Q. (Question in Spanish.)
GLEYBER TORRES: (Answer in Spanish.)
Q. What do you think has been the key to your success so far this postseason and what does it mean to you to help your team so much in the playoffs?
GLEYBER TORRES: The key is just I got to — I get really good plan to go to home plate. I mean, how I can feel comfortable because I got really good guys behind me, like LV, and Gary, Stanton, those guys.
I mean, I just go to the home plate believing what I can do. And each opportunity I got I just believe in myself and I just like to help and be confident.
Q. Are you surprised at what you’ve been able to do at such a young age?
GLEYBER TORRES: I mean, not really. During my career in the minor league I prepared really well myself for every situation last year. I take all the experience and now I just put all the experience in my game. Prepare really well to be here and help my team. So now I got opportunity. I just be patient and just go to the ballpark, play hard, and try to win all the games.
Q. After having such a great game tonight how do you get yourself mentally prepared to play against Verlander tomorrow?
GLEYBER TORRES: Tonight’s play already, we won, we celebration, but we focus on tomorrow. I mean I know Verlander pitches pretty well. Always when he faced Yankees he pitched super good. So, I mean, the same for tomorrow, try to attack early, try to make some runs and try to win games. We’ve got a really good team. We believe in what we can do so we compete tomorrow.
Q. How did you feel being in a different spot in the lineup, being up in the order today, do you think that helped you or how do you think it worked out?
GLEYBER TORRES: I mean during last year and this year I hit every position. Really I think I feel comfortable. Is so great to play with the Yankees and I get the opportunity to play every day. So for me I’m just being focused, each position I just try to help and make some opportunities to me and try to help my team.
Nick Shore put the Maple Leafs on the board at 9:57 of the first period and later had the secondary assist on Muzzin’s third period goal. Shore’s goal was his first goal and point as a Maple Leaf. Tonight’s game is his sixth career multi-point game.
Ilya Mikheyev scored the second Toronto goal of the night at 19:30 of the second period and later had the lone assist on Kerfoot’s third period goal. Mikheyev has two goals and three assists through the first six games of his NHL career. Tonight’s game is his second multi-point performance of the season.
Alex Kerfoot scored the third Maple Leafs goal of the game at 9:11 of the third period. Kerfoot has four points (2-2-4) over his last four games.
Jake Muzzin scored the fourth Toronto goal of the game at 13:34 of the third period. Muzzin’s goal is his first goal and third point of the season. He had five goals in 30 games with the Maple Leafs in 2018-19.
Trevor Moore scored the fifth Maple Leafs goal of the night into an empty net at 17:47 of the third period. Moore has three goals through the first six games of the season.
Dmytro Timashov registered the lone assist on Shore’s first period goal and later had the primary assist on Muzzin’s third period goal. Timashov has three assists in three games played this season. Tonight’s game is his first career multi-point and multi-assist game.
Kasperi Kapanen had the lone assist on Mikheyev’s second period goal. Kapanen has assists (2) in two consecutive games.
John Tavares had the lone assist on Moore’s empty net goal in the third period. Tavares has points (1-1-2) in two consecutive games.
Frederik Andersen stopped 25 shots to earn the victory. He is 8-0-1 in his career vs. Detroit.
Gleyber Torres homered, doubled and singled for five RBIs. Giancarlo Stanton and Gio Urshela also homered. Masahiro Tanaka allowed one hit and one walk while striking out four in six innings. Zack Greinke yielded seven hits and three runs with six Ks in six innings.
On the play of the third and fourth lines tonight:
Well, they were good. I started [Gauthier] and Shore – whatever line you want to call it – in the D-zone every time and they seemed to win the draw and play in the offensive zone, so that was a good line for us. I think [Kerfoot’s] line with [Moore] and Mikheyev is getting better each and every game and they’ve been good in lots of games for us, so that was positive.
On if he could have used his fourth line the same way last season:
No. [Gauthier] is another year in the League, Shoresy is a right-hand faceoff guy and we didn’t have that. They’re just not in the same situation we were in a year ago. I thought [Timashov] had a heck of a game. He was fast, he was strong, he was physical. The goals and that stuff were bonus, but I thought he played real well.
On Timashov’s progress as the result of his time with the Marlies:
Obviously, it’s a real good league and it’s hard to be good in that league. Some guys that are good in that league don’t – it doesn’t transfer to the National Hockey League. The guys who can skate and process information, it normally transfers, and, in his case, it looks like it is.
On the team’s work ethic after the loss to Tampa Bay:
We talked about a lot about that – how hard can we work? We thought our work ethic was really good in camp, really good at the start, liked it all the way through. We didn’t like it last game but, to me, that’s got to be our calling card. If we go to work, our talent will show and you’ve got to outwork the other team. That’s the bottom line. I like our consistency and our patience in our game. Even when they scored, we didn’t get off track, we just played the next shift.
On being able to consistently trust the fourth line:
That’s what we were hoping for and trying to do. Against good players – Larkin’s line was out there and we knew they were coming, we just put them out there. You don’t know what’s going to happen. We were down 1-0 at that point and you don’t know what’s going to happen, but if the guys can do it, obviously it’s a huge deal for you. It makes you a way better hockey club and way deeper and then you can play [Tavares] and [Matthews] out in the offensive zone all the time, which is easier on them.
FREDERIK ANDERSEN (25 SAVES)
On the team fighting back after Detroit scored first:
Of course, when they strike first early on it’s a good thing we could keep going. That wasn’t the start we were looking for. Just shake it off and keep going and get back to playing our hockey.
On the team’s third and fourth lines spending a lot of time in the offensive zone:
I think we were able to sustain some good shifts down there, some good, heavy shifts, and wear their D down a little bit. I thought we did a good job of shooting the puck and getting the puck back once we did. I think the more time like that we can put wear and tear on their lines and keep them in. Especially in the second period, I thought we did a good job of that.
FREDERIK GAUTHIER (100% FACEOFF WIN PERCENTAGE)
On the play of his line tonight:
I think with the game we had last game we just tried to come out strong and have a good first period and it went well. I think chemistry worked well, getting a goal early is always nice and getting the legs under you. Then, obviously, the draws went well for me and [Shore] so we got to start with the puck which is better than chasing it all night.
On if he thought tonight was one of his better games as a Leaf:
I think we played well, I was good on the draw today and the wingers were helping.
ILYA MIKHEYEV (1 GOAL, 1 ASSIST)
On if Kapanen’s flip pass was a set play:
I saw [Kapanen] did a flip pass and I knew to just keep moving and I see the puck before me.
On if he was surprised Howard came out of the net:
I think the goalie thought it was a 50-50 and I have a chance and I did it.
On if he’s happy with the start to his NHL career:
I don’t think about this. I just work This is my first NHL season in another country, another mentality, new system for me. I’m excited and I’m very happy every day when I come to the practice rink or Scotiabank [Arena] for the game, I’m just very happy.
JAKE MUZZIN (1 GOAL)
On if he thought the team responded after last week’s results:
Yeah, obviously, we weren’t happy with the results we had last week. It just came down to working harder. I thought we came out tonight with the right attitude and we had a good start. I know they got one early, but I thought we did most of the work in the first period, we did a good job. We focused on our start and went form there and I think we did a good job for a full 60 there tonight.
On the patience shown from Timashov to set up his goal:
That’s exactly what he had – patience. Either he hits the one-timer there or looks for another play. My momentum kept me going to the net and he found me backdoor and I was lucky to get some wood on it and put it in. We’ll take it.
NICK SHORE (1 GOAL, 1 ASSIST)
On Timashov setting the for their tone tonight:
It was great, on that first one he did a lot of the work, got in there and got in on the forecheck. We’re at our best when we can turn pucks over behind there net. He played a great game and made it easy on us.
On scoring his first of the season:
Certainly it’s always good to see the puck go in the net but, at the same time, I think it was big for our team. We’re coming off a couple games where we didn’t play how we wanted to so we just wanted to get off to a good start.
Q. Acknowledging that the other team in the past two games has had really amazing starts, what are some things your offense must do better to generate more offense?
MIKE SHILDT: Yeah, can’t ignore the fact we have been shut down pretty much for two games in a row. We won’t make excuses for it. There’s a lot of variables to it. But the reality is we haven’t been able to get it done.
As far as adjustments go, you have guys that have been getting pretty good some pitches to hit, not a lot of them, there’s not been a lot of pitches to feast on. Feel like the competition’s there, the approach is there, we just got to be able to continue to — when guys are pitching at that level, and again I don’t want to minimize that we’re not competing or we’re not focusing right, but we got to figure out a way to be that much better, and that’s a challenge right now for us. We got the guys in the clubhouse that will figure out what that looks like.
But it gets back to getting good pitches to hit and then just putting a good swing on it, not trying to do too much. I really don’t feel — you feel like guys are pressing a little bit, I don’t feel like that’s the case. Guys are in a pretty good spot but clearly a little frustrated about what’s been going on the last couple days.
Q. In the Eaton/Wainwright at-bat what was the thinking on letting Wainwright stay in and not going to left-hander there?
MIKE SHILDT: No, I understand that. What goes into it, a guy’s got 11 strikeouts, is still hitting his spots. I think he probably made two mistakes, the one to Taylor, cutter, got the ball up the patch, put a swing on it. But then you looked at the Turner at-bat and he bloops one in. Then you look to the Eaton at-bat, I thought he was going to be able to execute. And just watching he was executing everything he was doing. So you take your chances with a guy that’s in the moment, in the competition, that’s pitched as well as he has, that is still executing his pitches, and he more than deserved that opportunity, and he snuck one down the line on him.
Q. Coming into an off day tomorrow, workout day tomorrow, what do you, what’s your approach with them coming off of two games like these two, as opposed to if you would have split or been up 2-0?
MIKE SHILDT: Yeah, clearly we’re going to fight for every game regardless of where we are. You got to get to four somehow. Right now we got to get to one. Obviously being in a 2-0 spot is not ideal, but I’m still very, I feel very strongly about our chances in this series for a lot of reasons I don’t really need to get into.
As far as what we can do different, we have done everything we had wanted to do in this series but a big one and that’s to be able to put some at-bats together and score. Our pitching’s been outstanding, our defense has been as good as always, our base runners have been very opportunistic, we just haven’t had many opportunities. We just need to continue to do what we’re doing, our preparation’s good, our feel for what’s going on in the competition’s really good, we just need to be able to string together more consistent at-bats and be able to pitch with, or play with the lead and go from there. But we’ll show up on Monday ready to go, I can tell you that.
Q. What you’ve seen from Jose, do you see him as maybe a catalyst in this series moving forward to try to — you’ve talked a lot about not one to have a knee-jerk reaction with the lineup, but his results on a lineup that’s struggling are pretty impressive so far.
MIKE SHILDT: No, they are. You can’t ignore the fact he’s taken good at-bats. I obviously haven’t had time to — but there would be some contemplation about how we move forward and how we look to compete. And again I’ll look at it from the lens that we always look at it, who is taking the kind of at-bats, who is on time, the matchups, all those different things that we always factor into it. It’s good to know that Jose is in a good place and taking good at-bats and it can’t be ignored.
Q. In your opinion, what did you think Scherzer was doing to you guys today combined with you guys struggling a little bit at the plate, what was it about Scherzer today that made you guys struggle so much?
MIKE SHILDT: He’s a quality guy for a reason. He was commanding his pitches. And I hesitate to say that I talked to Ollie about it on the bench a little bit because we will not make excuses for ourselves. I won’t ever make excuses for our guys. But you also have to be realistic about what we were dealing with today. We were dealing with a guy that had really good command of his pitches, throwing mid-90s with late movement, really dirty sliders, we know, and not the most ideal conditions to go up there and swing the bat. Again, that’s just realistic. We had to figure a way, to Ben’s question earlier, we got to figure out a way to be better, that’s the bottom line. But I can’t sit there and ignore the fact that their guy’s pretty darn elite, and you saw some elite pitching today. You saw playoff baseball. We haven’t been able to figure out a way to get some runs, but you’re seeing playoff baseball and how it looks. That’s usually tough pitching, timely hitting, good defense, and some other things. And we’re doing everything, just not being able to scratch those runs across.
Q. Can you describe your level of appreciation as you watch Wainwright put up zero after zero and especially on the heels of his last start for you guys?
MIKE SHILDT: Yeah, you know, wow, what an effort. I saw where he talked about the matchup and it was like Christmas for him. We just didn’t put any runs under the tree for him. But he did his part to wake up bright-eyed and ready to go and enjoy the opportunity and the moment, which you knew he would. But he was stellar. That’s not a word I use a lot, but he was absolutely steller, in control of everything he was doing, and just weren’t able to support him. I can’t say enough about the job that Adam did today.
Q. A lot of us hate baseball in the shadows. Today was the bright sun and maybe even the high sky making it particularly difficult, even by the standards that we have grown used to.
MIKE SHILDT: I don’t think there’s any question about that. You’re talking about a lot of different variables that were pro pitching today with two guys that were on their A games. So there’s a reason it was a crisp game and there’s a reason there was the two starters both had 11 strikeouts. They’re very, very talented, they were able to execute their pitches, and they were in an environment today that lent itself to pitching.
Q. Is this just a situation where, on one hand you got Jack Flaherty going Game 3 and that’s something to be very optimistic about, but on the other hand you got Jack, like, starts the last two games and you unfortunately weren’t able to win either of them? Is that kind of a fair way to look at it?
MIKE SHILDT: I don’t know, you know, we’re happy to have Jack going, we’re happy to go compete. The fact of the matter is this is a team that the word resilient has been used internally, but it’s really also been a monicker used externally, rightfully so. And you’re going to see it in full force. This series is far from over. And we have a guy going that’s one of the best guys and really the best guy in baseball second half undisputed going for us on Monday. I’m very optimistic still about this series.
Q. Wanted to ask, it’s homecoming weekend at Mizzou. What’s this win mean to be back in St. Louis area on homecoming weekend?
MAX SCHERZER: I don’t know. I’m playing for the other 24 guys in the clubhouse. We really want to win here. So that’s what’s going to happen, we’re going to compete and win.
Q. Is there any thought to the potential history you’re making or is it just all about winning that game?
MAX SCHERZER: Just throwing up zeros. It’s a 1-0 game, mistakes are, it’s razor thin out there, you can’t give — I’m really thinking don’t give up a solo shot. Just trying to work with Zuk and just navigate through this lineup. Just stay in the moment, stay with Zuk and just keep your mind what we need to do. And he did a great job of sequencing them and we did a good job of just executing pitches.
Q. Max, first, just how did you feel, the whole kinetic chain or whatever you want to call it? And also you and Anibal six years ago took back-to-back no-hitters into the 6th in the postseason, never been done before. Now you both took them into the 6th and 8th. Can you talk about how unusual that is, if you talked about it, anything? MAX SCHERZER: I know when Sanchie gets locked in, he’s nasty. He can just absolutely do anything with the baseball. He’s such a treat to watch. The way he can change speeds and execute pitches, it’s a treat to really watch and get to pitch with him. For me, I’m just in the moment. I’m not trying to do anything great, I’m just trying to stick within my game and just work with Zuk.
Q. What’s your vantage point on that single and in that spot, are you kind of okay with him not taking the risk there and diving for it given what the alternative could have been?
MAX SCHERZER: It’s 1-0. We can’t afford to get a runner in scoring position. That’s just the way the game is being played at that point. Just keep him at first and go to work.
Q. Adam, in your at-bat there with the double did you expect them to go to Miller? Were you surprised to see Wainwright stay in? And can you just walk us through what you were trying to do there and how the at-bat played out?
ADAM EATON: You know, you’re going to have to keep locked in on who is on the mound at the time. I didn’t even try to look out into the bullpen to see who is warming up because now you’re trying to think managerial when you should be just focused on hitting. So I walked to the plate facing Wainwright and him and Yadi were kind of confusing me all day in that at-bat and keeping me really, really off balance. And in that sense 3-2, kind of knew he was going to go to the breaking ball, more so than any other pitch — or any other at-bat that I’ve had. And I knew he had to throw it for a strike so it kind of gave me an opportunity to sit on it and got it and hit it where they weren’t.
Q. You also mentioned what they were doing to you in earlier at-bats at the game. What did you take from those into that final at-bat?
ADAM EATON: Yeah, everything I was thinking, they did the opposite. So I was thinking 3-2 should be a heater here and I’m like, well, that’s the opposite, so I should George Costaza it and just go ahead and said breaking ball and that’s what happened and George was right and I happened to be right.
Q. We have heard a few guys talk about how the shadows affected hitting in this game and pitching. Was that last at-bat, the one that you had the big hit on, was it easier because of the light?
ADAM EATON: Yeah, my last at-bat was the first time I actually saw the ball the whole way. The shadows were extremely difficult. You saw Kolten Wong have two check swings and barrelled both of them up. You just saw some really bad swings and bad counts. But that’s what you have to deal with when you have a 3 o’clock game. It’s kind of unfortunate, you have a playoff game, a really big important game, and you have to deal with that. When you easily could have another time slot and not have to deal with it. But going into the game we had an understanding that that was going to be a huge affect and Mike hit that big homer and we had all the confidence, one run could win this game with the shadows. But like you said, as the game went on you were able to see much better.
Q. Max, you mentioned that you’re so locked into the postseason, Dave said before the game with the start we had to the season we have been in playoff mode for two, three months now. What’s this ride for both of you, what’s this ride been like when you’re just on this in this zone and on this run?
MAX SCHERZER: It’s fun. This team’s got a lot of personality and a lot of grit to it. And we got really 25 guys, no matter who it is, when their number gets called they’re going to lay it all on the line for each other. It’s such a treat to be in the clubhouse like this and have, to know that that’s the type of baseball we’re playing and right now it just seems like anybody who gets their number called is going to do something big. Somebody might make a mistake and then come back and do something big for the team. This is really, it’s not just one guy carrying this team or two guys, it’s really just a collective of everybody out there doing their job.
Q. How enjoyable was the dugout dance after you came out?
ADAM EATON: You look forward to that, come on.
MAX SCHERZER: They always dance for solo shots and this and that, but what happens when there’s a two-run shot? You guys don’t dance. So, you know, there’s a that — I think two runs is worth more than a solo shot, so they never dance for a two-run, so I’m always the guy —
ADAM EATON: Not a two-run shot, a two-run double. We dance for solo shots and he’s always like, oh, a solo shot’s not a big deal and then we hit a two-run double and we don’t dance because no one hit a home run that — I’m sorry, I kind of cut you off, but that’s clarification.
MAX SCHERZER: No, that’s what’s going on there.
Q. Will you monitor your arm on a daily basis leading up to if you have another start in this series to see if you can come out of the pen?
MAX SCHERZER: I doubt it. My arm was kind of gassed coming into today, I knew I didn’t have like 120 pitches, knew I only had really a hundred. My arm actually felt better around the 4th inning once it kind of loosened up and freed up. And once I got to that hundred pitch count, the only thing that was going to keep me in the game was that I found my arm slot, but with the lefties coming up, we had Doolittle, my spot in the order was coming up and a chance to get out of there with a hundred pitches and kind of recover at this point in time, that’s why it all made sense to go to Doolittle in that situation.
Q. Can you speak to what it’s like to play behind Anibal last night, Max today and then know you’re going home have Stephen and Patrick, just what kind of confidence that breeds in a clubhouse dugout? ADAM EATON: We have done it all year. Nothing’s really changed. Stay on your toes because you might not get a ball for seven innings and then all of a sudden you might get one. I’ve been blessed to play behind some really, really good pitchers and you just enjoy the masterpiece that they’re painting, realistically. You admire it and it’s just, it’s fun to play behind really good pitchers, guys that want to go out there and compete like the four guys that we have. So just enjoy the ride, be ready when that one ball might be hit to you, it might make the difference, and score a run for them.
Q. You had a ball in the outfield that looked like it was hard to track, Michael had one he didn’t track. In addition to not seeing the ball hitting was it a tough day to play the outfield?
ADAM EATON: Yeah, no, it definitely was. Oddly enough, when the sun went down it got super dark and when you can’t hear the bat, the ball hit the bat, with the noise, it make it’s extremely difficult. I froze on mine big time and was able to have a little bit of make up speed and catch it. Mikey did the exact same thing. When the ball’s hit you kind of freeze and if you can’t quite see it as well, the depth perception is a little funky, it makes for an interesting play. But we both have to make those plays, but like I said just difficult, really all day the lighting was just constantly changing and really challenged us.
Q. I wanted to ask both guys, I know you play them one at a time, but can you say anything about going home to Nationals Park and to your home crowd up 2-0 and what that will be like?
ADAM EATON: I’m excited. Our park has been absolutely legit when it comes to the fan base and them coming out and supporting us. And helping start the wave type deal, with the emotion and just getting it on our side right away. So I think we’re both really excited to go home, play in a familiar park where people are cheering for you instead of against you. So I’m excited.
MAX SCHERZER: Yeah, I mean the atmosphere in the playoffs at Nationals Park has been incredible. They come out and they go nuts from the first pitch. So I have a feeling it’s even going to be more crazy given what we have done and really our first postseason win as an organization, I think that means a lot to everybody in DC, so it should be a fun time.
Q. Curious, from a pitcher’s perspective what did you see from Wainwright today, because you guys had a pretty memorable battle today.
MAX SCHERZER: Yeah, I mean he goes out there and competes as well as anybody in this league. He knows how to execute pitches and he works with Yadi so well and he’s got just the curve ball that just never gets there and it breaks so much. And they really know how to move the ball around together and be in sync. I mean that, you knew he was going to go out there and throw up zeros. We got lucky in the first pitch of an inning and Mikey was able to get a homer, but I mean he bore down and continued to throw up zeros and execute pitches and the margin for error was just, there wasn’t any margin for error.
Q. Even though the Yankees are predominantly right-handed, what are the challenges of you not having a left-handed pitcher on your pitching staff for this series? AJ HINCH: I know it sticks out a little bit when you look at a lineup card, but in reality I think it’s important to have the most weapons you can against the majority of their hitters. Obviously I know Gardner and Didi and with Hicks — Hicks creates his own challenges being a switch-hitter.
For us it was important to have as many right-handed weapons and give them different looks over a seven-game series, to have a lot of options that way.
We’ve had some rosters we’ve had a lot of — some lefties and sometimes we haven’t in my five years here. But we had a lot of — the majority of the season, if not all the season, was done without a lefty in the bullpen, from the bullpen side.
Now, telling Wade Miley he’s not on the roster was tough. He’s had a tremendous year for us, and he was on the Division Series roster and he’s worked his tail off to try to get the feel back for his pitches. And he provided a lot of insurance and length for us in the first round.
That was much tougher than it is for me to worry about how we get through their lineup with no lefty.
Q. What did you think of your team’s offense during the Division Series? And how credit do the Rays pitchers deserve for extending it? AJ HINCH: I think when you get to this time of the year to expect the blowup games and these monstrous offensive games is really tough. You’re not getting too many looks at too many guys. And the Rays did a good job of utilizing all of their good pitching in random order and different ways and matchups. With the exception of Charlie’s game, Charlie Morton’s game, it was all hands on deck for them for the four other games.
Give a lot of credit to them. And it wasn’t just about the number of pitchers they were bringing in; it was the elite stuff that they were throwing up there.
That being said we came through at the right time. We had some big, explosive — there were some guys that swung the bat very well in that series. But part of how our roster is built is to have any given guy at any given day have the good day that carries us in that particular game.
We may see much of the same. Obviously we want Jose to play just as well as he did, Yordan had a nice series. This might be the game that Michael Brantley, as we saw in Game 5, came up big, or Robinson Chirinos has done quite well or Yuli can get hot. We all get hot together and this is going to be an explosive offense, but this is still a really good pitching staff we’re going to have to go against.
Q. To what extent do you feel having Yuli and D�az has helped Yordan make the transition to the big leagues? AJ HINCH: That’s a good point. I think in general across the board our position players have done a really good job of welcoming Yordan on to our team and giving him as many resources as you can. When you have a couple of countrymen that have relatable experiences and backgrounds similar to one another — I mean Yuli himself, being an idol in Cuba and across international baseball, I see it when we go to different teams. Any Cuban player is on an opposing team, they cherish their time with Yuli, and their reaction to him is so respectful.
When Yordan has an icon like that to come up and relate to, and with Diaz. At one time I think we had five or six Cubans on this team. And that is a comforting feeling for a player who is acclimating to the U.S., acclimating to the big leagues, and getting a lot thrown at him at a level which he’d never been before, so I think it was huge.
Q. Is there any tangible reasons for the home-road splits this year? AJ HINCH: For Tanaka or for us?
Q. For your team. AJ HINCH: I don’t know. I’ve sat in this chair and been asked by our media in ’15 or ’16, and we couldn’t win a game at home it felt like and we were crushing it on the road. There’s other years where you play really well at home and you struggle on the road. I look at other teams across the board, I’ve seen what teams do.
I think for us, this has turned into a really good home-field advantage. It’s turned into a place that we’re comfortable hitting. We have guys that hit the ball hard, and you get rewarded in this ballpark. We don’t strikeout, this can be an offensive ballpark when you put the ball in play with all the different configurations in the outfield and it can play a little bit fast.
Maybe it’s just a collection of a lot of different things. We love playing at home. We’ve had great experiences here, we’ve clinched divisions here, we’ve had the most epic Game 5 in World Series history. Add all that up and we just love playing at home.
But we did fight for home-field advantage all the way to the end, we played our guys all the way through to the end for this particular opportunity to have a Game 5 in the Division Series at our place, to open up the ALCS here. If we happen to advance to the World Series, we have the home-field advantage. I’ll play that up a ton that our home field is a big difference maker because of how we’ve played this year.
Q. There was a report Thursday that the balls might not be going as far in the postseason, and then the Cardinals dame out today and pretty much said point-blank that they didn’t think. Your thought if you noticed anything about the balls. AJ HINCH: I don’t know. I noticed it a little bit more because elite teams are playing elite teams. And there games played in shadows, there are games played at different parts of the day, the travel, the matchups. We just faced Blake Snell out of the bullpen twice. You don’t do that during the season.
I think a lot of it has to do with the type of matchups that go on during playoff baseball when you’re trying to win. You’re exploiting weaknesses in hitters. Maybe you’re even able to exploit it a little bit more.
I’m sure there are a couple of balls across the way, across these games, that, Man, that looked like that should leave compared to the season. But the conspiracy of the ball, I’m so far away from caring about that. I want to try to win games.
And I appreciate the explosion of offense during the regular season. I hope every ball the Yankees hit is deflated and we get to catch it at the warning track. I don’t have a lot of time to spend on the difference in the ball.
Q. When the teams worked out yesterday it was unusually cold in your place, despite the fact that the roof was closed. Based on your experience how could that play? AJ HINCH: You know, the roof — and when it’s chilly in there it impacts guys. I watched the game last night in St. Louis, it was really cold, and I saw more bunts out of those two teams than I ever saw in a game nowadays.
Maybe it changes style of play a little bit, the ball traveling. It will be warmed up a little bit when 45, 50,000 Astros fans get in here and start yelling at the Yankees. I don’t think it will play a ton.
When you get to October you start playing back in cold weather again, similar to how you do during the season. We get back here for later in the series, if we come back and have more games here in Houston, it will probably be 95. If you’ve been to Houston, you know it will change overnight.
Q. When I saw you guys during the regular season coming through Chicago playing the White Sox, you may have been joking, but I could have sworn you said you were going to order an intentional walk the last day of the season just to get the zero out of there. Of course you didn’t do that. Is there any scenario that exists at this point where you would order an intentional walk? AJ HINCH: Of course. No, absolutely will. And I joked about walking Mike Trout at the end of the year. We finished in Anaheim with a four-game series, and I didn’t think I was going to escape four games without walking him and then he got hurt. So I switched to David Fletcher, and I threatened that I was going to walk him because he killed us all year.
I believe in the intentional walk. I believe there’s a place for it. I didn’t do it. I’ve gotten a ton of questions about it. And I even joked the last day of the season with our local media, stay tuned, I’ll probably do my first one of the year in the playoffs. There’s absolutely a place for it. And if I feel like the matchup is right and I feel like that it benefits our opportunity to win and doesn’t put us in jeopardy of giving them a better chance to score, then it’s a play that needs to be used.
I watched the other games, I don’t criticize these guys for managing their own team and intentionally walking all these guys, but it’s just not a play that I frequent.
Q. You kind of referenced the bullpen matchups a little bit. How much more sophisticated has that gotten as far as information that’s available to you as a manager? AJ HINCH: I don’t think it’s just information, I think it’s the acceptance and the application of actually doing it.
I see the Yankees carry 13 pitchers, that will tell you right there that they’re willing to mix and match and use their pitching creatively, at least have the resources there to do a lot. Managing against Kevin Cash and the Rays last series, we knew that was going to be the case.
So there’s great acceptance to do it nowadays and there’s been some effectiveness. We saw firsthand in ’17, Boston did a great job last season and they won the World Series. When they do that and teams have success, it becomes very accepted.
The challenge is once you start that you kind of can’t stop. You can’t just go to the bullpen. You run out of pitching eventually. You have to have the right matchup and you have to have a lot of guys that have good days in order to do that.
But the information provided and where you think you can exploit teams and matching guys up perfectly is the chess match in the pitcher-hitter stuff. When it works you look brilliant; when it doesn’t then you overthought the game or overmanaged the game and ran your pitching into the ground.
But it’s part of today’s game that everybody has in their back pocket if they want to deploy it. And we may do that. You look at certain games and I’ve done that and then certain games I’ve sat in my chair and watched Gerrit Cole throw 118 pitches. You’ve got to manage the game effectively either way.
Q. What has Roberto Osuna meant? What will he mean to this club going forward? AJ HINCH: He means a ton. When you have a closer with elite stuff and a calm demeanor and the ability to close out games. He didn’t sneak up on all those saves during the season. He was remarkably consistent.
This time of year when closers give up a baserunner, you get questioned a lot on whether or not they’re going to be able to handle October. I trust him. I believe in him. I think he’s got tremendous weapons and a demeanor and the pitchability to handle the ninth inning, the eighth inning, or seventh inning, or whenever I call down there. I’m glad he got the last game the other day in Game 5 because he had a rough stint earlier in the series. But he’s our guy. He’s going to get some big outs this series.
Q. Given the advances in technology and scouting and analytics, how much has coaching pitchers and managing a pitcher changed in the last couple of years? AJ HINCH: It’s changed a little bit. First off supplying information comes from a lot of different ways. I think our front office and our pitching department, Strom and Josh Miller spend a ton of time with these pitchers, first off breaking down what they do well and then applying that to a game plan on how you’re facing these hitters.
The in-game coaching is a little bit different. You’re not going to go out to Zack Greinke today in the fourth or fifth inning and make a visit and tell him that his spin rate is down or up. You’re not going to utilize much — with him you can probably do it, with 99 percent of pitchers you can’t.
So I think the application of the game planning and how you go into a series knowing where you’re going to exploit hitters or where your best weapons are, there’s great knowledge that’s been deployed to these players more so than ever before. Once you get out on the field we want our guys to compete. They’re not analysts out there on the mound. We’re not generating a lot of computer reports trying to overcomplicate the game. We prepare them much better today than I ever remember.
Q. Obviously the roster is a little different, the additions of CC Sabathia and Aaron Hicks. What went into those decisions? AARON BOONE: CC obviously threw his side a few days ago and thought he looked really good. I thought he was sharp. I thought he was able to really finish his pitches and then the bounceback the next day. I just felt like physically he was sound to go, and feel like there’s a role for him in this series, and maybe a couple different ways we saw the value there.
Kind of settled on 13 pitchers probably a day or two ago, a pretty strong consensus that we wanted to go that way. And then yeah, felt like — and then obviously that led to some difficult decisions to fill out the position player side.
Q. Moving Gleyber up to 3 and Didi down to 9, what went into those decisions? AARON BOONE: Just felt like I liked that against Greinke lining it up that way, obviously keeping a little bit of separation between our two lefties and not stacking them too close together. Because Gardy moved down there, just splitting Didi, and I think you guys have seen kind of how much I like our nine spot, that’s a guy to turn things over.
And because of our health right now, feel really good about the depth obviously of our lineup.
Q. Do you still see CC as more of a matchup guy than a length guy? AARON BOONE: Yeah, I could see both, honestly. I think the biggest thing we’ll find out is how he’s able to bounce back.
I feel good about where he’s at right now. I feel good about his ability to get up, get loose quickly. I think the biggest thing now moving forward, does he bounce back. So we’ll see. But I can see a couple of different roles for him.
Q. Do you look at Hicks totally off the bench this whole series or could you see him moving into the starting lineup? AARON BOONE: It’s a little bit of unknown. I could see that role evolving. A lot can change over the course of a series.
And there’s a little unknown with Aaron, obviously. He’s obviously a very good player, an impact player. And he’s healthy and sound and worked hard to get back to this point to put himself in that conversation. The big unknown is he just hasn’t played any games for a while. Obviously on the bench right now. We’ll see what role he plays in that. But certainly it can be a long series and would not be surprised if he’s in there at some point.
Q. He’s not going to pitch until Game 3, but you spoke very well of Gerrit Cole yesterday. I just wanted to follow up. This 18-hour run that he’s on hasn’t been done in-season since 1912. He’s got 350 strikeouts, almost 700 swings and misses. Excellent stuff. Do you think that Cole right now, presently, in his present form is like the best pitcher maybe we’ve seen in 20 years, just the way he’s pitching right now? AARON BOONE: He’s probably got to regress to the mean a little bit, so hopefully that happens this series. He’s tough and in a great groove, obviously. Our job is to try and figure out a way to beat him and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
Q. Last night I got a chance to witness Reggie Jackson talking to Aaron Judge about giving him some batting tips, I think. How good is it to have a Hall of Famer around your ball club like that? AARON BOONE: Huge. Reggie, man, has been through so much in this game. Obviously playing in New York, playing when he did and winning championships here. There’s just so much wisdom that he offers guys all the time, life wisdom, baseball, it’s still very much in his blood. He’s around us quite a bit during the season. So he’s always offering up I think words of advice for not only our guys in the Big Leagues but he goes down in the Minor Leagues, too, and touches guys down there and is very involved in our organization and we’re lucky to have him.
Q. We saw the report earlier this week that the balls aren’t going as far in the playoffs. And the Cardinals today said their analytics were very specific on how much shorter they were going. I wondered if you noticed anything or did you sense anything different? AARON BOONE: No, other than when you said that I hadn’t heard anything. So I’m going to ask our guys what we’ve got. There may be a couple of balls in Minnesota that seemed like maybe they could have gone a little further, whether that’s the cooler weather, those kind of things, I don’t know. I’m just hearing about this now. I don’t know what to make of that.