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

October 23, 2019

Josh Reddick

Houston, Texas – pregame 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 22, 2019

Stephen Strasburg

Houston, Texas – pregame 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 22, 2019

Justin Verlander

Houston, Texas – pregame 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s definitely a goal of mine.

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

October 22, 2019

Juan Soto

Ryan Zimmerman

Houston, Texas – postgame 1

Washington 5, Houston 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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