On Jurrjens’ performance
“Command was excellent. He had some differential on the changeup to the fastball. Slider had tilt, and he pitched ahead in the count and made some pitches when he had to.
“He was terrific. He really was terrific. I guess it’s a little easier to pitch in the big leagues than it is Triple-A.”
“I was looking forward to watching him pitch today, and now I’m excited about the way he pitched, and keep going. I mean, this is the J.J. of last year when he was going and made the All-Star team. It’s a nice lift.”
He get tired a little in the eighth?
“I thought it was just a great outing. I didn’t want him to face Pedroia the fourth time around and we had good numbers with Durbin against Pedroia.”
What kind of lift can this be for the team, considering Beachy’s injury?
“Big time. Because I’m sure these guys, we’re all thinking Beachy’s been a big part of our pitching staff, last year and then this year. He goes down with Tommy John and we’ve got to look to somebody to pick us up. JJ hadn’t pitched particularly well at the beginning of this year, and he came out today and was lights-out. So it’s a big lift. It really is a big lift.”
Seemed like he mixed his pitches and kept them off balance
“When you can throw a change-up in any count and can throw a slider and 90-91 mph fastball, it looks like 93-94 and he commanded it. He had all three pitches working. When you get three pitches working in the big leagues, you do that – you go eight innings and give up two or three hits and one run, and have the opportunity to throw a shutout.”
What did you tell him afterward?
“I don’t him it was a hell of an outing. I really did. I told him the same thing I told you guys – that International League [Triple-A] has got to be a tough league, because his numbers, if you look at his ERA and some others… And he comes out today against the Red Sox, who’ve been as hot as a firecracker, and did a nice job navigating through that lineup.”
Given what he did in Triple-A, you surprised by his outing tonight?
“No, because sometimes some of the numbers are skewed a little bit, and the reports we got from Triple-A were good. He really worked on trying to make that fastball-changeup differential do what it did today, and he came out and did a nice job.”
On Heyward’s continued surge
“He is really – he was what, 3-for-4 today? Couple of doubles, swinging the bat well. Hope that continues with him. And you see Freeman get a couple of hits. We did a nice job situational hitting early in the game, got some runs, and we were able to add on some runs there late with the [heart of] their lineup coming up in the ninth.”
On Simmons looking like a veteran with runners in scoring position
“He’s done a good job, hasn’t he? He got a great at-bat, had a sac fly, an RBI double – he did that the other night also in New York, he got a double with people on base. He’s doing fine. I’m more excited about some of the plays that he’s made defensively. The offense, for me that’s gravy.”
On his night, how it felt to be back out there pitching so well
“Awesome. That’s the only word I can come up with. It felt great. There’s no word to describe how good I felt.”
“I wanted to come and have fun. That’s what I’ve been trying to do, just come and have fun again. Not worry so much about results, just go out and have fun.”
How to explain doing so much better here than he did in Triple-A?
“That’s a hard question to answer. Like I said, I was just trying to simplify things as much as possible and just worry about myself and just don’t try to do too much, just do as good as I could do and try to keep my team in the ballgame.”
Were you determined to show you could do this, that you belonged back up here?
“I didn’t try to come and show anything. I just tried to come and give my team a good game. It’s not the first time I’m doing this. I don’t think I needed to show anybody. I just needed to go out there and pitch my game and have fun.”
On going to more changeups second time through order
“To go against Ortiz and Gonzalez, two of the best guys in the league, when it comes around the second and third time you try to change it up, keep them off balance, make them hit my pitch.”
Confident with the stuff you had tonight, going forward?
“Yeah. There’s still a lot of room to improve, still a lot of work to do. Just going to keep working hard and keep getting ready for every start.”
Did you go to the minors and work on becoming more focused?
“It wasn’t nothing about focus, I was just lacking strength. Going down there and having me correct and get back to my delivery and get my strength back again. I’ve been working hard, with the pitching coach, Marty Reed, and the trainer, Matt Parvis. I’ve been working hard with them every day and you can see the hard work paying off today.”
McCann said you looked even better than first half last season because you threw a little harder
“The strength is coming back slowly. Just something I need to keep working hard on the rest of the season this year, just keep my eye on it, keep stretching out and stay flexible.”
Was it a matter of improving strength and confidence in the minors?
“It was more strengthening stuff. I was not able to stay back and push off like I wanted to, which made the pitches stay up and the velocity was down.”
How’s the knee now?
“It’s better. Still a lot of room to improve, a lot more strength to get. It’s going to take time. Just keep my eye on it and keep pushing through it.”
On velocity being 90-91 first few innings, 88-89 later
“I just went through the lineup first time through and threw a lot of fastballs, then the next time through tried to change speeds a little.”
Did you get a little tired the eighth?
“I got a little tired.”
Tired mentally and physically, with it being your first start back?
“Physically. Mentally was good. It was a little hot out there. I left a couple of pitches up and paid for it.”
On Jurrjens’ performance and the lift for the team
“That was awesome. He was able to work both sides of the plate tonight with both his fastball and changeup. I think he sat between 88-92 [mph], sank it, four-seamed it, then worked his changeup the same way, four-seamed it and two-seamed it. Spotted up his slider. And when he’s doing that, he’s been a top-of-rotation starter for us for four years. And to get him back, to see his velocity where it needs to be, that’s a great sign for everybody in here, including himself.”
Did he look like he did last year before the All-Star break?
“He looked better. He was throwing harder, and I think when you’re able to get inside on lefties with his stuff, that opens up so many different opportunities calling a game. You can go a lot more places. He’s able to get lefties to pop balls up and get it by them.”
What was he like out there, what were you guys saying?
“It was great to see him back. He’s had some injuries, and obviously … it’s all about his velocity. When he’s able to get inside on guys, the way he pitches it opens up everything. It was a plus for all of us, because he’s a guy that can give us a lift for the rest of the year and beyond.”
At a needed time, obviously?
On Sox pitcher Jon Lester
“That’s the best stuff that you’re going to face from the left side. You don’t face guys that have front-door cutters and work both sides of the plate and also his fastball’s at 95. So for us to peck away at him was huge for all of us in here, and Jair took care of the rest.”
On Heyward’s continued surge
“It’s fun to watch. I mean, the guy can do everything on a baseball field. One of the best things I like to do is watch him go first to third. There’s no one in baseball, I think, who gets from first to third any faster. It’s like 10 steps and he’s sliding into third. Did that tonight, played great defense, and he’s swinging the bat.”