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.
Jake Muzzin put the Maple Leafs on the board at 19:44 of the first period. Muzzin has goals (2) in two consecutive games. He has six points (2-4-6) over his last six games. Eight (2-6-8) of Muzzin’s nine points have come against Eastern Conference opponents this season.
Andreas Johnsson scored Toronto’s second goal of the night at 5:52 of the second period. Johnsson has four points (1-3-4) over his last five games. He has six points (4-2-6) in seven career games against the Canadiens.
Mitch Marner recorded the primary assist on Muzzin’s first period goal. Marner has assists (3) in two consecutive games. He has five assists over his last five games. His nine primary assists are tied for the third-most primary assists in the NHL.
Ilya Mikheyev collected the secondary assist on Muzzin’s first period goal. Mikheyev has points (1-2-3) in two consecutive games. He has two assists in two games against the Canadiens this season. In seven games against Atlantic Division opponents, Mikheyev has seven points (2-5-7).
Auston Matthews registered the primary assist on Johnsson’s second period goal. Matthews has points (1-1-2) in two consecutive games. He has five points (2-3-5) over his last five games. He has 17 points (12-5-17) in 13 career games against Montreal.
Morgan Rielly had the secondary assist on Johnsson’s second period goal. Rielly has points (1-1-2) in two consecutive games. He has two assists in two games against Montreal this season.
Q. I guess you’ve heard other pitchers, maybe you’ve been asked this before, you’re pitching against them for a second after a few days, is that any kind of big deal adjusting to them and them adjusting to you?
GERRIT COLE: No, there are always challenges that are involved in that. This being the largest stage that we can get on, certainly with the opponent being so well prepared, anticipate having to respond to some things tomorrow and hopefully we respond well.
Q. A similar version of that question, what impressed you most about their lineup top to bottom in facing them?
GERRIT COLE: I mean, they won some two-strike counts. They battled. I mean, I feel like I’ve said this a few times since we’ve been to the postseason, our opponents have not taken a pitch off.
But I feel like the intensity grows as we get deeper into October, just the intent and the uncertainty — the intent and certainty on the approaches and on the focus on the pitches just continues to just raise across the board. And so you have to deal with that. You have to respond to that.
Q. We’ve seen it in your starts like when you know it’s your last inning where you sort of empty your tank a little bit when you know you’re not going to come back out. Is there an element to that where last start of the season, you know it’s the last time you take the ball, you do some of that, that maybe you wouldn’t do normally?
GERRIT COLE: Yeah, I mean, I just — I hope I go home with nothing left in the tank. So whether it’s tomorrow is the last time I pitch or I get the opportunity to pitch another time after that, I just hope I’m just absolutely dog tired by the time I get home.
Q. You have talked in the past about your good relationship with Martin Maldonado, your good work relationship. Can you talk a little bit about how that level of confidence was built?
GERRIT COLE: I mean, I just think Maldy, specifically the weapons that he has behind the dish in terms of just how athletic he is blocking the ball and how he can throw runners out. I really think he can complement anybody’s game, but specifically he can complement my game.
I think just our catching core in general, we just have such a high level of communication, Robinson and Maldy do just a fantastic job. Maldy has had a little bit more experience with me dating back to 2018, which never hurts.
He’s just a pleasure to play with. He performs at a high level. He prepares at a high level. He’s a true professional. He’s one of the elite catchers in the game, especially defensively. And he’s just a really good human. So I just enjoy being around him.
Q. Both in Game 1 and against the Yankees in the CS, you kind of had some ill-timed walks. When you look back at those two starts, have you found any parallels about why your command has slipped a little bit in certain situations?
GERRIT COLE: Yeah, on the specific walk the last game I just kind of went to the stuff a little bit. I went to a pitch I just really didn’t have good command of on the day one too many times. And then counted on Kurt being a little aggressive, 3-2, and wasn’t able to just put pressure on me. I wanted to put pressure at the top of the zone, and I missed above the zone.
The in regards to the Yankee start, there were some scenarios where I just wasn’t quite certain with challenging over the plate. And if you’re not giving a quality delivery on the way there, you can always hit the “eject” button and move on to the next guy. And I did that a few times, I just didn’t want to flirt with fire. We were in the Bronx and we had a lead but it’s quick to get that team back in. And I just felt like, hey, maybe live to die another day a couple of times because we still were able to bring some good pitches out when we needed to.
Q. After your first start against the Nats, Juan Soto said he knew he should just sit on fastball after experiencing batting against you in Spring Training. Do you remember him batting against you in Spring Training and do you buy that?
GERRIT COLE: Well, I remember him hitting against me in Spring Training. And I would expect him to be looking for a fastball after the first at-bat.
Q. Your teammates with a couple of guys won Cy Youngs, and now you’re going opposite who has won a few tomorrow. Now that we’re into the series I wonder what your views are of the pitching talent in the series, and what it says that the pitching got this far in a season where we saw so many home runs?
GERRIT COLE: Yeah, I think it’s been tremendous. I’ve had a fun time watching the series unfold so far. I thought — it’s never fun when you’re on the losing side of it. The tenacity shown in the first game is something to be admired for sure. Strasburg, as well, in the last inning there on the ropes, needed to make some big pitches. Saw some emotion out of him. Watching him for a long time, on a personal level that was pretty cool to see. It was pretty disappointing for our team. But on a pitcher-to-pitcher level that was impressive.
And then I just think it’s ironic that AnIbal, Scherzer and JV are in the same World Series as they were when they were on the Tigers. So it’s kind of like the old dogs showing back up in the bright lights. AnIbal is always creative, always forward thinking, front door cutters, back door super changeups, curveball, spitball, I don’t know what he throws, but he throws everything.
Always fascinating to watch something like that. And then opposing Zack who has a little bit more of a traditional arsenal compared to AnIbal but equally as creative. I’ve taken a lot of pleasure in watching the guys work this series for sure.
Q. (No microphone.)
GERRIT COLE: I guess it makes me appreciate it just more because I don’t get to see it very often.
Q. Your answer to the empty the tank question suggested that you thought about maybe pitching Game 7 in relief. Do you have a memory or some vision of other starter that did that that you could see yourself playing that role in the script?
GERRIT COLE: Nothing really comes to mind. I guess what — the reason why I said that was because of the experience that this club had in the previous World Series and how JV mentioned that he had to be ready for a Game 7 and so did Dallas. And ultimately — and I think they both got hot in that game. And ultimately Charlie proved to be the one that we rode to the finish line.
So you just never know. You’re always just so inspired to get in the game and try to contribute any way you can. You just want to be prepared for a situation like that. I would just rather anticipate having my card called as opposed to not, so especially when you’re on this stage. This is a blast.
Q. The Nationals don’t strike out a ton relative to the rest of the League. I wonder, does that stand out to you when you study them and does it have an impact on how you approach this lineup compared to others?
GERRIT COLE: Well, I wouldn’t expect the worst strikeout team to be in the World Series, you know what I’m saying? So I expect them to be good and they are really good.
They’re also a National League club. Playing in the National League for a while, like it is a little bit different style of hitting, especially navigating the bottom half of the order, trying to work around the pitcher.
So I think both of those things kind of lead you to the point where it’s like you may not be facing a team that has a propensity to strikeout 13 or 14 times a game.
But as far as your game plan, like my game plan isn’t to go in and strike out 13 to 14 guys a game. My game plan is just to try to execute the pitches. And if I execute them at a high level and I pick the right ones at the right times, my stuff allows me to get swing and miss. If you’re a team that doesn’t do that then maybe you just swing and miss less.
It doesn’t really affect my approach about how I need to go about executing my pitches or how I need to go about picking what sequences I go with. Once the ball is out of my hand it’s kind of out of my control whether they strike out or not. But I’m looking to get as many outs as I can. And I’m looking to put the ball in position to give me the best opportunity to get it out.
Q. Any thoughts that this could be your last start as a member of the Astros? And what’s it like to be on a team that’s made the World Series two or three times?
GERRIT COLE: No.
It’s been a blast since I’ve been here. I wasn’t on the team in ’17 and I’m not thinking about anything past the next few days.
Q. I asked Max this earlier, because tomorrow it will be NL rules and you’ll have to bat at least once. Is that something that you enjoy facing off against a fellow starting pitcher when you’re pitching to him or he’s pitching to you? And the second part of the question is do you feel at any kind of disadvantage because you didn’t have a lot of reps as an AL pitcher?
GERRIT COLE: I think the second part of your question is pretty understood. Just in general, when American League teams come into National League parks, there’s an inherent disadvantage unless you trade for Zack Greinke, and then maybe you have a little bit of an edge there.
In regards to hitting against Max Scherzer, I think I fall in line with pretty much everyone else that it’s probably not the most enjoyable experience of all time (laughter).
Q. We’ve seen when Urquidy has pitched his change-up has been key for him. That pitch specifically, how crucial is it and how have you seen it develop? AJ HINCH: Yeah, it’s a big pitch for him and it’s a big pitch for a lot of pitchers. When you can control rhythm and timing and disrupt it for the hitter, it’s all the better. And especially if you haven’t seen a guy, our hope is that a lot of these guys they haven’t seen him. And that front-to-back game that you can play with the change-up is really critical. He’s got a good arm. His velocity has been on the higher side while he’s been with us recently. And that ability to slow the game down with an off-speed pitch, we see it effective across the board in the playoffs. The different type of weapon that can be.
He can control it for a strike, he can get some chases out of it. Guys don’t generally center it up. We’re hoping for much of the same moving forward.
Q. Urquidy had basically two separate stints for you during the regular season. How did he evolve between those two stints? AJ HINCH: He went down — it’s ironic because when he got called up, we asked him to debut at Coors Field. That’s kind of an unfair assignment. And he handled that well emotionally. We didn’t know if he was going to be a spot starter. We wanted to get him up there for a couple starts, but we weren’t sure it going to be long-term, was he going to stay in a rotation. And then he showed flashes of yes, he was going to be that guy and then some struggles that no, he wasn’t.
When we sent him back down, it was really just sort of a gap in time where we needed to work on a few things. The strike throwing, we needed him to continue to evolve with that. He got beat up little bit, and had one blowup game in Triple-A that was unlike him. He had a lot of homers and a lot of hits. And maybe took our advice to be in the strike zone a little bit too much.
Then when he came back, I noticed that that didn’t really change him. That didn’t shy him away from the strike zone, it didn’t derail his confidence. He was able to handle the moment.
So I think he’s learned a lot being around our pitching staff, our pitching program. It’s like one of those things, he pitches up to the level when he comes to the big leagues and he can be creative and he can throw different pitches.
But emotionally he’s evolved to being a very, very confident, very calm, very poised pitcher. And I noticed that during the Division Series in Tampa. We asked him to do something he had rarely done; come out of the bullpen, middle of an inning, kind of the high stakes of postseason baseball, and he was up for the challenge.
And then go to the Yankees game, which he was huge. I was going into the game maybe using him, maybe not using him. Ended up using him as the bridge in the middle of the game. And despite the pressure and the atmosphere at Minute Maid and the Yankees being the team across the way, he continued to stay poised, continued to get swing and misses.
Q. In a game where you’re expecting to use several pitchers, how much does that increase the decision making and reduce the margin of error, especially on a stage like this one?
AJ HINCH: Well, I go into every postseason game sort of expecting to use a lot. I know we’re lucky to have JV and Cole specifically, who kind of get me to realize these guys can get to seven or eight innings. That’s rare, though.
And so I’m not sure it’s too dissimilar today. I would love for Urquidy to go five, six innings, whatever he can do. And maybe we don’t have to use as many pitchers.
I think the game in itself, I’m still going to trust myself to read the game. I’m still going to utilize as many guys as we need to. The fear of using so many predetermined pitchers is going to be the back end of the game.
We had this the last bullpen game we had — and I don’t even know if I want to call this a bullpen game because Urquidy is a starter. But the last bullpen game we had the Yankees tied the game up in the last inning and we stared down at the bullpen and I got two pitchers, both relievers; one was Rondon, a veteran pitcher who’s generally a one-inning pitcher, and Abreu, who’s had nine or ten career innings in the big leagues.
If you’re too aggressive or you’re too — you make too many decisions very soon then you could run out of pitching, and I don’t think anybody wants to see a position player pitch in the World Series.
Q. How do you determine when it’s right to go with the starter, a really good starter, on three days’ rest and maybe get a compromised version of him versus letting him pitch on regular rest? You did it with Verlander and that didn’t really work out. Some teams do, some don’t.
AJ HINCH: That’s tough because the minute you decide to go a guy on three days’ rest, you get bombarded with information on how it’s a bad idea. Just over time it has not proven to be an effective philosophy.
Now, I say that, saying my first ever playoff game I ever managed was Dallas Keuchel on three days’ rest. And he was exceptional getting through six innings at Yankee Stadium, and we beat the Yankees.
And we know the stories, the Bumgarners and Randy Johnsons and historic performances that came on short rest, that it’s possible. But you have to know your personnel. You have to know where you’re at in the series, you have to know what your backup plan is.
Specifically for the Verlander decision in the DS, Gerrit Cole as a backup plan in Game 5 was not the worse-case scenario for us. We had a positive fallback option. When I used JV on short rest in 2017 in Boston, in the series against them, we had Dallas Keuchel as a backup plan.
What’s different is once you start that in a seven-game series you can’t stop. In reference to Gerrit Cole today, if we started Gerrit Cole today, then what are you going to do tomorrow in a Game 5? It’s easy, let’s start JV. Now I’ve got two back-to-back three-day starts, and then we have a day off, which everybody assumes recharges everybody’s battery to full. I’m going to tell you it does not; it’s just one day. Now you have a Game 6.
So the series length often dictates whether or not you feel comfortable putting a guy on three days’ rest.
I like the idea when it works. I hate it when it doesn’t. And I don’t get to know on the front end.
Q. Some thoughts on going with Jake today?
AJ HINCH: Marisnick? Jake is an impact defender, he’s got some base running skills that we can utilize hitting in front of the pitcher. He’s got a little bit of history with Corbin, having done pretty well with him.
I love his energy. In this ballpark, watching for a game, you should see all the action that’s in the outfield. We talked about it with Alvarez versus Reddick yesterday. Reddick makes a great defensive play down the right field line, gets a base hit. All the plays that Soto and Brantley had to deal with in a tricky left field.
Having Jake in the center kind of realigns our outfield to being very, very strong up the middle. George goes to right, I’ll have Brantley in left.
Obviously if we can take the lead today, that would be our optimal defense out there with Jake in center field anyway, as I showed when I put him in the game at the end of the game yesterday.
Q. Is there any way that Verlander would be an option in the bullpen tonight?
AJ HINCH: No, Justin won’t pitch unless we go extra innings, and then all bets are off.
Q. Back in the day, and it was a long time ago, starting pitcher would go Games 1, 4, and 7. Is that past? Will it ever happen again and why not?
MAX SCHERZER: If I remember correctly, didn’t Corey Kluber do that? So I guess it’s still possible.
Q. It seems like the questioning when it comes to facing the same team twice within a series, it always seems to suggest that the advantage goes to the hitters for seeing the pitcher again. What have you personally learned about how to adjust seeing a team multiple times within a series?
MAX SCHERZER: Yeah, I mean, it’s just going to be a challenge. I think the only advantage of this is that I don’t face the Houston Astros that much. In the National League that kind of happens a little bit more once you start getting ten at-bats then I think that kind of equals out and maybe a hitter gets a little bit more advance because they understand what you’re going to do to them.
I still feel that I could execute better and give their hitters just a little bit different look even though they did get to see me pitch against them and what it looks like.
No matter what, it’s always going to be a battle.
Q. Davey just sort of said Kurt’s status is up in the air right now. Can you describe his importance for what you do, preparation-wise in sort of the run you’ve gone on?
MAX SCHERZER: Yeah, I mean, we’ve worked really well together, just being in sync of what pitch to throw and even in big situations. But I’ve also worked with Yan this year several times. Even when Zuke was down there in September, there was a handful of games where I was throwing to Yan.
And so we do have a rapport with each other, we do understand what’s going on. And Yan is very astute to the game of being able to watch what’s going on and how I sequence guys and what we want to do. He’s catching tonight so he’s going to be able to see whatever is going on, get his feet wet.
I feel comfortable throwing to Yan, as well.
Q. Obviously they’re so good at laying off pitches off the plate. After your last start you said you couldn’t afford taking a chance of leaving something over the plate. Facing them again, can you stick with that or at some point do you have to figure out a way to throw more effective strikes over the plate and hope for the best?
MAX SCHERZER: The game will dictate that. The scoreboard will dictate.
That. You’ve got to just get into the flow of the game, and understand where everything’s at, where you’re at in the lineup, who’s up, score of the game, inning, pitch count, you name it. That all just goes into the same thing. You just have to have your instincts out there and work with the catcher and just figure out what you want to do.
Q. Obviously it’s very clear how a starter can set a tone for a team on the day he pitches. I wonder how you’ve learned through the years to set a tone on the days you don’t pitch for the team, and whether or not it’s possible for a starter who we all know leads the rotation, to cut across the aisle and lead the clubhouse?
MAX SCHERZER: I think it’s just having fun and setting the tone that you’re accountable for everything you do in between your starts, as well. Grinding just as hard as you possibly can to put yourself in position to be able to go out there and when it is your day, to pitch as well as you can. But in order to pitch as well as you can, it takes the other four days to be able to do that.
And just being on the bench, being in the game, locked into every situation. One of my favorite things to do on the bench is always talk about base running with all the guys. I personally hold myself just as accountable as all the other position players, that if I make a mistake on the bases, it’s inexcusable, just like I feel it’s inexcusable for them to make mistakes on the base paths.
So for me, I’m always trying to read different situations, how would you run the bases in this situation. And actually, really, Dozier is really my favorite guy to talk to about that. He’s come up with some different scenarios where I never even thought about where you can take an extra base.
So that’s what makes it fun being on the bench with those guys.
Q. When you guys went out and got Patrick Corbin, were you thinking he was a guy this team was going to pursue, and what have you learned about him as a pitcher that makes him so effective?
MAX SCHERZER: Well, yeah, obviously talking to our front office after the season of the areas they wanted to address, obviously they wanted to address starting pitcher. I didn’t know which facet, where they were going to go after. And obviously the reports were coming out that we were in heavy pursuit of Patrick.
What I’ve learned about him as a pitcher, he just has a really, really, really good feel for teasing the zone with his sinker and his slider. You can be looking for either and his slider is just so — just watching it for this whole year, it’s just very, very deceptive. And he knows how to locate it and throw it kind of different ways that makes you chase it, that you just think that it’s a fastball and then you’re just swinging at something that’s a slider.
So he does a really good job of controlling the edges of the plate, whether it’s a lefty or righty, and that’s what makes him so difficult to hit against.
Q. Are you still at all managing the issues that kept you on the IL during the season or do you feel like it’s completely flushed?
MAX SCHERZER: The back issues?
MAX SCHERZER: The back issues are fine. All those back issues I have to really address in the offseason of how I’m going to train and everything. So I’ve been dreaming up different things I might be doing this December and January to really address that.
Q. It’s going to be you and Gerrit Cole round 2 tomorrow but this time with NL rules. I wonder if you think it is a benefit that the AL pitcher, Cole, in this case, coming in, didn’t really bat much this year. I know he batted in Pittsburgh. Does that sort of present you a benefit at all because it’s your home turf, and is that something you kind of enjoy at all pitching to a fellow starting pitcher?
MAX SCHERZER: The fact that he played in the NL for quite a while, so he understands the preparation it takes to be an NL pitcher. But pitching in the AL a bunch, the NL pitcher does have a slight advantage. But then again, we are pretty crappy hitters (laughter). So I don’t think it’s that big of an advantage.
Q. He has a couple of home runs.
MAX SCHERZER: That’s pretty good.
Q. (No microphone.)
MAX SCHERZER: It’s just a competitive part of the game. When you get in the box you want to contribute offensively, whether it’s getting a bunt down or moving a runner or just trying to find a way to get on base.
I love the hitting aspect of the game. I love that I get to hit. It adds to what I have to do in between starts, changes in my mind what I have to physically do to be ready to be able to go out there to not only pitch but also be able to hit and run the bases. You have to be ready for that. And so you have to physically train for that.
Q. At this point in your career with all the experience you’ve had in postseason baseball, what is the balance between the mental and the physical preparation at this time of year? Do you do anything less physically than you would do normally between starts to keep your legs fresh or do you want to just stay as sharp as possible?
MAX SCHERZER: It’s a delicate balance. Really, you’ve got to let your body talk to you, let your body tell you what you need to do. Some days you need to be able to run more, some days lift more. Your body is going to tell you what you need to do. So you’ve just got to be in tune with where you’re at.
Every year is a little different. Especially now here I am 35 years old, it’s a little different than I felt at 25 years old.
For me it is what it is. You’ve just got — there’s still times where I’m lifting just as heavy, if not heavier, than I did earlier in my career, but there might be days I might not run as much. For me it’s about knowing what my program is, knowing what I have to physically do to get ready and just come up with a plan each and every day.
Q. I was hoping if you can please talk about what Dave Martinez has meant to you guys this year to get to this point, especially his positivity, sometimes that mantra about 1-0 gets a little…
MAX SCHERZER: 1-0, I think goes back, I think that’s everybody. It’s something that he lives and dies by.
But Davey and our coaching staff, I think they all deserve so much credit. And so with Davey spearheading this and understanding — pushing all the right buttons and finding ways to get creative and being a real good communicator with everything to be able to handle the pitching staff, the hitters, the bullpen, and being in constant communication with them.
So for me, my relationship with him is really unique in the fact that — I won’t say I have a lot of say, but that he listens to different things that I bring to him and different ideas of how I want to almost kind of manage myself so that when we get in different situations in tight ball games that he’s not shocked by whatever decision that we both make.
Q. Who knows what’s going to happen tonight but this is the only chance we have to visit with you. Have you thought at all about the scenario that, I may have a chance to get the start in the clinching game for the World Series at home?
MAX SCHERZER: Yeah, you’re human. But, no, because I played enough baseball in this game and anything can happen. So at this point in time you literally just live and breathe each and every day. At this point in time it’s just one day at a time. You really — that’s a cliche, but man, is that so true that for us — for me, it’s just coming here and watching Game 4, watching to see what happens and just react to that. And then when it’s Game 5 just, hey, stay in the moment, understand what you’re doing, feel the game flow, use your instincts and just pitch.
Q. How is Kurt doing and what’s his availability like?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He had an MRI this afternoon and I wait on the doctor to see what the results were. He says he feels okay. But until we see those results, we’ll know more after.
Q. What kind of balance do you have to make with the World Series of deciding to keep him on the roster or not? How fine a line is that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: That’s something we’re going to talk about with him and the doctor and Paul Lessard and see where we’re at. Obviously we need a backup catcher. If he’s not going to be able to play for a few days, we’re going to have to do something else.
Q. What adjustments are you guys planning on making from yesterday’s game to today’s game to try to take home and make the series 3-1?
DAVE MARTINEZ: We need to — we left a lot of runners stranded yesterday. We need to be aggressive, but aggressive in the strike zone. We chased a lot of balls outside the strike zone yesterday. And I don’t mind our guys being aggressive, but I want them to be aggressive in the strike zone today.
We were one or two big hits away from blowing that game open, so hopefully we get those today.
Q. With Max last time, they obviously are disciplined in laying off stuff that doesn’t end up being a strike. Does he have to let his stuff play in the zone a little bit more because they’re pretty good at laying off stuff?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, when we talked about this coming into the series, that they don’t chase. So we’ve got to attack the strike zone, we really do, and let them make good pitches. They’re going to swing, as well. If the ball is over the plate, they’ll swing. But we’ve got to stay in the strike zone, especially early in the count, and get ahead.
Q. Back to Kurt, if you get to a point tonight and you have to decide something and there’s a question of maybe he’s available tomorrow but you’re not entirely sure, would you be willing to go into a game tonight not knowing that or do you need to know by tonight that he is good to go?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, that’s going to be, like I said, I want a definitive today. I mean, we have to. So if we deem that he can’t be ready for a couple of days then we’re going to have to do something. If he’s just borderline — but we’ll see.
The last I spoke to him, he doesn’t feel as bad as he did yesterday. So that’s a good sign. But until I actually hear from the doctor and Paul and see what the results were, I can’t say at this point how long he’s going to be out.
Q. What is the biggest challenge of facing Urquidy today in a possible bullpen game?
DAVE MARTINEZ: One, we haven’t seen him. This is the first time we’re going to see him. And when you face a guy for the first time, like I said, I like for our guys to be aggressive. We’ve got a bunch of aggressive hitters, but we’ve got to get the ball in the strike zone and we’ve got to see pitches.
I think we want to get off early. I tell these guys all the time, Hey, scoring first in these big games like this, it’s important. But let’s get the ball in the strike zone, let them work a little bit, and we’ll go from there and see how he does.
Q. You don’t want to lose any of these games but last night you didn’t have to use your A bullpen. And you did get some good innings from guys that hadn’t pitched in a while. Is there kind of a double good part to that in that you’ve got Doo and Hudson fresh and you learned something about Ross and those other guys?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Absolutely. Those guys came in, we talked about this last night. They did a great job, they really did, from Rodney to Ross, all of them. They all came in and did. The fact we didn’t have to use Doo or Huddie, even though we were prepared to, they’re fresh today.
But I liked what Joe did. And Rodney has had two really good appearances for us. I like him. And even Suero came in and threw the ball really well.
We’re in a good position. My concern, obviously, is Pat, hopefully Pat could keep us in the game and go deep in the game, and our bullpen will be ready to go.
Q. Last night with a guy that lives at the bottom of the zone and for a team like Houston that doesn’t chase a lot, how do you work the umpires in a situation like that knowing you have to have the bottom of the zone for a guy like S�nchez to be effective and maybe for Corbin tonight?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, for me, S�nchie did a really good job of actually staying in the moment. Some of those calls he thought were questionable, but he didn’t let them affect him. So he pitched well.
But sometimes you need those pitches. He knows that. But he pitched through it, and I thought he did really well and I thought he handled himself really well.
Q. When you guys got Corbin you already had two aces and obviously you stepped out to get another one. What was the importance of doing that? What was like the thought process behind extending yourselves to get a guy like that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, one, he was left-handed and that helped a lot. But to get a guy like — he’s put together some pretty good years in the past. To bring another guy there that we did our due diligence and our background on what kind of person he was and what he meant to his organization, Arizona, and he fit.
But that being said he’s been everything as advertised. He’s been unbelievable. He competes every day. He wants to go in. All he wants to do is win. He’s kind of a quiet guy, another one of those guys that don’t really have much of a heartbeat until he’s out on the mound and then he gets fired up.
Man, he’s done unbelievable for us this year and he’s continued throughout the postseason. Here’s a guy I asked to pitch out of the bullpen, with no questions asked said, I’ll do whatever it takes for the team. That’s who he is.
Q. When you guys are potentially going to face five, six different arms in a bullpen-type game, do you have to guard against giving too much information to hitters, in terms of scouting reports or do you mostly go with the starter and let them look at the relievers themselves? How do you approach that from a pregame preparation standpoint?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, we’ve got to recognize the guy we’re facing first and, like I said, try to score early on him and then go from there.
For the most part we faced these guys already in the first three games, so I think they know what to expect. So we’ve just got to go out there and work good at-bats. And we typically are good about doing that. We’ve just got to go out there and, like I said, play our game.
Q. Max is going to get to navigate this lineup again tomorrow, obviously that was a pretty good cat-and-mouse game the first time around. What do you expect from the mental approach and cerebral side of Max that going into this might work out pretty well for him?
DAVE MARTINEZ: After the first game, he’s already sat down and kind of mapped out his game plan for his next game. So as you know Max, he’s all in. He’s got a plan. Hopefully Suzuki can catch him. If not, then Gomes does a great job with him as well, and he’s caught it before. They’ll have a plan going into tomorrow.
Q. Last night down 4-1 the fans are basically out of the game. All of a sudden you bring power off the bench and everybody standing and cheering and doing the shark thing. Were those things you thought about when you thought about who was your first pinch-hitter?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Honestly this particular time, no. I really wanted him to get on base (laughter).
It’s awesome, you know? What’s funny is that as everything was going, we were in the moment, I look in the other dugout and I can see those guys over there laughing. And everybody is doing — I was waiting to catch one guy in their dugout trying to do the Parra shark. I didn’t see it, though.
Q. Last night was a rather lengthy nine-inning game. Is there anything you think should or could be done about having four-hour games like that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: You know what, we’re in the World Series. I mean — I know a lot of it has to do with TV, commercials, and things of that nature. We’ve got a three-minute in between — three-minute in between innings time. So it is what it is.
Unfortunately, I said this before, I can’t drink caffeine anymore, but a couple cups of coffee would have done wonders for me during the game yesterday.
Q. You guys had trouble at times early in this season with bullpen games. Does being in a series like this, seeing the relievers, does that change the dynamics for you, when you think about preparing for this?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah. Like I said, we’ve seen these guys for the most part for three games now. Getting a chance to actually see them and face them, it helps a lot.
So I’m assuming today we’ll be a little better off knowing what to expect when these guys come in.
Q. When did you learn that you were going to start tomorrow’s game?
JOSE URQUIDY: Just right now the manager told me that I’m going to have the ball tomorrow.
Q. After this game, the game ending?
JOSE URQUIDY: Yes.
Q. AJ said there’s not really going to be a set plan. You’re going to be a starter. What’s it mean to you, your rookie year, to take the mound as a starter in the World Series?
JOSE URQUIDY: Obviously very happy. Very few Mexicans have had this opportunity and for me to be in this position I’m obviously very happy about that and will try to take advantage of it as much as possible.
Q. What have you learned about the Nationals lineup watching them these first three games?
JOSE URQUIDY: They are very good hitters. They attack very good the zone. I will try to do my best with all my stuff pitch by pitch.
Q. Now that you’re starting the game what’s your mindset going into tomorrow for Game 4 of the World Series?
JOSE URQUIDY: I’m going to be focused about what I’m going to learned in these two games about what I was going to throw. And I’m ready to compete tomorrow.
Q. When you think back to where your year started and you were in Big League Spring Training and here you are now about to start in the World Series, can you describe what you think about the season you’ve put together this year?
JOSE URQUIDY: I’m living the dream. I know this is a big opportunity for me. It’s a big year for me. And I’m going to do my best every outing and enjoy the time.
BELL CENTRE (MONTREAL, QC) ▪ TV: SPORTSNET/HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA ▪
RADIO: TSN 1050
MAPLE LEAFS HISTORY versus MONTREAL
300-341-88-16 (745 Games)
ALL-TIME ON THE ROAD:
110-213-43-6 (372 Games)
MAPLE LEAFS CAREER LEADERS versus MONTREAL
Jason Spezza (64), John Tavares (34), Cody Ceci (25), Morgan Rielly (25)
Jason Spezza (32), John Tavares (13), Auston Matthews (12)
Jason Spezza (37), John Tavares (16), Mitch Marner (11), Morgan Rielly (11)
Jason Spezza (69), John Tavares (29), Auston Matthews (16)
Jason Spezza (35), John Tavares (18), Frederik Gauthier (15)
MAPLE LEAFS – CANADIENS TEAM STATS
GOALS FOR (Rank):
GOALS AGAINST (Rank):
POWER PLAY [%] (Rank):
8/37 [21.6%] (12th)
9/36 [25.0%] (t-7th)
PENALTY KILL [%] (Rank):
31/39 [79.5%] (t-17th)
23/34 [67.6%] (30th)
5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPTS FOR (Rank):
5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPT % (Rank):
FACEOFF % (Rank):
MAPLE LEAFS – CANADIENS NOTES
FIRST MATCHUP BETWEEN CLUBS:
Dec. 26, 1917 (Toronto Arenas 7, Montreal 5)
300-341-88-16 (745 Games)
ALL-TIME RECORD AT HOME:
190-128-45-10 (373 Games)
ALL-TIME RECORD ON THE ROAD:
110-213-43-6 (372 Games)
LAST WIN VS. OPPONENT ON THE ROAD:
Feb. 9, 2019 (Toronto 4, Montreal 3 OT)
MAPLE LEAFS MILESTONES vs. CANADIENS
200th career NHL game (Nov. 14, 2017 (COL) at MTL)
100th NHL point (Feb. 23, 2019 vs. MTL)
First career NHL goal (March 17, 2018 vs. MTL)
First goal as a Maple Leaf (Oct. 5, 2019 vs. MTL)
First game as a Maple Leaf (Oct. 7, 2015 vs. MTL)
200th career NHL point (Feb. 23, 2019 vs. MTL)
200th career NHL game (Jan. 23, 2016 vs. MTL)
1,000th career NHL game (Oct. 30, 2018 at MTL)
First game as a Maple Leaf (Oct. 3, 2018 vs. MTL) First goal as a Maple Leaf (Oct. 3, 2018 vs. MTL)
MAPLE LEAFS LEADERS
POWER PLAY POINTS
5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPT %
TOI PER GAME
PP TOI PER GAME
SH TOI PER GAME
MAPLE LEAFS NOTABLES
– Frederik Andersen has made 12 career appearances against Montreal and has posted a 7-3-2 record with a 2.57 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.
– Tyson Barrie is one of two NHL skaters (Jake Muzzin) to have been on the ice for over 200 shot attempts for at 5-on-5 (211). His 30 shots on goal are tied for the 11th-most among NHL defencemen.
– Cody Ceci is tied for ninth in the NHL in blocked shots (25). He is fifth among NHL skaters in shorthanded time on ice (40:44).
– Frederik Gauthier has started 6.3 percent of his 5-on-5 shifts in the offensive zone, which is the second-lowest mark among NHL centres who have appeared in multiple games behind teammate Nick Shore.
– Michael Hutchinson has made 93 saves at even-strength this season, which is the fourth-most among goaltenders who have appeared in four or fewer games.
– Andreas Johnsson has five points (3-2-5) in six career games against Montreal, which is his highest point total against a single opponent.
– Kasperi Kapanen is one of three NHL right wingers (Rickard Rakell, Reilly Smith) to have recorded multiple shorthanded points this season. He is the only NHL right winger to have multiple shorthanded goals.
– Alex Kerfoot has four points (2-2-4) in five career games against Montreal. The Maple Leafs have a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 54.0 percent when leading with Kerfoot on the ice, which is the highest percentage among Toronto centres who have appeared in each game this season.
– Mitch Marner is tied for fourth among NHLers in assists (11) and is tied for sixth among NHL skaters in power play points (2-4-6). His eight primary assists are tied for the fourth-most in the NHL. He ranks second in the NHL in takeaways (16).
– Auston Matthews is tied for second in the NHL in goals (9) and is tied for the NHL lead in even-strength goals (7) through 12 games in 2019-20. He is tied for second among NHL skaters in shots on goal (49). He has won 58.6 percent (65 won, 46 lost) of his even-strength faceoffs.
– Ilya Mikheyev is tied for second in points among rookie skaters (4-5-9). He leads all rookies in shorthanded ice time (30:24) and shots on goal (30).
– Trevor Moore leads NHL rookies in hits (26) and is tied for seventh among NHL rookies in takeaways (6). He is one of four rookies with over 20 shots on goal (21).
– Jake Muzzin is averaging 30.2 shifts per game, which is the highest average among all NHL skaters. He has been on the ice for the most 5-on-5 shot attempts-for among all NHL skaters (229).
– William Nylander has taken his shots from an average distance of 23.6 feet from goal, which is the ninth-closest mark among NHL skaters who have recorded at least 25 shots on goal (27).
– Morgan Rielly is tied for second among NHL defencemen in points (3-9-12). His 25:06 time on ice per game average is the eighth-highest mark in the NHL He is tied for second in the NHL in shifts per game (29.9).
– Nick Shore has the fourth-highest defensive zone faceoff win percentage (60.9% – 39 won, 25 lost) among NHL skaters who have won at least 30 defensive zone draws.