“I’m 32 and I’m still nervous before every game of the postseason, every game. I think it’s something I can build on, but at the same time learning how to control that and maybe take a step back, do a little bit of breathing, slow the game down, which a lot of people who are so great at on this team.” — JOSH REDDICK.

October 23, 2019

Josh Reddick

Houston, Texas – pregame 2

Q. As a guy who’s had a lot of catcher interferences in your career, is it something that should be reviewable, especially after a situation like last night?
JOSH REDDICK: Way before the situation last night. I think it should be something that needs to be looked at because, you look at last night and that inning keeps moving on and there’s a tying run, bases loaded and one out with Jose-y up and this little squibbler up the line, if anything, he come home. But I think we tie right there. Hundred percent it should be a reviewable play.

Q. Is that frustrating when you hit the mitt and the call is not there?
JOSH REDDICK: Absolutely. Yeah, it’s very frustrating. Just look back at it and see what kind of things could have happened at that point.

It’s just one way that the game just hasn’t changed yet.

Q. I know there’s a lot of baseball left to be played, Carlos said last night that he and you are looking at this as a must-win. Do you see it that way?
JOSH REDDICK: It possibly can be, yeah. You definitely don’t want to go down 0-2 at your home ballpark, especially in these circumstances.

But I think one thing we did do positive last night was work a lot of pitches out of Max Scherzer, their bullpen early and kind of put them against the ropes to get their guys out there early. I think that’s one thing we can take away from this game is we got a look at their best guys, and that definitely will help us out later down the road.

Q. Does it change any mindset when you think this is a must-win type deal?
JOSH REDDICK: Yeah, but I don’t think we go into it like that. A lot of people can look at it as a must-win. Like I said, you obviously want to take the split out of here and go to their house and do a lot better.

But I don’t think there’s anything talk about must-win. I think we all realize that it probably is, but we’re not approaching it like that.

Q. Obviously you guys have hit with runners in scoring position beautifully, and then hit a little bit of a dry spell in the postseason. Is that a matter of getting one or two, and then as you’ve told us so many times, one of those builds on the next and the next and the next, and you guys pass the baton, as you like to say?
JOSH REDDICK: Absolutely, yeah. It’s crazy because we talk about it all the time, or at least I do, about how we haven’t even gotten to be our offense that we normally are yet, and we’re still here in World Series, competing and losing by one run. That’s definitely one thing.

Once this lineup does click, and obviously it needs to click soon before it’s too late and we’re sitting on the couch. Once we do, I think it’s going to be a scary situation for those guys over there because we can put up quick numbers pretty fast.

Q. Strasburg has been terrific in the postseason. What has been your experience over the years facing him?
JOSH REDDICK: It’s been very limited for me. I got him I think with the Dodgers and once here. I think you go into these at-bats expecting to strike out against a guy like that. He has so many that he usually gets them, but you have to zone in. When he gives you one in you zone you can’t miss it because that’s probably going to be the only one you get.

Q. Has there been throughout for you any tricks to handling the pressure of the postseason, you treat it like a normal game, some players say they’re nervous their first time up? Can you focus on and put all the distractions out of your head?
JOSH REDDICK: I’m 32 and I’m still nervous before every game of the postseason, every game. I think it’s something I can build on, but at the same time learning how to control that and maybe take a step back, do a little bit of breathing, slow the game down, which a lot of people who are so great at on this team.

But I was telling the guys yesterday I was holding my hand out, it was shaking a little bit. This is exciting, this is the World Series. Why wouldn’t you want to be excited? But at the same time, nerves do kick in whether it’s your first one or your second one. I look to it as a positive.

Q. Does stepping out and exhaling do it for you?
JOSH REDDICK: Sometimes. Sometimes. Not all the time. There’s a lot of different times where I’ve got to take a little bit more of an approach and kind of go down and get out of the situation, sit underneath the tunnel, and just get away from the game a little bit. Sometimes that tends to help.

Q. Last night Soto said after the game he said it helped battling against Cole in Spring Training. Do you have any insight against this pitching staff that you played them that much in Spring Training or was it overrated?
JOSH REDDICK: Probably something overlooked and overrated. I didn’t even know until you just told me that Gerrit even faced those guys. So it must have been a situation where it was his day to throw and at home.

The positive thing about having to share a stadium with those guys is you do play them so much. Maybe that could have been something for him to look back on, he had good at-bats off him in Spring Training. If it’s something you feel like a positive then so be it.

But I don’t know, I just think it’s a coincidence.

Q. Do you remember anything about Stras?
JOSH REDDICK: I don’t think I faced him — yeah, did I face him in Spring — yeah, I did. Fastballs and I think a lot of changeups off of him. Could be something I could be potentially looking for at this point to kind of look at. Was it last year, two years ago we faced him and I got a lot of off-speed and a lot of fastballs late.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

“They’ve got a little bit of everything so I think it’s just knowing how you want to attack certain guys and not just fall into the pattern of just throwing the same pitch to start guys off or finish guys and really just take it one pitch at a time and focus in on that.” — STEPHEN STRASBURG.

October 22, 2019

Stephen Strasburg

Houston, Texas – pregame 1

Q. You’ve talked about the importance of your routine for performance this year. What are some of the most important aspects of that, specifically anything that you found to be particularly impactful?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: I think the biggest thing is not wavering from it. It’s not trying to work on things over the course of the season and kind of just let the chips fall.

Q. Is there anything you can learn from watching tonight’s game or is most of that done just with your usual video scouting and whatnot?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: Yeah, I think it’s — I always try and pay attention to every game. Try and put yourself out there in certain situations. You try and see if — the homework that you’ve been doing matches up with what you see on the field.

Q. With the change-up, is that such a feel thing that you know you have a feel for it in the bullpen beforehand or can you regain it over the course of a night?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: Yeah, I mean, you try not to put too much stock in your bullpen. You try and treat it as a time to get loose and get mentally prepared. There’s been many games where I’ve been lights out in the bullpen and not so much out there in the game. There’s been many times where I didn’t really have a feel for anything, go out there and all of a sudden it just comes to me.

So you kind of just learn over the years that, again, it’s a time to get loose. And when it’s time to go out there and pitch, you go out there and compete with what you have.

Q. AJ Hinch was just saying that if some of his players are nervous, he kind of wants them to embrace that because it’s the World Series, it’s not just any old regular game. Have you felt any heightened sense of adrenaline throughout these playoffs and do you feel like you might feel any different tomorrow?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: Yeah, I think it’s natural. It just shows that you care. And I think everybody in the clubhouse cares, and we care about each other. You’re going to get the butterflies. Done it enough time that the more you try and settle in, the more it gets. And I think it’s beneficial to just play wherever you’re at. You know it’s going to be a storm out there. You’re going to weather it.

Q. Jose Altuve is certainly unique. We hardly have ever seen, given his stature and what he’s been able to do. Are you amazed facing him? What do you think when you see a guy like that who is not a big slugger but yet he’s able to do a lot of damage?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: Yeah, I mean, I’ve faced him a handful of times. I think for me the guys that I respect around the League is how they go about their business, and I think he’s one of the best in that aspect. He’s a true professional and I think he plays the game the right way.

Q. I’m curious if you watched every game of the ALCS and do you chart pitches, take notes or just get a feel for anything?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: Yeah, I watched a little bit. But, again, it’s kind of beneficial that we share a Spring Training complex with them. You look at some things that they might be doing differently, but for the most part hitters don’t really change too much over the years.

Q. Anything special jump out at you about their lineup?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: They’ve got a little bit of everything so I think it’s just knowing how you want to attack certain guys and not just fall into the pattern of just throwing the same pitch to start guys off or finish guys and really just take it one pitch at a time and focus in on that.

Q. You’ve pitched in some big games but perhaps nothing like you’re going to see tomorrow night. How do you think you’ll react and what’s it going to be like for you when you take the mound in the World Series?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: I don’t know. I’ve never done it before. I know what I expect of myself. I’m going to hold true to that. That’s all I can really control. My approach is everything and how I respond to whatever happens once the ball leaves my hand is just as important.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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“I think they have a really good mix. They have speed. They have power. They have patience. They have play coverage. I haven’t really done all my homework yet. They present a lot of challenges for a starting pitcher, especially when you’ve got to get them out more than one time in multiple ways. And obviously the two guys that are in the middle have kind of carried them thus far. Tough outs.” –JUSTIN VERLANDER.

October 22, 2019

Justin Verlander

Houston, Texas – pregame 1

Q. How does this team compare to the team two years ago?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, very similar in kind of the core but I think some of the new acquisitions or new young guys that have stepped in are extremely dynamic.

I hesitate to say that this team is better or worse. I think we’re both unique. If we’re able to win this thing maybe then I could say that this team was better. But right now it’s yet to be determined.

Q. What’s it been like for you just to see this run that Gerrit has been on and how tremendous he’s been, just consistently, each time he takes the mound?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, just amazing. It’s been the best run I’ve seen in a starting pitcher in my career. And just incredible to watch just the execution, the stuff. You look at a game like New York in his last start when he didn’t have his best stuff and was still able to go out and dominate. It takes stuff like that to be able to do that because you’re not going to have your best control or your best stuff every single game.

But when you look at the big picture, all of the weapons he has at his disposal to get guys out, when it’s all clicking, it always works; but when it’s not, if you can still make it work and be dominant as he was, it’s pretty special.

Q. Just go over the Nationals lineup and the challenges that they present.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think they have a really good mix. They have speed. They have power. They have patience. They have play coverage. I haven’t really done all my homework yet. They present a lot of challenges for a starting pitcher, especially when you’ve got to get them out more than one time in multiple ways. And obviously the two guys that are in the middle have kind of carried them thus far. Tough outs.

Q. How much does it help you that you’ve been there and done that in this situation?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don’t know if it does. I think you know what to expect out of the nerves and the anxiousness, but it doesn’t make it go away.

Q. The 2014 season, what did you kind of do between then and now to make that pivot and still be as effective as you are at this stage of your career?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I had core surgery in the beginning of January of ’14. So I really — I went out and pitched but I wasn’t healthy, definitely the whole body hurt, arm hurt. So then going into that offseason I made massive adjustments in pretty much everything I do from my body maintenance to my workouts in the offseason to in-season maintenance to my throwing mechanics, and Howie paid attention to all that.

So looking back at it it was probably the lowest point in my career, physically and mentally. But had I not gone through that process, I don’t know if I’d be the pitcher I am now at my age. So honestly, I look back and I’m thankful that I didn’t seriously hurt myself, and I’m also thankful for the lessons I learned in that time.

Q. We know you love Jose Altuve. What makes him a guy you love to have on your team? And what makes him a guy that baseball fans even outside of Houston can love?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: You see the passion he plays with. You see the energy he plays with. You see the fun he has. That’s just the person he is. It’s not a facade. He’s that person in the locker room, he lifts everybody up. He never comes in in a bad mood. He’s always jovial. He’s such a superstar, and he doesn’t act that way. He’s so humble. Always fun to be around. Always wanting to learn and get better. Best teammate. That’s all you can really say about him.

Q. I know your focus is all on you and what you have to do against who you’re pitching to, but on some level do you even think about the opponent and what that guy presents and knowing that the margin of error might be dependent on a particular night?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: You try not to. You get a feel for it in the course of a game. Once the game starts, hopefully I go through my inning and then you kind of see where he’s at, if he’s locked in or not. And this is really kind of routine for any game that you start. Obviously it’s magnified in the postseason. But you kind of get an idea pretty early on if he’s locked in or not, and if it’s going to be a tight ball game, or if one run matters or two runs matter.

So yeah, you do pay attention but you don’t really think about it before the game starts.

Q. Looking back with the perspective of two-plus years, do you think you’ve benefited from the challenge of going to a new team and having to prove yourself in the clubhouse again?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, I mean, I do. I feel very comfortable here and it’s not — I think that’s more of a testament to my teammates than it is anything I did. These guys were tremendous and just made me feel welcome right away.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Personally the motivation, no. I’ve always been extremely self-motivated. I wouldn’t say that that changed anything. Being thrust right in the middle of a playoff run and then finding yourself in the World Series a month later or month and a half later was pretty compelling but it didn’t change anything personally.

Q. You’ve been on this stage before. And I’m sure tomorrow you’ll keep a lot of your routine the same. Will there be anything different tomorrow because it is the World Series, whether that’s how you feel or who’s in town or anything?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, I mean, who’s in town. There’s a lot of family. There’s a lot of stuff going on. But I think at this point my family and I are pretty accustomed to what goes on in the playoffs and they all know, kind of like tonight and tomorrow I’m going to be in my own world and do my own thing and just try to be in my routine as much as possible.

You know that the nerves are going to be higher. Your body knows it’s not a regular start. Going to sleep tonight is not going to be the same as normal. But having done it before, I don’t know if it helps, it’s definitely not going to calm you down any more, but I know what to expect going into it.

And having a routine does definitely help because it’s like from the minute I wake up I kind of start my routine and I guess that kind of helps calm the nerves just a little bit.

Q. On paper does it give the Astros a big advantage with Gerrit pitching on full rest and the Nats not having played in six days?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: On paper, no. I mean, you have to be seen. I don’t know, I’ve been a part of two World Series teams that had a long time off before the series started, and I felt like we came out flat. But there’s also been other teams that had a long time off and came out really hot. Who knows?

I don’t think that should really be a story line. See what happens.

Q. Just off line here from the game, at 36 years old and with 225 wins, we’ve talked about this before, how close do you think at this point you could still get to 300?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: What a time for that question (laughter).

I think I can get pretty darn close. We’ll see. I feel good. Like I said to an earlier question, I think the changes I’ve made the last few years to my body and how I pay attention to things is going to allow me to pitch deeper than I would have otherwise.

It’s definitely a goal of mine.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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“Yeah, it’s been a long ride, I think. And this year has been, especially the year to start the way we did and the way we’ve been playing the last couple of months. First at-bat to hit a home run and run around the bases, you’re kind of almost floating around the bases.” –RYAN ZIMMERMAN.

October 22, 2019

Juan Soto

Ryan Zimmerman

Houston, Texas – postgame 1

Washington 5, Houston 4

Q. Juan, seemed to be seeing the ball pretty well. What’s happening at the plate?
JUAN SOTO: Last couple of days we’ve been working on it, tried to keep — staying that way, hit the ball to the other way, middle of the way, try to hit the ball as deep as I can, and just hit it.

Q. Juan, Gerrit Cole hasn’t lost a start since May 22nd. What did you see out there tonight that you were able to get to him?
JUAN SOTO: For me he’s really good. He’s been throwing a lot of good pitches today. I’m glad I face him in Spring Training, too. So I know how the ball — how the ball going to be, how high it going to be, the curveball, the slider, everything, because I face him in Spring Training.

And just try to — I got the report, he throw a lot of fastball, he likes to throw the fastball. I just sit there and waited for the fastball.

Q. Juan, 20 years old, on the big stage to do what you’ve done, how does that feel?
JUAN SOTO: (Answer in Spanish.)

Q. Ryan, you waited a long time for this, can you just walk us through your emotions and your feelings after the home run, as well?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: Yeah, it’s been a long ride, I think. And this year has been, especially the year to start the way we did and the way we’ve been playing the last couple of months. First at-bat to hit a home run and run around the bases, you’re kind of almost floating around the bases.

In order to be able to do that is obviously what you work for. It’s what not only you sacrifice for but what your family sacrifices for. That’s why you play the game, to play on the biggest stage.

And to be able to get some runs off a guy like Gerrit, that guy has been the best pitcher in baseball for the last, whatever, four months. He’s a special pitcher and we had a good plan tonight, we executed, and luckily for us he made some mistakes.

I have a feeling we’re going to see him again. We respect the heck out of them and we know we’ve got a long way to go.

Q. Ryan, you have been playing with Soto for a year and a half, whatever it’s been here. Do you still kind of marvel at the things he was able to do tonight or were you expecting that?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: You can always tell the young guys that come up that can slow the game down. I always say that, and everyone kind of says, What does that mean? It means at any moment, at any time you can take a deep breath and you don’t try to do too much and you just stay within yourself. And it sounds easy to do, but it’s hard to do even in the regular season for a 20-, 21-year-old, whatever, and Robles, all those guys. To be able to do it on this stage, to be able to execute the plan that he had, he’s got a chance to be okay.

Q. Juan, after that first at-bat against Cole, did you make any adjustments or anything different for you or was there anything different for the rest of the game?
JUAN SOTO: For me I was thinking the same thing, be aggressive on the fastball and waiting for the fastball. He likes to throw it. He’s shown the fastball everywhere. The first couple of innings, he started throwing it and throwing it and throwing it. I just waiting for that. After the first at-bat I was like, He’s throwing really hard. But I just try to sit back and hit the ball all the way.

Q. After the year and a half you’ve had here in the big leagues is there any method to how you deal with pressure situations that allows you to produce so much at times that would seem hard for a young player to do?
JUAN SOTO: I’ve been working on that since my first day in the big leagues. Sometimes I just put gum in my mouth, but most of the time just take a deep breath and focus. It’s just the pitcher and me. Everybody around, I forget about everybody around. It’s just you and me and you try to make me out and that’s how everything comes down and try to enjoy it.

Q. When Davey was in here he said when Zimm hit the home run his eyes watered up a little bit because he just felt so good for him. Can you talk about what the reaction was while Zimm was running the bases. Zimm, I know you talked about when you were running the bases. Talk about what it was like when you got back to the dugout?
JUAN SOTO: For me everything change. After they made that two runs and then we come back and get another one and they can get the shut out inning, it feels everybody happy again. Everybody was a little bit down. But after that homer everybody think we’ve got a chance, after we hit the homer against a guy like that, everybody think we’ve got a chance now. He’s been doing really well but he make a mistake, so he going to make it again and we’ll get it.

Q. Ryan, you hit the homer, but you guys had a pretty good day in the field. You had a nice pick. Can you tell me where you are defensively from a focus standpoint?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: I think that’s been a big part of our team all year. I think with our pitchers, if we can not give more than 27 outs it’s going to be tough to score runs. And I think our left-sided infield is one of the best in the game. And you’re playing a team like that you can’t afford to give them anything. And I think it’s been a point of what we want to do. Yeah, defense has been great. If we can play that way, not give them any extra outs with our pitchers, it’s going to be tough to score runs.

Q. You’re the fourth youngest player to hit a home run in the World Series, Andruw Jones, Mickey Mantle and Miguel Cabrera. What does that mean to you?
JUAN SOTO: (Answer in Spanish.)

Q. I wanted to ask you the significance, Juan, I don’t know if your grandfather was alive the last time Washington won a World Series game. It’s been a long time. Can you talk about the significance of just doing this when it hasn’t happened so long for the team, for the city?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: Obviously we’re a pretty young organization. You come down in ’05, you’re owned by MLB for three years, the Lerner family I think bought the team in ’08 I think that was. So really, since ’08’s when you can really count it, I guess. But.

For the city you talk about, like you’re saying, Juan’s grandfather probably wasn’t around. So we missed those generations of fans. And I think I’ve kind of grown as a player and the fans have grown at the same time, and they’ve had to learn how to be baseball fans again. We don’t have like the guy whose dad brought him to the game and now he takes his son to the game. We kind of missed that.

It’s been fun to grow with the fans, with the community, with the city, to watch them become baseball fans, to watch the neighborhood around the ballpark grow up. I’m sure they’re as excited, probably more excited than we are about the kind of ride we’ve been on.

But it’s a special thing to be a part of and we appreciate it and hopefully we can keep it going for them.

JUAN SOTO: What he say, everything. I haven’t been in the city for a long time. But since I get there I feel really comfortable with the people, everybody, the city, everybody in there make me feel at home again. How they respectful when you’re walking in the streets and other stuff. And the crowd, how they try to — they love you. So I feel really good in this city. And I think it’s going to be better and better.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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“All in all, we knew it was going to be tough. These guys are really tough to put away. They don’t strike out a lot. And they proved tonight they’re putting the ball in play and a couple of two-strike at-bats, finding some holes, hitting a few balls hard, couple of balls out of the ballpark.” –AJ HINCH.

October 22, 2019

AJ Hinch

Houston, Texas – postgame 1

WORLD SERIES GAME 1: Washington 5, Houston 4

Q. What did you think of Gerrit overall tonight?
AJ HINCH: You know, there was a lot of good with Gerrit. I think he came into the game very well and then lost a couple of key two-strike battles. The Zimmerman pitch was a mistake, and Zimmerman made him pay with a homer. He never really controlled Soto the whole night. He punched him the first at-bat and the after that Soto took some really good swings, twice against Gerrit and once again Will.

And then the fifth inning lead-off walk to lose the two-strike battle with Robles when he’s trying to bunt, gets Turner. And then Eaton hits a slider on the black, fights it off for a hit, and then Rendon hits the nondouble play, and then Soto wins probably the biggest at-bat of the game.

All in all, we knew it was going to be tough. These guys are really tough to put away. They don’t strike out a lot. And they proved tonight they’re putting the ball in play and a couple of two-strike at-bats, finding some holes, hitting a few balls hard, couple of balls out of the ballpark. That’s how they beat him.

Q. We know how good Bregman is. What do you think about the at-bats?
AJ HINCH: I’m not going to talk about games we’ve already won.

Tonight’s at-bats, these are tough games. Max Scherzer is really good. He punches out an enormous amount of guys, and he’s pitched Breg pretty tough and then a tough at-bat at the end.

Obviously they’re pitching tough to him. He’s kind of looking for the perfect pitch. You get to two strikes against elite pitching it can be even more difficult, and they put him away tonight.

Q. On Springer’s double it looked like he took several hops out of the box. Could he have been on third in that situation and possibly scored?
AJ HINCH: I’ll have to take a look at it. I didn’t see that. There was a lot going on in that play. Let me take a look at the video, I’ll talk to you about it tomorrow. I’m not sure.

Q. Just on Springer’s postseason performance. Another home run, it’s another club record, five home runs in a row in the World Series is also a World Series record.
AJ HINCH: I told them in the dugout we need to play in the World Series more often because he hits homers every single time it feels like. He’s off to a really good start. His first game in the last World Series maybe not so much but he’s picking up right where he left off.

Q. How good was it to see Yordan break out of his slump?
AJ HINCH: Yordan had some good at-bats. He lost a big at-bat with a big swing, but I think the walk early showed better discipline, couple of bullets, he almost hit one off of Scherzer, literally.

And as I said, patience is really important when you’re watching these guys. And those swings tonight can really pay dividends the next few games.

Q. You guys got the bat on the ball tonight a lot but you stranded a lot of people. That has to be frustrating.
AJ HINCH: Anytime you’re up against a really good starting pitcher, you want to take advantage of every single opportunity. You know it’s going to be a tall task.

But I liked the at-bats. I even liked our at-bats with runners in scoring position. We had a little bit of bad luck. We did chase a little bit, as you’re going to. Keep preaching, Give yourself as many opportunities as you can. The big hit eluded us a couple of times; a couple times it didn’t. Yuli Gurriel a big two-out hit, George Springer a big hit to right center field.

We’re not going to be perfect. When you look back in a close game like this, there’s probably an opportunity or two that you’d like back, but there’s also a little bit of keep pushing with these guys to give yourself as many — I thought Jose had a really good at-bat against Scherzer in the middle part of the game, got nothing to show for it, cued the ball to first base.

We are a results-oriented game, but I like the opportunities we’re creating for ourselves and making them use a lot of pitching tonight. Maybe that’s a good sign for the remainder of the series.

Q. Seemed like even after the Gurriel double, seemed like a grind for Scherzer. What did you like about your plate discipline, your approach as a whole?
AJ HINCH: Any time you come into a game with Max the threat of the long game or he gets deep into the games, you know he’s going to go until they have to tear the ball out of his hands.

I thought our at-bats early were very, very disciplined. We made him work extremely hard. You look up and he’s in the 60-pitch count after three innings. We pushed him into the 110, 111 range after five. He did win some big at-bats, and there’s no sort of moral victory in that. We left ourselves a lot of outs and made them have to navigate the game. Put a ton of pressure on both Max and their bullpen.

But at the end of the day, you have to win the game. We tried. We had good effort. We had good at-bats. But they came out ahead.

Q. What can you say about Juan Soto and his performance today, just 20 years old?
AJ HINCH: We haven’t seen him a ton in person. A little bit of Spring Training, which doesn’t count. But he was clearly the key guy that we couldn’t control tonight. His bat speed is electric. His energy and his body is as advertised. He’s calm in the moment. Clearly this is not too big a stage for him. I think he’s taking big swings early on, bounced back from the punch-out, had three really good at-bats, big hits.

He was the difference in the game.

Q. Can you articulate what makes Soto so difficult to pitch against especially given how young he is?
AJ HINCH: At this point age is sort of a number. He’s had so many at-bats at the Major League level. I don’t even look at him as young until you see his face. He’s got kind of the “it” factor. He’s got the twitch. He’s got fast hands. He’s got no fear. I think that’s big for a young hitter. Early in his career to just kind of leave it out there. It looks like he’s completely in control of enjoying the moment. And he hit all sorts of different pitches.

The first homer he hit was a pretty good — Gerrit Cole throwing a high fastball up and away, that’s not easy to do, and then to come back from that and get to a full count. Gets in the big count against Cole, doesn’t get overly too amped up and then takes a ball off the Crawford box or the wall, at least.

He’s mature. Don’t let the age fool you.

Q. You hadn’t lost a game that Gerrit Cole had pitched in over three months. He hadn’t lost a game in five months. Did you always have the feeling that sooner or later a night like this was coming? And does a night like this put that streak in some kind of perspective?
AJ HINCH: I think he’s been so good for so long that there builds this thought of invincibility and that it’s impossible to beat him. So when it happens it is a surprise to all of us because we’ve watched for months this guy completely dominate the opposition.

Which is why I want to give credit to the Nats. They came in and put really good at-bats up. Especially coming into the game where he punches out a couple guys, you get some momentum and energy in this building, he feeds off that, they were disciplined. The Suzuki walk kind of opened up everything. That’s not something that he normally does. And he usually wins the two-strike battles, as seen by the back of his baseball card, it’s going to have a lot of strikeouts on it.

It puts it all in perspective. It’s not easy to do what these guys do and the streaks they put together of dominance. We do tip our cap to it. And now our job is to win a few games to get him the ball in Game 5.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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“We put ourselves in the position to win with a couple goals in the second but we can’t keep letting teams beat us in the third and you know come back against us like Columbus did. It’s disappointing, especially against Boston. We’ve played a lot against them and we’ll keep playing a lot against them so just didn’t have enough today.” –KASPERI KAPANEN (One goal, one assist).


On tonight’s loss:
Well I actually thought we started real good in the third there, we hit the post or the crossbar. I thought we started good in the third. It was one of those games where it was a grind the whole way. There wasn’t much room for either team. I thought we hung in there great, on a back-to-back that’s what you want to do. I thought we were set up perfect. Went into the third and [Johnsson] rang one off the bar there and thought we were going good but once they got theirs I didn’t think we had anything after that even though we had a power play there late. We didn’t get anything done on that power play so that part is disappointing.  I liked our effort, I liked our preparation, I liked the plan the guys had and the way we went about it. In the end the game was right there in the third period which is what you want in the balance but we were unable to get it done.

On what he thought of the Matthews line tonight:
They’re playing against the good line so which part is the good line and which part is them. We’ve talked about this a number of times over the years, who should play with who but in the end your dominant players have to be dominant players.

On what he thought of the line up changes tonight:
I thought the [Gauthier] line was pretty good. I though Kapanen might have been our best forward to be honest with you. I thought [Petan] had a good game for himself too and [Shore] and those guys did what they’re suppose to do, they’re suppose to keep it close and be good defensively and give your players that generate the offense a chance to win the game for you.

On the notion that the players seem down on themselves:
Well I think last night we should have been but I don’t think tonight we should have been. Last night, probably deservedly so but tonight I thought we had a better effort. I don’t think it might have been the most beautiful hockey game to watch but on this back-to-back playing a good team, I thought it was set up perfect to grind-fest for us to give us a chance. I think they probably weren’t wrong last night but tonight they’re wrong. Just keep grinding and finding ways.

On the play of Hutchinson tonight:
Well I just thought we needed to get one for him. It’s unfortunate that we haven’t been able to help him get a win. He’s been in a situation with these back-to-back, obviously haven’t given him a real good opportunity but tonight I thought he made some saves for us.


On if he liked the team’s effort tonight:
Yeah at times but I still think we have more to bring. I think that we talked about putting a full 60 together and I don’t think we’re there yet. At times it was good and other times I thought we had lapses, we turned the puck over a little bit as well and against a team like that it will cost you.

On what it will take to get to the next level:
I think it’s just everyone buying in, it’s a long season and still have a long way to go but I don’t think there is one thing you can key in on.

On if back-to-backs are tougher earlier in the season:
I think back-to-backs are always tough, especially when you’re coming in against a team that’s not off a back-to-back. You’re traveling that night, it’s tiring but at the end of the day we’re use to it, we’re professionals and it’s no excuse. We have to be ready no matter the situation. We’ve got to find ways to get points in those.


On tonight’s loss:

We put ourselves in the position to win with a couple goals in the second but we can’t keep letting teams beat us in the third and you know come back against us like Columbus did. It’s disappointing, especially against Boston. We’ve played a lot against them and we’ll keep playing a lot against them so just didn’t have enough today.

On the difference in the third period tonight:
I just don’t think we spent enough time in the offensive zone and weren’t heavy on pucks. They kept on breaking out and applying pressure to our [defence] and spending a lot of time in our zone and eventually they’re going to score when the flow of the game is going like that. Like I said it’s disappointing but off day tomorrow and kind of regroup and have our mindset on the next game.


On giving his team a chance to win tonight on a tough back-to-back:
I thought I was seeing pucks well and making good reads. Boston likes to throw a lot of seam passes and a lot of passes out into the slot and I felt like I was on top of it – being able to get good reads and get my body behind most of it.

On Boston’s top line:
They’re just hard on pucks, they seem to have really good chemistry knowing where they are on the ice. Like I said, they like to throw seam passes where it almost seems like they are blind plays but there’s a guy right there and all three guys on their line can shoot too. They are definitely a dangerous line.

“I’ll keep going back to those guys in the clubhouse. I mean, I’m just a tiny piece of the puzzle. These guys, what they’ve gone through all year long, I’m super proud of them. And we come here to Houston, who’s got a really good team, and we play good baseball and we end up winning the game.” –DAVE MARTINEZ.

October 22, 2019

Dave Martinez

Houston, Texas – postgame 1

Washington – 5, Houston – 4

Q. Interesting that you followed the pattern of your pitching decision by throwing Corbin in today. Is that going to be something prevalent throughout this series as it has been in the other ones? Max, could you throw him an inning tomorrow or would you wait to the next day? You’re going to be using your guys as much as you can.
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me it’s about playing one game. And that’s what we focus on, is just worry about the game at hand and then go from there.

This is stuff, like I said, based on conversations I have with our guys and what they can do and how they feel. I don’t foresee Max coming out of the bullpen. I don’t. We need him down the road again.

But Corbin had a bunch of days off. It was his bullpen day again so I was just going to try to utilize him if we had to, and he came in and did great.

Q. Were you always going to go with Corbin for just one inning or how did that all sort of play out? And what was sort of your best-case scenario for Rainey, too, how did you want to use him?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me it was all based on how long Max can go. And Max, kudos to him. He gave us everything he had today. Those guys are good. They don’t chase. And they’re good hitters. He gave us everything he had. And as the game was rolling along and I started watching Max’s pitch count, I knew that there was going to become an inning that we need to use Corbin. And now all I wanted to do was pitch him an inning.

And Rainey has been so good for us. I thought he threw the ball well, I really did. I just finished talking to him and said, Hey, you’ll be back out there tomorrow if we need you. Keep your head up. You got a big out for us, and it was a big out. Keep your head up and let’s go.

Q. Pitch count is something that was happening, but the game was tied. What was the decision point when you said he’s got to get out there, when did you decide this is going to be it for Max?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Like I said, it’s based on a conversation I had with Max. I really felt, I was watching him, and like I said, they don’t chase much. His pitch count got up there. First inning he had a lot of pitches but he battled. And I thought that he was good. Like I said, we need him to pitch again.

And he’s endured a lot this year. For him to keep us in that ball game was huge. And going out there and finishing that fifth inning was huge.

Q. Not that Soto was in a slump, but didn’t have a great series against the Cardinals. The two balls to the opposite field, is that something he normally does when he’s kind of battling a little bit?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I mean, that’s Juan being Juan. He has to hit the ball all over the field. He’s really good at staying behind balls and hitting the ball left center field, left field. And he was really good tonight. He worked on it. We talked about this earlier, one night he sat in the cage and hit for a while and just wanted to work on just staying on the ball and going the other way.

My biggest thing with him, and I tell him all the time, is take your walks. Put yourself in a good position to hit and take your walks. But when you get a good pitch to hit, be ready to hit it.

Q. How appropriate was it for Zimm to hit the first home run for the Nationals ever in the World Series? That seemed to get you going. What was the reaction in the dugout when he did it?
DAVE MARTINEZ: They got excited. And I’ll be honest with you, my eyes got a little watery for him. He waited a long time to be in this position and for him to hit that first home run and put us on the board was awesome.

Q. Gerrit Cole hasn’t lost a start since May 22nd.
DAVE MARTINEZ: He’s really good. (Laughter.)

Q. Did you expect honestly to be able to pull this out given it’s been five months since he lost a start?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Look, as I said, he’s really good. I never doubt our guys, ever. They come out to play. We have a game plan, they stick with it. Sometimes they don’t go well, but I believe in those guys in there every single day. And they’re going to come out and play and not give up until the last out.

Q. Congratulations on the opening win. I wanted to ask you, when I got here late, I hope you haven’t been asked this already. The history of this team, Montreal, Washington. This is obviously a historic moment. Can you talk about what this means in the historic sense for this team?
DAVE MARTINEZ: It’s huge. They waited a long time to get to this position. I’m super happy that I’m a part of it. We’re elated to be here, really. The city, the fans, we’ve got the Capitals wearing helmets playing the game, they’ve got name tags up there with the big W on there. The city is going crazy.

What can I say about it? And I’ll keep going back to those guys in the clubhouse. I mean, I’m just a tiny piece of the puzzle. These guys, what they’ve gone through all year long, I’m super proud of them. And we come here to Houston, who’s got a really good team, and we play good baseball and we end up winning the game.

We’ve got to do it again tomorrow.

Q. Having used Corbin today, does it mean it’s likely or a fact that An�bal will start Game 3 in Washington?
DAVE MARTINEZ: After this press conference I’m going to sit down and talk to Pat, talk to Paul, and just see where we’re at.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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