Emotions in postseason impossible to duplicate
Q. Lou Pinella's message seems to be to get everyone to relax. Is that possible in an elimination game?
A. It's difficult. You can't duplicate the atmosphere in postseason baseball. About the closest thing to it is Opening Day, where you can have a good spring but a bad season, or a bad spring and a good start and not know why.
On Opening Day, everyone feels the same way and you hope what's in store is a good season, but you don't know. You can have a good season and a bad postseason and that's what people will remember. You can have a lousy season but a great postseason and everything is forgotten.
These games mean a lot more, and there's nothing you can do to duplicate the emotions.
Q. Livan Hernandez and Rich Hill offer quite a contrast in styles and experience, don't they?
A. Hernandez thrives off hitters being overly aggressive. One of the greatest quotes I've ever heard about pitching came from Greg Maddux, who said he tries to keep it simple. "If they're swinging fast, I try to pitch slow. If they're swinging slow, I try to pitch fast."
Pitching is all about deception. Doug Davis said it best after Game 2 when he said he had a difficult time locating most of his pitches, but he took advance of Cubs hitters being aggressive. He stayed with his off-speed stuff.
Until Cubs hitters start to be patient, they won't succeed. That plays right into what Hernandez wants. Against him, you have to hit it up the middle, hit to right field and force him to come inside with a fastball, and then you are in control and not him.
This could be a game that defines Rich Hill for years to come. If he pitches well, it could help him for a long time. But you're asking a lot for a guy with a little over a year's experience pitching in the majors.
Q. Do you think the Wrigley Field crowd will be a factor?
A. Absolutely. You hope that they're loud, obnoxious and make it a hostile environment.
Q. Which player on either team has surprised you the most this series?
A. Stephen Drew. I didn't get a chance to see a lot of him this season. I knew he was a good player, but he has a chance to be a very special player. He plays very good defense, and he's solid with the bat.
Q. Piniella is making the same moves that made the team successful this season. What's your reaction to the criticism he has faced, and how he has handled it?
A. It's all about players performing. Lou hasn't asked one guy on this team to do anything he hasn't asked of them during the season. The players either produce or they don't.
Q. Fundamentally, the Cubs have made some mistakes and it has hurt them. Is that a lack of focus, pressure or something else?
A. Not a lack of focus. It's just the way this team is. For the most part, only Ryan Theriot and Jason Kendall look to hit the ball the other way with a man on second. That's the way this team was built, and the bottom line is the Cubs have had several opportunities in both games to take control.
The Diamondbacks have gotten the big hit and their bullpen has been great, which is what they did all year.
Q. What will a win today mean?
A. If the Cubs win today, they will win on Sunday -- and then all the pressure is on Arizona. All the questions facing the Cubs will go away, and Arizona will have to answer them and deal with that pressure.