October 19, 2019
Houston, Texas – pregame 6
Q. With the Astros going with a bullpen day as well, what are some of the challenges and how does the preparation change going into a game like tonight?
AARON BOONE: The challenges are you’re not getting a lot of looks at one guy. They’re putting in pitchers in parts of the lineup that are designed for them to be successful. So therein lies the challenge of it.
I think our guys from a game-planning standpoint have some comfort in the fact that they’re used to it. We’ve face this quite a bit. So guys know kind of how to prepare and get ready.
But it certainly creates its challenges because they’re matching up pitchers in areas that they have the best chance to be successful in their part of the lineup.
Q. Any chance you would use Tanaka?
AARON BOONE: Probably not. I kind of view Masa more in play tomorrow. Probably not today.
Q. Would you use Severino in an emergency?
AARON BOONE: We’ll see. We’ll talk about that in the hours leading up here.
Q. What made you decide to go with Edwin Encarnacion DH’ing instead of Giancarlo Stanton?
AARON BOONE: One of those that I toiled over last night and into this morning. Feel good about both guys. Not quite ready to feel like I’m ready to G out in the field. So it’s now the DH conversation.
And still, even though Edwin has had some tough games, still feel like he’s got a chance to really impact things. Felt like I wanted him in there today and wanted to keep the infield alignment the same. So it was really just deciding between two really good players.
And in G’s case, first game back from the injury that he’s still battling with, late game, getting in in the middle of the night and stuff. So it was a decision for me, feel like there’s potentially a big spot for him off the bench still. And the good thing is that it’s a tough decision because I’ve got two really good players.
Q. Starting Chad was pretty elementary. Did that require a lot of thought?
AARON BOONE: We debated a little bit but it all came back to Greeny. So obviously it’s something he’s done quite a bit this year, he’s comfortable with it. Feel like he’s throwing the ball well. So hopefully he can get us going on a good note.
Q. With Green, do you have a certain number in your mind pitch count-wise as far as how far you would push him or is it a matter of just watching and seeing how strong he is?
AARON BOONE: Not necessarily a pitch count, no. Kind of a baseline of hopefully where in the order he can get through. But if he looks strong and cruising along then we’ll ride with him a little further. He’s not built up to go too, too long but hopefully he can give us a little bit of length to start things off.
Q. Aaron Hicks missed a lot of time, had a monster at-bat in Game 5. What’s impressed you about how he’s been able to see the ball since coming back in the short span?
AARON BOONE: The fact that he’s looked like himself and the good portion that Aaron brings. Ultimate strike zone control.
I feel like since his first at-bat when he pinch-hit here when we were here last time, I think it was Game 2, and then carried it right into now, the games that he started, I feel like the quality his at-bats have been there. And I feel like physically he’s moving around well. I feel like he’s moving well in the outfield, and I think clearly a guy that likes playing in these games that mean a little bit more.
Q. What are the biggest challenges of managing a bullpen game especially on a night where there’s so much urgency as tonight?
AARON BOONE: Just knowing you’re going to use a lot of guys and trying to get guys in parts of the lineup where they have a chance to be the most successful, period. We feel good about our guys and if they throw the ball the way they’re capable of, that they can go out and be successful.
But the biggest challenge is trying as best you can to be disciplined to getting them into the part of the game where you want them in and not necessarily where you need them in.
Q. You and AJ Hinch know each other pretty well. And this is kind of a unique situation, both of you guys are doing the same thing in this game. Is there a part of you when you’re making decisions, I know what he’s thinking, he knows what I’m thinking, that kind of back and forth?
AARON BOONE: Honestly, I don’t really get that involved in it like that or think about it that way. Kind of consumed with what we’re doing. I mean, you’ve got to be certainly aware of, Hey, might they hit for this guy in this situation? So you try and think along in that regard based on what you’re doing and the moves we’re making.
But I don’t think it gets too deep as far as — because of our relationship.
Q. You’ve obviously spent a lifetime in the game, in a very traditional baseball upbringing. The idea of two teams doing a bullpen game with such high stakes just a few years ago would have been just about unthinkable. Do you think it’s better for the game, more interesting, more efficient way to win or do you ever think, how did we evolve this game to this point?
AARON BOONE: Right. It certainly can be. Both teams are doing it because we think it gives us a better chance to win. Obviously some of it’s out of need where we’ve had some guys that have started for us this year that aren’t available.
So I don’t get too caught up — I’m on the side of things where we’re trying to win. We’ve seen firsthand going back to when Tampa started doing this last year how effective it can be and how much of a challenge it can be. And we feel like we have the pieces that have a chance to have a lot of success with it and hopefully we can tonight.
Q. Is your team nervous, anxious, are you nervous, anxious? How would you portray what you’re feeling and how you feel your team is feeling?
AARON BOONE: I think our guys are good. We wanted to make sure we got on that plane last night; we did. And I’m confident we’ll come in here and go play our game and enjoy doing it.
As far as nervous, the leadup is always anxious and a little uptight. I finally, once the game gets going, there’s some comfort in that. It’s kind of the best time of the day, frankly, when you’re in the game now and watching our guys go out and compete. You feel like all the prep work now is, Now we go. And there’s some comfort in that.
Q. Did the loss of CC impact the matchups you see for Happ in that you might move him into some of the spots where you’d see a matchup for CC? Or is Happ still kind of in his own little lane there?
AARON BOONE: No, I think we — there’s some similarities between the two that we saw in this series as far as the occasional one off where they’re facing one-hitter, one lefty hitter, but also there are some lanes where they can give us some length. Probably feel like J.A. can go more hitters at this point from where CC was before he got hurt.
But viewed them both a little bit similarly.
Q. So that doesn’t change or limit Happ’s length that you might ask him —
AARON BOONE: No, no, we feel like there’s some spots for Happer tonight that he can go in and be effective for us.
Q. A lot of your guys, including Aaron Judge, have described this season if you don’t make it to the World Series it’s a failure. Is it?
AARON BOONE: I hate that question. Not because you asked, not like that. I mean, we’re — I know as an organization myself, our players, we’re chasing a championship and we’re doing everything we can. We want to be champions. So that’s the goal. That’s the focus.
Putting a label, success, fail, all that, I don’t really have time for it, honestly. We’ve got to go get a win tonight and that’s the focus. I’m proud to go compete with those guys every day. I reject it a little bit but I don’t really get caught up in the question, either. It’s full steam ahead, let’s go.
Q. With the Astros starting Peacock tonight, any advantage for you guys, since you saw him just about 20 hours ago?
AARON BOONE: Well, I hope so. Look, we know he’s a good pitcher, he’s a guy that’s pitched well in the postseason for them in the past. Obviously has dealt with some injuries this year. Hopefully a little bit of the familiarity of a few of our guys seeing him helps a little bit. But I don’t necessarily think that plays in.
Bottom line is it’s about execution and your being disciplined as a hitter and him on the mound making pitches. That will kind of determine it, if we take advantage of mistakes or if he executes pitches, that usually determines who’s going to come out on top.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
41 RHP Brad Peacock O.OO ERA (0ER/1IP), 1G
Last Win: — Save: 2017 WS (3) Loss: — Blown SV: –2019 ALCS: 0-0-0, 0.00 (0ER/1IP), 1G Postseason Career: 0-0-1, 4.73 (7ER/13.1IP), 8G
• made his first postseason appearance in Game 5 of the ALCS…tossed a scoreless 8th inning with 1 strikeout on 8 pitches.
• is on the Astros ALCS roster after not making the ALDS roster…did not make the Astros postseason rosters in 2018, but was a key factor in Houston’s 2017 World Series run…pitched in 7 games (1 start) in the 2017 postseason.
• pitched in 4 games in the 2017 World Series, posting a 2.45 ERA (2ER/7.1IP) with 8 strikeouts…tossed a 3.2-inning save (no hits allowed) in Game 3, the longest save in the World Series since Madison Bumgarner’s 5-inning save in 2014.
• over his career (including postseason) has held righties to a .198 (211×1065) batting average…held right-handed hitters to a .179 (32×179) batting average and a .553 OPS (.251 OBP/.302 SLG) this season.
57 CHAD GREEN—RHP • Has made the postseason for the third time in his career (2017-19)…has allowed just 3ER over his last 15.2IP in the postseason (12K)…ALDS: earned his second career postseason win in ALDS Game 3 at Minnesota…struck out four batters in 2.0IP in his playoff debut in 2017 AL Wild Card Game win vs Minnesota, becoming the fi rst Yankee to strike out his fi rst four playoff batters faced. • Made 39 relief appearances and 15 opening assignments in 2019…the Yankees went 11-4 when he opened, his fi rst starts since June 2017…had 98K, falling 2K short of his second career 100K season (103K in 2017). • Over his fi nal 11 appearances in 2019, struck out 34 batters with just 6BB in 17.2IP. • Had three appearances with at least 4K and no base runners, tied for the Major League lead (also John Brebbia, Josh Hader and Drew Pomeranz)…has seven such games since the start of 2017, trailing only Hader (8) for most in the Majors.
EPISODE TWO: The Yankees trail Houston in the 2019 ALCS, three-games-to-two… won Game 5 at Yankee Stadium on Friday after losing three straight (Games 2-4)… the winner will advance to face the Washington Nationals, who swept St. Louis in 4G in the NLCS… continue the series with Game 6 tonight in Houston.
Marks their 17th trip to the ALCS, the most all-time (for full list, see p. 143 of Yankees’ 2019 Postseason Media Guide or p. 350 of 2019 Media Guide)… have advanced in 11 of their 16 ALCS, but have been eliminated in their last three trips
Trail, 3-2, in a best-of-seven series for the 10th time in franchise history… are 6-3 in Game 6 when down, 3-2, and have come back to win two series (won Games 6-7 on the road in both): 1958 World Series vs. the Milwaukee Braves and 1952 World Series vs. Brooklyn… is their second time trailing, 3-2, in the ALCS, also 2010 ALCS vs. Texas (lost Game 6).
Tonight marks the Yankees’ second potential elimination game of the 2019 postseason (1-0 in 2019)… over the last three postseasons, are 6-2 in potential elimination games, including 1-1 on the road.
1 IF CARLOS CORREA .184 (7×38), 2 HR, 6 RBI 2019 ALCS vs. NYY: .211, 4×19, 2HR, 5RBI ALCS Career: .292, 19×65, 3HR, 11RBI 2019 ALDS vs. TB: .158, 3×19, RBI Postseason Career: .256, 42×164, 10HR, 30RBI
• went 1×2 with 2 walks in Game 5 of the ALCS.
• went 1×5 with a 3-run home run off Chad Green in ALCS Game 4…at 25 years and 24 days old, became the youngest player in MLB history to reach 10 career postseason homers, surpassing Albert Pujols
. • went 2×5 with 2 RBI and a walkoff solo home run in the 11th inning off J.A. Happ in the Game 2 of the ALCS…marked his 2nd career postseason walkoff hit, also Game 2 of the 2017 ALCS vs. NYY (walkoff double)…became the 3rd player in MLB history to record multiple walkoff hits in the League Championship Series, joining David Ortiz and Bernie Williams…joined Ortiz as the only players in MLB history with multiple walkoff hits against the Yankees in the postseason.
• became the 4th Astros player to record a postseason walkoff HR, (last, Chris Burke in Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS vs. ATL)..also became the 2nd player with multiple walkoff RBI in the postseason in club history, joining Denny Walling.
• has 30 RBI in the postseason, the most in Astros history.
• in his career against the Yankees (including the postseason), has hit .314 (49×156) with 11 doubles, 11 HR, 32 RBI and a .972 OPS in 41 games…batted .333 (9×27) with 3 doubles, 1 HR and 3 RBI in the 2017 ALCS vs. the Yankees.
• his 10 HR and 30 RBI in the postseason rank 2nd by a shortstop in MLB history, behind only Derek Jeter (20 HR, 61 RBI)…tied Albert Pujols and Mickey Mantle for the most postseason HR by a player prior to turning 25 years old (8HR)
Tonight’s game 6: The Astros will take another shot at closing out the Yankees tonight in Game 6 of the 2019 ALCS, which is the third postseason meeting between the two clubs in the past five years (also, 2015 WC, 2017 ALCS)…
Tonight’s game will be a bullpen game for both teams, with the Astros bullpen being headlined by a trio of RHP Joe Smith (1ER/4.1IP), RHP Will Harris (0ER/4.1IP) and RHP Roberto Osuna (1ER/6.2IP) this postseason.
Game 6 history: Tonight marks the Astros sixth Game 6 in club history, in which they’ve gone 2-3 so far…two of those came in 2017, in the ALCS vs. NYY (7-1 win) and in the World Series at LAD (3-1 loss). championship series history:
This marks the Astros third straight trip to the ALCS and their seventh appearance overall in a League Championship Series (1980, 1986, 2004-05, 2017-19)…they are the first team to advance to three straight ALCS since the 2011-13 Tigers, a team also fronted by RHP Justin Verlander…this series is a rematch of the 2017 ALCS, won by the Astros in seven games, with all seven games won by the home team. one win away: A win tonight would advance the Astros to their third World Series appearance in franchise history and their second in the last three seasons, having reached the series in 2005 and 2017…the Astros lost the 2005 World Series in four games to the White Sox, while the 2017 club defeated the Dodgers in a thrilling seven games
. Astros up 3-2: This marks just the Astros fourth 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series in franchise history, also reaching this point in the 2004 NLCS (STL), the 2005 NLCS (STL) and the 2017 WS (LAD)…the Astros lost the 2004 NLCS, but won the 2005 NLCS in six games and the 2017 WS in seven. vs. the Yankees: The Astros and Yankees have formed a solid rivalry in recent years, as the two clubs have met in the postseason in three of the last five seasons…Houston dispatched New York in the previous two occasions, winning the 2015 Wild Card Game in New York and winning the ALCS in seven games in 2017…the Astros went 4-3 against the Yanks in the 2019 regular season, 3-0 at home and 1-3 in the Bronx.
BOSTON BRUINS (5-1-1 – 11 Points) vs. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (4-3-1 – 9 Points)
OCT. 19, 2019 ▪ 7:00 PM EST
SCOTIABANK ARENA (TORONTO, ON)
▪ TV: SPORTSNET/HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA ▪ RADIO: SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN
MAPLE LEAFS HISTORY versus BOSTON
ALL-TIME RECORD: 277-298-98-10 ALL-TIME at HOME: 173-110-51-3 2018-19: 1-3-0 LAST 5: 2-3-0 LAST 10: 6-4-0
MAPLE LEAFS CAREER LEADERS versus BOSTON
GAMES: Jason Spezza (60), John Tavares (34), Cody Ceci (21) POINTS: Jason Spezza (51), John Tavares (27), Mitch Marner (18) GOALS: Jason Spezza (18), John Tavares (14), Mitch Marner (5) ASSISTS: Jason Spezza (33), Mitch Marner (13), John Tavares (13) PENALTY MINUTES: Jason Spezza (33), Martin Marincin (10), John Tavares (10)
MAPLE LEAFS – BRUINS TEAM STATS
GOALS FOR (Rank): 31 (t-2nd) 19 (t-19th)
GOALS AGAINST (Rank): 27 (t-22nd) 13 (2nd)
SHOTS (Rank): 277 (t-4th) 214 (19th)
5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPTS FOR (Rank): 371 (2nd) 255 (20th) 5-on-5
SHOT ATTEMPT % (Rank): 55.3% (4th) 50.0% (15th)
FACEOFF % (Rank): 53.0% (4th) 49.9% (t-16th)
MAPLE LEAFS – BRUINS NOTES
- Tonight’s game marks the 675th meeting between the Maple Leafs and Bruins.
- – The first matchup between the franchises took place on December 3, 1924 when the Toronto St. Patricks defeated the Bruins by a 5-3 score in Toronto.
- – The Maple Leafs have a record of 277-289-98-10 in the previous 674 matchups between the clubs.
- – The Maple Leafs have a record of 173-110-51-3 in 337 games played in Toronto and a record of 104-179-47-7 in 337 games played in Boston.
- – Toronto’s last win over the Bruins in Toronto came on November 26, 2018 (Toronto 4, Boston 2).
- – Frederik Andersen earned his first win as a Maple Leaf against Boston on October 15, 2016.
- – Kevin Gravel scored his first career NHL goal on February 23, 2017 vs. Boston as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
- – Michael Hutchinson was originally selected by the Bruins in the third round (77th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft. He later earned his first career win on April 10, 2014 against the Bruins as a member of the Winnipeg Jets.
- – Alex Kerfoot scored his first career goal on October 11, 2017 vs. the Bruins as a member of the Colorado Avalanche.
- – Mitch Marner recorded his first career NHL point with a goal on October 15, 2016 vs. Boston.
- – Nic Petan made his NHL debut on October 8, 2015 at Boston as a member of the Winnipeg Jets and recorded his first career NHL point with a goal in the same game.
- – Jason Spezza made his NHL debut on October 24, 2002 at Boston as a member of the Ottawa Senators and registered his first career point with an assist in the same game.
- – John Tavares scored his 200th career NHL goal on March 12, 2016 at Boston as a member of the New York Islanders.
MAPLE LEAFS LEADERS
GOALS 7 (Matthews)
ASSISTS 9 (Rielly)
POINTS 9 (Marner, Rielly)
POWER PLAY POINTS 6 (Marner)
SHORTHANDED POINTS 1 (Kapanen, Moore)
PIMs 8 (Kerfoot, Rielly)
SHOTS 34 (Matthews)
FACEOFF WIN% 63.6% (Gauthier)
5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPT % 70.6% (Spezza)
BLOCKED SHOTS 21 (Ceci)
TAKEAWAYS 7 (Marner, Mikheyev, Tavares)
HITS 15 (Moore, Muzzin)
TOI PER GAME 24:37 (Rielly)
PP TOI PER GAME 3:01 (Matthews, Rielly)
SH TOI PER GAME 3:29 (Ceci)
MAPLE LEAFS NOTABLES
- Frederik Andersen is 11-2-0 with a 2.42 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage in 13 career regular-season appearances against Boston.
- – Tyson Barrie has a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 59.2 percent, which is the highest mark among Toronto defencemen and the seventh-highest mark among NHL defencemen who have appeared in at least five games.
- – Cody Ceci is tied for fourth in the NHL in blocked shots (21). He is tied with Morgan Rielly for the lead in takeaways (4) among Maple Leaf defencemen.
- – Frederik Gauthier has started 4.8 percent of his 5-on-5 shifts in the offensive zone, which is the lowest mark among NHL centres who have appeared in multiple games.
- – Michael Hutchinson is 2-2-1 with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage in six career games against the Bruins. – Andreas Johnsson had three points (2-1-3) in four games against Boston last season. Thirty-eight (20 goals, 18 assists) of his 50 career points have come on home ice.
- – Kasperi Kapanen established a new career-high for points (1-2-3) on October 16 at Washington. He has four even-strength assists, which is tied for the fourth-most among NHL right wingers.
- – Alex Kerfoot has won 55.6 percent (20 won, 16 lost) of his faceoffs when the Maple Leafs are leading in games, which is tied for the 15th-most faceoffs wins when leading in the NHL.
- – Mitch Marner is tied for second among all NHL skaters in power play points with six (2-4-6). He is averaging 3.38 shots on goal per game through seven games this season. His career-high for shots on goal per game in a season prior to this season was 2.84 in 2018-19.
- – Auston Matthews is tied for third in the NHL in goals (7) and is tied for the NHL lead in even-strength goals (5) through seven games in 2019-20. He ranks fourth among NHL skaters in shots on goal (34). He ranks third among skaters who have taken at least 60 faceoffs in faceoff win percentage (62.3% – 43 won, 26 lost).
- – Ilya Mikheyev is tied for second in points among rookie skaters (3-3-6). He leads all rookies who have appeared in multiple games in shorthanded ice time per game (2:34).
- – Trevor Moore is tied for the lead among NHL rookies in hits (15) and is tied for fourth among NHL rookies in takeaways (5).
- – Jake Muzzin is averaging 29.9 shifts per game, which is tied for the fourth-highest average among all NHL skaters. His 23:14 time on ice per game average is 2:00 higher than his career ice time average (21:14).
- – William Nylander has registered four (2-2-4) of his five points on home ice this season. He leads the Maple Leafs in backhand shots on goal (5) through eight games this season, which is also tied for the fourth-most backhand shots in the League.
- – Morgan Rielly is 10th in the NHL in time on ice per game (24:37). He is tied for fourth among all NHL skaters in assists (9). His 16 wrist shots are tied for the fifth-most among all NHL defencemen.
CURRENT POINT STREAKS
- John Tavares has goals (2) and points (3-1-4) in four consecutive games.
- October 15: Morgan Rielly recorded his 200th career NHL assist. – October 12: Nick Shore scored his first goal as a Maple Leaf.
- Frederik Andersen is two games from 200 games as a Maple Leaf.
- – Michael Hutchinson is four wins from 50 career NHL wins.
- – Auston Matthews is five assists from 100 career NHL assists.
- Travis Dermott (shoulder) is on injured reserve
- . – Zach Hyman (knee) is on injured reserve. –
- John Tavares (finger) sustained a broken finger on October 16 at Washington.
- Oct. 14: Recalled defenceman Kevin Gravel from the Toronto Marlies (AHL). Loaned defenceman Rasmus Sandin to the Marlies.
October 18, 2019
New York – postgame 5
New York 4, Houston 1
Q. Do you have a plan yet for the next two days?
AARON BOONE: No. Seve is set for Game 7. Tomorrow we’ll just figure it out. We’ll kind of talk about it tonight on the plane which way we want to go. But it will probably be a little bit of everyone.
Q. So obviously a bullpen game?
AARON BOONE: Yes.
Q. What’s your take on the state of the game of baseball where you come down to a Game 6 of the ALCS and both teams are going with a bullpen game?
AARON BOONE: I think it’s both teams trying to get outs and trying to do it the best way we can. We’ve had some — obviously a lot of guys go down this year and different people not available. We’ll just do our best to piece it together.
Q. Obviously this series has been a lot of missed offensive opportunities, BUT Hicks hits the home run in the first. What’s going through your mind when he hits it? Is it a sense of relief for you guys offensively or a sense of expectation?
AARON BOONE: It was just a really good string of at-bats together against obviously Justin, who’s probably the best time to hopefully get to him is early. With DJ going out there and getting into one and then Judge and Gleyber finding the chalk down there. I thought Giancarlo worked a really tough at-bat. And then Hicks, the same thing, and he was able to clip him.
It was huge to get off to that start, especially after they scored a run in the first inning. I think it really got our crowd into it even more so. And really Pax took it from there.
Q. Going out to talk to James before Chirinos’ at-bat, what motivated you to do that and what was that conversation like?
AARON BOONE: Frankly, I was up in the air walking out there. I liked the matchup and how he was attacking Chirinos. The last thing I wanted him to do was throw it down in a heater, which was a mistake that almost got him. I felt like I just wanted to get a look at Gary and at Pax to see — have a feel that he had a little bit left because obviously we were pushing him pretty far right there. But I felt like if he could execute, we liked the matchup there. He missed a spot and fortunately, got away from it.
But I thought James was great today. He came in with just an edge, a focus. And that first inning, which was work for him, he kind of whiffs on the Springer ball where he gets the soft contact, infield hit, and now all of a sudden they piece together a run. First two innings he’s deep into the pitch count but he just kept going and felt like he got better as the night went on.
Q. Talk about DJ’s contributions to punch right back. And his catch with the foul ball.
AARON BOONE: Yeah, it was huge. A tough play, especially on a night like tonight where it’s cold and pop-ups anytime you’re kind of going and there’s a breeze to track it and just kind of out-competition the ball. He just competed hard for it to make a big play, almost turns a really nice double play there, the 3-6-3 that we almost turned.
But setting the tone. He’s had some decent success against Verlander. To get us even right out of the chute there was big.
Q. The way that yesterday ended and today began with kind of another sloppy first inning, did you have any sense of dread and why do you think your team was able to pull out of that kind of bad continuation from last night?
AARON BOONE: They’re a tough group. They really are. So certainly that first inning started a little rough. But it didn’t phase them. They continued to grind, continued to make plays. Obviously the first inning our home half really I think settled them in a little bit.
But it’s what they’ve been good at all year is coming in the next day with an energy and a focus and an edge and a hunger. And it showed up again today. I’m not surprised but it was really good to see after last night.
Q. Back to the mound for a second. You go out there, you decide not to take him out of the game, and first pitch the ball is heading out to the stands in left field. What is going through your mind at that point, you’re thinking, Maybe I made a mistake here?
AARON BOONE: Yeah, just seeing the ball almost in slow motion, feeling like it’s coming in down and in right into the hot zone. And I’m like, Oh. But fortunately, it stayed in the ballpark.
No, I felt good about the decision. Again, I felt like he was good. I felt like the matchup was right. But definitely when it first left the bat, Oh, no.
Q. You have a great group of guys in your clubhouse. How do you keep them motivated going back to Houston to win these two games?
AARON BOONE: I don’t need to say a word tonight. Those guys took care of business today, man. They came in and got it done. And right after the game, we do our presentations and stuff, and it was energized, it was focused, it was intense.
First goal after last night was to get on the plane. And now we’ve got an opportunity to go play in a tough place. We look forward to that and can’t wait.
Q. What was your view of Aaron’s home run? Did you think it was going to go?
AARON BOONE: I did. And I didn’t race up to look at it. I just kind of — a lot of times what I do, especially in our dugout, anytime there’s a ball hit I go right to the hitter, because the hitter will kind of tell you what happened, whether it’s a foul ball.
So I didn’t climb the stairs or anything. I’m in my spot there and I just watched Aaron and kind of listened to the crowd. So I knew he got it all. Obviously it was just going to be staying fair. So I just fixated my eyes on Aaron, and it was a big blow.
And just the quality of that at-bat. Verlander is a tough matchup for everyone, but especially Aaron. And the way he grinded through that at-bat and got a pitch was obviously huge.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
October 18, 2019
New York – postgame 5
New York 4, Houston 1
Q. After that little bit of a sloppy top of the first the stadium was pretty quiet. Your home run seemed to wake it up. What was that feeling like to hit that and feel the stadium come alive like that?
DJ LeMAHIEU: It was a good feeling. We needed a good start. I was just trying to get on base, hit something hard and get things going and put a pretty good swing on it.
Q. Your catch of the foul ball also fired up the fans. I was wondering the difficulty level of that. Can you just kind of talk us through what that was like?
DJ LeMAHIEU: Just trying to make a play. I was hoping it was going to stay in. Definitely wasn’t an easy one. And just kind of used my reactions and glad I came out with it.
Q. What did you feel James showed tonight on the mound?
DJ LeMAHIEU: Pitched great. His fastball was explosive, 100 plus pitches. Fastball still thrown hard. Uses off speed when he needed to. But we needed a huge start from him and he came through in a huge way.
Q. What is your mindset going up to the plate, you’re the first batter, potential elimination game going against Justin Verlander?
DJ LeMAHIEU: Just we wanted to give him our best shot. And just trying to get things going. We had a tough top of the first inning. Like always just trying to get things going. But we really needed to get it going today.
Q. The first inning gets even more impressive when you consider what Verlander did from that point on. What did you see when he got it together? What was he doing so well after that?
DJ LeMAHIEU: He was just off after the first inning, good pitch mix, good fastball. But we took advantage of his missed locations, when he was a little vulnerable. And that’s the difference in the game. But once he settled down he was tough.
Q. With Verlander being a guy that’s capable of getting better as he goes along, is there a sense of urgency in the dugout to capitalize on that situation in the first inning?
DJ LeMAHIEU: Yeah, definitely. But at the same time we don’t want to be up there pressing and trying to do too much, try to take what he gives us. And I think we did a good job of that the first inning, and some really good at-bats, and Hicks-y with the huge homer.
Q. With everything you guys have been through this year just how good does it feel that you’ve got one more game, one more flight to Houston?
DJ LeMAHIEU: It’s a good feeling. Last night was a tough night all around. Last night sucked. So for us to respond and keep it alive and get some momentum going was huge.
Q. Obviously you’re confident going back to Houston. Is there an extra level surge when you got to Game 6 without using the guys you would need to use in a bullpen game tomorrow?
DJ LeMAHIEU: Yeah, I don’t know how we’re going to piece it together tomorrow and the next day. I know we’re going to — today was a big step gaining confidence. And like I said, I don’t know how we’re going to piece it together but I have a lot of confidence in everyone going into the game.
Q. For three straight games you guys were talking about not getting a big hit, putting traffic on bases. Was there sort of a collective exhale when Hicks hits that home run, you have a couple guys on bases and finally you got that big hit?
DJ LeMAHIEU: Maybe a little bit. I think we all kind of expected something good to happen today, just the way the last couple days went. And first inning for us to do it, I think that allowed Pax to settle in a little bit and kind of all of us to get our swagger on a little bit again.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
October 18, 2019
New York – postgame 5
New York 4, Houston 1
Q. When you look at the way that Verlander was able to settle down, how big was it you were able to get him when you did?
AARON HICKS: That was the game plan to strike early. Get some good pitches to hit early in the count and try to be aggressive towards him early in the game, and we were able to score four off of him.
Q. And the quality of at-bats that you’re having with such a long layoff, do you attribute that to you just had enough at-bats in Tampa? Is there something about the adrenaline that helps? How do you get in the flow so quickly?
AARON HICKS: You know, it has a lot to do with the people that helped me get here, the staff down there at the minor league complex really got me going, giving me whatever I needed, machines, BP on the field, all the stuff to get me prepared for the postseason. And it’s pretty much those people that got me ready.
And then when I got here, obviously playing in the games is the adrenaline, it’s being able to compete and wanting to compete and be here is kind of what’s got me here.
Q. The Astros did not announce who they will start tomorrow. As a hitter how sort of unusual is that experience going into a game like that, especially a playoff game? In what ways does that affect how you prepare for it?
AARON HICKS: I mean, not knowing — it’s kind of been a part of this game now. You’ve got guys that are openers, so it’s kind of one of those deals where you kind of have to get ready for anything. But you just prepare the same. You do video on pretty much all of their bullpen guys, because it’s probably going to be a bullpen guy that starts. And once the word gets out of who’s starting, I feel like we have enough time to look at video and get a solid game plan.
Q. After you got hurt some people wondered if you’d actually ever make it back. Did that cross your mind and how do you stay positive in a situation like that?
AARON HICKS: It was kind of one of those random things for me. It was to a point where I got my second opinion and it was the worst thing to hear. To hear you’re going to have Tommy John and your season is going to end is something that isn’t what you want to hear.
But I was — good thing I was messing around in the backyard with my buddy and kind of started throwing because if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have this opportunity to play in the postseason, and grind and try to win with my team.
Q. After you got the lead for the team, Paxton was awesome. What most impressed you about him and the way he was able to stay in there?
AARON HICKS: He was attacking the zone really well. You could tell his fastball was working and slider was working. And he was attacking the zone, and that’s what you need to do against hitters like this. He was pitching in, he was pitching effectively, and he was getting strikeouts when he needed it. And for him, that’s extremely awesome to see because he’s been attacking the zone well.
Q. On the home run you kind of dropped your bat and the stadium was kind of quiet for a second, because nobody was sure it was going to be fair or not. What was that moment like? Were you just staring at the pole? Did you feel that the stadium was waiting to see what was going to happen there?
AARON HICKS: No, I felt like I hit — I knew I hit it well. I felt like I stayed inside the ball well enough for it to be fair. And that’s kind of like my thing, kind of staying up on home runs like that, especially when I know I’ve got it. It definitely had a lot more spin on it than I thought. But it was able to stay fair and put us up right there.
Q. Can you take us through that at-bat pitch by pitch, like what you were thinking?
AARON HICKS: What I was thinking?
Q. Like, that second pitch seems pretty close to the one you swung through. I’m wondering if you saw something there.
AARON HICKS: I mean, the first three pitches seemed to go kind of quick. I just felt like I just needed to slow down and see the ball.
I think I got two fastballs after that up in the zone and I saw them very well. That’s kind of where I was at. I needed to see — needed a fastball to get comfortable. And then that’s kind of where the confidence started to build that all I need to do was see the pitch, see the pitch and read the pitch.
And that’s kind of what I’ve been doing this whole postseason is kind of seeing the ball and reacting. I was able to get a slider right there up in the zone and I was able to hit it well and keep it fair.
Q. How do you slow yourself down there after the first couple?
AARON HICKS: You’ve got to breathe. That’s what it comes down to. Kind of breathe through it. I tend to take a long time in the box and kind of breathe through every single pitch. That’s kind of what calmed me down.
Q. Obviously the first five games in the series or four games in the series, there’s a lot of missed opportunities on offense, but tonight obviously you get the big home run. What can this do for you guys as an offense? Obviously Verlander settled down, but what can finally getting that big hit do for you guys?
AARON HICKS: I mean, we got opportunity today, and we took advantage of it. That’s huge for an offense to be able to take advantage of an opportunity and score runs the way we do. We’re a very effective team when we’re seeing the ball well and we’re hitting pitches where they need to be hit. That’s kind of what we need to do.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
October 18, 2019
New York, New York – postgame 5
New York 4, Houston 1
Q. You seemed to feel good about your fastball tonight. Is that a feel thing as the game went on, is that part of your plan? You seemed to throw it more than the curveball?
JAMES PAXTON: I had a good feel for the fastball tonight and I was putting it in some good spots. Had good command of the high fastball tonight so we went to that a lot.
Q. What was the conversation like with you and Aaron when he came out to talk to you in the 6th?
JAMES PAXTON: Well, I saw him walking out and he didn’t point to the dugout — or to the bullpen. So usually when he does that, he’s going to have a conversation with me. And he gave me the chance to compete and keep on going. I wanted it. And I did everything I could.
When that ball went up I was begging to stay in and it did, and just got fired up. It was awesome.
Q. The way the first inning started, did it take you a while to get into a rhythm? That was a rough inning.
JAMES PAXTON: Yeah. It was a lot of nerves, was fired up, and I think I was just overthrowing a little bit early. They put some good swings on the ball and I was missing my spots a little bit, walking a couple of guys.
Just had to battle through it.
Q. You looked pretty fired up when DJ caught that foul ball. What did you think off the bat and following the trajectory of the ball?
JAMES PAXTON: That was a huge play. Every out is huge and for him to shorten that inning by making that catch was big time.
Q. What was your mindset coming into this game tonight? Did it feel like an elimination game to you and what were your nerves like?
JAMES PAXTON: Absolutely. Nerves were huge, but that’s all part of it. My goal was to go out there and give it everything I had for my team. I wasn’t ready to go home yet so I wanted to go out and give my team everything I had and just battle away. And that’s what I did out there, and it worked out.
Q. Just following up on an earlier question about when Booney came out to the mound. You said he gave you a chance to stay in. Does that mean you had to convince him? It something you said? Was it a conversation back and forth between you?
JAMES PAXTON: There wasn’t a lot said. He just said, Are you ready? Do you have anything more left in the tank? And I said, Yeah, let’s go. I want this.
Q. Considering how last night ended and tonight began, was there anything you had to do, especially after the first inning, to collect yourself to be, This could still be a winning night for me, and how did you do that?
JAMES PAXTON: I’ve had lots of practice with that this year, I’ve given up lots of first — a lot of runs in the first inning. And I’ve had to learn how to keep on battling, especially with our offense. If I can keep that number low in the first inning, we’ve got a chance.
I was taking it one pitch at a time after that and just grinding and giving everything I had out there.
Q. On Chirinos’ pitch, were you trying to go in on him? Did you feel you got it in where you wanted to?
JAMES PAXTON: I was trying to go in. I was trying to go up and in, and I missed down. And he put a good swing on it, and I’m glad it stayed in the yard.
Q. You’ve talked a lot about a lot of different firsts this year, being with the Yankees and going through things. Was this like anything you can compare to in your career playing in this kind of game?
JAMES PAXTON: No, this is definitely the biggest game in my career. The first two postseason games definitely helped prepare me for this. This was even more so intensity-wise.
But I feel like with that experience I was able to find a way, calm myself a little bit more than the games before, and execute better.
Q. Considering the importance of this win, do you feel like it is your best performance as a Yankee player?
JAMES PAXTON: It was my best performance in a big situation, for sure. This is the postseason. I had better games this season but as far as moments and needing to do what I did, this is definitely the biggest game for me.
I didn’t do it alone. The team was fantastic today behind me playing great defense. And Gary did a great job behind the plate calling the game.
Q. When the Yankees traded for you, obviously they had high expectations and you had a great year, did you think about this kind of night when that trade was made? Do you see this stage as like a platform for you to take that next level in this game?
JAMES PAXTON: Yeah, when you think of the Yankees you think of the postseason. They pride themselves on winning, and that’s what we do here. I knew that I’d probably get an opportunity of pitching the postseason, and that’s what I wanted to do. That’s what I wanted to do when I came here, and that’s what we’re doing now.
It’s been a great experience and I want to keep on going.
Q. You said a bunch of times through the playoffs that the rotation totally understands why you’re pitching shorter outings, why he goes to the bullpen sooner, when you know that’s a possibility, is there anything where you’re trying to push and prove to the manager that you can go deeper into the game when you know it’s something you have to sell almost batter to batter?
JAMES PAXTON: That wasn’t really on my mind. For me, as long as the ball is in my hand, I’m going to go out there and give 100 percent, everything I have. When he takes it away, he takes it away. This is about the team; isn’t about me. We have a great team, a great bullpen.
I wasn’t thinking about that at all. I was just going as hard as I could the whole time I was out there.
Q. After the sixth inning when the stadium acknowledged CC, you were sitting right next to him. What’s he saying to you during the game and what kind of value can he add from the bench for the rest of however long it goes?
JAMES PAXTON: We didn’t talk tonight. We talked more between games. He talked to me after the game a little bit — or after I came out of the game obviously. He’s just got so much experience. He was telling me before this a while back, this was before the postseason started, I think, just how it’s the same baseball game. And you get used to the nerves as you get more experience. It’s the same game, just bigger stakes.
And if you can go out there and have the same approach that you have in the regular season, you’re going to be able to give yourself the best opportunity for success.
Q. Just when you walked off the mound after the first, you guys are down 1-0, you walk back for the second, you’re up 4-1, what was that mental swing like after you got the lead and then pitched with the lead?
JAMES PAXTON: Honestly, I would have done the same thing if we hadn’t scored those four runs. That being said, those four runs were huge. To jump on a pitcher as good as Verlander and get ahead like that, just really — it maybe allowed me to be a bit more aggressive in spots that we may not have been. So that was big.
But I was taking it one pitch at a time and grinding the whole time. I would have done that no matter what.
Q. You’ve mentioned throughout the postseason feeling the adrenaline out there. How are you better controlling that and are you finding it easier to do so as you go?
JAMES PAXTON: I think it’s just happening naturally with experience. Feeling that for the first time in the DS, I couldn’t feel my body the entire time. It was just numb. Just the experience of going out there is getting more and more comfortable each time out. And I just feel like I have more feel with my body.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
October 18, 2019
New York, New York – postgame 5
New York 4, Houston 1
Q. Do you know yet who you’ll start in Game 6 or how you’ll handle the pitching situation?
AJ HINCH: No, we’ll talk about it on the plane ride home.
Q. Can you tell us what happened with Verlander there in the first inning and how he was able to get back on track?
AJ HINCH: Yeah, he was incredible after the first. They felt really good about going into the bottom of the first. We had put up a run and then we were just barely a few feet away from putting up a second run with Bregman’s bullet to left field. And then we go into the bottom of the first, LeMahieu took a couple big swings, hits the homer and woke up the building. And Judge hit a pitch he hasn’t pulled hardly at all this season for the bullet base hit. And then Torres did what Torres has been doing this series, which is pretty good at-bat, snuck a ball inside the line. And then Hicks had a really good at-bat in a mistake slider for a homer off the foul pole 315 feet away.
I thought he recovered great and did his best to continue to keep us in the game, because that was a great recovery after an inning that looked like it was spiraling away from him. The two balls that they hit, unfortunately, went out of the ballpark.
Q. How much are you considering replacing Yordan Alvarez in the lineup tomorrow?
AJ HINCH: He’ll be there. He’ll DH and bat 7th.
Q. Just for a little more detail, when you decide what you’re going to do tomorrow, is it basically a bullpen game?
AJ HINCH: It will be a bullpen game.
Q. And you’ll save Cole if there’s a Game 7?
AJ HINCH: I said it would be a bullpen game tomorrow, and I’m unlikely to use Cole, correct.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports