Chipper talked last night about how he told you you had to put that one aside. How would you assess the way the young guys especially have looked at this, being down 1 0 and approaching the second game?
JEFF FRANCOEUR: Well, obviously, in this kind of situation, you know, it's a five game series. You don't want to look at one game and put too much emphasis on it.
But, for me, I think I was so geeked (ph) up and so ready to go yesterday, I kind of like let me down. We went down 10 3, I was so disappointed, you know. But I realized that tonight's another night. Obviously, we're facing Roger (Clemens), which is a tough task. But we have John (Smoltz) going for us, who's been pretty good in the postseason himself.
So we feel confident to be able to get it done tonight. Chipper just kind of said, you know, "If you keep this one with you for a while, we'll be three and done pretty quick."
How did you go about forgetting about it?
FRANCOEUR: Well, last night after the game I went home and played X Box with Brian and his brother for about five hours. So we didn't want to watch any we watched a little bit of the Yankees game, but just we didn't want to watch any highlights of our games or anything. Just kind of put it behind you.
Like I said, we were in it then, you know, we gave up those five runs. It's tough to come back, you know, in the playoffs and especially they still had Lidge in the bullpen.
For both or either, how was actually being in the game different than what you might have thought beforehand, going into your first playoff action?
FRANCOEUR: Well, you know, the atmosphere was obviously different. You could feel the playoff atmosphere out there. You know, I think the biggest thing that I learned about this, a guy getting on base like that early, getting a guy on first in the playoffs is a lot different. You put pressure on the pitcher. That's what the Astros did to us yesterday. Between us walking and them getting some hits, seemed like they had guys first, second or third all game with less than two outs. That's not a good combination for us to win.
But you could definitely tell it was a different atmosphere.
MCBRIDE: Yeah, I just say that, you know, it is a different atmosphere. The crowd's a little bigger. You know, as far as the coverage, it's a little bigger.
But if you treat it like a different game, you're going to go out there and put extra pressure on yourself. You want the extra energy, but you don't want the extra pressure.
So when you go in, you're at the plate or whatever, you think the best. For me, it was more of a you know, it's the same game you played all your life. You know, let the situation dictate what happens; don't, you know, get caught up in what's going on.
Jeff, I'm wondering how concerned you are about Smoltz, you know, the situation he's been in and not having pitched much lately going into this one tonight?
FRANCOEUR: Well, I think the biggest thing for him, kind of like it was with Tim (Hudson), I think Tim just got really excited last night and a little too pumped up, kept the ball up.
I think if John just goes out there, doesn't get too much adrenaline, too much going, I think he'll be fine. He keeps the ball low in the zone quite a bit. Obviously, that's our guy, that's the guy we turn to.
You know, for a guy like him, he hadn't pitched in 12, 13 days, I don't think it's a big deal. Young guy who does it a lot, yeah, maybe it's more of a deal. But, you know, I think he'll be fine tonight.
A lot of people in this town, as you know I don't know if you read the papers, listen to talk radio it's kind of "the same old Braves." Tell us why this isn't the "same old Braves."
FRANCOEUR: Well, I think for one, you know, we have a different team, if you look at the roster compared to last year's roster.
But last year, like the Astros, for instance, you know, they were the wildcard team, they were playing well at the time coming into it. That's one thing that's very tough about playing the wildcard team, is they're hot usually when they come into the playoffs. We ran into a tough team last year and the year before, the same thing with the Cubs, when they had (Mark) Prior and (Kerry) Wood and all those guys pitching well.
So, you know, I think the biggest thing for us is just to relax. Obviously, last night after the game it seemed like the whole media was already counting us out and saying, "Oh, here's the same old Braves." You know, "They go into Game 1, and it's over."
You know, we don't listen to that. You try to just block it out. It's a new game. We come back today, who knows, maybe we can put up 15. You never know. It's baseball, and it's a crazy game.
You know, look what the Angels did. They came back and scored late and beat the Yankees last night and pushed it to 1-1. So hopefully we can get it 1-1 going to Houston tonight.
MCBRIDE: Also, we weren't picked half of us weren't here when we started the season, weren't picked to win the NL East or the wildcard. You know, same situation. You know, you go down one game, somebody's going to lose a game anyway.
So, you know, we don't feel like our backs are to the wall, but that just puts, once again, the pressure and that's something you don't need in a five game series. So, you know, it's kind of nice being the underdog every now and then because as much as people may write you off, you always have something to prove instead of, you know, just a little we like it, I think. I think most of us do.
What was it about the Braves' Minor League system that prepared you not just for the playoffs but to be fundamentally sound as a unit?
FRANCOEUR: I think more than anything, in the Minor Leagues for us, I think some people take winning more serious than others, you know. For our club, winning was a big key in the Minor Leagues. They wanted to prepare you to win there so you could win here.
It is about, you know, obviously preparing you for up here, and the Braves keep that in focus. They don't, you know, go out there and rush guys. I was told my first year in Rome that I was going to play the whole year no matter if I hit .260 or .400.
They have plans for you. They stick to that plan. I didn't know when I was getting called, I didn't know if I would be up here at all. They called me up, and Bobby's great about giving rookies a shot, putting them in there. He's got total confidence in you.
Jeff, I think you hit like .296, something, for the year in your average. How important was it for you to get .300?
FRANCOEUR: It was funny. Last game, I was 0 for 3 and get the hit off Jonesy and he just kind of smiled at me because he was out in the bullpen giving me heck for going under .300. It was kind of funny.
But, you know, it was great to finish the year like that. Just I want this so bad right now, and I think we all do.
You know, it will be fun tonight. The atmosphere for me and I think for Macay and for a lot of us, you know, I think I was one or two, when Roger first started pitching not trying to make him feel old. But it's going to be fun to face a guy like him, and the guy's a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
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