10/18/05 3:43 AM ET
Eckstein postgame interview
Felt good about Pujols coming up in clutch spot
By / MLB.com
DAVID ECKSTEIN: Going up there and seeing what he had done to Rodriguez and Mabry, you just want to go out there and battle. He's such a great competitor.
You're up there looking, and I was taking a strike, so he was 1 1 on me and he threw a fastball right underneath my hands that I really could not do anything with, so I took it for strike two. I was just mainly trying to sit back and see a pitch. You don't want to sit there and jump out because if you jump out, you end up popping the fastball up and you swing through the slider. I just was able to sit back a little bit and fortunately found the hole.
You have struggled through the years against Lidge and you chipped away the past couple of nights, what did you learn about him?
ECKSTEIN: It's nice to get some at bats against him because coming into the series I think I've had three at bats against him so you sit there and you keep watching, and you just see what he likes to do. He likes to throw the fastball, he likes to throw that hard curveball that goes into the dirt and he has a slider that's kind of hittable, and so it's one of those things, you just keep watching him. When you see a pitcher over and over, it just helps you out.
I think we had done a good job of making sure he has come into the game pretty much every single game and when you do that in these type of series when it's back to back days and you keep seeing the same guy at the end of the game, it just helps your club out and finally we were able to break through.
Can you explain the change of emotion from right before Albert hits that ball and right after?
ECKSTEIN: It's a great feeling. Having the opportunity to sit there and you know that you're still one out away from going home, the season is over, but you felt confidence. For some reason, with Albert coming up to the plate, you just felt good about the situation. You can sit there and end your season on saying, "hey, he got him out" or "Albert came through." Fortunately for us Albert came through for us and it was, "hey, we knew the game wasn't over yet either."
You saw our reactions, we were happy, but we knew we still had to go a play another half inning. I think that showed a lot of competitiveness and understanding the baseball game and respecting the game. It was a lot of fun to be a part of.
Would you talk some about your ideas about the concept of momentum that gets discussed within a series. You wouldn't think that they could have more than three straight wins, Berkman's home run, in the ninth inning down one strike, one out; do you feel that you have momentum or is it a word that we overuse?
ECKSTEIN: It's a word that's hard to describe. Like you said, they had all the momentum going into that final inning and fortunately enough we were able to fight through.
As a player you can't look at it like from, from the media and the fans' standpoint. We can look at it like that but we have to look at it that we are confident in ourselves. We have to take that into Wednesday's game. We can't look back and worry about what has happened in the past.
The Astros did a great job here. They were phenomenal. Their pitching was outstanding. And they were just they had the momentum, as you were saying, but the bottom line is you've just got to keep playing. If you get stuck on that, you're focused on the wrong thing, you have to worry about playing the game.
Everybody talked a lot about getting Albert to the plate with people on base and it had not happened a lot in the series. First two times, you and Edmonds get on, he comes up two on and nobody out, is it shocking to not see Albert come through in those situations?
ECKSTEIN: I think it helped out in his final at bat because he takes such pride in driving runners in, you know what I mean. He'll sit there and just go: "Get on base, I'll hit you in." He'll say that many a times. For him not to come through in those first two situations, he puts this team upon himself, you know what I mean.
He definitely is the elite player that he is because of that, and I know that's why it was such almost a calming feeling when he was coming to the plate; that, hey, you know what I mean, because I know what he had done his first two at bats by not driving anybody in that he's going to have a great at bat. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen, but I knew he was going to have a great at bat, and that's all that you can think about.
I'm sure you've been down to the last strike at the plate many times in your career, and I'm sure this situation is different, how do you deal with that just knowing what's at stake when you're down to that last strike?
ECKSTEIN: It's one of those, you just you don't want to do anything wrong, you know what I mean. You're sitting there, you want to be able to sit back and relax, and the one thing I didn't want to do was to get any type of jumpingness, any type of anything into my body besides just focus on the baseball. And it's pretty calming to step in that plate in that situation. I have no idea, no reason why.
I was talking to some of the guys, when Berkman hit the home run and the place was unbelievably you can't hear a thing, but it's a calming feeling that comes over you. They were so loud, and so just stepping into the plate, just understanding it's you versus him, and that's all that really matters at that point. You know, just find a way. Once again, it wasn't pretty, it found a hole. Just fortunate enough it was a hit.
A loss is a loss, but put yourself in their shoes, isn't there kind of a devastating effect, given how close they were to putting this thing away?
ECKSTEIN: Definitely I think it's going to be tough. But the thing about it is they are a great ballclub and I'm sure, you know what I mean, it's over for them right now, their focus is on Wednesday's game.
You know, it's one of those things, we had a couple of those the past couple nights, you know, and we're all professionals. I see them ready to play on Wednesday night, and so will we.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.