Q. First, Kurt, how is the hip feeling and what do you think your chances are to be in the lineup tomorrow? And missing the games the last two nights, what were you able to do in terms of helping break down the video and advice to teammates? KURT SUZUKI: It feels better, obviously. I got some treatment and stuff like that, and it’s progressing. So we’ll see.
Going to do some stuff today and we’ll figure out more tonight after we get into Houston about tomorrow. Everything is looking good so far.
As for watching a couple of games, it was Games 3, 4, and 5, I’ve done pretty much all my homework the first couple of games, just a matter of changing up your sequences and your patterns and things like that, because obviously they’re good hitters over there, they make adjustments, as well. So we just have to change it up and at times go with your pitcher’s strengths. So we’ll see. It should be interesting.
Q. Watching the last couple of games, and obviously there’s been a lot of attention on the strike zone, how pitches are being called. Do you have any particular thoughts, not criticizing, but are the pitches that we see sometimes on the huge screen that might make a fan go crazy, like how did you miss that pitch? Are they always as apparent to your hitter or as a catcher? KURT SUZUKI: Yeah, I think sometimes obviously if you’re a catcher you want more pitches. As a hitter you want the strike zone smaller. It’s definitely not easy, guys are throwing upwards 95, 100 miles an hour. You’re not going to be perfect. Obviously we understand that.
That being said, obviously you want the strike zone to be consistent. But these guys are human. They do their best, as we try our best to hit the ball or catch the ball. And nothing is ever going to be perfect. It’s part of the baseball game, you got to deal with it, and just move forward and try not to let it bother you.
And sometimes it can dictate a little different result. But at the same time, we’re all professions here and we all have to make adjustments and we all have to adjust to certain things that happen in the game. Like I said, it’s an imperfect game.
You can’t really blame the umpire for your wins and losses. It’s just part of the game. You have to move forward and keep playing baseball.
Q. Have you been able to do cardio, running, getting in the cage? And how much available were you the last two nights to pinch-hit? KURT SUZUKI: Yeah, I was ready, ready to pinch-hit. I kept it in an emergency, obviously. But just kind of my thing and treatments obviously, not doing blocking drills like I would do in Spring Training. But just trying to stay sharp and be ready.
I think at this point in the season, you’re always going to be ready. So there’s nothing extra that I have to do at this point in the season to stay ready. We’re good to go. We’re ready.
Q. You guys have obviously faced elimination three times this month. You’ve come from behind to win games. You were involved in one of the biggest ones of the year. Why do you think this team is particularly good at dealing with those kind of situations? KURT SUZUKI: I really don’t know. Pretty much everybody eliminated us from the season in May. So we’ve kind of been playing like every game was an elimination game since then.
But just basically you’ve just got to go out and play. You can’t worry about what’s at stake and this and that. You try to play it as much as possible as another baseball game. And we’ve been in this spot before earlier this postseason. And we’ve just got to go out there and play baseball, man. We can’t control the future. We just control what’s at present right now, and that’s going out there and competing.
Q. The count was 0-2 and then you battled back. Describe the at-bat, what did you hit for the home run?
CARLOS CORREA: They were doing a great job of punting me in with the two-seamer, not leaving anything down the middle. And I got that one mistake and I was able to put a good swing on it to hit it for a home run. Joe is a tough pitcher who was commanding the strike zone very well. And that was one mistake he made to me, and I was able to take advantage of it.
Q. How much has it helped to see Doolittle and Hudson as much as you have? And how can that work to your advantage going forward?
CARLOS CORREA: It helps a lot. It helps a lot to see pitchers often especially in a series like this. You can see how the ball moves, their tendencies, what makes them good. And then you have a better approach next time you face them. So, yeah, it’s good that we get to face them.
Q. Alvarez had a great night tonight. When he was at his most frustrated we saw him break a bat, very unusual for him to show that kind of emotion. As his teammate, can you explain how frustrated he was before tonight and how he came out of it?
CARLOS CORREA: Yeah, I just told him that what great players do when they struggle is try to figure out a way to contribute to the game. He went to the cage. He spent time in the cage. He put in his work. And he told me that he was feeling great. I said, It’s your night, brother, let’s go. And he was able to contribute in a big way to the team.
The homer to get the early lead, three singles — the two singles; right? It’s huge to see him swing the bat like that because now we go back home and then he’s our DH at 22 years old for a reason. He’s young and he’s powerful and he’s a great hitter. So we believe in him and we know he’s going to keep doing it.
Q. I saw you and Jose after the game last night singing, clearly had your swagger all the way back. In your opinion, what was the biggest difference here versus what went wrong at home?
CARLOS CORREA: So on the way here from the plane I was talking to him and I was like, Jose, we need to get our swagger back. We’re getting hits and we’re not even getting hyped up. We’re scoring runs and it feels like a regular game. This is the World Series. This is the last series of the season. We need to play like it. We need to give everything we’ve got. Then after the series is over we’re going to be exhausted but we got three months to rest and then show up to Spring Training. Let’s get our swagger back. Let’s play hard. Let’s play with passion. Let’s play like we want it.
And I feel like this last three games we really play like we want this championship. We’ve got to win one more game. Obviously they’ve got a great team on the other side. We have a lot of respect for them and the group of guys they have over there. But we’ve got to go out there and take care of business in Houston.
Q. Specifically before the home run there was a two-strike curveball you took that was borderline. Were you confident in that take and do you think it helped set up your next swing?
CARLOS CORREA: Absolutely. That’s what you call a perfect pitch right there, a pitcher’s pitch. And I was able to lay it off. I thought it was a little off. I haven’t seen a replay of that pitch.
And after that he made a mistake. I feel like the at-bats against me he was throwing the ball wherever he wanted to throw it. After that pitch I could see on his face that he really wanted that pitch. And he was able to make a mistake and I took advantage to that one.
Q. This core has been together for a while and accomplished a lot. But when you see Urquidy having a good game last night and Alvarez, Tucker getting to play, what do you think about the future of this organization, beyond just the core stars?
CARLOS CORREA: I think the future is bright for this organization. I know Jeff is not only planning to be good for two or three years; he is planning for the team to be great for a long time.
That’s why we have so many great young players that has helped contribute throughout these playoffs. Alvarez, Tucker, Urquidy. I mean, Urquidy’s performance last night I think is the best performance from our pitching staff in this World Series. And young guy, Double-A, and then he’s pitching in the World Series, calm, collected, no pressure, just pounding the strike zone against a great lineup like the Nats. That was impressive. That was so much fun to watch. It was really fun to play behind him.
Q. 2017 you guys came back, in that series you win in Los Angeles. What would it mean to you, how do you think you would react if you take these three and potentially win in Houston?
CARLOS CORREA: Wow, obviously we’ve still got a lot of baseball to play. But to answer your question, if we win in front of our fans, it’s just going to be so special. I think I’ll black out for the first time in my life.
Q. Obviously you guys want to finish off this season first, but have you talked as a team, you had this core together, what it means to finish off this great three-year run, three 100-win seasons and two titles, what that would mean?
CARLOS CORREA: We’ve still got to win the title. They’ve got a great team over there. The at-bats they put together, it’s amazing to watch.
But we love each other so much. Like you said, the core of guys that we have in that clubhouse is so special. We’re family. We’ve been playing together so long, some of us since the Minor Leagues, Altuve has been here forever. The bond and the love we have for each other is unbelievable, that’s what makes it seem so special. That’s what makes the chemistry so special, the atmosphere in the clubhouse is unbelievable. When you guys walk in you can see it.
When we talk to our players, come, be a trade or something, they’re like, We’ve never seen anything like this. This is the culture that we want to create for the long run as a Houston Astro. We want to be able to be family in there, we want to be able to compete together, and win together.
Q. Speaking of that core, I think you and Springer have homered in the same postseason games more than any other teammates ever. Do you have any reaction or explanation for that and is that something you guys talk about?
CARLOS CORREA: I mean, that’s awesome. Springer is my boy. I saw him when I got drafted playing Double-A, like a 40-40 season. I was like, This guy is the greatest player ever. He’s unbelievable. When it matters the most in the playoffs, in the World Series, that’s when he comes through for the team. He’s such a special player and not only offensively but defensively as well. It’s awesome we get to do that. That’s great. I didn’t know that.
Q. Pregame you talked about Yordan, you thought he could give you a good at-bat or two. Talk about your confidence in him and him breaking through.
AJ HINCH: You want to talk about feeling like you did the right thing is just put Yordan in the game and have him have three incredible at-bats. The first one being the most impactful, just being able to hit a missile to center field or just off of center field to kick-start our offense tonight.
He’s done this the whole year, but this postseason as he’s tried to find his way it was nice to see him stay within himself. And then the dugout actually exploded more when he caught the line drive in left field.
Everybody was having a good time with him. He contributed great. Got to the 7th inning, three hits, put our defense in. But he was a big catalyst tonight.
Q. This team wasn’t shaken at all being down 2-0 it seemed. There was a lot of talk about it but in the clubhouse and the demeanor of the guys, what is it about this group that makes it that way?
AJ HINCH: It’s hard to pinpoint one thing but I love our feel for the moment and feel for this team. Everybody talks about culture and chemistry, and when you have it, you love it. When you see it on the other side you’re envious of it. And we just have a way of playing today.
And the confidence comes from the success that we’ve had. We feel like we’re in every game. We’ve had games where we’ve come from behind. We’ve had games where we’ve stretched the lead. We’ve had games like today where we just methodically kept going with big swings and we look up and we have a comfortable win.
I think the leadership in that room is impressive. I think the feel for the moment or the feel for the game is increased with every successful season. So our players are just really good about playing for today.
Q. When you guys came here on Thursday night there was a lot going on the field, off the field. How has your team and you been able to find your way through this and maybe block out everything that’s going on and focus on the baseball game between the lines?
AJ HINCH: When you take a step back in general — we’re in the World Series. We play the whole season to get to this point. And we took a pretty heavy punch in the gut when it came to the first two games. The Nats came out hot. They won a close game then they blew us out late.
And then you take a step back, and you’re like, We’re still in the World Series, and it’s still a race to four wins. You win that first win. I said that, I think the vibe was going to start to pick up a little bit and there was going to be some questions about this series once we win the first game. And then we win the second game here. And then today we come out and separate ourselves a little bit.
We play baseball. We’re in the clubhouse. We have a close-knit group. We’ve dealt with a lot in general over the year, even though on paper the season looked like it’s been six winning months and a franchise record number of wins, we’ve still had to fight through a few things. It’s been no different in the World Series.
Q. Down 0-2 and then coming back winning three away, how confident are you guys feeling going back now to Houston with only one win to go?
AJ HINCH: You know, we’ve got a win left. We know how quickly things can turn where momentum can shift in a series, especially in a series against a quality team like the Nats.
We’re not going to take anything for granted. It is nice to go home. I don’t really want to talk about a second game. I’d like to wrap this up as soon as possible. And we’ve got Justin Verlander on the mound, and that brings a lot of confidence to our clubhouse.
Their guy’s pretty good, too. We’re going to have to bring our best after a long flight. We have a day off tomorrow, we’ll be ready to play on Tuesday. But our confidence level is good. We’re going home to play in front of one of the best crowds in the playoffs and in the World Series, and hopefully get one more win.
Q. What was the difference tonight for Cole as opposed to Game 1?
AJ HINCH: I thought his execution was better, and I think when he dotted his pitches it was great. When he missed he was barely missing in the right areas. And I think his rhythm, his timing, his use of his pitches got better and better as the game went on.
I think the big inning when it was first and third and no outs, and they start to look like they’re going to put something together, he was able to get out of that unscathed. And when you have elite pitchers like that, if you don’t get them when you’re supposed to get them or when they’re vulnerable, you could really see him settle in after that and begin to dominate.
Q. You mentioned that you were going to stay the course after going down 0-2. But specifically what tweaks did you guys make to sort of turn things around? What went wrong in Houston that went right here?
AJ HINCH: I don’t think it was anything against us. I think we obviously started to swing the bats a little bit better. I think we saw — today was a good example of what our team has been. The last couple of games has been — I don’t know which guys you want to interview, but you could pick six of them or seven of them or eight of them and contributors on the pitching side or on the position player side.
We didn’t tweak anything. We just continued to play the series. We have experience in series, in seven-game series. We know on the front end you can’t assume anything when you’re ahead and on the other end you can’t assume when you’re down.
I don’t think we tweaked anything, but we started to bring our personality back, we started to bring our run production back. We started playing from ahead, that was the key for us, this three games in Washington. And subsequently we — our pitching staff decided not to give up very many runs. And combine those things and we come away with three wins.
Q. The 3-2 pitch to Robles in the 7th, do you feel like you caught a break? Obviously the Nats didn’t like it. Would you have taken Cole out of the game?
AJ HINCH: We’ll never know, will we? We’ll never know.
You know what, there’s so much emotion that goes on in these plays, and depending on which side you are on, you’re going to have that reaction of — I haven’t seen it on video. I know I saw their dugout reaction and I saw our dugout reaction on the Zimmerman pitch when he walked right before that. That’s why I went out to the mound to calm Gerrit and Martin down. They both had a reaction the other way.
Whichever side you’re on you’re going to sort of react that way. But we’ll never know and you’ll never know whether I was going to take Gerrit out or not. That’s the beauty of it.
Q. With Yordan did anything stand out about how he worked his way through the postseason struggles?
AJ HINCH: The couple hits early in Game 1 was encouraging when you’re facing Max Scherzer and he was able to put up some really good at-bats. Actually, the at-bat I go back to is the walk he had in his first at-bat I believe in Game 1 where he took a close pitch. He had been swinging at a lot of pitches out of the zone.
Now, he has a really good feel for the strike zone. When he was able to draw that walk, maybe that clicked in his timing and he had a little bit of success. You start getting a couple hits and off he goes.
He’s always looked comfortable in the box even through his struggles. He had a little bit of frustration throughout the postseason. But when we keeps his balance and he keeps his zone control, we see the damage he can do. Obviously tonight was a good example of that.
Q. With this being Cole’s last scheduled start, how do you assess his attention to detail and his performance for this season?
AJ HINCH: You know what, I think that’s for after the season. We’re wrapped up in this series trying to win the World Series. I haven’t even given a thought of — I’ve put it in perspective on the season.
I hope it’s his last outing. I know everybody is going to ask me if it gets to Game 7 if he’s available, but I want to finish this in 6.
But what he did tonight, the feel for the game, the importance of this game, the reaction to them having to change from Scherzer to Ross, he still set an excellent tone for us. And he provided the intensity that’s needed.
In a 2-2 series to get to 3-2, it’s not easy. It’s not easy finishing an outing the way that he did under the duress that he did. And that was — it’s very similar to how he pitched the entire season.
But I can’t really wrap up the whole season; we’re trying to wrap up a series.
Q. Jose has now 25 consecutive games in postseason getting on base. What can you say about that streak?
AJ HINCH: That’s incredible. I hope he makes it 26.
He’s such a good baseball player. And certainly he’s been dialed in this postseason. He’s been remarkable on both sides of the ball. But his bat-to-ball skills is elite. It gets shown on the big stage. He doesn’t overswing. He doesn’t try to do too much.
We’re used to him getting all these hits so it doesn’t surprise me he’s able to put together a streak like that. But I’m just glad he’s ours.
Q. What’s changed for the offense since you’ve been home and what, if anything, do you or your players need to do to fix it?
DAVE MARTINEZ: We actually hit some balls hard, we really did. We just can’t get nothing going these last three days. But we hit some balls hard.
You’re facing some pretty good pitching right now. We’ve just got to keep battling. These guys, they’re not going to quit, I can tell you that right now.
We got a day off tomorrow, come back Tuesday. And I truly believe these guys will get after it again Tuesday. I told them, I said, I know we’re going to go 1-0, but we’re going to play Game 7, I believe that. So keep pushing.
Q. Are those hard-hit balls luck or positioning?
DAVE MARTINEZ: They positioned themselves pretty well. But we hit some balls hard. Trea hit a couple balls hard today, actually three balls hard. We’ve just got to keep battling.
Q. There was a lot of strong reaction from each dugout in some of the calls from home plate, particularly from yours. Do you believe some of those may have changed the course of the game?
DAVE MARTINEZ: You know what, I will not ever sit here and criticize an umpire. I’ve known Lance for a very long time and he’s really good. And that’s all I’m going to say about it. I’m not going to sit here — I know there were some choice words but that’s just in the heat of the moment.
But like I said, they’re doing their job, and they do it really well. That’s why they’re an umpire in the World Series.
Q. (In Spanish.)
DAVE MARTINEZ: We won two games in Houston, we’re going back to Houston to play Game 6, and here we go. That’s all we’ve got to do is just worry about Game 6 right now.
Q. Considering the decades of anticipation for a World Series game in this city, I wonder what the level of frustration not to be able to give the fans something to celebrate here feels like right now?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I think in the ninth inning there were fans screaming behind me they’re with us. One guy, he said, I can’t be in Houston, but I’ll be there watching. He said, You guys can do this. That’s what’s good about these fans. They’re behind us.
We had our backs against the wall all year long, nobody thought we were going to be here. We’re here playing Game 6 of the World Series. We’re going to fight. We’re going to finish this thing.
Q. Astros admitted that they lost a little bit of their swagger when they went down 0-2. Is it fair to say that you guys feel somewhat the same way?
DAVE MARTINEZ: No, not these guys. Like I said, we fought all year long to get here. We played playoff games all year long to get here. But we have a lot in fight in us left. I know we do.
Like I said, tomorrow they get a day off, they’ll come in, get their treatment, some guys will work out. But we’ll come back ready to go on Tuesday.
Q. Do you think when you are pressured like that, when you do face situations like that, that it oddly loosens your guys up?
DAVE MARTINEZ: You know what, I honestly think that our guys — they just come out and play. They don’t even think about any game. You listen to them now when we walked in, and they’re saying, Hey, we’re going to go to Houston and win that first game and get to Game 7.
I told them the focus is Game 6. We’ve got Stephen Strasburg on the mound. I like our chances, you know, keeps us in the ball game. Who knows what can happen.
Q. You’ve always said you wanted to be in the middle of the field. Did the last swing look like that? And do you think some of the other guys also need to stay in the middle of the field?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, Juan hit a home run straight away center field, and that was awesome.
We’ve got to start, like I said, our at-bats with two strikes I thought were better today. Trea had some pretty good at-bats. So just put the ball in play but stay — good things happen when you put the ball in play.
Q. What have you seen from the Astros these three games here to be able to change this series, and specifically the job AJ has done to get the team back to where they want to be?
DAVE MARTINEZ: They didn’t win 106 games for nothing. They’ll really good. They’ve got a well-balanced lineup. Their pitching is good. Their bullpen gets out. We knew this coming in.
Like I said, it was pretty even this whole series. They’re a game up with two games left. So let’s just worry about Tuesday.
Q. Specifically on the 3-2 pitch to Robles, that seemed to be the one that got the dugout the most upset?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I haven’t looked at it yet. I thought it could have been a little bit up and out. Lance thought it was a strike. Like I said, I’m not going to sit here and criticize. Their job is not easy, it’s tough. I appreciate Lance very much. I’ve said that about all umpires. They’ve got a tough job, and they try to do the best they can. These guys are the best, that’s why they’re umpiring in the World Series.
Q. When you stick with Huddie for the 9th, how do you balance wanting to keep the game close and not overexpose him when you know you need him later?
DAVE MARTINEZ: We thought we could get him up to about 35 pitches, that would be his max. And he was right there.
Q. What was your assessment of Ross’s outing? When did you tell him he was actually going to pitch today?
DAVE MARTINEZ: We kind of gave him a heads up last night. And when he came in this morning we told him he was definitely going to start. I thought he did really well, I really did. I told him, Hey, we want to keep him right about 80 pitches and he gave us five good innings. And I said, Hey, you need to be ready to pitch in a few days again. I said, You did a great job.
Q. Is there any notion the way this series is gone once you get on the road you relax with fewer family and friends and room service?
DAVE MARTINEZ: It could be. I’m not a big room service guy. I like to go out and eat. Houston has got some pretty good restaurants that I like.
Hey, I enjoyed our fans here, I really did. It was awesome. And I know they’re going to be behind us when we go to Houston, I really do.
Q. Max had to have been in a lot of pain to not go tonight. What was his reaction when he found out he was not able to go?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He was upset. Max is very — he likes to talk. He’s very competitive. Today was the first time I think since I’ve known him that he didn’t say much. He was quiet. And I knew that he was in pain.
Q. And the possibility of him playing in a Game 7?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He’s going to figure something out. Right now I don’t know his status. I’ll find out when I go back in. But he’s going to try to and get himself ready.