Good to be able to get record 41st save in front of home crowd?
“Oh, definitely. When those two games in New York got cancelled, I started thinking it would be pretty cool to be able to get it at home.”
Record hit you yet?
“No, I’m just going out there each time trying to do my job, trying not to think about what I’ve done in the past or what’s ahead of me. I’m just thinking about outing by outing.”
On two strikeouts in perfect ninth for the save
“I would have been fine with three groundouts or three pop-outs. I guess it is pretty cool to do it on strikeouts.”
On relief of getting the record
“Now I don’t have to think about it, or how many more.”
“I have to thank my team for playing so well this season, because you can’t really have this many opportunities on a team that doesn’t win. Hopefully we keep on winning.”
On hitting and homer and taking a two-hit shutout to 7th inning
“I’ll take the pitching first, obviously. The last three [starts] have been better. It was a lot better. Sharper, I’d say, over the course of the game. You get lazy there in the seventh and throw it right down the middle for a home run, but you feel like you have more competitive stuff for a long time and give your team a better chance to win. That’s the most encouraging part. Not to say you’re not going to have bad games, but you feel like now you have the stuff to get out of bad innings, whereas before, they almost had to hit it at somebody to get you out of a jam.”
“We’ll take it. We’re winding down and every win is big. We know where we stand in the division, but you can’t get complacent just because you’ve built yourself a big lead [in the wild-card standings], you can’t just coast. You don’t want to hope other people lose. You want to go out there and play like we have all year. Your goal is still to try to catch the Phillies.”
On hitting first homer at 38 years old
“That was fun, I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve never hit a home run – ever, since I was a Little Leaguer. That’s the first ball I’ve hit over a fence in 38 years of existence. The home runs I’d hit as a kid, they’d just roll and they’d kick it around. But I’ve never hit a ball, ever, over a fence.”
Thought it was going to hit the wall
“I got around first and kicked it into gear, trying to get two…. It would have been fine if I could have enjoyed it a little bit longer. I don’t even honest-to-God remember running around the bases. Because it’s like you’ve got a million thoughts going through your mind. It was pretty cool, though.”
On late-season resurgence, after September push a year ago
“I don’t know what it is. It’s kind of disappointing, because there are more than five or six starts. And to have to dig yourself out of a whole every September is kind of frustrating. But I’d rather be pitching better late than early.”
“It’s nice and round. Other than that, it’s not a big deal. Passing Baggy [Jeff Bagwell] is a big thrill for me because he was one of the guys who was at the top of the game when I first got called up. I looked up to him and liked his professionalism, how he played the game. For him to be the guy on the list that I passed, it’s pretty cool.”
On feeling better with mechanics
“I made a little adjustment right-handed last couple days and I’m seeing some results in BP. My timing is a little off in game situation but it wasn’t in that first inning. He did a lot better job changing speeds on me in the last couple at-bats. I got my legs under me now, and I feel that I can get the bat started and be able to use my legs to get the bat where it needs to be as opposed to just trying to use all upper body. Hopefully we’ll see a few more fly out before the season is over.”
On his recent resurgence and his 450th homer tonight
“I’ve got my legs under me now and I feel that I can get the bat started and be able to use my legs to get the bat where it needs to be, as opposed to just trying to use all upper body. Hopefully we’ll see a few more fly out before the season’s over.”
On being two homers from catching Carl Yastrzemski
“Yaz. My grandfather will be crushed when I pass him. He’s a huge, huge Red Sox fan. When I was growing up, any time the Red Sox were on TV, boy, he was all over Yaz. Loved him.”
On him and 38-year-old Lowe giving team early lead with homers
“Yeah [laughs]. D-Lowe’s got a few more to go before he catches me. But it’s hard to believe, you watch him take BP and he hits balls in the seats pretty frequently. I keep asking him, you’ve got to be kidding me? Fifteen, 16 years in the big leagues, most of it in the National League, and you don’t have a home run yet? You just had a feeling it was a matter of time. He’s got a pretty good swing, and he threw it right where he swung, too.”
On Kimbrel, can he believe what the rookie’s done?
“No, I really can’t. It’s really amazing how big a strides he’s made since last year. Up and down last year, struggled with the control … to have really fine-tuned everything between then and now is really quite commendable. It helps that you throw 98 [mph], but he’s mastered two pitches. And when you throw 98 and you can throw a slider off of it at 90, it’s tough to hit.”
“We had a lot of good things today. Derek gave us a great outing, he really did. What did he have, three hits? Then the bullpen did a terrific job. Kimbrel with the rookie saves record. Chipper with 450. That’s a good night all the way around for the Braves.”
“Comes in, got two hits like he’s supposed to do. That’s a nice piece to have.”
On Lowe showing signs of tcoming around in last few weeks
“I think so. The outing against the Cubs when he got the loss but went seven innings, was a great outing. And a couple before that. Last year he was the guy in September. We have seen signs of that, so hopefully we can get him on a roll, get him going.”
“He’s a guy that’s been there in the postseason and been there in these big games. So as we go down the stretch, get him rolling and get him out there.”
“And he’s not just a thrower, he’s a pitcher.”
On other stuff
“A lot of good things. Prado going to second base on that [passed] ball in the dirt, then Danny busting his butt on that ball to the shortstop, pulling out an RBI out of that. But if Prado doesn’t get to second base on that ball and go to third on the next [groundout], we don’t get that extra run.”
On getting two hits in first game back with Braves
“It’s fun to play. That’s why I busted my hump to get here today, because they told me if I got here I’d get to play. Hadn’t played much lately over there [with Pittsburgh]. Chance to play is always better than a chance to sit. Didn’t want to waste a chance today and made sure I got here for this game.”
DIAZ PREGAME QUOTES, about 15 minutes after he first arrived in clubhouse
What’s it like coming back here?
“Pretty excited. Couldn’t really sleep last night because something funky was going down. They didn’t pinch-hit me at the time I would normally pinch-hit, and they told the other pinch-hitter – who wasn’t happy about pinch-hitting – they said, ‘You’ll know more tonight; something’s going down.’ So he came to me and goes, ‘you’re outta here.’
“So I couldn’t sleep much last night, thinking about what it would be. Then at 10:30 this morning Central Standard Time, got the best news I could have imagined. I got on a plane within an hour-and-a-half, I think.”
Who told you?
“[Pirates GM] Neal Hungtington. Then [manager] Clint Hurdle – Clint’s a class act – he bought me coffee and brought it up to my room. Wanted to say goodbye in person. Class acts over there, but I couldn’t be more excited.”
Had you allowed self to think Atlanta might be trade possibility?
“No, every righty [hitter] in the league watched Cruz go down on Sunday night baseball the other night, so we knew Texas was probably looking for a righty. And you heard about Arizona looking for a righty. But it didn’t really cross my mind that I’d be back here.”
“I didn’t think I’d really get to go anywhere, because I signed a two-year deal. This just works out absolutely perfect. Hopefully baseball-wise, getting back here where I’m comfortable, and where people know my funky swing, hopefully I can get something to click and put on a push here at the end of the season.”
Hitting lefties better lately?
“Yeah. I think I was, like, 1-for-24 to start the season [against lefties], and since then I’m over about .350 against them. My first 24 at-bats were just awful against lefties.”
“I geared myself, I worked my butt off this offseason hitting against righties, because I was told going in I had a chance to play every day. And I was killing righties at the beginning. Since then I’ve plummeted against righties], because I’ve been doing all my work in the cage and everything against lefties.”