blah blah, this surpasses all that. This is definitely tops for me, being part of setting up Billy for his 400th. And definitely not his last.”
You feel like you’ve earned a rotation spot? Hope so? “Of course. I’ve just gone out and done what’s got me here, which is battle, throw strikes and compete. That’s all you can really ask for the starters, is just to go out and compete.”
So you’re good with whatever decision’s made? “Yeah. I like us in first place. Whatever the team and everybody feels is best for the team is what I’m going to do and what I’ve done since I’ve been up here.”
“Mac got his 100th home run and Wagner — what a way to get 400 saves, by striking out the side. He’s been dominating all season long, and maybe we can talk him out of retirement.” (Cox smiled.)
“Med pitched great. He got roughed up a little bit there at the beginning. Couple of line drives that we caught. But then he settled down, threw a lot of strikes, and I thought he pitched extremely well.
“We always expect a good game [from Medlen], we really do.”