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McCann, Smoltz postgame interview

McCann, Smoltz postgame interview

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Just your feeling as you connect with that Clemens fastball and you realize it's going out of the park?

MCCANN: Undescribable. You know, I got a fastball up in the zone and luckily hit it, I guess.

You have to be careful as you become a Major Leaguer not to idolize guys, but what has Clemens meant to you?

MCCANN: He's one of the best pitchers in the game. Two of the best pitchers tonight were going head to head. Something I was glad to be a part of and lucky to help the team out.

With Smoltz on deck were you surprised that you actually got something to hit?

MCCANN: I told myself, you know, I was going to go up there hacking because there was two outs. I didn't want to bases loaded, with John up, you know, he would have probably thrown everything at him. So I was going up there hacking, trying to get a pitch out of the plate.

Brian, that was your first swing ever in the postseason, and you hit a home run off the greatest pitcher most of us have ever even. Are you still dazed about the whole experience, what you did tonight?

MCCANN: Absolutely. You know, that won't sink in for a while. You know, he's one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Just to get a pitch, you know, up out of the plate, and I connected, it was neat.

Brian, talk about John's pitching, especially the four run cushion. Did it make a difference in how the game was called?

MCCANN: Yeah, you knew it was going to be a low scoring game tonight because good pitching stops good hitting. He was on top of his game, like he is always. When he's healthy, nobody's better. So Game 7 World Series, that's the guy you want on the mound.

Bobby (Cox) told us that John asked for you to be his personal catcher, John's probably going to the Hall of Fame also. When somebody like that says, "Give me this guy to catch," how does that make you feel?

MCCANN: I got lucky because he threw a complete game the first time I caught him. You know, anybody could catch him. He knows what he wants to do and you try to stick to the game plan.

We've got John Smoltz here also. Questions for John. Obviously, John, talk about your performance, the shoulder, and also what it means when you have that four run cushion, how it maybe changes your pitching.

SMOLTZ: Well, the first inning was going to be my biggest hitting, from the time I had, the delay I had, just, you know, waited a long time to start a playoff game of this magnitude. When I got through the first inning, that, to me, was the biggest test.

Then as far as the shoulder went, you know, it was good enough. I wasn't worried at all about my control. I was more concerned that my other pitches weren't going to be as sharp. But when you're given three runs that early against Roger Clemens in conditions like this, it's huge.

John, can you really appreciate the fact that Brian McCann, who was born the year that Roger Clemens made his Major League debut, could, in his first postseason game, do what he did to Roger Clemens tonight?

SMOLTZ: I really can't. You know, the hardest thing, as a pitcher, especially somebody who's been in the game a long time, the familiarity with a lot of hitters is something that we I don't want to say it's something we use to our advantage. I faced Biggio so many times. So when you're facing a young kid like that, you don't really know. Scouting reports are one thing, but you have no idea. That is going to be our advantage and our disadvantage with this team, because we have so many guys that they're I don't think they know half the guys on our team; we didn't face them.

So I can't imagine what he's going through. I just think that if he could, he'd want time to stand still and just enjoy this for a week. But, unfortunately, you know, we're going to have to go right back at it. He may have the same situation come up, and this has got to just be so good for his career to know that this accomplishment happened this quick.

John, you talked yesterday about how much getting back on the mound as a starter in the postseason was going to mean. You just mentioned it again. How much did all of that anticipation actually affect you in the first inning, and how did that play out in the first?

SMOLTZ: Honestly, I was trying to mess with their heads a little bit in the pitch selection. You'll never see me start a game with three straight sliders. That goes back to facing Biggio so many times and having so much respect for him.

Then I felt like if I could get through the first inning doing that, that the next few innings could give me some room for fastballs even right down the middle. They popped up some pitches that if they had over again, I'm sure they would have done some damage with. But that's what happens when you got the lead.

I threw too many pitches in the first inning so I had to do something to stay in the game a little bit longer. Like I said, I mean, having Brian behind the plate and calling that game, we don't shake too much. So it's a tribute to his hard work and just understanding the game. He's been brought up in the game and, you know, it's kind of odd to know that I took a picture with him when he was seven years old and he's now catching me in the biggest moment of his life.

Given this was your first postseason start in six years, given how badly you guys needed this, how satisfying was this, and against Roger as well?

SMOLTZ: You know what, I got a thousand emotions going through my head right now and a lot of it has to do with just all the things that are being said, just the teether totter of what this team has accomplished or not accomplished. And for one day, we could put aside the failures of what this keeps talking about this team. For one more day we can go into a series, try to find a way to win one, if not two in Houston and come back and exercise what we have worked so hard to do, and that is home field advantage.

We've temporarily lost it, now we have to find a way to win it on the road. It is a great feeling. I am going to sleep a long time tonight. You know, it just puts this game is so much about there's no in between; you're either devastated or on top of the world. For one night we get to feel pretty good about what we've done.

You had the strikeouts early and then you started going through, you had nine pitches in one inning, then ten. Is that a product of throwing more fastballs and challenging more?

SMOLTZ: Yeah, you know, in this type of game you come out, try to set the tone. Obviously, I was trying to put hitters away early, but if I had done that if I would have continued to do that, I wouldn't have lasted, there's just no way.

That's what I've learned from the time off of being a starter, being in the bullpen, I always felt like and I always knew aside from the injuries I could throw strikes. I got tagged as a wild young pitcher for a long time, but, yes, I had to make pitches in certain situations and depend on my defense, which is so great. Our defense is probably well, it is, it's the best in baseball.

So as a pitcher, the only way you get in trouble is if you start walking hitters. We all know in the postseason a runner on first is a rally. You've got to keep that off base as much as possible.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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