October 26, 2019
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.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports