Given your reputation with protecting arms, were you a little surprised by the criticism emerging from Monday night's win over Florida Atlantic?
"No, I've been around baseball enough. I wasn't surprised because that's just the way it is. That's the way sports work, especially when the guys go out there – Kent [Emanuel] back went out there and didn't get it done and then Benton [Moss] gives up the grand slam. If those guys go out there and both pitch well, then not as much is said.
"I've been doing it long enough - on the reverse side, too - that I have my opinions on pitching and what I think and I've always thought relievers are the ones that get abused more than starters, but people don't talk about it. Starters just get up once a week and pitch. Well, relievers, they're up and down, up and down, and sometimes those are the guys that throw 50 on Friday and people say, ‘They're prepared for it.' Well, you're really not prepared to get up and get on eyes, as they say, or get ready to go in the game and sit down. Then it happens again and you sit down and then it happens again and you do it three days in a row.
"So it didn't really surprise me. Some of it was a little bit disappointing, but that night I was getting texts from Alex White and Matt Harvey about how mad they were getting watching the game on TV and how they don't know what they're talking about, blah, blah, blah. It really wasn't that big of a deal for me."
What was your thought process to go to Kent there in the eighth inning?
"Kent's a horse. He's built a lot like Matt Harvey. This team, when you've had a year like we've had, you think, ‘If we're going to go down, we're going to go down with our best guy or we're going to win with our best guy.' Obviously, he came in, he worked out and he got [Mark] Nelson out. I could tell when he came in that he was ready to rock and roll. The radar gun on the board was wrong and I could tell he had really good life talking to Holberton, so we sent him back out there. It was unlike Kent to walk those guys and, obviously, any time as a coach, when things don't go perfect, you always second-guess yourself, like, ‘Should I have called this pitch?' But I still would have sent Kent back out there and I still would have brought Benton in.
"But the thought process was these guys were a little less taxed than [Chris] McCue. I didn't know what we were going to get out of McCue because he had thrown 50 pitches. You're talking about a kid that throws 90-93 miles an hour that's 5-10, 160 pounds compared to two guys that have started all year. My thought process was these guys have good stuff and they strike guys out. That was the thought with Benton. He's a strikeout pitcher, so let's see if we can get this dude out because he's got some power. And it didn't work out that way."
Did you see anything this past weekend that concerns about your pitching staff after having such a strong ACC Tournament?
"No. I really thought Towson was going to be – nobody talked much about them – but every report was that it was just a difficult team to pitch to because they sit on pitches and they're an offensive team, kind of a frustrating offensive team. You look at Florida Atlantic and the first game was just one swing. Trevor Kelley made one bad pitch and we gave up three hits. Probably walked too many guys.
"But that game [on Monday], a game like that after a day or two of digesting, there's nothing really you can say except that it was crazy and will probably never happen again. For goodness sakes, we gave up the cycle in homeruns and we won. How does that happen? I don't know how it happens, so I'm not going to be concerned about it. I thought most of our guys - what you look for most importantly is ‘are they intimidated?' And I thought everyone we put in that situation was aggressive and attacked the hitters and some of them just gave up some hits."
Benton's had a bit of a rough stretch. What do you think Monday's game does for his confidence and is that a concern moving forward?
"Benton's pitched well for the most part all year, but obviously you have a little bit of concern when that happens because in a perfect world he comes in and strikes that dude out and he has a ton of confidence. Benton knows and we've told him he's one of our weekend guys. It reminds me a little bit of '06 when we switched up [Daniel] Bard and Robert [Woodard] a little bit. And right now, Hobbs, his last three or four times he's been really hard to hit. He might walk a couple of guys but it's hard to get on base. We're always going to do what's best for our team, but Benton's still going to help us in some way, shape or form."