“Yeah, the Yankees, obviously are a formidable squad. The AL East, we all know what that division poses with the reigning World Champions, and obviously the Tampa Bay Rays hanging in there.” — Gerrit Cole.

October 10, 2019

Gerrit Cole

Alex Bregman

Houston, Texas – postgame 5

Houston 6, Tampa Bay 1

Q. Congratulations, first of all. Before this game and even yesterday a lot of your teammates, AJ, they were saying how calm they were because it was you pitching tonight. Do you kind of have the same feeling with the way things have been going for you and the way you’ve been pitching every time you go out there, just know that you’re going to be okay or does an elimination game feel any different?
GERRIT COLE: Well, it’s a different game, for sure. But the preparation is the same. I feel good going out with the lineup and the defense and the bullpen that we have. So that’s what gives me confidence to put me in the zone and that’s what gives me confidence to prepare like I do.

Q. Gerrit, one of the keys it seemed to the game was the fact that you were really efficient, your pitch count was really low. When you got that double play in the seventh inning, did you feel like you might be able to go the distance? How were you feeling throughout having pitched such an efficient game?
GERRIT COLE: Yeah, I was feeling good. I wasn’t thinking about going the distance. I was pretty locked in. It was one pitch at a time.

We were shooting for the double play earlier in the inning with a couple other guys. I think that was the inning that Choi led off and d’Arnaud led off with the walk. We were shooting for the double play, trying to get the ball on the ground, pick some pitches that either got us a whiff or got us some contact on the ground to let the guys do what they were doing. They were so sharp all night, it’s hard not to trust them.

Q. Gerrit, given how tense this series has been, how critical was it for you to have that four-run inning the bottom of the first before coming back for the second?
GERRIT COLE: That was helpful for sure. It just allows you to continue to stay creative through the early part of the game. And it just kind of allows you to just kind of roll that first pitch over from Sogard off your shoulder a little bit. And it’s always good to get the crowd engaged early.

And these guys have been battling all series. I mean, one guy after the next guy after the next guy after the next guy. Kevin Cash probably got like 15 miles in walking back and forth to the mound this series. And so they’ve had to grind. It was really quality arms and it was tough for them.

And so to see them kind of break through, it was good not only just for the team morale, but it was also good, like I said, for the pitching side, as well.

Q. For both of you, Yankees-Astros, have sort of felt inevitable since Opening Day. What do you think about facing the Yankees now? Both of you, please.
ALEX BREGMAN: They’ve got a really good team. So do we. I think exactly what you said, but first off the Rays pitching staff was unbelievable to face. I mean, I think the only time the ball looked that small was opening weekend of the year when we faced them. So they were really, really good. It was a really good test.

But it’s going to be a battle. They’ve got a great team. They hit the ball out of the ballpark. They’ve got good pitching. It’s very similar to our team. Both teams are a little banged up during the year and persevered until we got to the ALCS, and we get to match up with them again. It was an unbelievable series we had with them during the regular season. It’s going to be fun, man. It’s going to be a blast.

I’ll tell you this, I love Minute Maid Park. And when it’s like this, it’s incredible. From the first pitch to the last I think some people — I know my mom was standing the entire game. I loved it.

GERRIT COLE: Yeah, the Yankees, obviously are a formidable squad. The AL East, we all know what that division poses with the reigning World Champions, and obviously the Tampa Bay Rays hanging in there.

They’ve got a lot of talent, a boatload of talent. It’s just kind of how they’re always made. They’re very stoic. They grind out a lot of at-bats. It’s going to be a tough matchup.

I do just want to take the opportunity to touch on something that Breggie said about the Tampa Bay Rays, what a classy series, man. They grinded so hard. They gave us such a good fight.

Like I said, it was — we got hit in the face twice and we needed the second one to respond the way we wanted to respond, and even then they still were trading blows with us tonight.

So when you advance you’re elated, you have a champagne shower, and you think about all the hard work you’ve put in. But at the same time your opponent has done the same thing. Those guys were grinding in the offseason, they were grinding all year through a bunch of injuries, coming back and getting guys healthy, taking a lot of time off of the DL, that’s tough. A lot of credit to them for really just such a good brand of baseball. It was a pleasure to fight with them for five games.

Q. Gerrit, Alex just mentioned the crowd. Game 2 you had the extended ovation at the end, tonight you took your cap off to the crowd. The second you got two strikes they were yelling for the third one. What have these two games been like for you just being a part of this, and seeing this crowd get into it as heavily as they have?
GERRIT COLE: Again, I’m using the same answer I used last time: This is why we fought all year for 162 games. They come out in droves all year to support us. They’re a baseball-savvy town. They understand big pitches. They understand big plays. And they love to bring the energy.

I mean, our job is — I mean, we’re baseball players, we have to go to work. But when it all boils down, we’re just a bunch of kids out there having fun trying to entertain people.

With a lot of the inclement weather that came at the end of the year, just to be able to bring some joy to some people that maybe are hurting, to bring some joy to some people that have spent their hard-earned money to come to these games, that’s what we play for.

Q. Alex, you were part of that rally in the first inning. It looked like you guys might have been on to something with Glasnow. Was he tipping any of his pitches or did you guys detect something in him that you were able to jump on him?
ALEX BREGMAN: No, no, no. He’s as tough to face as anybody, I think if you went around and asked everybody on our team. It was just a team approach today. It was just one at-bat after another. I think Springer’s at-bat to lead off the game to give us that first guy on was one of the biggest hits of our season. Then you see Brantley do it, and Springer go first to third, and use our athleticism we have. And then Altuve gets a big hit to drive in the first run, break the ice. And then Brantley went first to third and that made my job easy hitting a fly ball, and was fortunate it stayed on the line, actually, and found some grass.

But the ball that Glasnow throws, that cutter, the four-seam cutter that he throws is unbelievable. His breaking ball goes from your head to your toes quick. So I feel like with him you just had to pick a pitch and try to put a pretty good swing on it.

Q. This is for both of you guys. How conscious are you both of the fact that this team has something special within its grasp? And on the way to the park tonight, did you think at all about the fact that you had to get through tonight in order to achieve that?
ALEX BREGMAN: I’ll tell you, when I was driving to the ballpark I was with my dad and I was nervous as hell. But when I walked in the clubhouse door it was game time and everybody was fired up and we were loose and having a good time doing what we normally do.

And I think what you said, this team is special, and the reason that we’re special is because different guys step up every single night. Yeah, if one guy goes off we’re probably going to win. Gerrit went off twice this series.

Q. Congratulations. Pretty sure after tonight you’re going to be focused on New York Yankees, but is it a relief that Dodgers is not in the game anymore?
ALEX BREGMAN: No.

GERRIT COLE: No. Did you see the Nationals?

ALEX BREGMAN: They’re legit. They’re legit. The Nationals got three legit starters, similar to what the Stros have. We were in the same Spring Training complex so we face them all the time. Tell you what, it was no shock that they won that series. We know what they’ve got. They’re good.

GERRIT COLE: They’re good.

ALEX BREGMAN: Cardinals are good, too, so are the Braves. Everybody that’s left are good. Comes down to how plays the best baseball. And I like how we played team baseball today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

“Thank you to the support staff and ultimately the players. What an impressive run. They were a fun team to be around, fun team to watch for six and a half months.” –Kevin Cash

October 10, 2019

Kevin Cash

Houston, Texas – postgame 5

Houston 6, Tampa Bay 1

Q. As far as the game went, what do you think as far as what was going on with Tyler early on and the way you kept it even for a while?
KEVIN CASH: Yeah, I think they had a really good approach. It happened quick. Just really didn’t allow him to settle in. And that’s what their offense is capable of doing. We’ve done such a good job, I felt, leading into Game 5 of kind of controlling the early top of their lineup. You know they’re going to get their hits, every once in a while they’re going to get the home runs, but they just pieced together a tremendous inning against a really good pitcher.

Q. Was there any issue with them you think stealing signs or either seeing something about Glasnow tipping his pitching?
KEVIN CASH: Well, they could have been. We are aware at times with some pitchers, but at the end of the day it’s 98 and it’s a breaking ball. You’ve still got to do your job with it, and they certainly did.

Q. What was kind of the message to the guys there at the end of the game?
KEVIN CASH: Just a thank you from myself, the staff. Thank you to the support staff and ultimately the players. What an impressive run. They were a fun team to be around, fun team to watch for six and a half months.

Can’t deny the fact that we came up short. You get a taste of this, you want to keep going. Today we kind of got outpowered; outpowered on the mound and obviously at the plate.

But really, really proud of the guys.

Q. You talked about right now just keep going. There were various times throughout the year between injuries and everything, do you feel like you’re in a good spot where you guys’ health in the offseason until next year where you’ll really be able to keep going?
KEVIN CASH: Yeah, I think we have a very, very special group. And gaining this experience for the young players that haven’t done it, for myself that hasn’t been in this, in this position, hopefully we can learn from it and have an opportunity to get back here.

But really excited about what the offseason will bring and then when it wraps around the first of the year talking about baseball again.

Q. Did you feel after the first inning just the way you had so many games this year that you’d find a way to get back in it?
KEVIN CASH: I did. I think we all did. And up there until the eighth inning, I think we gave everybody a reason to believe that. Our pitchers, it was outstanding the performance they did, to give up the 4, it happened quick, but after that to really navigate through that, kind of make some big pitches. There wasn’t a lot of offense going on.

So I give those guys a lot of credit coming out of the bullpen today. Every one of them gave us a chance to stay within striking distance. The issue is their guy on the mound was just that much better that we just couldn’t get anything going.

Q. Now that you’ve seen Cole twice, do you think he’s the best pitcher left in the playoffs?
KEVIN CASH: I don’t know. There’s a lot of good pitchers. He’s certainly very, very talented. But I couldn’t answer that.

Q. You’ve seen the Astros now 12 times, the Yankees 19. How do you feel the teams stack up?
KEVIN CASH: They’re both really good. We know the Yankees well. We just got to know the Astros that much better here.

I would imagine it would be a really good series. I couldn’t give you who is going to stack up. They’ve got elite bullpens, elite starters, great offense.

Q. I know you probably touched on it earlier, was there something Glasnow was doing they got to him early, did they see something specific that you saw that he wasn’t doing well or different?
KEVIN CASH: Well, I’m aware that there is speculation about pitch tipping. It’s something that we have discussed. It’s a little tough to do that, make an adjustment in Game 5 of a Division Series. But at the end of the day give the guys the credit that went up to the plate and put the ball in play and hit line drives. I think that’s what did us in.

Q. You had momentum from two straight wins. How frustrating is it to see that at the bottom of the first inning that a great starting pitcher and offense against you seems to take your momentum all away?
KEVIN CASH: Well, it is frustrating. Look, getting down, we’ve been down, we’ve shown the ability to come back. The frustrating part is Gerrit Cole is on the mound on the other side and the run he’s been on is second to none. That presents its own challenges.

But still had the confidence that we were going to be able to hold it right there. Wasn’t quite sure how we were going to get to him. We needed things to go our way and catch a pitch out front that we could do some damage on with guys on base, he just never allowed that to happen.

Q. And that’s what I was going to ask you, piggyback on, when you see Gerrit Cole having it like he did tonight, what do you tell hitters? How do you get them motivated to try to get some offense going?
KEVIN CASH: I was a career .180 hitter, they’re not going to listen to me at all. Stay out of the way and hope that they can make some adjustments.

Q. When you sit back and look at the series as a whole and how well you guys played and how many of your guys pitched well, does it ultimately come down to they had two great pitchers who are on top of their game right now?
KEVIN CASH: I think that’s fair. That’s a lot of it. Yes, that’s a lot of it. We caught JV and then Gerrit twice. Yeah, I mean elite pitching like that can really quiet good offense. And we have a good offense. They played their part.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ALDS GAME 5: ASTROS 6, RAYS 1: “Big moments, big atmosphere today and big time performances by big time players.” — AJ HINCH

October 10, 2019

AJ Hinch

Houston, Texas – postgame 5

Houston – 6, Tampa Bay – 1

Q. After Game 4 you were saying we’re going home. We have Gerrit Cole. And tonight that first inning for you guys to have that outbreak and the crowd’s into it and even the 8th with the two home runs. I know you have to play the baseball game, but the impact just being in the stadium has on your team?
AJ HINCH: This is an incredible team. And we have a really good way about responding to the big moments. And I love that about this team. I told them in there, the moment’s never too big. This was a really tough series. This is a really good team.

Tampa, I want to congratulations them for a great season, Kevin Cash, the group. This was a grinder of a series, obviously, and we get to Game 5, and we get to have it at our home-field, and we get to have Gerrit Cole. A lot of that is lined up well for us, and we respond with a really good game. Big moments, big atmosphere today and big time performances by big time players.

Q. Was there some conversation after Cole came — after the eighth inning with you and him and consideration about sending him back out there?
AJ HINCH: No, he was done. He was done. I couldn’t get far enough on the field to shake his hand to make sure that everybody knew he wasn’t going to go back out. When I got to the top step he was done. He probably wanted to pitch again, don’t get me wrong, he always does. But he was done.

Q. The old adage is momentum is as good as your starting pitcher. You had to have confidence with that. But the bottom of the first inning makes your starting pitcher that much better. Take us through that one inning?
AJ HINCH: The top of the first is still a critical time, especially the way — the first inning went in Tampa where they got the big three runs on JV the other day. And we were able to get through the top of the first. Gerrit comes out doing what Gerrit does.

And then we come in the bottom — one of the biggest at-bats that nobody will talk about is George Springer leading off the bottom of the first with a bullet single. And that kick started us off with good at-bat after good at-bat.

We really came out pretty determined to just pass the baton to the next guy and you saw that happen. For as potent offense we have with the home run, and Mike’s home run at the end of the game was huge just to continue to tack on runs and give us a more comfortable lead.

What I loved about the — the opposite field approach, the base hits, they hit the ball hard. Yordan battling for contact to move Bregman up, Yuli with the ground ball base hit through the hole. There was just so many good at-bats, that we put them on their heels from the very beginning. We knew once we put pressure on Glasnow, they were going to have to do this 9, 10 pitcher thing again. They’re really good at it. But making them do that before they wanted to us key in this game and that meant that we had to take the lead.

Q. Congratulations. Before the game and yesterday you and several of the players repeated it over and over again, we’ll be okay, Cole is pitching. Coming into a Game 5, it’s stressful, fun but stressful, what is it about him that keeps everybody so calm headed into a situation like this?
AJ HINCH: Well, I think first off this is a really good team. We haven’t forgotten what’s got us here. And the series was five games. It wasn’t over after the first two. It wasn’t over after the first four. And our guys know that. We’ve been there. This is not new to us.

But when you have Gerrit Colon the mound, we win. We have. We’ve kind of proven that. And when he’s as dominant as he’s been, as prepared as we know he is, it’s just an exciting time for our team. We know that even though we had a lot that we had to deal with with Glasnow and the rest of their bullpen, we’ve got Gerrit Cole. And that in itself coming to the ballpark gives us great vibes that we’re going to have an opportunity to win. We know he’s going to come out hot. We know he’s going to get his strikeouts. We know he’s going to set a tone, he’s intense. There’s no mistaking him in what his priority is, which is to get deep in the game and give us a chance to in win. And he’s done that as much as anybody in baseball.

Q. Now that this series is over, can you take us through what it’s like playing against a team that uses so many pitchers like that?
AJ HINCH: Yeah, it’s tough. It’s not just so many pitchers. It’s not about the number of pitchers, it’s about the quality of their pitchers and how they match them up and how Kevin never concedes an at-bat. It’s hard to get through that many quality pitchers. It’s not about the number. Anybody can throw 13 pitchers at you or ten pitchers at you, whatever they want, but they’re bringing real stuff on to the field.

And I think they made it a goal of theirs and a plan of theirs and I think when they game planned against us they were not going to give too many multiple at-bats to too many pitcher/hitter combos and they did it. We know that’s going to happen but when you experience it it’s just really hard to get anything to hit against an elite pitching staff. This is top to bottom probably the best pitching staff that we faced all year. And that’s not disrespecting anybody else in the league, that’s just how good they are and how they match their guys up in their favor. And in a short series it’s scary as hell because they can get matchups and you have to beat their strength. And fortunately we were able to do that.

Their bullpen never really cracked until maybe the end of the series when we got a couple of base hits. I much prefer old school baseball where we get a couple of looks at these guys.

Q. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but Gerrit only had ten strikeouts. But I feel like maybe that helps him keep the pitch count down, stay efficient. When he got the double play in the 7th, is that when you felt like maybe you could feel good about this game?
AJ HINCH: I felt good about the game at the beginning. But I also know, I watch baseball, and if you watch these games that didn’t finish until the very end, I wasn’t feeling very good until Osuna got the last out. It’s hard to win, and it’s hard to win games where you know the other side is going to do anything possible.

If you take a step back and look at what they were willing to do to change things. Like Blake Snell coming out of the bullpen twice. They had guys up every inning. We were spending just as much time looking on the TV monitor to see who was warming up and what they possibly were going to do than even watching what was going on in the field. That preparation is exhausting.

With Gerrit, the ten punch-outs, I saw a little bit of a different approach by them, they insert Sogard, he got the homer, contact-driven guy. That in itself changed the look of their lineup. But I saw some guys cut their swings down, get a little bit swing happy early in the count to put the ball in play and try to get some singles. They weren’t trying to ambush them for homers, despite the Sogard one.

I think the middle part of the game where we were able to get an 8-pitch inning, a 10-pitch inning, a 12-pitch inning, allowed for him to finish strong. I think if I’d have left him in for 130 pitches, his 130th pitch would have been 99 paint on the black. That’s Gerrit Cole.

Q. Quick turnaround. To a lot of people on the outside it felt Yankees-Astros has felt inevitable. What’s the challenge and does it feel that way to you, like this is where this season was going to go?
AJ HINCH: Well, I feel like it’s something that everybody has looked at as possible. And certainly we’ve been the two best teams in the American League. They’re really good. And they’re playing really well. I think the way they match up their bullpen has not been too dissimilar to Tampa, maybe not as aggressive as they are. But they’ve gotten healthy. And so have we.

We haven’t really played a series where both teams are completely healthy and completely armed. So we’re about to buckle up and get to a seven-game series to see who represents the American League in the World Series. That’s a good feeling. It’s an even better feeling that it comes to our house and we have home-field.

Q. Of course you talked about Gerrit and what you knew you would get from him. Can you talk about the offense and what you expected from the offense tonight?
AJ HINCH: We wanted to have a more synced up approach at having a good at-bat after good at-bat. I think everybody wants to be the hero from time to time and we have anybody in our lineup can have an incredible game and wind up being the key part of the game.

But when we’re at our best we’re really having good at-bat after good at-bat. I think we saw that especially in the first inning. And then I think you saw it sync back up a little bit in the latter innings with Mike’s big homer.

We put pressure on them today from the very first hitter. When we do that we’re tough to get through multiple times through the order. Now, we never got to face the same guy twice in the same game. We got to face them just about every game.

But I think that approach for us is when we’re at our best and I expected our offense to be able to respond to the chaos that’s created when you do this, the opener or the one time through the order or the one batter at a time. Kevin was wearing out that path between the dugout and the mound trying to match up as best he could. And our guys stayed patient throughout the series, didn’t grow frustrated, didn’t complain, didn’t concede, just outscored them at the right time.

Q. The Yankees are rested but on the flip side they have to come to your place. Can you speak to the home-field advantage?
AJ HINCH: It feels important, even more important today. Everybody talks about Game 6 and 7 at the end of the series. I like the fact that the series is opening up here, one, because we need a partial day off. I’m exhausted after this series against Tampa. We’ve got high emotions today. We played an incredibly intense game.

When Tampa got here, that was one of the things that was sold to me that they were going to be ready to play because they were hungry, they had to play that last game, maybe that’s to our advantage. But I think the Yankees have been watching the series the last couple of games. They’ll come well prepared. Like I said, they’re healthy, and it’s a quick turnaround.

But sometimes I think there’s too much gaps in these games. I want to play as many games as fast as we can. When there’s any dead time during the playoffs, you get anxious. I’ll play them tomorrow if they want to play.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

“We didn’t execute at a high enough level, we didn’t play right, and they were better than us – they won all the 50/50s, all the loose puck battles. …” — MIKE BABCOCK.

TAMPA BAY 7, TORONTO 3

WHAT THE MAPLE LEAFS HAD TO SAY

HEAD COACH MIKE BABCOCK

On tonight’s game:

Tonight was disappointing. It wasn’t like any of the other games we’ve been in, obviously. I mean, it was seven goals in the first period. I actually thought in the second we got it going but never got on the inside. They scored late and then we had no answer whatsoever. Any way you look at it, even going into the third, you can still leave the building feeling good if you perform right in the third and we didn’t. We didn’t execute at a high enough level, we didn’t play right, and they were better than us – they won all the 50/50s, all the loose puck battles, we took three penalties in the first and I thought that got us out of sync. It wasn’t a very good night for us. I thought it was going to be a hell of a game and I didn’t think it was.

On what led to the team getting out of sync:

I just thought in the first period some guys got cold and some guys got – we couldn’t play them because we turned the puck over two times on the penalty kill and the guys that were on ended up staying out there for 1:30, which is a long time. For whatever reason we weren’t good. Now, I think you’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They were fast, they were on the puck, they were tenacious, they did it right. They stripped us from behind, they won 50/50 battles all over the rink, I thought. Even when we had the pucks out that meant they had the puck. In the end, it wasn’t good enough for us. Even when he had the pucks out, they had the puck.

On if losing the battles was the most discouraging part of the performance:

Well, obviously, when you look at what has gone on so far this year, I’ve liked the majority of everything that’s gone on. I didn’t tonight. You can be the coach, you can be a fan, you can be anybody to know whether you’ve won enough 50/50s tonight to give yourself a chance. We didn’t do that tonight. We didn’t look like a very good hockey club. They looked quicker, better, more organized – say whatever you want – more skilled, whatever you want. We didn’t give ourselves a chance.

On if the team had a problem with the faceoff that led to Kucherov’s power play goal:

It was a problem for me just the fact that we had Mitch [Marner] take it and we didn’t do what we were supposed to. We had – we’ve seen it before, we just didn’t do what we were supposed to do. Any way you look at it, when you get it organized, that’s on you as a coach. We got it organized, we talked about it but we didn’t do it. That’s on us.

On his level of concern after three losses:

I think any time you lose it’s a concern. That’s what I’d say to you. I really thought last game was our best game. We lost it. In the end, you’re in a points business and you’ve got to get points. We’ve got to clean this up and get back at ‘er. We play Detroit on Saturday.

FREDERIK ANDERSEN (21 SAVES)

On facing a high-quality opponent that capitalizes on mistakes:

If you make mistakes out there, you’re going to pay for it. We just weren’t up to speed today and, yeah, we paid for it.

On where the team goes from here:

We’ve just got to get back to playing our way. We’re going to flush this one and I’m sure we can prepare for practice tomorrow and move forward.

On his teammates saying they didn’t help him tonight:

I don’t think I was without blame either. Definitely could have played some situations differently. They’re a good team down there too. When you do make mistakes, they usually capitalize pretty often on it.

AUSTON MATTHEWS (1 GOAL, 1 ASSIST)

On where things went wrong after a competitive first period:

I thought the first period was good, but you can’t give a team like that three opportunities on the man-advantage there in the first period because they’re going to capitalize, and they obviously did. It took away some momentum from us but 5-on-5 we were good there for a while and then they obviously took the lead there and then in the third period seemed like everything fell apart for us.

On if three losses in a row is cause for concern:

No, it’s early. I think obviously we’d like to have this game back, especially that third period. I thought going into it we felt like the game was still in reach but we kind of just gave it away there. Just mental errors, mental mistakes. We just have to regroup as a team and, obviously, big game against Detroit on Saturday night.

MORGAN RIELLY (22:57 TOI)

On what the club can learn from these past three games:

I think there’s lots of video to watch and things we can do better. This time of year can be difficult sometimes and I think tonight’s an example of a game we’ve got to learn from and, moving forward, it’s important we clean up certain areas of our game and we’ll make sure to do that.

On what he means by this being a difficult time of year:

I don’t mean anything by it. I just mean you’re getting used to new things and getting used to playing again. It’s time to bear down a little more than we did tonight. 

JOHN TAVARES (1 GOAL)

On tonight’s game:

We just didn’t execute at a very high level and they did. We just didn’t do the right things that are going to consistently lead to good things and lead to results. That kind of effort tonight isn’t going to win us many hockey games.

On if three straight losses creates cause for concern:

Well, you never want to lose three in a row. I think the first two easily could have gone our way. Tonight, that’s just not good enough. We’ve got to come back to work and realize the way we played tonight, just like I said, isn’t good enough. We have to be a lot better, execute much more consistently and understand what’s going to bring us success and not feed into their type of game and their type of skill, the type of plays they can to make. We just didn’t do a good job of making it hard on them.

LIGHTNING 7, MAPLE LEAFS 3

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (2-1-1 – 5 Points)

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (2-2-1 – 5 Points)

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2019

1 2 3 OT FINAL

TAMPA BAY 4 1 2 – 7

TORONTO 3 0 0 – 3

Brayden Point scored two goals in first game back from hip surgery

ON THE SCORESHEET

  • Andreas Johnsson put the Maple Leafs on the board with a power play goal at 4:19 of the first period. Johnsson’s goal is his first of the season. He finished the 2018-19 season in a tie for third among rookie goal scorers (20).
  • John Tavares scored the second Toronto goal of the night at 7:46 of the first period. Tavares’ goal is his first of the 2019-20 season. He established a new career-high for goals in 2018-19 (47).
  • Auston Matthews registered the primary assist on Johnsson’s first period goal and later scored the third Maple Leafs goal of the game at 17:56 of the first period. Matthews’ assist is his first of the season after establishing a new career-high for assists last season (36). He has three multi-point performances through the first five games of 2019-20.
  • Mitch Marner had the secondary assist on Johnsson’s first period goal. Marner leads the Maple Leafs in power play points (1-3-4). – Justin Holl recorded the primary assist on Tavares’ first period goal. Holl’s point is his first of the 2019-20 season. He has four points (2-2-4) in 16 career NHL games.
  • Kasperi Kapanen picked up the secondary assist on Tavares’ first period goal. Kapanen had 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) in 78 games last season.
  • Jake Muzzin notched the primary assist on Matthews’ first period goal. He has two assists through the first five games of the season.
  • William Nylander had the secondary assist on Matthews’ first period goal. Nylander has points (2-35) in five consecutive games.
  • Frederik Andersen stopped 21 shots in the loss.
  • Michael Hutchinson made five saves in relief of Andersen.
    SHOTS ON GOAL (5-on-5 in brackets)
    1st 2nd 3rd OT TOTAL
  • TAMPA BAY 14 (7) 10 (10) 9 (9) – 33 (26)
  • TORONTO 13 (10) 11 (11) 4 (3) – 28 (24)
    SHOT ATTEMPTS (5-on-5 in brackets)
  • 1st 2nd 3rd OT TOTAL
  • TAMPA BAY 30 (16) 12 (12) 19 (19) – 61 (47)
  • TORONTO 19 (16) 26 (26) 13 (11) – 58 (53)

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

  • The Maple Leafs are 1-2-1 at home this season.
  • – Toronto’s all-time record is 54-35-2-7 in 98 games against the Lightning and 28-18-1-3 in 50 games played in Toronto.
  • Toronto is 2-1-1 against the Eastern Conference this season and 1-1-1 against the Atlantic Division.
  • – Tonight’s attendance was 19,387.
    MAPLE LEAFS LEADERS
    Shots 6 (Matthews)
    Shot Attempts 10 (Matthews)
    Faceoff Wins 7 (Tavares)
    Faceoff Win Percentage 100% (Moore – 1 won, 0 lost)
    Hits 3 (Muzzin)
    Blocked Shots 4 (Moore)
    Takeaways 2 (Moore)
    TOI 23:42 (Muzzin)
    Power Play TOI 2:22 (Matthews)
    Shorthanded TOI 3:42 (Ceci)
    Shifts 30 (Muzzin)
    5-on-5 Shot Attempt Percentage 65.5% (Matthews – 19 for, 10 against)

RECORD WHEN…

  • The Maple Leafs were 1-for-3 on the penalty kill and 1-for-2 on the power play tonight. Toronto is 0-10 when allowing multiple power play goals this season and 1-1-1 when scoring one power play goal.
  • – Toronto is 1-2-1 when their opponent scores the first goal of the game. – The Maple Leafs are 1-1-0 when trailing after one period and 0-1-0 when trailing after two periods. 7
  • – Toronto is 0-1-1 when outshot by their opponent. – The Maple Leafs are 0-1-0 in Thursday games.

OF NOTE…

  • Toronto’s line of Alexander Kerfoot, Ilya Mikheyev and Trevor Moore were the lone Maple Leafs to not start a 5-on-5 shift in the offensive zone.
  • – Auston Matthews was 3-for-3 (100%) in the faceoff circle when matched up with Tampa Bay centre Anthony Cirelli.
  • Jake Muzzin was on the ice for a team-high 21 Toronto shot attempts-for at 5-on-5. Muzzin finished the game with a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 46.7 percent (21 for, 24 against).
    UPCOMING GAMES:
  • Saturday, October 12, 7:00 p.m. at Detroit Red Wings (Sportsnet, TSN 1050)
  • – Tuesday, October 15, 7:00 p.m. vs. Minnesota Wild (TSN4, FAN 590)
  • – Wednesday, October 16, 7:00 p.m. at Washington Capitals (Sportsnet, TSN 1050)
  • – Saturday, October 19, 7:00 p.m. vs. Boston Bruins (Sportsnet, FAN 590) – Monday, October 21, 7:00 p.m. vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (Sportsnet Ontario, FAN 590)

“Essentially what I’ve said in that statement is the long-held values of the NBA are to support freedom of expression, and certainly freedom of expression by members of the NBA community. And in this case Daryl Morey, as the general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right as one of our employees.” — Adam Silver.

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE

October 8, 2019

Adam Silver

ADAM SILVER: Thank you, all, for being here. First of all, I’d like to thank the Houston Rockets and the NBA champion Toronto Raptors for making the trip here to Tokyo. Their entire organizations have come. They’ve had the opportunity to spend about four days in the market already, and overall they’ll have been here for close to a week. I know we’re often asked about preseason versus regular-season games, but one thing I love about coming here in the preseason is that it gives our teams an opportunity to experience the community, in addition to playing two games, having a fan night and also getting a taste of the town. They have many of their family members with them, and so they really get to experience Japan.

I’d also like to thank Mickey Mikitani and Rakuten for being our hosts and for their tremendous coverage of the NBA. One quick story about Mickey Mikitani. I met him a few years ago, and he told me that he had grown up as a huge basketball fan here in Japan and wondered why there had been such a gap since we had had NBA games here in market. I said, well, all we needed was a great partner like Rakuten and we would be back.

And sure enough, Mickey stepped up. In addition to having a terrific broadcasting and e-commerce relationship with Rakuten, he has agreed to host these games. So personally I’m very thankful to Mickey. I’m sorry that there’s been such a long gap, essentially 16 years since we last played here, but we’re back.

We have the Olympics here next summer. Just a reminder it won’t just be 5-on-5 basketball in the Olympics, but for the first time in the Olympics and here in Tokyo, there will be a 3-on-3 basketball competition as well which will take place outdoors, be lively with music, more along the lines of beach volleyball. We very much are seeing an enormous amount of basketball played in this market.

I’d also like to congratulate the B.League on their success. This is their third season now. They’re doing a fantastic job growing the game here in market. I think all of the basketball community benefits from such a strong league here.

And lastly, of course this is a historic time for Japan in the NBA, and that’s because Rui Hachimura has now joined our league, the first-ever Japanese player as a first-round pick. He’ll be playing for the Washington Wizards. I believe that is a turning point for basketball in Japan. I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with Rui back in the States. He is a fantastic young man, as I’ve said before. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him, just that there’s an entire country watching him with huge expectations, but I think he’s up to it.

And with that, I’m happy to answer any of your questions.

Q. It will be the first time in 16 years that an NBA game will be held in Japan. Can you talk about the meaning of this game being held in Japan?
ADAM SILVER: It has great meaning to be back here. As I said earlier, it’s unfortunate there was such a long gap, but I feel we’re back here, two feet on the ground. We have two fantastic teams. It’s fortunate that it worked out that you have the NBA champion here and a very exciting Houston Rockets team. Our experience has been that when a team is in the market, especially for several days, that on one hand, people get to experience, for those lucky enough to be in the arena, an NBA game up and close and in person, but also because of the tremendous media coverage around these games, we also find it helps to excite the market and create larger interest around the NBA.

I think it also coincides with a new product being issued by Rakuten, in essence an app called NBA Rakuten, on which all our games will be available this coming season.

We recognize we still have more work to do here in growing the sport. But as I said, with the success of the B.League, together with Rui and the NBA and the enormous amount of coverage from Rakuten, we’re going to see very substantial gains in interest this season.

Q. Are there ongoing talks or close-to-finalized talks about the NBA returning to Japan in the near future for upcoming games, preseason or regular season?
ADAM SILVER: There are ongoing talks about us returning here. I think the greatest likelihood is that we won’t play preseason games in Japan next season, only because we will be here with the Olympics. And when I say “we,” I don’t necessarily mean the USA team, who of course will be here, but for example in the World Cup of Basketball that just took place in China, we had 102 current or former players participating. So there will be a huge NBA presence here next summer, and I think then we’ll focus on bringing games back in the following preseason.

Q. What’s your expectation of Japanese basketball right now?
ADAM SILVER: Again, my expectation is that that league will continue to grow in conjunction with the NBA. The NBA working together with our federation, FIBA, works as a tradition very closely with local leagues. We see our mission not just to grow NBA basketball but the sport of basketball. There could be no greater complement than a well-run local league, and that’s what we have here in Japan. And so we have a strong relationship between our offices. We are very supportive of their junior programs, which we know are critically important to build the game and ensuring that young boys and girls have access to first-rate coaching and facilities.

I’d just say that we see a real path to growth here. I think I’ll add, having watched this over many years now, that the Olympics act as a true stimulus when they come to the market. Basketball is such a mainstay of the Summer Olympics, and that also serves to create a lot of excitement around the game.

Q. Just as you walked in, the NBA released a statement about the Daryl Morey-China row. Can you tell us any more about why it appears you’ve backed the Houston Rockets’ GM ahead of escalating the controversy with China?
ADAM SILVER: As some of you may know, I issued a statement shortly before this press conference because I thought there was a lot of misunderstanding out there about our position. I thought we had been somewhat straightforward, but I can understand, given translations and given interpretations in different parts of the world, why there might have been some confusion.

Essentially what I’ve said in that statement is the long-held values of the NBA are to support freedom of expression, and certainly freedom of expression by members of the NBA community. And in this case Daryl Morey, as the general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right as one of our employees.

What I also tried to suggest is I understand that there are consequences from that exercise of, in essence, his freedom of speech. We will have to live with those consequences. It’s my hope that for our Chinese fans and our partners in China, they will see those remarks in the context of now a three-decade, if not longer, relationship, and that we’ve done, in partnership with the Chinese Basketball Association, the Department of Education and many different businesses in China, I feel an enormous amount to build the sport, to work in communities, to focus on healthy lifestyles. That’s where we find ourselves, but that as a league, we are not willing to compromise those values.

Again, I’m sympathetic to our interests here and to our partners who are upset. I don’t think it’s inconsistent on one hand to be sympathetic to them and at the same time stand by our principles.

Q. Just to follow up on the China situation, so there’s some news that I think the state broadcaster will not be airing some exhibition games, and Tencent has said it will temporarily not broadcast Houston Rockets games. What is the league doing to deal with that situation?
ADAM SILVER: Part of the reason I issued the statement I did is because this afternoon, CCTV announced that because of my remarks supporting Daryl Morey’s freedom of expression, not the substance of his statement but his freedom of expression, they were no longer going to air the Lakers-Nets preseason games that are scheduled for later this week. Again, it’s not something we expected to happen. I think it’s unfortunate. But if that’s the consequences of us adhering to our values, we still feel it’s critically important we adhere to those values.

My plan all along has been to travel to Shanghai tomorrow, and I plan to attend the Lakers-Nets game Thursday night. It’s my hope that when I’m in Shanghai, I can meet with the appropriate officials and discuss where we stand, and again, put those remarks from Daryl Morey and my remarks in an appropriate context of a many-decades-long relationship and see if we can find mutual respect for each other’s political systems and beliefs.

But I’m a realist as well, and I recognize that this issue may not die down so quickly.

Q. As you know, your regional office in Hong Kong has been there almost 30 years and you have 60 employees. The current corporate culture of companies like Cathay Pacific where Beijing has insisted that any employees who have posted anything favorable toward the protestors has to be fired or replaced. I’m just wondering, in line with everything you’ve said, will you extend that to protect your employees’ freedom of speech in Hong Kong, which is really ground zero for this whole debate?
ADAM SILVER: We will protect our employees’ freedom of speech.

Q. Have you communicated with Yao Ming at all or somebody at the Chinese Basketball Association? And what kind of a distraction is this for you guys with your season just about to kick off?
ADAM SILVER: Our office has communicated directly with Yao Ming. As I said, he and I have been close friends since he joined this league. He’s extremely upset. I think part of what goes with freedom of speech, as I’ve said before, is not only on one hand Daryl Morey expressing his point of view, but Joe Tsai in return expressing his view, and Yao Ming as well. There’s no question that Daryl’s tweet has hit what I would describe as a third-rail issue in China. I think Yao is extremely unsettled. I’m not sure he quite accepts sort of how we are operating our business right now, and again, I accept that we have a difference of opinion.

I also think that as part of our core values, tolerance is one of those as well. I think tolerance for differing societies’ approaches, tolerance for differing points of view and the ability to listen. Certainly I don’t come here, either as the commissioner of the NBA or as an American, to tell others how they should run their governments.

I think, though, at the end of the day, I am an American, and there are these values that are deeply rooted in the DNA of the NBA, and that includes freedom of expression for our employees. I’m hoping that together Yao Ming and I can find an accommodation. But he is extremely hot at the moment, and I understand it.

Q. Do you have any additional plan to cancel or change any events related to China or in China?
ADAM SILVER: We have no plans to cancel any other events, but one of our NBA Cares events that was scheduled in Shanghai has been canceled. Incidentally, we are still going to go forward with the community outreach. In this community center we made a commitment for new computers and new facilities, so we of course will still provide them. What has been canceled is more of a ceremonial event. And again, I accept that. But so far, no other events have been canceled. It is our hope that no other events will be canceled, and as I said, that we can work with our longtime partners and find an accommodation, recognizing we have true differences.

Q. Right now there are several Chinese teams that are playing against NBA teams in the preseason, but do you see in the future a B.League team competing against an NBA team in the preseason?
ADAM SILVER: We’d love to see a B.League team competing in the preseason. That has become a regular feature of NBA preseason competition in the United States, and that is teams from other countries and other leagues traveling to play our teams. That is something we will look into doing going forward.

Q. Two very short questions. Firstly, can you confirm that you have no intention to apologize for the issue that you’re now facing with China? And secondly, I appreciate that freedom of speech and expression is very important to you, but would you like people connected with the NBA to be a little bit more careful before they tweet or before they say anything?
ADAM SILVER: To answer your second question, of course I would like people who are associated with the NBA to be sensitive about other people’s cultures. I think saying that by no means suggests that we’re going to regulate their speech. But I think that is appropriate, as a business that operates globally, I think we always have an eye on being sensitive to local mores, local customs. But again, that’s not prescriptive. That’s just a general sense. And I try to be sensitive to other cultures as I travel.

Your first question?

Q. Can you confirm you have no intention of apologizing?
ADAM SILVER: I want to be clear, and I think there’s been some confusion around this. We are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression. I regret, again, having communicated directly with many friends in China, that so many people are upset, including millions and millions of our fans. At the end of the day, we come with basketball as an opportunity to sell dreams, sell hopes, to increasingly focus on physical fitness, mental health. To the extent that we are causing disruption in people’s lives and that we are causing disharmony, that’s something I regret.

As I said earlier, I don’t think it’s inconsistent to both be apologetic that that was the outcome of that speech but at the same time support Daryl’s right to his freedom of expression and Joe Tsai’s right to respond.

I would just say, I believe it’s more of a human reaction, as someone who’s been coming to China regularly since 2004. I think I’ve attended virtually every preseason game that we’ve ever conducted in any city in China. As I said, we have great business partners, many friends, including Yao Ming. And to the extent that we are upsetting people, I regret that.

But as I said, I think one of the things that comes with freedom of expression often is very difficult conversations. In any society, that comes with that sort of engagement. I think nobody ever suggested that when somebody exercises those rights that it means that people are going to say, aha, now I agree, or that everything will be friendly. And if anything, very much an unintended consequence, but I think what we’re seeing as a result of Daryl’s tweet and Joe Tsai’s response, I can tell you, at least speaking for the United States, that there’s I think far more understanding of the complexity of the issues in Hong Kong than there was heretofore. Sports often serves that purpose, that takes people who might not otherwise pay attention to issues in society, and sports shines a light on them. So that’s where we are.

Q. I imagine you talked to Daryl Morey about the tweet. Can you share part of the discussion, what was talked about, what you said to him and what he said to you?
ADAM SILVER: You know, in the NBA we practice something called commissioner privilege (laughter). And so I would only say, yes, Daryl and I have talked. But I don’t think it’s appropriate to share the back and forth.

Q. It seems like the app with Rakuten and the platform for showing the NBA games through that app is the main focus right now of your partnership with them or making new inroads into Japan. But do you have any more specific plans beyond that?
ADAM SILVER: Our plans beyond that involve technology. Having spent a fair amount of time with Mickey Mikitani over the years and used that Rakuten platform, they have some of the best technology for producing games that we see anywhere in the world, including the United States. What we’re hoping to do with Mickey — he, I think, uniquely understands the opportunity that comes with a brand like the NBA. Of course it’s about top-notch basketball, but it’s also about entertainment, it’s about music, it’s about fashion. So what we’re trying to do with Rakuten is build the NBA brand into a lifestyle brand and to capture casual sports fans who may not have grown up necessarily playing basketball or caring about basketball and using sort of that broader platform to draw people in to what I’d call an NBA lifestyle. That’s something we’re very focused on with Rakuten.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

BLUES 3, MAPLE LEAFS 2 “We’ve just got to keep grinding away and keep getting better.”-Mike Babcock.


HEAD COACH MIKE BABCOCK

On tonight’s game:

I thought it was a good game. They’ve got a real good team, I think we’ve got a good team. I thought there wasn’t much to pick, I thought we had real good chances. In the end, though, good teams find a way to win. The game is right there on the line going into the third period and they found a way to get one and we didn’t. We had good chances but didn’t. They made a play, they got a nice little pick there and then one seam where we had five guys inside, we should have had it sorted out, but we didn’t. In the end, that’s what good teams do. You get a swagger about you; you know you’re going to win and you find a way to win.

On what he’s learned about the team after four games in six nights:

I liked us every night except the night on the back-to-back there – the 3-in-4, I didn’t think we were very good. We have a chance to get a lot better, obviously. I liked [Sandin] tonight. That’s the first time he’s kind of – I don’t know how many minutes he played, but I thought he was impressive. I didn’t think he got rattled, I thought he was good, so that’s positive. I think Kerfoot is getting better. We’ve just got to keep grinding away and keep getting better.

On Nylander’s performance tonight:

That was his best, by far. He had the puck, he got the puck, he got it back, he made things happen. I thought it was his most competitive game this year. It’d be one we’d like to see, obviously, on a regular basis. He has all the ability. He had turn-backs, he won pucks, he was on the puck, he was strong. I thought he was very effective tonight.

On the play of the fourth line tonight:

Obviously, our third line was our best line two nights ago and then this line was alright tonight. We’ll have a look at it here tomorrow and kind of see. We’ve rotated back and forth now for four games. Are we going to do it for two more or is this now, you know, the National Hockey League and the best guys play?

On if the Tavares line needs to continue to adjust without Hyman:

Hyman’s good, eh? We’ve just got to figure it out over time because we need them to be dominant, as you know. Everyone’s just got to figure it out and keep working and grinding.

FREDERIK ANDERSEN (27 SAVES)

On tonight’s performance:

Tonight I thought we played pretty good. I think we had good moments in the game and, unfortunately, it didn’t go our way.

On what he saw on Pietrangelo’s game-winner:

He kind of snuck down pretty far out of my field of vision and obviously got a shot just over the pad that snuck underneath my arm. Unfortunately, that’s it.

WILLIAM NYLANDER (1 GOAL)

On tonight’s game:

I think we played pretty well. We were able to create a lot of chances. I think we played pretty solid without the puck too so we just have to take the positives and build off that.

On his goal in the second period:

I just got the puck from Ceci who made a great pass and just cut it and had an open net and put it in there. It was nothing more than that.

On facing the defending champions:

I think it was a tight game and a good measurement for us to see how we match up against a team like that.

On how he thinks they played against St. Louis:

I think we played pretty well actually but, in the end, we have to bury our chances and keep the puck out of our own net. But, I think it was a pretty good game.

On the team forcing turnovers off the forecheck:

We’re hungry, we’re skating. That’s how we want to play.

JASON SPEZZA (1 ASSIST)

On St. Louis as an opponent:

They’re the champs, they’re a very patient team. They play a very disciplined game. I thought we did too, for the most part. I thought when it got away from us maybe we didn’t get pucks deep as much as we need to. For the most part we hung with them all night and a bounce here or there could have been a different story tonight.

On if there are positives to come from tonight’s game:

I think so. It’s disappointing to lose that, it’s one of we’d like to have won here at home against that team. We’re going to learn from the games that we’ve lost and look at them. There’s things to build off of, for sure. There were times when we really controlled play out there tonight and if we can bottle that we can become a better team.

JOHN TAVARES (20:29 TOI)

On if that was the type of game they expected from the defending champions:

Yeah, absolutely. they obviously did it last year and have shown they know how to win. They’re a patient team and I think, overall, we did a pretty good job ourselves, we just didn’t make enough plays in the third and they had the one that resulted in the victory for them.

On what he liked from his team tonight:

I liked our start and the way we came out, we were tracked the puck and getting in on the forecheck. We had some good shifts in the offensive zone, protecting well and moving our feet and getting second and third opportunities. Those gave us good stretches of puck possession and offensive zone time. They’re a big team, especially on the back end. We’ve just got to continue to be a little more consistent in getting to the middle of the ice and to the front of the net.

“Every important game I would have pitched in would have been either not in Calgary, not even in Canada, usually in another country — Pan Am’s in Mexico, games in Cuba, all that kind of stuff.” – Mike Soroka.

NL DIVISION SERIES: CARDINALS VS BRAVES

October 5, 2019

Mike Soroka

St. Louis, Missouri – Workout Day

THE MODERATOR: We’ll start with questions for Mike Soroka.

Q. Mike, what goes into you having such a terrific road ERA? Not that your home ERA stinks, because it doesn’t, but you’ve been almost a run lower than anyone else in the league?
MIKE SOROKA: I’m not too sure about that honestly. It’s something that we wanted to figure out because we wanted to duplicate those results at home. Part of it might be the preparation that goes into it, being in a hotel, being in an unfamiliar place.

It could be just luck of it as well. Could be had some good games, brought that down. It all goes into it. I can’t really put anything on it specifically.

Q. How about your youth when you did a lot of traveling with the Canadian teams and so forth? Everything was a road game there, wasn’t it?
MIKE SOROKA: Definitely. Every important game I would have pitched in would have been either not in Calgary, not even in Canada, usually in another country — Pan Am’s in Mexico, games in Cuba, all that kind of stuff.

I think maybe I just got used to being in unfamiliar places and that’s when I found I loved to play.

Q. I was talking to somebody today about what makes you more advanced from a maturity standpoint than most other 22-year-old and he talked about the time you spent with Reitsma and Quantrill. How much did they prepare you to just be an advanced pitcher and maybe even just for life in the big leagues?
MIKE SOROKA: Probably more than I even know. I would say I was very lucky to have gotten to hit that learning curve when I was 15, 16, 17 years old, to the point where they made things very obvious to me that weren’t so obvious to regular 16-, 17-year-olds in high school.

Having the mentality that any pitch in any count, when you’re 16 pitching against professional baseball hitters, you know, is really something that we’re still trying to work towards. And that’s not a new subject any more.

It’s things like that that really pushed me ahead, and I have them to thank for it and many more, just being able to go out there and have fun with it, and like I said, learn things earlier.

Q. You saw these guys twice this season. What stands out most to you about this lineup you’ll see tomorrow night?
MIKE SOROKA: They’re strong. Everybody knows that. They’ve got some guys that have done some damage for a lot of years. Talking to Dallas and Mike about how they navigated the lineup and picking your spots to which battles you want to get into and where you don’t want to get hurt.

Little things like that that you’ve really got to pay attention to with this lineup. And then having faced them twice this year, we’ll be able to go back and look at previous pitches, previous at-bats that we want to improve on and basically make a plan.

Q. How concerned were you with that shoulder inflammation you had at the end of the last season? I think it kept you from starting the season out on the roster, too, am I right there about that? You were slow at spring training, right?
MIKE SOROKA: It was actually a separate incident in spring training. But that one’s a little more of other things involved, could have been the weight room as well. But, no, last year obviously it was very concerning because the stigma around shoulder injuries in baseball is not great to understand that shoulders are tricky because there’s so many muscles and there’s so many different things contributing to that.

One thing that I did was kind of dive into it with all the medical staff. Our entire training staff was very open to educating me. I wanted to know as much as possible about that injury and about shoulders in general.

I got to learn a lot through them and then through Eric Cressey as well. Kind of go out and seek the best of the best and got a chance to learn a lot about pitching mechanics and about the anatomy of the shoulder has helped me know where I need to be to stay healthy and hopefully do it year in, year out.

Q. What’s it been like watching Max make this transition to the bullpen, high-leverage spots? How much have you enjoyed seeing his success out of the pen?
MIKE SOROKA: It’s fun, just to watch where Max was in 2016 when we were in Rome and that switch that he makes when he goes to the bullpen, and doesn’t have to worry about saving anything in the tank. He’s as aggressive as it gets.

The stuff that he can show out of the bullpen, we saw last year and this year. I mean, to me it’s as good as it gets. Nobody throws that hard with that curveball on command like he can. And it’s just really fun to watch him go out there and know that he’s going to dominate.

And he’s been huge for us and I know he’s looking forward to helping out in whatever capacity that will be.

Q. Do you envy at all how hard Buehler and Flaherty throw with their hard stuff, or are you quite happy with what you have anyway?
MIKE SOROKA: Like I said, those guys have electricity that not too many do have, especially Walker. Getting to see him a little bit in the same draft class and kind of seeing that arm. And he stands out next to 99 percent of the pitchers.

I do like to consider myself a harder thrower when I want to be, maybe not that hard, but little things like that that you can take from everybody and what makes him successful. But you also kind of have to dive into yourself and look at what makes yourself successful.

I think that’s what we’re doing more than anything is being able to look at how I want to execute my game plan going forward and knowing that whatever happens beyond that I’m doing what I can to be at my best.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

“I actually don’t get too caught up on being good in the postseason and all that. Come to think about it, I think it’s still a small sample.” — Masahiro Tanaka

AL DIVISION SERIES: TWINS VS YANKEES

October 5, 2019

Masahiro Tanaka

New York, New York – postgame 2

Yankees – 8, Twins – 2

Q. Against a lineup like that that is as potent as it is and sits on fastballs like that, what is it about your off-speed stuff that was able to throw off their timing tonight?
MASAHIRO TANAKA: Yeah, I think the off-speed stuff, slider and splitter, I think they were both pretty consistent throughout the game, which helped me, made me successful in the game, obviously. I wish the fastball was a little bit better, you know, tried to use that a little bit, but I feel like I was able to use that enough so both the off-speed stuff were working.

Q. From your perspective during that third inning watching the offense go and then leading to Didi’s grand slam, what’s the emotion like as you’re watching that long inning?
MASAHIRO TANAKA: Obviously, it’s big for the team, getting that type of offense in. Obviously, it’s big for the pitchers, as well. Particularly, we were talking about starting pitchers. I think pitchers are a little bit, they’re a different animal in a way. You still have to go out there, and you still have to shut down the opponent. So you can’t really be there going up and down because the offense — like today, like the offense got us some runs. So, yeah, that’s kind of what I was going through during that time.

Q. During that long third inning, do you do anything special as you’re sitting on the bench to stay loose? Especially on a cool night like tonight?
MASAHIRO TANAKA: Yeah, you obviously try to stay warm, keep the arm loose. You play catch down there underneath the dugout. But I gave up a run after I came in after that long inning, so I feel like I need to do a better job of keeping myself warm and game ready. This is something I need to take when I go out there in a similar type of situation.

Q. And at what point did you know that the slider/splitter were going to be on for you tonight? Whether it was the bullpen or first inning or whatever.
MASAHIRO TANAKA: I think it was in the second inning. The first inning, I don’t think it was as good, but I think it was the second inning that I felt that it was going to be good.

Q. Why do you think your results get even better in the postseason? And what does it mean to you personally that you’re gaining a reputation as a big game pitcher at this time of year?
MASAHIRO TANAKA: I actually don’t get too caught up on being good in the postseason and all that. Come to think about it, I think it’s still a small sample. My thing is just go out there and be the best that you can be, compete, and, yeah, just be the best that you can be.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sport