“Had a little drama in the ninth inning. I don’t know where that came from. Saito got a little bit wild and got up to 30-some pitches, so I felt the thing to do was bring in someobody else.
“Guys that normally aren’t wild got wild, for some reason. I don’t know. But the thing is we won the game and Kawakami got his first win, and threw a brilliant ballgame. Really pitched good. I don’t think there was a ball hit hard off him the entire day. I can’t ask for anything more.”
On Chipper’s homer: “That was big. Won us the ballgame. He’s been swinging the bat pretty darn good, and Zumaya has not given up a homer, as hard as he throws. He just got a pitch in a bad spot and Chipper hit it a long way. It won us the ballgame.”
On players letting Chipper go out to his position first: “That was neat. Because he couldn’t get back out when the crowd was giving him a standing O, so it was kinda neat, I thought.”
Who orchestrated that? “I don’t know. Probably [David] Ross.”
On Wagner: “I didn’t know he couldn’t pitch. His ankle’s been bothering him and Eddie called down and said, ‘His ankle’s bothering him, but he’ll try.’ With a pretty good sized lead, I didn’t want to risk it.”
(Wagner warmed up briefly in 8th, tried it out.)
“And we sat him back down.”
“The doctors are looking at it. It’s been bothering him, but I don’t think it’s been that bad, until today.”
On Heyward: “He could have played, if we needed him. But we’re trying to rest his thumb as much as we can.”
More on the Chipper moment. Has Cox seen that happen before, that waiting for him to go to his position so crowd could cheer? “I’m sure it’s been done before. I think I’ve seen it, but I can’t remember. It’s been a long time, let’s put it that way.”
More on Kawakami’s win: “He’s pitched four or five games just like that, and we didn’t get him any runs at all. He’s smiling, believe me. He threw a great game.”
More on Saito getting wild: “A little bit. Inge fouled off so many pitches. I love Saito. Everybody does. He’s really good.”
“It was probably the best swing that I’ve taken left-handed all year. Hundred miles-an-hour in the shadows, that’s tough. Guys got on base ahead of me and I just got the foot down and got the bat barrel where I needed to get it.”
On KK’s win: “It was looking kind of hairy there for a minute.”
“He deserves it. He’s certainly pitched a lot better than his record indicates. Today he gave up two hits through seven innings, and the only reason he gave up a run was because he didn’t field a bunt.
“Seems like it’s always something that always costs him dearly during the course of one of his starts. But you hold a team to zero or one run over seven innings, at some point the offense is going to bust through. It’s good to get him a W.”
Have you felt gratified by fans’ response since all the retirement talk, and especially today? “It was cool. I felt a little uneasy being out there by myself, but it was a nice gesture. It just goes to show that the fans here in Atlanta are getting behind this club and excited about some of the late-inning heroics that we’ve had over the past month and a half.
“I got a little flushed when that happened. It’s not something that’s happened to me in my career. It’s pretty cool.”
Give you chills standing out there? [laughs]. “No, I was red-faced. I wanted everybody else to come out there. I don’t want the attention on me. Let’s finish the game off, get a W and go home and have a nice dinner.”
Why come no curtain call? “I was talking to my teammates. My teammates were pretty excited, and I just lost track of time. I didn’t realize that a curtain call was in order right there.”
Compare that to other moments? “There’s been so many great moments in this ballpark. As I’m coming down to the end I’ve learned to soak it in every time it does happen. Because you don’t know how many more times it will happen, and it was an awfully nice gesture by the fans. And I’m going to kill my teammates, I’m going to fine them all in kangaroo court, but it was really cool. Something I’ll never forget.”
Who organized it? “I have no idea. I have my guess, probably my next-door-neighbor [glances over at Brian McCann in next locker]. But it was cool.”
On standing there with his hands out looking toward dugout: “I was like, seriously, don’t leave me standing out here. I feel naked out here, to be honest with you. Let’s just get out here and finish off this game, and answer all the questions afterward.”
Are games like that, moments like that, going to pull at you and make the retirement decision harder?
“You can sit here and say that certain moments like that don’t get to you, and you want to keep providing those moments. But it’s the overall body of work that eventually is going to make my decision one way or the other. I’ve said it before: If I can go out there and be productive and be anywhere near the same player than I used to be, then I’ll keep playing. And if not, then I’ll retire. So … today was nice, let’s just enjoy it. Tomorrow’s a new day. I could be the goat tomorrow; y’all could be coming over here and asking me how I lost the game tomorrow.”
“Just the way team won, it was a total team effort. When Chipper hit that home run I was really happy.”
What was he thinking in 9th inning? “I was just thinking, please finish. Please finish. End this game, any way.”
“I felt like all the relievers were trying to get me that win. It kind of gave them extra, unneeded pressure, and I felt kind of bad about that.”
On his performance: “I was just trying to be precise with my pitches. It’s a tough lineup to face. I didn’t want to put runners on.”
Remember last win? “Against the Marlins, in August.”
Why pitch from the stretch beginning in 6th innng? “I couldn’t get my timing right with the windup, so I tried to stay back. Roger told me to stay back a little more, and I thought going from the stretch was a lot better.”
Does he hope to stay in the rotation? “I’m trying not to look at it as anything … I’m going to do any job I’m given. The team’s doing well, and I just have to give my full effort to whatever role I’m in.”
On the Chipper thing, waiting back so he could go out on the field alone: “That happened? I promise you I didn’t even see it. But I wish I would have. I swear to you. I swear. I didn’t see it.”
“I was putting my gear on, probably.”
On Chipper’s homer: “Man, that was awesome. That was such a big hit. That’s why he’s hitting third. He can do that. He can change games. He got a pitch to hit, and he was short and quick to the ball. It was hit a long way.”
These last couple weeks, has he looked more like Chipper of old? “Yeah. He’s getting back to being short and quick to the ball. When you do that, you’re going to be successful. He’s been working hard every day to find that.”
On the 9th inning: “I don’t know. We just couldn’t make that one pitch. So … get ‘em tomorrow.”
How serious is ankle injury?
“I don’t know. I’ve pitched with it for about 10 days, and today was just the worst. So they gave me a shot. They said it’s just a nerve in my foot.
“I did it against Tampa Bay. They said it just kind of irritated it. We’ve been treating it for about 10 days, and today I came in and I couldn’t even move on it.”
“I taped it up and went out there and tried to throw, and it was affecting how I throw. I said, I can’t do this.”
“I just went through my normal routine to try to go ahead and let it go, but I couldn’t push off the way I wanted to. I just said, I don’t need to be going out there and doing anything to [make it worse]. We’ve got guys available. I knew how big this game was to us, and it’s not worth me going out there and trying to get through it, with KK throwing as well as he did.”
Need a few days for shot to take effect?
“Oh, no. It’s not like an arm. I’ll get here tomorrow, get out there and try to do what I’ve been doing. But today it was to the point where I just couldn’t jog or do anything.”