October 19, 2019
Houston – postgame 6
Houston 6, New York 4
Q. At this point, what else can you say about Altuve?
AJ HINCH: I don’t know. I’ve said things for five years now, I’ve talked about how great this guy is, and he continues to exceed expectations. It’s not easy to deliver the way he does.
The playoff version of him is spectacular. We talk about his Division Series homers and then his attention to detail in every facet of the game. He’s turned himself into a star in his career here, and yet he’s remained humble, he’s remained hungry. He’s driven. He’s engaging with his teammates. It’s the same old quote of: Everything that’s right about the Astros is Jose Altuve. He’s been here the longest and seen this organization grow from the ground up.
I’m so proud of him. I’m so fortunate to be his manager.
Q. Your bullpen certainly showed it could hold its own with the Yankees in this series. Tonight you had three different relievers come in with more than at least two men on, two out, get out of the situation. Can you talk about the way they responded. And in regard to Pressly specifically, is he available for the World Series?
AJ HINCH: What a job by our bullpen to log all those innings. And you could go man by man and describe, whether it’s Peacock getting into the game, Josh James coming in and getting him out of his jam, to Ryan Pressly comes in with a big out, and then Urquidy, who’s relatively untested, certainly on this stage, against a team like that, comes through with huge innings. Will Harris, Osuna had a little hiccup at the end, but LeMahieu is just about as tough an out as anybody in the league, and then we bounce back.
It’s not easy to get through the lineup that many times. There’s a ton of traffic, there were a lot of high-leverage outs that were needed by our pen. But I do think our pen took it personal that they were kind of disregarded as an impactful part of this series. That it was going to be about the Yankee bullpen and their power, and the Yankee lineup and their power. Our pen stood up for themselves and delivered at the biggest moment on the biggest stage.
As far as Pressly goes, he did tweak his knee, as you saw on that play, I’m sure you saw the replay. I am expecting him to be ready. It’s the World Series, it will be all hands on deck. But obviously he’ll be evaluated over the next couple of days.
Q. Earlier in the game Gurriel with his home run, he hasn’t had a lot of results but he’s hit the ball harder than basically everybody that played in this series. So what does that say about how big that home run was and then how it helped you be able to set everything up?
AJ HINCH: I felt the opposite effect when Hicks hit the homer in Game 5. And their building woke up and it was electric. And they jumped out and got a big lead. And I felt that same energy from our side. And Yuli has been the unluckiest guy on our team when it comes to results, but his resolve has been great. His at-bats were always really good.
Even the pitch he hit was incredible that he could get to it and hit the ball out of the ballpark. He hits a lot of home runs in this park. And he hung with it.
I think when we get that lead and the building is alive and our dugout is alive, and it’s too early to start counting outs at that point, but you’re like, We have a real chance here and put ourselves in a really good position.
It’s nice when you take the lead, especially in an elimination game on the other side, it puts an immense amount of pressure on those guys. It wouldn’t surprise me that Yuli was in the middle of it, because he’s been mere feet away from being in the middle of virtually every good thing that’s happened to us offensively in this series.
Q. Last night you told us that it felt good coming home 3-2. How great does it feel to win the pennant in front of the home crowd here?
AJ HINCH: It’s incredible. These fans stuck with us through the whole game. It’s late, we’re playing long games, there’s a million pitching changes today. There’s the emotion early in the game, and we asked them to carry that for four hours. And playoff baseball is like the four-hour game is the regular.
This is one of the best places to play. We’ve learned how to win together I think as a fan base, as an organization, it’s the players and the coaches, and we feed off of that energy. And to reward them with that experience of the walk-off homer, give them a chance to just go crazy at close to midnight and know that we’ve got more baseball to be played. We still have home-field for the World Series. It’s why we worked our tail off to get as many wins as we could. It is for them. We want to hang another flag for them, and we’re four wins away.
Q. Urquidy gave you two and two-thirds, gave up the home run but that was it. How big was that in the middle of the game?
AJ HINCH: Huge.
Q. And going forward what do you see?
AJ HINCH: Sure. He was incredible tonight. And what’s hard for a young player is not really knowing what was going to happen or how he was going to be used. It probably would have been easier on him emotionally just to start the game and have the normal routine, and we weren’t going to do that. And we told him we weren’t sure if or when he was going to pitch but the way the game was progressing and we went through a lot of pitching early, we don’t win this game if Urquidy doesn’t come in and get the outs that he did at the time in which he did to turn it over to the back end of the bullpen.
He’s been very versatile for us. He’s incredibly poised in front of the fans and facing the Yankees. It’s pretty daunting to look up there and see Aaron Judge and LeMahieu, Gary S�nchez, and names that he’s recognized forever, and he held his own and did an incredible job. I look forward to watching him pitch in the World Series.
Q. Could you speak to your defense, the double plays, the catch by Reddick in the outfield, and then how close as you’re watching the play go on Springer climbing the wall to just miss the home run?
AJ HINCH: Our defense was incredible. I’ve said all along that I think our defense is underrated. It’s a good part of our team. Some of the other parts of our team are more exceptional and I think it knocks our defense a little bit. But we made plays today, the double play by Altuve and Correa.
Brantley’s catch. I was watching him — I didn’t even think about the throw when he dove. He doesn’t dive head first very often. If that doesn’t tell you what playoff baseball is all about. To bounce up and throw a bullet to first base, nice play by Yuli on the other end, that wasn’t an easy play.
We just continued to take opportunities away from them defensively. That’s the play-making side of defense that was remarkable.
And George, I don’t know if I saw him close to it or I was wishing him to be close to it. I was wondering, is he as good a jumper as Reddick? I’m just to do anything — fan interfere with it, do something to keep that ball in play. And — don’t really interfere, I don’t mean that. I know you’re laughing. It’s just I wanted it so badly for our team, we were so close.
And when George got back in he told me he just — he barely missed it. But I haven’t seen it. But I don’t really care now.
Q. How much of a role do you think postseason experience plays when you have that deflating home run by LeMahieu and you get right back off the mat?
AJ HINCH: I think it has to play a little into it just that we’ve been here before. We’ve played some remarkable games, not only in this ballpark, but just in the playoffs in general. And that emotional swing is eased a little bit with experience and having been there, done that.
And the resolve on this team. I think we talk all the time about the talent on this team. I think the resolve and the steady heads on this team, and just — we still play with a chip on our shoulder, which is good. We play with some mojo. And I think all of that adds into find a way to win the game.
And two outs and nobody on and George Springer is up, everybody is on the top step thinking we have an opportunity. When he draws the walk, there’s so many different ways for that combo of players to produce a win, but the homer is the best way.
Q. Obviously you guys would take the situation, whether it took six or seven games. But just to be able to do it in six and to save Cole. What does that mean moving forward and how nice is that to be able to have him?
AJ HINCH: It’s incredible to finish a series at any point. I think the nerves and the unpredictability that come with game 7s are miserable.
I said at the beginning of this series when we lined up our pitching after the rainout we wanted to win as fast as possible. And that was, one, is to get a little bit of rest before the World Series; and No. 2, it’s the easiest way to line things up moving forward.
So not getting pushed to the brink of Game 7 and having to use not just Gerrit, but it would have been the entire bullpen again in some capacity was going to be up had we got to that. We’re lined up better to give ourselves a chance to win another World Championship.
Q. A little more on the Correa double play. Apparently his throw was the hardest on a double play since they’ve been tracking this stuff. And his accuracy is something that he makes it look easy. How special is he compared to just the average fielder in that situation?
AJ HINCH: He’s a game changer. And this year it’s been a roller coaster ride for him health-wise. And we’ve missed his presence. It’s not just the routine plays, there’s a lot of guys in the League that can make the routine plays, but there’s a section of plays that very few guys can make, whether it’s making up time on a double play like that, throwing it, I don’t know what it was registered at, 98 miles an hour or whatever it was, to the long throw in the hole to just the mere presence in the middle of the field, it’s just irreplaceable.
And when you make plays like that, the jolt of energy that comes with a double play like that, they’re game-changing plays.
Q. I was curious about the chip on the shoulder. Why do you feel like y’all still have that, even though you’ve won a World Series and so close to going back last year?
AJ HINCH: We play with an edge. I think even going into this series I think we won the most games in baseball, and it’s nice to feel like you’ve still got to push a little bit for the credit this group deserves.
And I think it’s winning drives this team. It’s really all that drives us and each other and the players. The players do an unbelievable job of pushing one another.
So you’ve got a lot of guys in there that deserve the credit for putting the work in, but more importantly, deserve the credit for the performance. And again, I’m not going to play that everybody doubts us all the time, but everybody expects things to — you’re not going to repeat.
We got to the ALCS Game 5 last year, and a couple of wins away from the World Series, and that was deemed a disappointment. And that pisses off Major League players. And so we came back this year and got back to the World Series and we’re going to try to tack on to their r�sum�s a lot of these guys.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports