10/08/2003 8:23 PM ET
Guthrie gets confidence boost
CHICAGO -- The way Mark Guthrie has been feeling lately, the Chicago Cubs probably needed a 20-run lead Wednesday for him to feel comfortable.
But Cubs manager Dusty Baker gave his lefty a confidence boost when he inserted Guthrie in the ninth. Guthrie got the final two outs of a 12-3 victory over the Florida Marlins, and the best-of-seven National League Championship Series is now even at one win apiece. Guthrie will be able to sleep.
"I had a pretty good feeling I'd get in when we scored all those runs -- I know how Dusty is," Guthrie said after the game. "That's what makes him such a great manager. He understands the psyche of the players. He probably figured if I don't get back out there and do something positive, I'll be useless for the rest of the year. Hopefully, you gain confidence from it and move on."
And did it help his confidence?
"I know it wasn't a huge situation but for me it was," Guthrie said. "I feel a lot better. Hopefully I can sleep tonight. I feel a lot better than [Tuesday night]. [Baker] knew that. That's what makes him good."
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Guthrie had served up pinch-hitter Mike Lowell's go-ahead home run in the 11th inning Tuesday night in Game 1 of the NLCS.
"He's having a tough time right now. He's having a real tough time," Baker said before Wednesday's game of the veteran left-hander.
"We have to get him straight," Baker said. "We can't win with one lefty. [Mike Remlinger] gets lefties out and he gets righties out better."
Guthrie has served up home runs in both of his postseason appearances. Atlanta's Chipper Jones tagged him for a two-run homer in Game 4 of the NL Division Series on Saturday.
"It was very important," Baker said after Wednesday's game about getting positive results. "I need him. I need him and I need to get him in situations and in low-pressure situations like that. It was very important for him to have a positive outing after [Tuesday]."
The Cubs players appreciate how Baker does his best to put them in situations where they can succeed.
"For [Guthrie's] confidence, I think it's big to go out there in not so much of a pressure situation but to get your confidence level back," closer Joe Borowski said. "We're definitely going to need him in the long run.
"We were all talking about it down there in the 'pen," Borowski said. "We were hoping Mark would get in there. He's a veteran and he's been around for so long. It's not like he doesn't know how to deal with it. But I know from my standpoint, it's good to get out there and get a good outing."
"Dusty wanted to get him out there and go on a positive note for [Guthrie's] state of mind," reliever Dave Veres said. "There's nothing like having a manager have confidence in you. There's nothing worse than having a bad game and go three, four, five days without pitching. It's huge for Mark to go out and get those two guys out from Mark's state of mind. He's hopefully back to his usual self."
Remlinger is the Cubs' other left-hander in the pen and he has given up one hit in his two postseason appearances.
Baker is looking ahead.
"You get to the World Series and all the lefties Boston has and New York has, you've got to get [Guthrie] straight and you've got to get him straight before we get there," he said. "Rem, right now, he's an everything man. He can give me two [innings], he can give me one-third, he can give me 1 1/3 [innings]."
The problem Tuesday night for Guthrie was location.
"If he makes his pitch on Lowell, who's an inner-half hitter, at worse you get a single on the ground or to right field," Baker said. "He got that pitch up."
This postseason, Baker has relied primarily on Remlinger, Kyle Farnsworth and Joe Borowski. Fortunately, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood have done their part to limit Baker's calls to the pen. Prior, who started Game 2 Wednesday, threw a two-hit complete game against Atlanta in the NLDS while Wood went 7 1/3 innings in Game 1 and eight innings in Game 5.
"It just depends on who's starting for us and if I can get deep enough in the game," Baker said of his approach. "If not, then I have to go to an alternate plan."
Baker was bothered by Tuesday's loss, a 9-8 Florida win in 11 innings. He didn't stay up to watch the local news.
"I didn't watch the highlights. Bad ending," he said.
Guthrie probably didn't either.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.
"It's huge for Mark to go out and get those two guys out from Mark's state of mind. He's hopefully back to his usual self."
-- Dave Veres on Mark Guthrie