Justin Duchscherer. He's been the most valuable member of the bullpen this season. He was performing when others weren't. And now he's answering a few questions about his Friday night performance which helped the A's keep their current winning streak alive after being down 5-1, then 6-3.
Blez: Can you tell me how it feels to come into a situation like you did tonight? It must be different for you, especially since you were such a crucial starter for the River Cats last season. Now, as I think you mentioned yourself in past interviews, there isn't really a margin for error.
Justin Duchscherer: Coming into the game tonight I just tried to go out on the mound and keep us in the game as long as I could. We have been swinging the bats well lately, so I felt that if we could stay within 3 or 4 runs we would have a chance to come back. Fortunately that is what happened.
Blez: How do you prepare on a nightly basis, not really knowing when you're going to be called upon? For example, did you know how to pitch to the Tampa Bay hitters, or did you just rely on Damian to help guide you through the game?
JD: My preparation for each series starts with a pitcher's meeting with our coaches and manager. We go over the hitter's tendencies and what they have been doing recently. Other than that I let instinct take over on the mound, and I have a lot of trust in our catcher's ability to call the game. Damian and I were on the same page all night as far as what pitch to throw, so it kept me in good rhythm out there.
Blez: Do you like your role? Or would you rather be starting?
JD: I like both relieving and starting, so I honestly would do whatever the management thinks will help the team more. Either way I am pitching in the big leagues which is all that really matters.
Blez: In my opinion, you're the bullpen MVP for the A's this year. I can remember off the top of my head, the game in Detroit, the game in Minnesota and now the game tonight in which you were largely responsible for wins. You also helped to settle the unstable pen from the beginning of the season. Did you imagine you'd be in this position this season coming into camp? What do you do differently to prepare yourself mentally for the games?
JD: I didn't really know what to expect of this season, especially starting out as a reliever. I just had a lot of confidence that if I made my pitches the results would turn out well.
Blez: Obviously your curveball is an essential part of your success. Can you tell me what the grip is for it and how it might different from say, Zito's and Mulder's? Do you consider that your best pitch?
JD: My curve ball has always been my strikeout pitch, but my cutter probably gets me more outs. I think Zito and I have similar grips, but I'm not sure about Mulder.
Blez: Have you enjoyed your first full season in the bigs? Being the junior guy in the pen must mean that you have to do something for the vets...what's the initiation?
JD: I have definitely enjoyed my first season because I like all the guys down in the pen, except for having to carry the snack bag.
Thank you, Justin, both for stopping by AN and for performing so remarkably well this year.