“I’m proud of the club. We battled today. The ball that Pence hit, you couldn’t throw it or place it any better. And they got the win. It’s a good club over there, but I’m really proud of our club, the way we battled. We had an opportunity to play for tomorrow, but it didn’t work out. But again, a lot of good stuff this year.”
On poor offense in September
“It’s just one of those things. You wish you could flip-flop it a month with another one earlier in the calendar, but you can’t choose that. We just had a rough month of September and we couldn’t right the ship.”
On injuries to Jurrjens and Hanson, how that affected team
“We could sit here and do this and that, ifs and maybes, but that’s all excuses. The kids that came up did a nice job and kept us in ballgames.”
“It’s sad, because you see the effort that guys have put through since spring training. You see them in the locker room and there’s no tomorrow. But what are you going to do? The Phillies are a good club and the Cardinals did a helluva job fighting from that deficit in the wild card. Sit back and watch those guys play [now].”
On whether he should have sent Roger out to talk to Kimbrel earlier
“That’s here or there, you know? The eighth or the ninth inning, I don’t know, we hit a batter and end up walking five or six. It’s uh… It’s… No.” [Cut off his answer, made clear wasn't going to continue with the line of questioning.]
The last couple of weeks, it looked like Kimbrel and Venters both were on fumes
“That’s just the way it goes. Maybe they are, maybe they’re not. For me, those are excuses. If we hold their appearances back, maybe we’re a .500 club. Maybe we’re not in this situation [playing for a postseason berth]. Again, it’s a long season. It’s over with. Too bad. The fans were great, especially these last three games here against the Phillies. And go get ‘em next year.”
What can you tell Kimbrel
“I told him, hell of a season. We had a bunch of good seasons. Kimbrel’s got a chance to win the rookie of the year. Freddie Freeman’s got a chance to win rookie of the year. Danny got, what, 35 home runs , did something no [second baseman] had ever done before. There’s a lot of good stuff you can hold your head up about.”
“We just fell short. We had a few tough breaks early in the game. I felt like we could have scored a couple more runs with some better calls.
“It’s tough. We fought hard. I’m really proud of my teammates. We really battled. It’s a tough way to end the season, because we did a lot of good things this year. We just fell short this last month. Obviously it was a tough go for us the last few weeks, and we just didn’t bounce back from it. We had a game tonight that we could have won, and we just fell short. I I thought we had a little spark there, that if we’d have won there and been able to pull this game out in regulation, take it to St. Louis and you never know what could have happened.
“But I’m proud of my teammates, proud of our bullpen. We leaned on those guys all year, and it’s just a tough night.”
“We wouldn’t be here without him. That’s the thing. He’s been a stud all year, one of the best closers in the game this year, probably rookie of the year. He’s unbelievable. Great teammate, great kid, works hard. He just had one night where it didn’t fall in place for him, and it just happened to be the last game of the season. But we wouldn’t be here without him. He closed so many games for us and nailed down so many wins that a lesser closer wouldn’t have been able to hold ‘em down.
“Him, Jonny Venters, O’Flaherty, all those guys in the pen. Scotty. They’ve been so good for us all year. For it to happen the way it did tonight, it’s tough because without those guys down there we would have been out of it two weeks ago.”
Can emotions effect a young closer like Kimbrel in a game like this?
“Young guys, they’re emotional. There’s adrenaline out there that sometimes can be hard to harness at some times in a playoff atmosphere. But he’s pitched in big games for us all year. I don’t think it was nerves at all. I just think it was an inning that didn’t work out the way we wanted it to, and they were able to tie it up.”
“Like I said, man, we don’t have anything to hang our heads about. Even though this last month was a historic type of slide. I mean, I love all these guys in here. I’m pround of ‘em.”
On Kimbrel and Venters, how they looked fatigued down stretch
“We leaned on them hard all year. They were on pace for some record-breaking numbers of appearances for a while. I mean, you can’t blame those guys. Every time we called on them, they came with their best stuff. They came with whatever they had left in the tank, and tonight was no different. We went out there and we gave it our best shot. We tried the best we could.”
“The fact of the matter is, everybody on this team, everybody in this clubhouse, showed up to play today and gave everthing they could to win this game, except myself. I didn’t go out there and pitch to my abililty. Part of being a closer is being able to bottle up your emotions and harness them, and I didn’t do that today, and I let the team down.”
Were you maybe running out of gas down the stretch, that a part of it?
“No, not at all. I just didn’t put it together. September is the hardest month of the year. I just didn’t figure it out, and I let my team down.”
In a couple of weeks, you think you’ll be able to look back on all you accomplished?
“This is actually going to make me work harder this offseason.”
Were you nervous out there, too much nervous energy?
“Like I said, I let my emotions get the best of me today.”
What were those emotions?
“Just being in the ninth inning, being excited. When you let that get to you you’re not the same pitcher, and I let that get to me today.”
What did the older guys like Hudson say to you afterward?
“Just keep my head up. It was a long season. All I can do now is think about what I did today, fix it, and come back next year and help this team win a lot more games.”
On losing and missing postseason
“It’s tough to be so close and have the feeling of it falling out of your hands. And that’s the feeling I have right now.”
On what it feels like to be too amped up in game
“Things start moving too fast, your brain starts moving a little faster, and I didn’t put it together. And it was just too late when I felt like I could.”
On what he can take from this September
“It’s just going to be something that’s going to push me. When I think back to September, I’m going to think ‘I don’t want to do that again.’ I’m going to try my best not to.”
On the disappointment of falling short of the postseason
“It’s one thing to make it to the playoffs and achieve your goal that you set out in spring training to do, and you accomplish it and give yourself an opportunity in October. Having such a big lead and then sitting here after No. 162 and not being in the playoffs is a tremendous disappointment.
“It’s unfortunate. We left it all out there tonight. We played hard start to finish. We just got a little wild late in regulation, and couldn’t overcome it.”
You’ve said you’re playing next year, this change anything?
“No. I’ve committed to playing next year. I won’t commit past that; let’s put it that way. I’m looking forward to it. As tough a pill as it is to swallow, for a lot of these young guys it’s a learning experience. We got our butts kicked for the last couple of weeks of the season and they’re going to learn a lot from it and be better ballplayers for it.”
Any point in recent weeks where you thought team might be in trouble?
“When you lose a groundball in the lights [as Chipper did in Florida a week ago] and the next guy hits a two-run homer to beat you, that’s when you start feeling that something’s out of your control, something’s going on. It felt like from that point on that we were playing more to protect a lead than going out and trying to extend it.
“When you’re in a slump as a team, you find a bunch of different ways to lose. The bats go silent, you get wild on the mound, you walk in runs – whatever. You find ways to lose. Man, we sure did it in the last couple of weeks.”
On Kimbrel letting emotions get best of him
“That was probably my fault. I thought about going in and saying something to him before the inning – ‘Hey, this is not different, just calm yourself down and play catch with B-Mac.’ I thought to myself, you know what, he’s good enough. He’ll keep it in check and have it under control. I wish I had talked to him.”
“He’s had a rookie-of-the-year caliber year. We couldn’t have been here without him. And he’s a good kid. Just like we felt for a guy like Brooks Conrad last year, we feel for him. But he’s going to be a better closer down the road because of something like this.”
On team’s at-bats after the nine, looked like lot of guys swinging real hard
“We’ve been swinging really hard for a while. I think that’s a part of guys trying to do too much, going up there and not staying within themselves and taking what the pitcher gives you. You know, if he’s going to live two or three inches off the outside corner, that’s not a pitch you can hit out of the ballpark. You’ve got to serve it to left [field] and take your single. But when you’ve got a bunch of guys out there that want to win as bad as we do, sometimes that happens.”
Perfect storm in September — injuries, fatigue and lack of big hits all coming together
“Yeah, and you can’t dictate when you’re going to get in slides like that as a team. We started out the season kind of like that. We turned it around and we really had ourselves in prime position to go to October. Our slump combined with the Cardinals playing really good baseball in September, you’ve got a shocking situation.”
“We didn’t achieve our goal. We had it right there, and we let is slip away for one reason or another. That’s a tough pill to swallow.”
On team’s collapse in Fredi Gonzalez’s first year as manager
“It’s cruel, because probably nobody in Atlanta sports is probably under as much scrutiny as he is filling in for Bobby Cox. To have it slip away in late September, it’s cruel. It’s really cruel. It’s not indicative of the way this team played, the way he managed, and what we deserved in this situation. But baseball’s like that. It’s kind to you one day and fickle the next.”
On the loss
“You can’t take anything in this game for granted. When we’ve got a chance to close it out, we’ve got to close it out. We can’t sit back and just think it’s going to be given to us. Every team is fighting no matter if somebody is contending or not contending. They still want to beat us. They’re not going to let us have it. We’ve got to go get it, and we didn’t go get it. We let I slip away, and that’s what happens. You hate it because you always want to be in the playoffs at the end of the year, and we’ve got that kind of a team. And now we’re going to the house. So when spring training hits, hopefully we’ll remember this to learn from it.”
On Pence’s hit
“We’ve had our opportunities. We were fighting but we didn’t get that other run that we needed. We had our chances, not just this game but you can go weeks before, you can go two weeks before. We put our backs into the wall in this game. Tip your hat, they didn’t let us in. That’s what a good team does.”
On being safe at third
“Yeah I know but Uggla hit a two-run homer anyway, made up for it. Could have been a three-run homer, but what can you do? Nothing you can do about it.”
On feeling of shock
“Not necessarily a state of shock. Obviously disappointed. There’s a feeling of missed opportunity, but when you look at everybody’s effort inside this clubhouse, it’s easier to swallow because everybody left it out on the field, everybody gave it their best and that’s all we can ask for. I think it’s going to benefit us this offseason in a weird way to not this happen again next year. Everybody’s going to bust their butts and come back even stronger than we were this year.”
On if thinking it was Braves’ night after homer
“We all thought it was going to be our night as soon as we got to the yard today. Everybody was loose, same way we always were in the clubhouse. Once we tied it up and the homer put us up, Huddy can take of the rest and we turn it over to the bullpen and they take care of the rest. But this is a tough team, man, they put together good ABs on a consistent basis. It just so happens they got a couple guys on and put together some more good at-bats and got a run across. Then did it again in the 13th.
On Pence’s hit
“Liney made a great pitch and Hunter fought it off and it happened to land in no-man’s land. I couldn’t make a play on it. Just one of those things. Kinda describes the whole September.”
On coming here, looking to make playoffs
“It’s disappointing to come up short. But to see the way that everybody battled in this clubhouse and to see the character of this whole team. We’re going to be good for a long time. This was a year that we can use as a learning curve. We had a lot of young kids do a lot of special things this year and now they’ve got a year under their belt and they’ll come back stronger. And I’ve got another year under my belt here too. I feel like I’m going to come back stronger. We’ve got a good clubhouse here to do some special things in years to come.”
On Chipper’s message rallying the team in the dugout before the game
“Just play our game. Make the plays behind Huddy. And stay relaxed and pretty much do exactly what we did tonight except for we didn’t get the W, but we played hard. We played a good ball game, it just fell on their side tonight.”
On if looking back, he came back too early from injury
“I don’t know. You could always sit back and whatever, I don’t know. I know I’ve learned a lot this year as far as this in the first time I went on the DL. I want to be out there and I want to play. I just didn’t get it done. It was just a bad month of baseball for me. I feel terrible about that.”
On Kimbrel saying he might have been too amped up
“I thought he pitched good. If you go back and look at his inning, there were three or four calls that could have gone his way that didn’t. It looked like normal Craig that I’ve caught all year long.”
On if he felt he was overswinging, trying to help the team
“No I didn’t. It’s baseball, and I just couldn’t really figure it out.”
On if there was a point in September he realized team just not clicking
“I guess when we went to St. Louis, but again we won 17 games for four months. We almost won 90 games. It’s nothing to (hang your head) on. It just happened the last month we played our worst baseball.”
On physical toll he deals with by September
“Yeah, catching it’s a position, it’s a grind. That’s what it is. It’s a day in and day out grind, and I’ve got to figure out a way to be at my best in September. That’s it. I’m going to go back to work and come back better than I’ve ever been. This is a year that I’ll have to sit back and evaluate what went on. I’ve taken something different each year home with me, and I’ve come back and got better at it. So I plan on doing the same thing this year.”
On if this is most disappointed he’s ever been
“No doubt about it. I feel like I let everybody down. I’m a guy that hits in the middle of the order that’s supposed to drive in runs and supposed to do a lot of things, and just the way I performed wasn’t very good.”
On his disappointment
“I don’t really have the words right now. I wanted to come up clutch for the team, and I got into a good hitter’s count there and I just didn’t get it done.”
On Pence’s hit
“You just can’t throw a ball better than that, and of course it would happen in that situation. I still can’t believe a broken bat 104 feet wins the game. It’s unreal.”
On trying to explain what happened in September
“I can’t. We fought and we fought hard, I really can’t fathom it. We went out there every day battling and came up on the short end of the stick. The Cardinals took care of business. We fought and fought. We had a chance to keep it going and we didn’t do it tonight.”
On throwing the pitch he wanted to Pence
“You feel like you do your job and that’s where it ends up, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. We walk a fine line out there every day. We make pitches best we can, and once it leaves our hand, long as we did everything to execute, the results we don’t have any bearing over that. Of course it’s a tough one to swallow. I think everybody in here did the best they could, went out there and did their job just like they’ve done all year.”
On Pence taking an inside-out swing
“Yeah, he’s got an open stance so we try to run that ball in there. It was a sinker in; that’s what we’ve done all year long with righties. The pitch was in there definitely. It wasn’t out over the plate. He just got to it.”
On decision not to pitch around Pence with runner at first
“We’ve got the right-hander up there. Two different times we had guys up there with two strikes, two outs and a chance to get out of it. Got Utley to hit a ground ball that found a hole and jammed the piss out of Pence. Not a whole lot you can do about that.”
Tough September for team
“It just goes to show you that those last few games are the hardest to win, when you get that close, and you can smell the finish line. It’s tough. There’s a lot of adversity out there you have to deal with. This team handled it well; it just wasn’t in the card.”
On what he’d tell Kimbrel
“There’s not a whole lot you can tell him right now. We’re all dealing with it on our own. I give him a pat on the back. He’s had an unbelievable season and I’m sure a lot more will be said as we go on from here, but those two guys over there Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel are the reason we even had an opportunity to be in this spot. Of course, they’re going to take a lot of responsibility on their shoulders because that’s the kind of guys that they are. They take a lot of pride in what they do, but the bottom line is the strength of this team was definitely the bullpen and those two guys anchored it.”
“We battled. We didn’t go out in an effortless way. That knock by Pence just about fits the way he goes about the game – battle till it falls off, and it just squeaked in there. Credit to him, and credit to Liney right there for getting two outs, two strikes.”
“Looking back at last year, seeing how hard it was to get to the playoffs, that’s my only explanation for this year, seeing how hard it is again.”
On injuries to Hanson, Jurrjens
“Losing those starting pitchers, missing them is tough. It’s no excuse – we win as a team, we lose as a team. But injuries hurt you, you know, whether it’s position players or the starting [rotation]. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to the young guys that came up and filled in for them. I feel like that’s going to do them a lot of good in the future.”