October 27, 2019
Washington, D.C. – postgame 5
Houston 7, Washington 1
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.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports