“Honestly, it’s kind of refreshing to see a couple of teams that don’t swing and miss a ton, and change their approach based on the pitcher that’s pitching against them.” –JUSTIN VERLANDER.

October 27, 2019

Justin Verlander

Washington, D.C. – pregame 5

Q. I’m sure you’ve heard the news but in the five years you played with Max, what would be your experience for him not to make a start?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, it’s got to be pretty bad. I don’t know. Obviously it’s all speculation on my end.

But I know that he was a competitor, always wanted to take the ball. Given the situation, I’m assuming it’s not good.

Q. Obviously if you guys win the World Series you’ll celebrate and all that kind of stuff. To what extent is it somewhat disappointing that Max can’t go and that we’re not seeing this great matchup tonight, Cole and Scherzer?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, I don’t know. I don’t think it should take anything away from the series. Things like this happen all the time. I remember playing against the Yankees in the playoffs when Jeter broke his ankle. We’re not robots, we’re humans, and things go wrong physically.

Teams deal with it all year through adversity. It’s just obviously on a bigger stage now so it gets more attention.

Q. As big as this stage is, how much different has it been for you being so close to home and having so many people from your childhood be able to just drive up the road and see you guys?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, made the ticket situation a little harder.

But, yeah, it’s been pretty cool to be here and have some friends that otherwise wouldn’t be able to see this game, this atmosphere in the World Series and be able to experience it.

Q. How about the opportunity to be back in Minute Maid Park?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, it’s exciting. I think after the first couple of games obviously our goal coming here was to be able to get back to Minute Maid. We’ve accomplished that. And obviously we want to win tonight.

But excited to get back home and play in front of our home crowd.

Q. You and Daniel Hudson were at ODU, not at the same time, but have you had a chance to talk to him during the series? And of course with Zimmerman, Doolittle, there’s four Virginia products in the World Series.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, pretty cool. I actually haven’t had the time to speak to him. Go figure, World Series, we’re pretty busy doing other stuff.

But I actually made an effort to go see AnIbal yesterday during the game because I played with him. It wasn’t easy to get to him. All the media on the field and everything.

It’s pretty cool how well represented Virginia is as a whole. Growing up playing against Zimm, he gave me a sly little look the other day after I threw the ball off my shin when he was at first base, which was pretty funny.

I remember going all the back to my ODU days, him and I played golf together. From then to now, a lot has happened in both our lives, but pretty cool to have our lives interconnect like that and to end up on this stage.

Q. You were talking the other night about how when modern analytics individual pitcher wins aren’t as significant as before. Still, if Houston wins tonight, would it mean something to be able to get the first World Series win in a World Series clincher?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, yeah. I think wins matter. I think that was a little bit of a joke.

I mean, yeah, that would obviously be a moment that would be — that I would cherish in my career if that were able to happen.

Q. Is there anything you learned in your Game 2 start facing the Nationals and then in video that you’ve maybe watched since then that you’ve learned about this team as you prepare for your next start?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think their two-strike approach is really good. I think they prepare very well. I think they will adjust to that pitcher, that given day. Which is, funny enough, in today’s game you don’t see it that often. It seems easy to say, Wow, you make an adjustment, you go to a two-strike approach, but that’s found its way out of the game.

Honestly, it’s kind of refreshing to see a couple of teams that don’t swing and miss a ton, and change their approach based on the pitcher that’s pitching against them.

So I think the guys in the middle of that lineup get a ton of credit and a lot of the headlines, but really, 1 through 9, all those guys are really good hitters. And surprisingly so, I don’t think we see a lot of each other throughout the course of the season, NL and AL, besides some highlights on TV. So you’re not really studying to play against each other. Having faced them, they’re just extremely talented top to bottom.

Q. Including the 2017 run, I think this will be the fifth time you’ll have faced an opponent twice in a postseason series. How has your approach evolved over time and what have you learned about the process of trying to attack a lineup the second time?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, it becomes more difficult. I think there’s adjustments both ways. But I think those opposing guys once they’ve seen you three, four at-bats, it’s a little bit easier for them to make adjustments, and having seen your off-speed stuff and tracked it. You just need to execute a little bit better.

Q. We discussed limited run support after your start in Houston. To what degree have you been encouraged that the bats seem to have improved the last couple of days?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: We talked about it right after that. These guys all season long, offense comes and goes, you have slumps, but when they’re clicking on all cylinders, it’s pretty special to watch.

Definitely nice to see a couple of guys to come up and come through in big moments. Offense is always welcome. I think hitting is contagious, and when these boys are feeling the way they are right now, it’s tough to get them out.

Q. What is your team sentiment on the president attending the game tonight? If you won the World Series would you want to go to the White House?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don’t know the team sentiment. We haven’t really discussed it all that much. We’re worried about winning a baseball game.

He’s the president of the United States. If he wants to attend a baseball game, I think he has every right to be here just as much as everybody else in the stadium.

Q. Would you want to go to the White House if you won the World Series?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: That’s kind of a superstitious, I can’t answer that question.

Q. Everybody have talked about your time at ODU, and the competitive drive was still there back then. Going back to that era, when you were preparing for a start of Tuesday’s magnitude, regardless of the result tonight, the difference mentally and the competitive juices thinking ahead, Hey, I have the chance to potentially win the World Series?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Those are the moments that you dream about. As a kid, me and my dad in the backyard just drawing up these moments in our heads, Hey, Game 7 of the World Series, you’re on the mound, two outs, bottom of the 9th, bases loaded.

It’s just having the opportunity to be out there and be on the mound hopefully in a scenario where we can close it out, that’s everything I’ve dreamed of.

Q. Before the series we talked about Urquidy and what he meant for this team. After his performance yesterday, did you talk with him? What did you see yesterday in his performance?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, that was incredible. I saw a calmness. I saw great stuff. I saw attacking the zone. I saw the second Mexican-born player to win a World Series game since Fernando Valenzuela, which I was sure to mention to him after the game.

I think everybody was just so excited for him. All season long he’s come up in big spots. He’s done well for us. But to be able to do it on that stage and at that moment, it doesn’t fall short of anybody in our clubhouse and we made sure to let him know that.

Q. What would winning a second World Series championship mean to you?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, hard to put into words. I can’t even really — it’s one of those things that in the moment, right now while we’re grinding, trying to win it, you don’t really think about it. It probably wouldn’t even cross my mind or sink in until the offseason sometime.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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“I tell our team after every year that every team is different. So you have to really enjoy the group that you’re with. Obviously you’re thinking one or two guys, maybe it’s a reliever, maybe it’s bench player, maybe it’s a backup catcher you change out, there’s change every year. But when you have this many players and you think, we could write this same lineup next year as a position player core. And we could have some top-end pitching, especially with McCullers coming back.” –AJ HINCH.

October 27, 2019

AJ Hinch

Washington, D.C. – pregame 5

Q. Just some thoughts about the Nationals having to make their switch and how it affects your team or doesn’t affect your team.
AJ HINCH: I think it just affects our preparation a little bit because we got a late notice that they scratched their starter. It’s happened before to us. So we’ve got to get to working on our game plan against Ross as opposed to what it was against Scherzer.

Obviously, I know there’s a lot of attention that comes with it. We know Max Scherzer, something must be going on with him if he’s going to miss this start. But it immediately goes into sort of game prep mode and get after it. We were prepared for Ross as a reliever. A little bit different when you go into a game as a team offense.

But I found out when you guys found out.

Q. I was going to ask you when you found out. But do you feel kind of a sense of relief, though, Max Scherzer one of the best pitchers in the game, and you’re not going to have to face him tonight?
AJ HINCH: I mean, it’s different. I don’t know “relief” is probably not the word I would use because we still need to go out and win a game. If we need any example of a young rookie stepping up and doing well in the World Series, we could rewind 24 hours and our guy did pretty good.

You can’t be overly confident. You can’t just assume that it’s going to be an easy game for you. It’s a different matchup. Different style.

Totally get the Max Scherzer shock of going from one of the top pitchers in baseball to a young kid, but we don’t — we’re not going to high five. We’re not going to have that moment where we feel like we have some sort of advantage. We need to go find a way to beat Joe Ross now.

Q. Gerrit’s start in Game 1 —
AJ HINCH: I found out from Alex Bregman, by the way, which is part of the story. I forget to answer the first part of your question. Go ahead.

Q. Bregman’s tapped into the Nats move?
AJ HINCH: He’s just closest to his phone whenever it started hitting the social media part. He came in and asked me if it was true. I did a little investigating, and turned out it was.

Q. I was just assuming you were watching MLB Network.
AJ HINCH: That’s right.

Q. Gerrit Cole in his Game 1 start had some trouble locating his breaking balls. Is there something he did between starts to rectify that?
AJ HINCH: Yeah, this has been a little bit more of a normal prep for him. I talked to him a little bit, and he probably wouldn’t want me to tell you this, there was just different prep for him. He was prepping for a potential Game 7, had an extra day. He’d kind of done his normal prep and then there wasn’t a Game 7. Thankfully we won in 6. Turned out he was going to be Game 1 of the World Series and he switched opponents.

He had an extra throwing session in there. I’m hoping that his normal prep, his normal routine, it’s the every five days that these guys are built and accustomed to, hopefully that gets him in a better spot to make his pitches from the very beginning of the game.

Now, he might not have been locating his off-speed pitches and he wasn’t at his best, but the Nationals did a really good job of attacking him in different ways. Zimmerman hits the fastball, Soto hit everything. They fought off some two-strike counts that teams just simply hadn’t done. Throughout the season he was getting a ton of punch-outs and getting through innings.

I think the Nats approach hurt Gerrit more than even his lack of execution. It was just the way they came out and hit all of his pitches at different points of the game that hurt him that night.

Q. Was there some frustration on your end as far as when you got the notice? Martinez said he tried to get a message to you at 4:00.
AJ HINCH: We knew it was delayed because we assumed it was Suzuki, because he had caught Max quite a bit. And any time you have an injury you kind of expect a later lineup. I have no problem with how they informed us.

Chip Hale and Joe Espada, the bench coaches, were both in contact the entire day, waiting for the lineup and the decision making. They were top end across the board. Exactly how you would expect them to let us know as soon as they knew.

I would imagine, and if I put myself in their shoes, I would wait until the very last minute until I absolutely knew that he couldn’t go. If they were deciding on Suzuki, as well, what his situation was. The Nats were great.

Q. In your years from player to executive to manager, can you think of too many cores of controllable players, elite players that compare to the core you guys have?
AJ HINCH: No, it’s one of the things that — you see some consistency in lineups over years of playoff teams. I think back to the Yankees in the late ’90s. I think back to the Braves back in the day of their double-digit years of dominance. But it’s nice nowadays to have that.

I tell our team after every year that every team is different. So you have to really enjoy the group that you’re with. Obviously you’re thinking one or two guys, maybe it’s a reliever, maybe it’s bench player, maybe it’s a backup catcher you change out, there’s change every year. But when you have this many players and you think, we could write this same lineup next year as a position player core. And we could have some top-end pitching, especially with McCullers coming back.

There’s a comfort. You can start to build that chemistry, that vibe, that culture that everybody talks about of familiarity, especially when you’re winning. When you’re winning, any team that I’ve seen put together three, five, seven, ten years of winning, you refer back to this core that everybody has, and right now we have it.

Q. Back during your playing career it was very notable how infrequently the team that had the best record in the regular season actually went on to win the World Series. That best team has now been in the World Series four times in a row, rarely happens. Why do you think this maybe has changed the playoffs?
AJ HINCH: I don’t know. That’s a good question. I can tell you one thing, winning is hard. Winning and getting through these series, just the opportunity of winning is really hard.

So as you can see in the different — you look at these series and I’ve been in a couple of them over the last few years, there’s always something that happens that surprises, right? In ’17 we faced a lot of elimination games. We always won these Game 7s. And those are really coin flips, you can go either way.

Last season we win Game 1 against the Red Sox in the ALCS. We have the lead in the fifth or sixth inning with Gerrit Cole on the mound in Game 2. We don’t win another game. And that was never expected.

So there’s so much randomness in the playoffs that it’s hard for me to pinpoint one era versus another era, other than you play 162 games for seeding only. And then once you get into the playoffs I’ve always felt like it’s kind of a start over with how you play.

I guess if you have the most surprised guys that step up and play, if you have your best players play at their best during these stretches then no matter what your record is at the end of the season you’re going to have a chance to win in the playoffs.

Q. What went into giving Alvarez the start today? And what have you seen from Brantley and Altuve? They seemed to be locked in right now.
AJ HINCH: To answer the first question on Alvarez, I targeted this day for two reasons: One, I’ve usually started Alvarez in the outfield when Gerrit Cole is pitching or when Wade Miley was pitching. One, because Gerrit would get so many strikeouts, there’s less balls in play and less opportunity for something crazy to happen in the outfield.

And with Wade it was more the ground balls and softer contact, certainly the first five months of the season.

Coming into this game I didn’t want to go three games without having his bat in the lineup for multiple at-bats. I knew I had to pinch-hit a bat a couple times, and I’ve used it the last two days.

Factor in Gerrit being on the mound and then when Max was going to start, he put up two really good at-bats against Scherzer in Game 1. So there was a dual reason for that.

So I’m completely comfortable with Alvarez in left field. I think he is limited in some ways in his range and in his experience, but he’s not a liability. He’s going to catch the balls he’s supposed to catch. He’s going to make the plays he’s supposed to make. If he can help us get the lead, I’ll probably get him out of there with either Jake or Redd or Tucker. I can steal a couple at-bats. If we put up the bats we put up yesterday, his third at-bat might happen in the middle of the game. That would be a great advantage to get two or three at-bats of his.

Second part of your question on Brantley and Altuve, is the quality of their bats, specifically in the World Series, has been second to none. I mean, just the covering different pitches, don’t try to do too much, and take what they give you. Watching Michael Brantley line virtually the same line drive like four or five times last night, he won two, he lost two. The consistency of their at-bats has just been remarkable.

Getting them on base, and certainly in tandem when they’re hitting next to each other, it’s really hard to get to our lineup. When Alex comes up with a big hit last night and you start piecing two and three and four hits together, right now Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley are going to be a part of it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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“I think everybody is excited. It’s the president of the United States. So there’s obviously beefed up security. So usually the dogs that are sniffing in our clubhouse are these nice Labs that are super friendly. And today there was a German Shepherd that I didn’t really feel comfortable petting.” –STEPHEN STRASBURG.

October 27, 2019

Stephen Strasburg

Washington, D.C. – pregame 5

Q. You’ve pitched a lot just through the season and never pitched kind of this deep and late into the season. How is your arm doing, and are you doing anything differently maintenance-wise in between starts?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: Yeah, it’s definitely uncharted territory. And I’m just trying to continue to do what I’ve tried to do all year, is just take it one day at a time and just listen to the body.

Q. Do you credit that to some of the changes about your routine or do you think it’s random that this year it all worked out health-wise? What do you think about the longevity you’ve had this season?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: Not really sure. I think mechanically I’ve been able to be a little bit more consistent when I go out there and pitch. Just made some minor tweaks in the offseason training program. I kind of put more emphasis on just strength, not so much endurance, and trying to get my weight up. And I was able to kind of ride that throughout the year.

Q. Have you had a chance to see Max today? If so, what’s his sort of state of mind and state of being right now?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: I haven’t seen him today.

Q. Were you aware yesterday that there was something going on with him physically?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: Yeah, I mean, guys were talking in the clubhouse. And I think everybody is dealing with the effects of a long season. So you really just kind of focus on what you can control. Sometimes things are out of your control.

Q. In a game like tomorrow where you know you’re facing a top pitcher like Verlander, does that cause you in any way to up your level or is it a point you do what you do and who’s on the mound for the other team makes no difference?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: Yeah, it’s an American League game. So he’s obviously not going to be getting in the box. What he does against us is really irrelevant to what I have to focus on, and that’s their lineup and finding a way to keep them at bay.

Q. Kind of keeping it with Verlander, this is your second straight start against him in the World Series. How big is that to you as a pitcher, as a player?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: I mean, I really don’t look at the opposing pitcher. Again, it’s who I’m facing, the hitters that I’m facing. That’s my job.

Again, pitching at this point in the season, it’s a tremendous honor, and I’m going to go out there and compete and give it everything I have.

Q. Were you able to say anything or is there anything that you think you can say to advise Joe in the position he is now to have to fill in as a spot starter with Max hurt, what kind of position he suddenly finds himself thrust in?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: I mean, Joe has kind of done a little bit of everything this year. He’s such a great competitor. He’s such a great athlete. I trust his ability to prepare. I think that’s one thing that having some of the struggles early on in the year with him, he really took another step as far as like preparation, doing his homework, and you just take notice of those things. That’s his own journey.

He knows I’m here for him but at the same time, you’ve just got to let him go out and do his thing.

Q. When did you get word that Max was officially scratched? I know it might have been a long shot, but would it have been at all conceivable for you to come back on short rest tonight?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: No, I don’t think it really was ever an idea. I threw a bullpen yesterday. Obviously found out when — a little while ago. But I’m kind of at that point where I’m preparing for Game 6.

Q. On a separate note, what is the team sentiment on the president attending the game tonight? Do you care at all or irrelevant to you?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: I think everybody is excited. It’s the president of the United States. So there’s obviously beefed up security. So usually the dogs that are sniffing in our clubhouse are these nice Labs that are super friendly. And today there was a German Shepherd that I didn’t really feel comfortable petting.

Q. Has that been the main difference to him coming compared to most games?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: Yeah, I mean, obviously there’s a lot of extra security around the ballpark, too.

Q. You go from facing the Astros lineup for the first time all season to facing them twice within a week as a pitcher. What’s the biggest challenge facing a team on such a short turnaround?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: Yeah, the schedule it seems like each year you’ll go, you’ll play the Phillies and then you’ll come around next week and you’ll play them again. Really, it comes down to execution of pitches. Their approaches might change a little bit, but the important thing is to go out there and pound away and trust your stuff.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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“When I woke up this morning I was completely locked up. It’s not just a muscle spasm. In talking to the doctors here, the nerve that’s in the neck is all jammed up. Thankfully from the doctors, what they say, as long as I have no numbness coming down my arms or anything, you don’t actually deal with any serious, any long-term damage here. It’s just the sensory that’s pinching up the nerve in the neck and the trap, the whole muscles that surround your neck are just completely locked up in spasm.” — MAX SCHERZER.

October 27, 2019

Max Scherzer

Washington, D.C. – pregame 5

Q. At what point in the last 24 hours did you kind of know it wasn’t going to be possible to pitch tonight? What was that feeling like when you realized that?
MAX SCHERZER: Kind of started a couple of days ago. I could tell, little neck spasms. I’ve had little neck spasms over the past, I know how to get through them. It was a couple days ago trying to get everything going. Try to think of the time on here.

I came in, got treatment two days ago, and didn’t feel quite right. But I know for me, like hitting, hitting is a similar throwing motion, usually if I can hit usually things can loosen up and I can throw a little bit better. When I hit, I could tell that didn’t loosen anything up. So it took throwing off.

Then I came in yesterday, did all the treatment, worked with all the doctors trying to get everything situated. And through all the treatment and everything, getting ready, thought we found a way to ease this spasm, ease everything going on, going through it. And I thought I could at least play catch. I was able to play catch yesterday.

And then when I woke up this morning I was completely locked up. It’s not just a muscle spasm. In talking to the doctors here, the nerve that’s in the neck is all jammed up. Thankfully from the doctors, what they say, as long as I have no numbness coming down my arms or anything, you don’t actually deal with any serious, any long-term damage here. It’s just the sensory that’s pinching up the nerve in the neck and the trap, the whole muscles that surround your neck are just completely locked up in spasm.

So for me it became impossible just to do any menial task whatsoever today.

Q. How would you describe your current irritation level with the situation?
MAX SCHERZER: In terms of like the level of pain?

Q. No, how irritated are you that you can’t pitch tonight?
MAX SCHERZER: I mean, I’m as disappointed as I possibly can be not to be able to pitch tonight. It’s Game 5 of the World Series.

I’ve pitched through so much crap in my career that that would be easy to pitch through at this point. This is literally impossible to do anything with.

So for me, I still have faith in everybody in this clubhouse. Watching Joe Ross pitch the other night, I thought he looked extremely polished in what he was able to do.

So in our clubhouse we just believe the next guy up can always get the job done. Right now it’s come down to Joe.

Q. How do you prepare to have to fly for three, three and a half hours on Monday down to Houston? And Davey had mentioned it’s possible, he hopes, that Game 7 could be in the offing for you. Is that what you think is also possible?
MAX SCHERZER: Yeah, that’s what the doctors believe, with this nerve irritation, that they think, with the cortisone shot in there, that the neck can take — and 48 hours really helps decide the pain that’s being alleviated — alleviate the pain from that neck nerve that’s in my neck right now that’s all pinched up.

So for me, I’m just hoping that the doctors are right and that something could be possible for Game 7.

Q. You obviously are in a lot of discomfort right now and you were just asked whether you’d be available for Game 6 or 7. If you had to answer right now, do you see that as a possibility?
MAX SCHERZER: Like I said, the doctors told me it’s going to take at least 48 hours for this to kick in. It was one of the things that was on the table yesterday. We didn’t want to go down that route and take the injection yesterday because we thought we found a way to be able to maintain everything yesterday that potentially make the start today.

And unfortunately, everything that we did yesterday just made kind of — I woke up this morning completely locked up, I couldn’t do anything, couldn’t even dress myself. I had to have my wife help me. And that’s where I was at.

Q. I was going to ask for the time line for the cortisone shot. It sounds like it was this morning or today.
MAX SCHERZER: Yes.

Q. What other treatments have you been doing to try to knock this out?
MAX SCHERZER: I mean, just everything. Usually when I get chiropractic adjustments that usually really helps me out with these neck spasms. I’ve dealt with them in the past different times where I just need little adjustments here and there. And that’s where I thought I was at a couple days ago. If I just do my normal treatment and get adjustments that I could be able to heed this off and keep it from being blowing up on me.

Unfortunately, this blew up on me to the point where, like I said, I can’t move.

Q. I know you’re disappointed to not be out there but how do you help this team win with the stakes so high in Game 5 in that dugout with your teammates?
MAX SCHERZER: Just keep the belief with everybody that we can win. Just the belief that whoever is at the plate whoever is on the mound has the ability to go out there and do their job and continue to do it. That’s been our kind of motto this whole season, that it’s not one guy.

So right now we need everybody — we needed everybody before, but it just continues to keep the spirit in itself that we need everybody in this clubhouse, no matter whether you’re on the roster or not. At some point somebody’s name is going to get called and you’re going to have to be able to step up today and help the team so we’re going to need other people to do it, as well.

Q. Do the doctors know if this is related at all to the back issues and the movements? Is there any way to tell? Is there anything this will need after the World Series?
MAX SCHERZER: No, the back issues are more, I’d say more like the — it’s lower back part, more the trap, lat — not trap, low trap and lat. Where it’s pinching on the bottom of the scap. That’s where a lot of those problems are coming from. This is more on the top part of the neck. It’s more the nerve irritation in the C5, C6 area where that’s pinched up and causing neck spasms.

So I really don’t believe that the back issue I dealt with in the middle of the year really has anything to do with it. Plus I’ve dealt with other little neck spasm, little issues in the past, as well, both on the right and left side and I’ve always been able to kind of address it and keep it from really getting out of hand, unfortunately this one got out of hand.

Q. (No microphone.)
MAX SCHERZER: That would be the dangers of pitching tonight was that something seriously, seriously could go wrong. But at the same time, I can’t pick up my arm right now. So I can’t pitch.

Q. You know your body so well. Do you think any of the irregularities over the last two or three weeks, long layoffs between pitching —
MAX SCHERZER: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. This is just a little thing that turned into a big thing that turned into a giant thing.

Q. Have you talked to Joe? Do you expect to have any conversation with him, this is a big moment to him? Will you guys interact at all?
MAX SCHERZER: No, he’s in his pregame routine, pregame mindset.

When I was coming to the park today, I knew there was just no way I was going to be able to get ready. I gave him a text to tell him, Hey, get ready, you’re going to be starting today. There’s no way I’m going to be able to start.

Q. So this morning obviously you go to sleep last night and you’re hoping you wake up and you feel better. What were your first 10 or 15 minutes like? You wake up and you immediately, I assume, do a self-assessment. What was that like and what did you notice?
MAX SCHERZER: Yeah, I wake up, and the moment I wake up it just completely — I couldn’t get out of bed. Like, it really hurt to get out of bed. I had to just basically fall out of bed and pick myself up with my left arm and I was moving around, just couldn’t even move my arm. I just knew at that point I was in a really bad spot.

Q. What was going through your mind at that moment? When you talk about severity in the past, has it ever been this bad, these spasms?
MAX SCHERZER: The only other time I’d say it’s ever been this bad, the Miami start, I was able to make a start and after an inning it completely locked up on me and I couldn’t do it. And there was a San Diego time where I tried to get through it and I wasn’t able to get through it. I think that was my DL stint when I had to go on the DL for that.

But those are the only two times. There’s been other little times where I’ve been able to have it and been able to get out of it. But this is the most severe one of all time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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“And if you all know Max, obviously he pitched with a broken nose, he’s been hurt before, he’s gotten through things. When he comes in and says he’s hurt this bad, he’s hurt. And I can tell you now he’s very upset. He wants to be out there with his teammates. But hopefully we can get him back here for either Game 6 or 7.” –DAVE MARTINEZ.

October 27, 2019

Dave Martinez

Washington, D.C. – pregame 5

DAVE MARTINEZ: Before we get started, I want everybody to know that Max will not start today. He had — yesterday he had a little bit of spasms in his right trap and neck. They treated it. He woke up today a lot worse.

So Joe Ross will start today.

Q. When you found out that Max was hurting, what were some of the things that you guys tried to do to help him overnight before it got worse?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He was in there with the training staff, getting all kinds of treatment. Tried to put him — did all kinds of stuff. And today was just — he woke up, right away texted Paul and said that he was really hurting.

And if you all know Max, obviously he pitched with a broken nose, he’s been hurt before, he’s gotten through things. When he comes in and says he’s hurt this bad, he’s hurt.

And I can tell you now he’s very upset. He wants to be out there with his teammates. But hopefully we can get him back here for either Game 6 or 7.

Q. Is this any corollary to the back stuff that he had earlier?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Nothing. It’s something totally different. It’s in his upper trap and neck.

Q. Were there any signs? Did he deal with this at all during the season?
DAVE MARTINEZ: This is something that, like I said, he came in yesterday and felt it a little bit and had these little spasms. Today he woke up and it was a lot worse.

Q. At that time when you found out yesterday, were you worried about his status for tonight’s start?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Obviously. It’s his right side. The reason being, yesterday I didn’t use Joe and some of the other guys in preparation in case this would have happened. And hoping that he’d wake up today and felt a lot better. He didn’t.

Q. Have you decided yet if you’re keeping him on the roster?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Absolutely, yeah. We’re going to keep him on the roster. If this gets better in the next 24 to 48 hours, being that we have a day off tomorrow, hopefully he’ll be available to pitch one of those two games.

Q. What is the plan with Joe today? Is he starting the game as if he’s a starter, is he sort of opening?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He’s starting the game. We’re going to let him go as much as he can go.

Q. So then if it’s going to be Joe today and then, say, Max potentially can get better overnight with a day rest with treatment, are you still committed to starting Stephen on Tuesday or could Max slide in there now?
DAVE MARTINEZ: As of right now, I mean, I would leave Stephen starting Game 6 and if need be, depending on where we’re at, if Max could come in out of relief, he comes in. If we go to Game 7, Max starts Game 7.

Q. What’s Kurt Suzuki’s status right now?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He’s better today. Yesterday he came up to me towards the end of the game, told me he could pinch-hit. I thought with Joe starting, let Yan catch, give him another day and with an off day tomorrow he should be ready to go Game 6.

Q. Did something specific happen with Max, an incident or anything?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Nothing. He said he woke up like that yesterday. And like I said, he spent all day getting treatment. And today he just locked up. Just spasm, neck’s jacked up. He was just — he was in a bad place.

Like I said, he’s really upset about it. I’ve never seen — believe me, I’ve never seen Max this quiet. He’s very quiet.

Q. Is the president coming to the game tonight an additional distraction for your team? Does your team want him here?
DAVE MARTINEZ: You know what, he’s coming to the game. He’s a fan. Hopefully he cheers for the Washington Nationals, and I hope he enjoys the game.

Q. Does your team want him here?
DAVE MARTINEZ: We haven’t really talked about it. We’re focused in on playing baseball.

Q. What is your message to your team now that Max can’t go? Obviously they felt a lot of comfort having him on the mound in what is a crucial game today.
DAVE MARTINEZ: I went around and talked to a bunch of the boys and explained what was going on. They were all upbeat. They said, Hey, every one of them said, we got this. We’ll pick him up. We’ve got Joe on the mound and we’ll get them. And hopefully he comes back and helps us Game 6 or 7.

Q. This seems more relevant now, you guys all postseason, your bullpen has held its own despite all the questions about it. How do you think you’ve been able to navigate this postseason without the bullpen really presenting any problems for you guys?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I mean, the bullpen has actually been good. Look, I went home last night and kind of, like I do every night, assess every game what’s going on. We’re tied in a series 2-2. Both teams have scored 19 runs. I said, We’re pretty even, you know?

So we’ve just got to go out there today and play good, clean baseball. In hopes that Joe could go out there and give us four, five, six innings, and we go from there.

Q. What is a realistic hope for you for Joe?
DAVE MARTINEZ: We’re going to let him go as much as he can. I’m assuming he can get up to that 75-, 80-pitch mark.

Q. Obviously like you’re saying, it has to be really severe for Max Scherzer to miss a World Series start. Did he try to throw? Is he going to be in uniform? Is he going to be able to travel with you? How severe is this?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, he’s in the clubhouse now. He’s going to get treatment. He’s going to do everything he can to try to get ready.

For Max to miss a game, especially a significant game like this, he’s got to be really hurting. So hopefully, like I said, within the next 24 hours, as he starts getting better, we start seeing signs of him getting better and then we’ll go from there.

Q. Obviously it’s decorum to call the other manager and tell him this. What time did you call AJ and what did you say and what did he say?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I had other meetings to do before this. I had Chip just relay the message that it’s going to be somebody else starting, and he did that. So he knew about a half hour ago.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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“He’s in a lot of pain. It’s got to be something excruciating that he couldn’t push his way through. … He said he slept funny on it two days ago, he woke up with a stiff neck. They worked on it and it felt a little better. But then he woke up and it was bad.” –MIKE RIZZO.

NATS’ ACE MAX SCHERZER SCRATCHED FROM GAME 5 START

Washington Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer will not start Game 5 of the World Series after he arrived at Nationals Park and reported muscle spasms in his right trapezius muscles, the area behind his shoulder. Manager Dave Martinez made the announcement at roughly 4:30 p.m., about three and a half hours before first pitch, to a roomful of stunned reporters.

Right-handed swingman Joe Ross will start in Scherzer’s place against Astros Cy Young candidate Gerrit Cole, preempting a highly anticipated rematch of the Game 1 showdown between two of the best pitchers in baseball.

“Max was quiet,” Martinez said. “I’ve never seem him that quiet before.”

Click here for Wshington Post story:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/10/27/max-scherzer-scratched-world-series-start-joe-ross-gets-nod-nationals-game/

“Yeah, we’re fired up. This is why you play the game. This is the World Series. We’ve got two great pitching staffs, two great offenses going at it. And it’s a lot of fun. The atmosphere here is great. The atmosphere in Houston is great. And just super excited.” –ALEX BREGMAN.

October 26, 2019

Alex Bregman

Washington, D.C. – postgame 4

Houston 8, Washington 1

Q. What did you see on that grand slam? What did you see with the pitch and how did it feel to get one of those, especially after last night with the bases loaded situation?
ALEX BREGMAN: It felt good just to add some insurance, because Jose Urquidy was doing a great job, got us off to a great start. Our offense came out and scored some runs, and then to just add some insurance after they scored a run was huge.

About the at-bat, I was just trying to hit something in the air in the middle of the field, hopefully drive in a run; Tucker is pretty fast. Just get it up there and hopefully he could score with one out.

Q. Did you kind of feel like you hit the ball hard last night, feel like this was coming, that you were starting to square up balls? And also can you explain the feeling of after a night where they load the bases to face you that you then come through in that situation, the feeling of, I got you this time?
ALEX BREGMAN: Yeah, this game was a game of failure, and you’re going to fail a heck of a lot more than you succeed in it. So I think the feeling that I had when I hit that was I was pretty fired up. I wanted to help my team win a game and get this series back to 2-2.

I mean, that’s the thing about this lineup, though, like you could — you’re going to — some days you walk Brantley and you get me to ground out. And some days I walk and Alvarez comes through. And some days Alvarez walks and Correa comes through or Gurriel comes through. I think that’s one of the things we pride ourselves on is just passing the torch to the next guy. Was just fortunate enough to put a good swing on it.

Q. You saw Rodney last night, as well. How much does getting that look help? Does that make a difference?
ALEX BREGMAN: I don’t know. He’s really good. He’s really tough to face. Righties and lefties because he has an incredible change-up. His fastball is dirty, has a lot of sink to it. And then he has another fastball that he throws, a four-seamer that has some jump to it.

He’s not an easy at-bat at all. He’s really tough. Was just trying to get him in the air.

Q. Congratulations. That’s the most low-keyed fired up I’ve ever seen, by the way, as you described it. What was going through your heart and mind as you ran across the bases? Did you feel this was a blow that would most likely give you guys the win?
ALEX BREGMAN: Yeah, I felt like it was some insurance that our pitching staff deserved. They were fantastic all day. I think they deserved some run support.

Q. Can you talk about how fired up you are now with the series tied 2-2. It was not a good situation coming here obviously 0-2.
ALEX BREGMAN: Yeah, we stopped the bleeding last night and then came out and played well again today. We want to just keep it rolling.

Yeah, we’re fired up. This is why you play the game. This is the World Series. We’ve got two great pitching staffs, two great offenses going at it. And it’s a lot of fun. The atmosphere here is great. The atmosphere in Houston is great. And just super excited.

Q. Last night after you guys won Carlos said that he thinks the Astros got their swagger back, and he also predicted big things for you tonight. Are the Astros better as a team and are you better as a player when you have your respective swagger?
ALEX BREGMAN: I don’t know. I don’t know what words he used in different ways. But I just think we’re better when we have fun, and we had fun the last two days. And winning is fun and playing well is fun.

Q. You mentioned Urquidy earlier. What was it like for all of you guys to go out or to see him go out and have a night like this?
ALEX BREGMAN: I think all of us have all the confidence in the world in him. We expected that he was going to go out and pitch really well. I think he did, as well. I saw him on the attack. I thought he was attacking all night, and using four different pitches. He’s really tough. He was great for us.

Q. Tomorrow facing Scherzer for a second time. Your thoughts on that?
ALEX BREGMAN: I think he’s one of the best pitchers in the game. It’s always fun to compete against the best. We’ve got two of the best pitchers in the game facing off tomorrow in the World Series, tied 2-2, it’s a lot of fun.

Q. Just the fact that you have evened this series, regardless of the outcome tomorrow, which is a great pitching matchup, the fact that you know you’ll be going back home, does that have any kind of a psychological effect for you guys at all?
ALEX BREGMAN: Yeah. We are very happy to be going home. We love playing at Minute Maid. I think the guys like playing here. It’s a lot of fun. This is a great atmosphere. The fans are into the game. And I think — yeah, we’re excited. We played really well.

Q. From last night’s at-bat against Rodney to tonight’s at-bat, did you change your approach to help you hit that grand slam to give your team the big lead?
ALEX BREGMAN: A little bit, yeah. I think there’s two different situations; one was with two outs, one was with one out. The one today I was trying to get the ball in the air and just drive in a run.

Tweaked a few things mechanically in between at-bats today. My first at-bat I thought I did a good job mechanically. And the next two it kind of broke down on me a little bit, what I was working on the last two weeks. And then my last two at-bats I was a lot better.

But I wouldn’t say I really changed too much approach-wise. I think just mechanically I was better.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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“That means a lot for me. To be the second Mexican player to win a World Series game is something special. I think this is now history, right? I feel very special for that.” –JOSE URQUIDY

October 26, 2019
Jose Urquidy
Washington, D.C. – postgame 4

Houston 8, Washington 1

Q. Were you nervous at any point today?
JOSE URQUIDY: Yes, I was a little nervous, a little bit. But after the first inning I come out, I felt very more relaxed for play.

Q. Did you take a moment ever today to kind of look up in the crowd and kind of think to yourself that you were pitching in a World Series game?
JOSE URQUIDY: Yes, a couple of moments. A couple of moments I was thinking about, oh, my God, I’m World Series pitching. It’s awesome.

Q. Last night you mentioned it was special to be getting the ball tonight because being from Mexico, it hasn’t happened a lot in the World Series. And so you end up becoming the second starter to get a win in the World Series after Fernando Valenzuela, what does that mean to you?
JOSE URQUIDY: That means a lot for me. To be the second Mexican player to win a World Series game is something special. I think this is now history, right? I feel very special for that.

Q. (Question in Spanish.)
JOSE URQUIDY: Obviously very proud to have followed Fernando Valenzuela, obviously something historic, and something that I’m obviously very happy about, very happy to have followed him and to have done what I’ve done today.

Q. You had never pitched above A-ball before this year. So what were your realistic goals for yourself about the 2019 season? How have you improved as a pitcher or changed, if anything, since last year?
JOSE URQUIDY: My dream was pitching in the big leagues was my dream. I always imagined playing the World Series and winning the game for us. Something very big for me, big year for me. And I think I’m proud of myself.

Q. Anything you’ve improved or made better this year?
JOSE URQUIDY: Yeah, absolutely, I got a couple to fix up about my mechanic, and I want to work this offseason about that.

Q. (Question in Spanish.)
JOSE URQUIDY: Obviously Chirinos has been incredibly important to me and he’s helped me out so much behind the plate. He’s someone that I trust 100 percent with every pitch and he’s been an incredible help to me and to all the pitchers.

Q. (Question in Spanish.)
JOSE URQUIDY: Obviously the defense across the board was incredible for me. The play that Correa made for me was — got me excited. And the ones, the one support really helped tremendously, as well.

Q. Was your mother here tonight?
JOSE URQUIDY: Yes.

Q. What has she meant to your career and were you thinking about her when you took the mound tonight?
JOSE URQUIDY: Just very excited for be here watching me playing. I think this moment is very special for her and me, too. And I enjoy this time with her.

Q. What were your emotions like from the time AJ told you you were starting through the day today and up until you were pitching? Do you feel like you exceeded his and the team’s expectations tonight going as well and as long as you did?
JOSE URQUIDY: Yes. When the manager come to me to talk about when I start the 4 game, I was really excited because I will start a game, because they wanted to go bullpen pitch a lot. And I was thinking I will start the next game. I was very excited for that moment.

Q. Have you heard any responses from any family or friends about your outing? If so, what was it? And if not, what do you expect the response to be?
JOSE URQUIDY: Yes, a lot of family was texting me and calling me about this game. There were messages in my phone now. But I know all my people are watching me now.

Q. What was your mother’s name?
JOSE URQUIDY: Alma.

Q. A-l-m-a?
JOSE URQUIDY: Yeah.

Q. Also AJ mentioned earlier there was a game in the Minor Leagues this year where you gave up 14 hits and 11 runs, Pacific Coast League. But that was in August. Were you discouraged or worried after that game that you might not get back to the big leagues this year, was it a big letdown, how did you deal with that?
JOSE URQUIDY: I think I was a little crazy, a little ruined from the heat. But I try to get my focus. I know that was a crazy game. But was 100 percent good in that situation. As far as part of the game, good days and bad days.

Q. You look to be really excited when you got Soto swinging in the fourth on that fastball. What were your emotions just that entire at-bat knowing he’s the guy that makes that lineup go?
JOSE URQUIDY: I was trying to put away the hitter. For me something very big because that hitter is very big right now, he’s on fire. And it’s taking something special for me. And it was very good.

Q. (Question in Spanish.)
JOSE URQUIDY: Obviously the last four years during the Minor Leagues were challenging. Obviously everyone knows the Minor Leagues is a difficult process. And then when I heard about the Tommy John, that was also obviously very challenging. But I always had the dream to play in the big leagues and I kept that dream in my mind throughout and fortunately it’s played out well.

Q. (Question in Spanish.)
JOSE URQUIDY: My mom is someone that I talk to a lot and obviously she helped me out this morning. We had coffee. Just gave me some words of encouragement.

And Osuna has been someone that’s also been a tremendous help and has helped me in terms of executing pitches, in terms of having my poise on the mound. And so he’s been a very big help.

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“There was a lot of noise around losing the first two games, and rightfully so because the Nats had outplayed us, like I said. And I think we turned it around and now we’ve outplayed them for a couple of games, and now we have a three-game series, the winner of two of three wins the World Series.” –AJ HINCH.

October 26, 2019

AJ Hinch

Washington, D.C. – postgame 4

Houston 8, Washington 1

Q. Congratulations on the win. What was the thinking behind pulling Urquidy and then what did you think overall about his performance tonight?
AJ HINCH: You know, I battled with that decision because going into the game you kind of put in your mind, go as long as he can as long as he’s good, which is what I said. I didn’t want to get too greedy with him. His spot was coming up in the order so I was going to hit for him at the beginning of the inning.

That inning actually played out how I feared his inning would. If they got things started I didn’t want him to face the middle of the order again. So I tried to be proactive and take him out.

The other thing in the back of my mind is how long a series can get and how we might need him again back in Houston if we win the game, and then you get to go back to Houston, then Games 6 and 7 starts to factor in, try to save a few bullets along the way.

But felt great about the decision when I did it. Felt terrible about it whenever they got a couple of guys on base, and here comes Will Harris again to the rescue and we got out of it. And our pen continued to put up good zeros and good innings.

That is absolutely the mental anguish that goes at this level at this stage of the season. Do you try to get greedy and squeeze another inning or pull the plug early aggressively and hope that your team picks you up.

Q. (No microphone.)
AJ HINCH: He’s outstanding. From the very beginning I thought he was calm, I thought he was in control of his stuff. His fastball had a little extra life to it. It’s had good life this postseason. And then he just came up with big pitch after big pitch.

They didn’t take good swings on him, other than Gomes got on top of a fastball up, Rendon takes a good swing on every pitcher in the big leagues. And a few big pitches that got him out of a little bit of traffic.

He controlled the game, controlled his emotions, and was super impressive.

Q. What are you seeing from Chirinos?
AJ HINCH: How about Robbie’s game? His game, on both sides of the ball. Anytime there’s a good pitching outing, you’ve got to credit the catcher for getting him through a few situations and just calming him down from the very beginning. And I think Robbie is an unsung hero at that where both he and Maldy work together.

One of the things at the end in the victory line when you’re giving high 5s, Chirinos stops and gives Maldonado a hug. That’s a true tandem back there. I thought he controlled the game very well. And then the big swing.

Anytime you can keep separating yourself in a playoff game in the World Series, that life in the dugout is second to none.

So he hit the two-run homer, huge for us to get what felt like an insurmountable lead right up until they built an inning after that. Nice night.

Q. Would you consider going with him tomorrow?
AJ HINCH: Maldy is going to catch Gerrit.

Q. Can you talk about how this team has come back. You lose the first two games at home. The dire predictions, you’re coming on to their territory now. You have evened the series.
AJ HINCH: That’s a little dramatic. It’s a seven-game series. We have a good vibe about us. We haven’t changed a bit. This is the same team that won a hundred-plus games. This is the same team that won the Division, won two playoff series.

There was a lot of noise around losing the first two games, and rightfully so because the Nats had outplayed us, like I said. And I think we turned it around and now we’ve outplayed them for a couple of games, and now we have a three-game series, the winner of two of three wins the World Series.

But our mojo, our vibe, our approach, our banter in the clubhouse, we’re the same.

Q. I wasn’t saying your dire predictions, the media. Can I ask you your confidence level right now? Does this build confidence winning the first two games here?
AJ HINCH: Our confidence level is at a pretty good level. We’re just trying to win the game today, which we did. Today was the biggest game of the series to this point. Tomorrow I’ll tell you it’s the biggest game of the series at that point.

Q. Yesterday obviously a tough night for Bregman. They intentionally walk Brantley to get to him tonight. Same situation obviously with the big hit. What can that do for him? He’s a confident guy, anyway. That’s got to help.
AJ HINCH: He’s one of the best players in baseball. But it is nice to see him crack a smile when he comes up big with a big swing and he enjoys the moment.

He’s been our rock in the middle of the order, and it’s tough when you see him not be as consistent as he was during the season. But there’s not a man in that clubhouse that was doubting that he was going to pay big for us at some point when given the opportunity again.

Huge swing. Essentially a knockout punch for the game at the biggest moment with nowhere to put him. And the at-bats before that were very critical, but a big swing to ultimately win the game.

Q. Urquidy had only pitched four and a third innings in a month. Do you make deals in your head, like two would be good, three would be great, four, wow? I wonder what you’re thinking before the game about what you could get.
AJ HINCH: Yeah, so before the game I just wanted to make sure that I was fair to him. We hadn’t asked this much even out of him. And then I try not to get into the emotion of the game. I didn’t want him to fail. I didn’t want to lead him down a path that we hadn’t asked him to do over the last month and have it turn on him.

So call it conservative, call it babying go him, call it whatever you want. But I just go into the game — obviously four or five innings, six innings would be awesome. And then when we get to that spot in the 5th and he comes up big with the big pop-ups to right field and he comes in, he’s up fourth. In my mind, given our offense certainly tonight, the way we swung the bat, I thought the four at-bats was sort of a foregone conclusion that Yordan was going to go up and hit for him.

I was sort of mentally checking out of the game. I’m going to take him out of the game. And then when the first hitter happened and he got out, I was thinking to myself, He’s not facing Eaton, he’s not facing Rendon again, he’s not facing Soto, that group, and maybe not even Turner. If I’m not going to let him get through another traffic jam then I’m going to pull him from the game. I already had Josh James going, and I thought a fresh arm at that point was fair to everybody and the best chance for us to keep the game where it was.

Q. You talked about mental anguish, making these types of decisions. For those on the outside last night when we found out Urquidy was going to get to start, it felt like a pretty bold move. What went into that decision? You’ve got to be feeling good about it.
AJ HINCH: We trust our players here. You hear a lot of people like me sit up here and say that, We trust our players, and give them the opportunity.

The No. 1 thing that pushed me over the edge to do it was how his demeanor and how his aura has been during these playoffs. We’ve gotten to see him in all rounds, the Division Series to the ALCS to now the World Series. And the demeanor, the approach. Even his reaction to me telling him that he’s starting was just business-like and ready to go. That was very impressive to me.

Our team believes in anybody that we have active, our team believes can help us win the World Series, including Jose Urquidy. If you didn’t know who he was, I think this stage will make sure everybody knows who he is now.

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“I just told the boys, Hey, we’re in the World Series. We’re going to play Game 5, tied 2-2. Who would have thought that in the beginning? So here we are. Let’s forget about it, can’t do nothing about the last two games. Let’s look ahead and get ready to play tomorrow.” — DAVE MARTINEZ.

October 26, 2019

Dave Martinez

Washington, D.C. – postgame 4

Houston 8, Washington 1

Q. Max was saying that you guys had some mojo coming into the World Series. How do you rejuvenate now that you just dropped these last two?
DAVE MARTINEZ: We’ve been here pretty much all year. So now it’s the best two out of three; right? We’ve got two of our big horses going in the next two games. We just come back.

We haven’t hit the last couple of days, but I’ve got confidence we’ll bounce back and be ready to play tomorrow. It’s just one of those things. It’s baseball. And it’s the World Series.

I just told the boys, Hey, we’re in the World Series. We’re going to play Game 5, tied 2-2. Who would have thought that in the beginning? So here we are. Let’s forget about it, can’t do nothing about the last two games. Let’s look ahead and get ready to play tomorrow.

Q. What are the adjustments it looks like the Astros have made to Soto? It looks like they changed the usage of breaking balls against him. What have you noticed?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I’m not overly concerned about what they’re doing to him. I just want him to understand. He’s really good when he stays in the middle of the field. He needs to stay in the middle of the field and take his walks. That’s the key to him. Don’t try to do too much and just stay in the middle of the field.

Q. What do you like about the matchup with Rodney and Brantley? Did you have any concern about Rodney facing Bregman the second night in a row, and Rodney pitching back-to-back games in general?
DAVE MARTINEZ: No, he’s been pitching good. He made a really good pitch to a really good hitter, hit the ball at the end of the bat, got a base hit. The next pitch wasn’t his best pitch. He tried to go in, didn’t quite get it in. He tried to go in and the ball didn’t sink in where he wanted it to be.

He’s come in for two innings and done really well for us. But I like Rodney in that spot.

Q. Given that you guys have been here, like you said, all year, are you more comfortable with your backs somewhat against the wall?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I wouldn’t say more comfortable. But the guys, they get it. It’s been preached all year long: Hey, let’s just worry about the here and now. And that’s what I told them. I said, Hey, wake up tomorrow, think about going 1-0. Don’t think ahead of the next game. Let’s focus on the here and now, and let’s go with that.

Q. If you guys score more than that one run in the bottom of the 6th and cut the deficit, would you have thought about using Doolittle or Hudson in the 7th?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, it definitely would have been different. Rainey has been our guy in the seventh inning. When he starts throwing balls, usually he can’t come out of it. He got a big out for us. And I honestly thought that Rodney was, with the change-up on Brantley, which like I said, Brantley is a good hitter, he threw a good pitch, Brantley put the ball in play. After that he just made one mistake and Bregman got him.

Q. Was there anything in particular you saw going on with Corbin in that first inning, especially with his slider?
DAVE MARTINEZ: No, for me, he just got — he starts the game, he gets a little quick. But then he settled down for a little bit and then Chirinos hit a good change-up.

Q. Just back on the pitching thing for a second in the 7th. Was there any concern about Hudson in terms of not when you bring him into the game, but you’re down or is it just that you like the matchup, as well?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, and you don’t — for me, you don’t chase wins. Come tomorrow we’re up 2-0, and all of a sudden we’re in the 7th inning, you have to use Hudson for two innings, you have to use Doolittle for two innings. You want those guys ready to pitch. I know we got a day off the next day. All this was talked about before the game.

But you’re down still three runs, and like I said, Rainey has done well for us. It just happens he couldn’t throw strikes tonight.

Q. Just sort of picking up from before the game and looking ahead to tomorrow, Suzuki is still on the roster. Could you have used him tonight if you needed to and then what is the outlook tomorrow?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He was available in an emergency. Hopefully he feels a lot better tomorrow. We’ll see how he feels better tomorrow.

He usually catches Max. If he feels better, I know he’s in there getting treatment right now, and if he wakes up, he’s going to come in early and work on his hip flexor. If he feels good, then possibly he gets a chance to play.

Q. Will Harris has been a really big weapon for them this series. He got a few more really big outs tonight. What have you seen from him and why do you think he’s been so effective when he’s been on the mound?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Oh, he’s been unbelievable, lights out. He hasn’t really given up a run. He’s got a good cutter and a good curveball keeps the guys off balance. He pitches at the top of the zone with the cutter. And when he’s effective, he throws strikes.

And that’s the thing, for us today, it was all about the walks. I think the walks got us. When you’re in these games like this and you’ve got a team like the Houston Astros and you allow them to get free bases, they’ve got pretty good hitters, you’re going to end up paying.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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“I didn’t think we were competitive enough in the first period. I thought we were really competitive and got the game going in the second and we gave up the goals in the third. Any way you look at it we made mistakes and they just shot it in our net. We gifted them those three.” –MIKE BABCOCK.

HEAD COACH MIKE BABCOCK

On tonight’s game:

Yeah, I mean, I didn’t think we were competitive enough in the first period. I thought we were really competitive and got the game going in the second and we gave up the goals in the third. Any way you look at it we made mistakes and they just shot it in our net. We gifted them those three. It’s disappointing because we had crawled our way back and kind of set the tone. Unfortunate on the penalty kill one there, obviously. A faceoff at centre, we thought we were in good position to have the puck and have a clear and the next thing you know it’s in our net.

On if there’s a consistent theme in the losses on back-to-backs:

Well, I think they’re all different. The scariest thing about it – I think, I could be wrong – I think that three of them are right there going to the third period and we don’t get it done. So, you know, the bottom line is I think the first one is a little different than the rest of these. You know, we’ve played a lot of hockey and all that, but I don’t think you can talk about back-to-backs at this point of the season. I think the first weekend is a different thing, now you’ve got to find ways to win these games.

On Hutchinson giving the team an opportunity to win:

He kept us in the first period, big time in the first period and gave us chance. And, you know, the other thing is obviously he’s getting the starts in back-to-backs. I thought we were set up to get him a win here tonight and it’s unfortunate for him because I thought his effort warranted better from us.

MICHAEL HUTCHINSON (33 SAVES):

On tonight’s performance:

Yeah, you know, it’s unfortunate we weren’t unable to grind out the two points there. I thought we were very tough battling back in the second period. It’s just unfortunate that, you know, we weren’t able to bring that momentum from the second period into the third. On facing 19 shots in the first period: They just seemed to have a lot of zone time and they threw the puck in from everywhere. They had good sticks in close on some things that were going wide onto the net. So, as a goalie it’s not always the worst thing in the world to get engaged in the game early on. So, you know, I thought that goal at the end of the first period was huge for us going into the second period.

ANDREAS JOHNSSON (1 GOAL)

On tonight’s game:

I think we didn’t start as well as we wanted. In the second we crawl back into the game and play a good second and, you know, in the third they have a power play and they get a breakaway right away and score. So, that’s uphill right away and, you know, I think we were pretty good after that. And then an unlucky bounce and another breakaway and they score again. They’re a good team, you can’t give them two breakaways in the third period if you want to win.

On the challenge of back-to-backs:

I mean, it’s always tough. You see us play against San Jose yesterday and we feel we have more energy, but they played the day before and now we’re playing against Montreal and they didn’t play yesterday. Back-to-back is always tough. You’ve got to be pretty simple. You probably won’t have the same speed as the day before and, you know, I felt like in the first period we gave them too much. I still feel like we gave [ourselves] a chance to win but in the end it’s not good enough.

AUSTON MATTHEWS (1 ASSIST)

On the difference in tonight’s game:

I mean, I think just little things. I thought the second period we got playing a lot better and created opportunities. You’ve got to credit them, you’ve got to credit their goalie, he made some big saves. They were pretty good defensively and we just can’t give up two breakaways and a 2-on-1 with the game that close. They obviously capitalized on their opportunities so you’ve just got to find a way to not give those opportunities up. Then it’s not 4-2, maybe it’s a 3-2 or 2-2 game going into the third period.

On what led to the slow start tonight:

I mean, there’s really no reason for it. I think I don’t really have the answer for you. It’s been a bit of something we haven’t really done well – especially in these back-to-backs – and we have plenty of them. So, we’ve got to find a way to start better and start on time. But, once we got playing in the second period, got back in the game and I don’t think we necessarily let our foot off the gas but I think we just gave them little mental errors — a couple of breakaways, a couple of odd-man rushes and they capitalized on them. We just can’t do that.