Mike Schildt looked a bit shaken Sunday evening. It’s understandable. His St. Louis Cardinals were playing at home with a one run lead and two outs away from taking a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-five National League Divisional Series against the Atlanta Braves before the wheels fell off.
Welcome to postseason baseball, where the impossible becomes possible.
Schildt, who watched his skinny one-run lead slip away in the blink on an eye just moments earlier, appeared to be trying to process what just happened minutes earlier in real time as the media began firing away.
Q. Can you take us through the ninth inning, specifically the decision to face Swanson over McCann?
MIKE SHILDT: We got a guy at third, tying run. Guys looked over, you know, and wanted to have a discussion about McCann with Swanson on deck. Went out, consensus was that rather take a shot at Swanson, 0-for-6 at that point with Carlos, clearly that’s the go-ahead run you’re putting on. But you have two outs, and we play to win. Gotta play to win the game. Everybody felt like that was the best matchup, including the guy on the mound. Took our shot. Didn’t make a pitch, and made him pay. Ultimately that didn’t hurt us, in a sense, but we took our best shot to win the game and got a pitch he could handle and put a good swing on it.
Q. Carlos has had some numbers lately, and the last one in Atlanta didn’t go as smoothly as you had hoped, but the results have more or less been there. Had you thought about not putting him in a save situation based on some of the numbers he’s had lately?
MIKE SHILDT: Not at all. Not at all. If you look at — he’s bent, but he hasn’t broke a lot. He’s been really, really good a lot. You look at his numbers. One of the big reasons that I’m sitting here and we’re playing, is Carlos Martinez and the job he did coming in for Jordan. We didn’t miss a beat. He’s been outstanding in that role. So the other day he’s got a four-run lead, that walk to Hamilton obviously hurt, and then he made a couple of pitches and made him pay for it, but he was able to bring it home. He’s been able to demonstrate it all year. No reason to get knee-jerked without a guy having any setback. So no real thought about not sending him out there at all. It was his spot.
Q. You talked earlier about being able to measure analytics, like you just described the 0-for-6 with the human and the moment. Can you walk that line for me with Carlos? He comes up into that spot. It’s not like he’s in command of that inning. He had just struck out two guys, though. So the way you’re reading, what’s in the moment?
MIKE SHILDT: When you say winning command in the inning, I don’t completely agree with that. He makes a really good pitch, the first pitch to Donaldson, gets the check swing. Does make a mistake, hits a bullet down the line for the double. Punch out on tough guy on Markakis, and punch out on Hechavarria, or fly ball. So at that point he’s made one mistake in the inning. I get there’s not a lot of margin for error, but it’s not like this guy’s out there throwing it all over the place. He made one mistake, guy put a swing on it. He punched out a really tough hitter with some nasty pitches. Felt really comfortable and confident in his stuff, to be able to go get a guy that he’s had history with. You know, a couple pitches.
Q. Aside from the position that obviously the team is now in here, is there a particular emotional reaction to Adam pitching as well as he did today in this game having the result that it did?
MIKE SHILDT: Yeah, you’re one out away from being up 2-1. There’s disappointment. No question about it. That’s what I’m saying we took what we felt was our best shot to win that game and it didn’t work out. So there’s disappointment, absolutely, because you get invested for eight and two-thirds and go out and lay it out there and play the game and you get a great pitching performance, to your point, from Wainwright. And Miller comes in, gets the big out on Freeman. You go out and, like I said, you’re an out away. Ground ball, punch out, fly ball away from being up 2-1, being able to close it out at home. Yeah, that doesn’t feel real good, but we’ll be ready to go tomorrow, I can tell you that. A lot of national media here, but for the people that have been here all year and followed us, watched this team scratch and claw and play, and for our fan base, you know we’re going to come out and play. It’s a very resilient team. While we are disappointed, we’re not down. We’re ready to go and compete tomorrow.