Kuznetsov, Backstrom, Carlson score for Caps in 2nd between 5:07 and 6:25. Carlson’s came with a two-man advantage.

John Carlson, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov have each extended their respective point streaks to five games. Over their last five games, Carlson has recorded 11 points (3g, 8a), Ovechkin has recorded 7 points (4g, 3a) and Kuznetsov has recorded six points (3g, 3a).

“We proved — and this doesn’t require advanced Sabermetrics. You have to get a lead to win a game. So we weren’t able to do that.” –Mike Shildt

October 15, 2019

Mike Shildt

Washington D.C. – postgame 4

Nationals 7, Cardinals 4

Q. I know it will take some time to digest this a little bit, but in the immediate aftermath, what do you see as the key factors in Washington winning the series?
MIKE SHILDT: The pitching. The pitching by far. I say that, but probably a great starting point. They beat us, clearly. Hats off to them. They played really good baseball. They pitched very, very well. Their bats heated up as the series went. They played in the game the right way. It’s a class group. Like I said, they beat us, and we tip our hat to them and wish them nothing but the best.

Like I said, it’s a very classy group that plays the game right, a lot of veterans that have a lot of time in, but their pitching was the difference in this series.

Q. I know you’re not going to have all the answers 20 minutes after the final game, I just want to ask about 48 total strikeouts in four games. I know their pitching is good, but is there something from your offensive approach that could have been better to avoid all those strikeouts?
MIKE SHILDT: Yeah, sure. You average 12 strikeouts a game, but you’re also talking about — it’s just a blend, right? It’s a blend of their ability. I was just talking to a couple of the guys and just honest evaluation of it. We could have always done better. Talking about three elite strikeout guys in this league. So it’s a combination of things.

Q. Mike, for Dakota to throw so few pitches speaks to the aggression they had coming out against him tonight. Is that something you were a little bit surprised by, or what do you think the response is to that?
MIKE SHILDT: Not at all. It’s an aggressive team. Not surprised at all. I think most people have a similar hitting philosophy. It depends on where the pitches are and if you can execute them sometimes. They were looking for good pitches to hit, got good swings on it. The ball was up a little bit and they got the ball in the air and obviously got the lead. Appreciate a couple of things, and I’ll get to this, whether the question is asked or not. At least for this game and then talk about the group.

Can’t ask for much more fight out of this group tonight. You’re down 7-0. You’re down 5-0. You’ve got your — one of your leaders, Waino, that was like, I want in this game if something happens. He goes out, base hit to left, gets his inning out of the way. Great job by the bullpen — Hels, Gio, Miller, terrific.

Then I’m sure people were paying attention. There’s a lot of heart and fight in this club. There wasn’t one guy that didn’t expect to win that game. Yadi gets us started with the homer, and they couldn’t have felt real comfortable over there, which is how competition works. We just weren’t able to bring it home.

A lot of teams — I can’t speak to a lot of teams. I can only speak to our team. It’s a special team that is down and could easily have packed it in. We had the go-ahead run at the plate with a guy we have confidence in, you know, take the lead. So a lot of positives took place, but not enough of them.

Q. You see him, he goes down 0-2. He’s fighting back from 0-2, evens the count up. What are you thinking as that at-bat is progressing?
MIKE SHILDT: Get a good pitch and get a swing on it. I thought the one he fouled off was probably his best pitch. But just get a swing on. Clearly, he would have liked a Roy Hobbs kind of moment and hit one out the ballpark. Just get a ball in the gap, get Kolten up there, and we got Wiety behind him. So just get a good swing and drive the ball somewhere.

Q. Mike, this is a lot of your guys’ first postseason experience. It’s your first postseason experience as manager. What do you think they and you can really take from this experience moving forward?
MIKE SHILDT: You always learn from things. I will say this. I didn’t feel like that anybody made any of the moments in the postseason bigger than they were. I felt like people were present, including our staff, myself. I’m not saying we made all the right decisions, but I’m saying we were into the competition. We were aware what was taking place. We normalized that during the course of the year.

But experience is a good teacher. You always look to grow from it. We will. We’re a very growth mindset staff and team and organization, but there’s not anything that you look at, at least immediately — we talked about this as things were going, are we missing anything? Are we going to look back and have a regret?

Yeah, we strike out 48 times in four games, and there’s some frustration there, but as far as how we competed, how we prepared, the decisions the guys made, we made, I didn’t — you know, I felt like we were in a pretty good place.

Q. Two quick questions, please. In the first inning, Corbin was getting strikeouts with the fastball, and then as the game went on, his slider seemed so good. From your vantage point, what makes his slider so effective?
MIKE SHILDT: Late, just late. It comes out of his hand like his heater. Like any guys with a plus pitch, it’s going to have something that, again, comes out looking similar to something else, and then it’s going to be late. Rivera threw his gutter and could pretty much tell you it was coming and couldn’t really do a whole lot about it. This ball comes out of his hands. It’s a harder slider, and it’s got that late downward break.

We ran into guys with elite pitches with experience, and they performed.

Q. Clearly, you wouldn’t have won the first series without Paul Goldschmidt. This series he wasn’t the Paul Goldschmidt we know. Clearly, he was trying hard, but what were you seeing from Goldschmidt in this series?
MIKE SHILDT: Again, they’re gonna pitch all our guys tough. They pitched Goldie tough. He got a few pitches that he fouled back, but I thought he was taking his normal at-bats. Again, they made a lot of quality pitches to him. It’s interesting. It’s the beautiful part of our game, right? You go from series to series and how you maintain that, and it’s a challenging thing, but I felt like Goldie was in a good place mentally and physically, just didn’t get the results.

Q. There were some good defensive plays and then a couple that you guys did not make in the first inning, the play at second and the ball that dropped at right field. Can you discuss those a little?
MIKE SHILDT: Play at second, just trying to get a force and weren’t able to catch it. Kolten is a Gold Glove guy, so just didn’t make a play. Same thing with Josey. Ball was hit in one of those areas that we couldn’t quite communicate with, couldn’t make a play, and clearly, both were big plays because it allowed the inning to continue and allowed that crooked number to grow.

THE MODERATOR: Mike, thanks for everything. Division winning season, NLCS appearance. Excellent season for the Cardinals.

MIKE SHILDT: I just want to say that, listen, I don’t know how much more anybody wants to hear me talk, but just how much respect I have for our team. When you look at it, this is a complete team that just got through performing and competing. A lot of respect, and I know we’re proud of our body of work. We’re disappointed with what took place, but I’ve got a lot of love for our group. I know our fan base does as well, I would hope. We laid pretty much everything out there we could possibly lay out there.

When I say team, this is a team first group, indicative of just Dexter today. Clearly, he wasn’t in the lineup, been a staple for us all year, had a great season, and had his head in the right place to go up and draw a walk. That’s just indicative of what this team’s about and how they competed. This group is all in and laid it out there for every single day starting in Spring Training. There was not one guy or one staff member that backed down, and everybody had a common goal. Unfortunately, we didn’t reach our ultimate goal, but we did have a nice season.

We’ve got unfinished business moving forward, but I just want to get out there how much respect we have for our team and how they competed this year.

Q. How important would it have been to get a lead early tonight and take some of that crowd out of the game a little bit for a while anyway? Then you got hit with a gut punch right away.
MIKE SHILDT: We proved — and this doesn’t require advanced Sabermetrics. You have to get a lead to win a game. So we weren’t able to do that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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“If you look at where we came from and what we had to accomplish to get here, it wasn’t easy. I’ll be the first to say, you know, I never doubted these guys. I really didn’t. All I kept telling myself, hey, stay with them. Stick to the process. Stay positive. Teach. And as soon as everybody gets healthy, we’ll make a run.” — Dave Martinez

October 15, 2019

Dave Martinez

Washington D.C. – postgame 4

Nationals – 7, Cardinals – 4

DAVE MARTINEZ: Don’t ever call those guys old. They’re really young in my heart and my eyes. They’re playing like they’re 22, 23.

Q. What was the bottom of the first like for you? And then did the rest of the game feel like it went fast, or did it feel like it took a long time to get through?
DAVE MARTINEZ: The rest of the game went really slow, but you know, that first inning, we came out — I mention it all the time before the games, hey, let’s go out there, and let’s go first, especially in these games like that. And they came out, and I mean, we started swinging the bats from the get go. At first you think, man, that’s awesome. We’re probably going to score a bunch of runs, and it turns out we didn’t. That was it.

I’m really proud of the guys, just every inning, we try to win every inning and stay in it.

The boys did well. Patrick got out of some jams, and then our bullpen. I can’t say enough about Rainey, Doo, Huddy, what they did today. Huge game for the both of them, but they’ve done that through this whole playoffs.

Q. Davey, congratulations. You said on the podium that bumpy roads often lead to beautiful places. Could you reflect on that a little bit? What is it about the bumpy road that makes these places more beautiful?
DAVE MARTINEZ: If you look at how — where we came from and what we had to accomplish to get here, it wasn’t easy. I’ll be the first to say, you know, I never doubted these guys. I really didn’t. All I kept telling myself, hey, stay with them. Stick to the process. Stay positive. Teach. And as soon as everybody gets healthy, we’ll make a run. We’ll make a run. We’ll get back in this thing.

Didn’t know how far we’d get back in it, but I really believed that these guys could turn this around right from the get go, and they did. We played really well throughout. After May 24th, we played playoff baseball throughout the rest of the year. The result is what you see.

Q. Is it more beautiful because of that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: 100 percent. I can’t think of any — look, I’ve been through a lot of stuff in my career — Game 162, Game 163, World Series in ’08, 2016, 108 years waiting to get — but this right here, to me, tops everything I’ve ever been through. I mean, I’m so proud of the guys, honestly. They could have folded. They didn’t.

Q. Davey, this is the fourth celebration you guys have had like this. Does this one feel different at all? What, when you look back, will stand out from tonight?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me, wet is wet. (Laughter).

I feel like a wet dog right now. I ain’t going to lie to you. Every one gets better and better. You can never get enough. I told the boys, one more. Let’s have one more champagne pop, and it will be a lot more gratifying than this one.

Q. Davey, you mentioned what you were a part of in 2016. It’s been 86 years since this city was in the World Series. What does that mean to you?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I’m just happy to be a part of it. Like I said, I’m just a small piece to the puzzle. I really am. Ownership, front office, Rizz, players, clubhouse, trainers — it means a lot to all of us, and I thank them all for sticking through this throughout the whole year. I mean, it took a village to get us to where we’re at right now.

So I’m really proud of everybody in this organization.

Q. Davey, I know every team in every sport runs its own race and you’re thinking about your team and nothing else. Is there anything to energy that comes in a city when the Caps win the Stanley Cup and the Mystics win the WNBA and UVA wins the National Championship, that either builds or brings things into focus or at least creates an avenue or a goal for everybody to shoot at when other teams in the city are doing the same thing?
DAVE MARTINEZ: You know, for me, I see those teams winning, and I talk — I often talk to the head coaches. I talked to Mike today. For me, I want to be a part of that, too, and it does mean a lot to me that our hometown teams are winning. I feel like, you know, quietly, I supported all the teams. I said, this is going to happen. It’s going to happen in our world, in the baseball world. It is. We’ve just got to believe. We’re one step closer right now.

Q. Dave, first of all, congratulations. I remember a day back in late May we were in your office after a game and we were asking about Gerardo Parra, and you said he’s already having an impact on the younger Latin guys in the room. Flash forward to tonight, Baby Shark is a phenomenon nobody ever saw coming. Did you ever think that somebody like Gerardo Parra, coming in the second month of the season, he could become so infectious and help the clubhouse in such an intangible way?
DAVE MARTINEZ: First off, I only put him in the game today to get the fans going again. (Laughter).

No, I’m just kidding. He’s meant the world to — not — to me. When we picked him up, I knew what kind of guy he was. I talked to Henry. Henry played with him. Henry was his teammate, Blanco, and I told him, I said, look, we’re going to get Parra. I know what kind of clubhouse guy he is. Tell me what you think. He says, you want him. I said, he’s a heck of a player, but he’ll keep that clubhouse loose. I said, well, we’re going to get him, and I need him.

Yeah, we needed him at that point. He’s just another veteran guy, a left-handed bat, can play first, outfield positions. But what he’s meant to this team outside of just — regardless of playing, what he’s done in that clubhouse has really changed the way these guys go about their business. I mean, it was business. There wasn’t a whole lot of — he made it fun for this team.

I said this earlier today, there was a point in time where he was struggling real bad. He was like 2 for 30, and it was kind of — everything was kind of down a little bit. I didn’t feel that energy, and I brought him in the office, and I said, hey, what’s going on? And he goes, oh, you know, I’m not hitting. I’m not helping the team. I go, no, no, no. I said, I don’t care if you’re 2 for 100, your job is to bring the energy every single day. That’s who you are. I said, you play that music loud. You pump up the guys. I said, you’re the guy that brings that energy every day, and he just looked at me, and he goes, you’re right. He said, I’m not doing my job. I said, well, go do your job.

Needless to say, after that, he started hitting again, and he came back to my office a few days later, and he goes, hey, thank you. I didn’t realize that I need to have fun too, not worry about — I said, yeah, hey, bring it every day. I told you, for me, 0 for 4s, 0 for 5s don’t really bother me. It’s what you bring on and off the field that I care about, and he’s that guy. Those guys up there, every one of his teammates love him, love him. All the fans love him. He’s just that guy. He’s the Parra Shark.

Q. What is the degree of difficulty for Howie Kendrick to not only recover from the type of injury he did in his mid-30s but do it to such an extent that he can produce what he produced this week?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He’s been — you know, I’ve got a picture on my phone that I took after the L.A. series when he — I hate to call them errors, but he made an error. Everybody knows that. They showed him in the dugout, and his face just said it all. He’s like — he felt like he let the team down. And for him to come back and do what he’s done in this series and there and hit that Grand Slam in L.A., that only tells you what kind of person, what kind of player he is.

I mean, he’s been the quiet leader all year. You could talk about Zim. Zim is the captain, but Howie, when Howie speaks, everybody listens. I mean, truly. For me, he’s definitely the Comeback Player of the Year and then some.

Q. Dave, you mentioned the bullpen earlier. Is it any vindication that those were the guys who secured the final outs of this clincher given all the up and down and kind of adversity they faced in the bullpen this year?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, it was — you know, it was awesome to watch those guys do what they did last few innings. I was so proud of those guys, and said this all along, I’ve asked these guys to do things that they probably didn’t think they could do. Doolittle going out there and getting five outs today. Huddy doing the same thing. Rainey putting them in big moments when everybody thought this guy’s wild. He walks everybody, and giving him the ball. He’s matured so much this year that he’s one of the guys. I mean, he’s got electric stuff. I’m very confident in putting him in the game.

So I’m proud of those guys, but for me, you have to — they bought in. The big thing is they bought in. I’ve asked them to do these things, and they didn’t hesitate to say, hey, whatever you need from me, I’ll do the best I can. I’ll do it. That’s the big part of it. They bought in, and they were ready to go. They knew what the moment was like, and they stayed in it.

THE MODERATOR: Davey, congratulations on bringing a World Series back to Washington, D.C.

DAVE MARTINEZ: I would love that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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“We couldn’t predict this, but we want to win, and I think at the end of the day, when you put everything out there on the field, and you’re not worried about your stats or you’re not worried about this or that or other teams, we worry about what we’re doing, that’s when success happens.” –Howie Kendrick

October 15, 2019

Ryan Zimmerman

Howie Kendrick

Washington D.C. – postgame 4

Nationals 7, Cardinals 4

Q. Was there a first thought at the final out?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: No. I think people asked me what I did, and I don’t even know what I did. I’m going to have to go back and look. The way we grinded through that season and then obviously through this game, I kept telling them we’ve got to keep going, keep going, keep going.

That team, that organization is topnotch over there. They weren’t going to quit. Great job by Pat kind of grinding it out. Tanner Rainey, huge the last couple nights, and obviously Dak and Huddy. But, yeah, just relief, I guess, might be the best word.

Q. Did you have any idea going into the series how much you’d play, what your role would be? Going into the playoffs from the beginning?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: No, not really. I think, with the injuries I had this year and with missing, obviously, a huge chunk of the season, you know, coming back, talking with Davey, it was just basically, I’m here to help, however you want me to do it. This team was playing unbelievable. Basically, I was just happy to be healthy and come back. However they wanted to use me, I was up for it.

With the way that those guys were playing, I was going to have to play my way back in. You got to earn stuff at this level. Nothing’s given to you.

THE MODERATOR: We can congratulate NLCS MVP, Howie Kendrick.

Q. For Ryan, a lot’s been made about the fact that you’ve been with this team since the beginning, the longest tenured player with the Nationals, but, of course, obviously, you’re also from this area. You started to tell us out on the field about what it means to you, and your wife’s family is from here and everything. This is the biggest moment in Washington baseball in 80-something years. Has that sank in for you yet? And what does it mean to you that you were such a critical part of them getting here this whole way?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: The answer is no, I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. Me, the fans, the community, we’ve kind of grown up together. I was 20 years old when I got here. We were not very good. And the fans — you know, I still talk to season ticket holders now that have been here since RFK. We went through those things together.

Right around 2012, when we made that first push, things started to change a little bit, and the expectations were raised. We’ve had some chances and couldn’t come through, and I think a lot of those failures kind of taught us and pushed us to get to where we are now.

I feel like me, the fans, the community are kind of one, and they deserve this just as much as we do.

Q. You guys are two of a bunch of veterans on this team, a lot of you who have not ever reached this point before in your career. In some ways, does it make it more meaningful to have been through everything you’ve been through, and then to do this together, a lot of you, being here now for the first time?
HOWIE KENDRICK: It’s like he said, you’ve got to earn it, man. All the things in the past, all the failures, and losing in the first round — because I’ve been there, too, just like him. It just makes it sweet because, as we’re getting older, the game keeps getting younger. But to see a team like us continue to grind, and I think the mixture of people that we do have is what makes us so good. The chemistry that we do have, we understand each other.

I feel like being around this long, I wouldn’t change anything about the past because this is just — I mean, it’s unbelievable.

RYAN ZIMMERMAN: I think there’s a misconception. People think it’s easy to win in the playoffs. First of all, it’s really hard to get to the playoffs, and second of all, you’re playing against the elite teams of the elite league. You’ve got to catch some breaks. I think in the years past, maybe we didn’t catch those breaks. I think we caught some breaks this year, but I think more importantly, we took advantage of those breaks. So kind of made our own luck, I guess, if that’s how you want to put it.

Q. Howie, coming off the injury last year with all the work you put in the off-season, coming into Spring Training, what were your expectations? Did you know what to expect from yourself?
HOWIE KENDRICK: I knew I was ready coming into spring because of the work I did put in to get back. It was a long road. I think, right after having surgery on my Achilles, I had to stay here for about six weeks, and it was killing me not to be able to play. But I think being around with the guys, and having a good attitude and just focusing on trying to get healthy — that’s why I went home because I knew I had to go home to get healthy, and that was my best shot.

I told them before I left, I said, I’ll be ready for Spring Training. Some people were like, yeah, yeah, we’ll see. I wasn’t joking when I said that. To be able to be back with these guys, guys like Zim, Rendon, Soto, Trea Turner — it means a lot to be around those guys. I learn so much from them, and I love these guys just as much as they love me, and I know that 100 percent. I think that’s the big reason why we have success because we truly care about the next guy.

Q. Howie, the follow-up on that, as you’re kind of going through your rehab and getting healthy, how much of the idea of sitting where you’re sitting right now, having accomplished what you accomplished, was a motivating factor for you, not knowing what the feature would hold?
HOWIE KENDRICK: I felt like last year when I got hurt, it just kind of — I wasn’t too happy about that because the season was — we were looking pretty good to start out, and I didn’t really expect this coming back in, but I knew I love winning, man, and I know Zim loves winning. That’s why we play this game to be sitting here for this moment.

We couldn’t predict this, but we want to win, and I think at the end of the day, when you put everything out there on the field, and you’re not worried about your stats or you’re not worried about this or that or other teams, we worry about what we’re doing, that’s when success happens. I feel like our team is full of guys that really go out and they work hard. Whether it’s before the game, whether it’s in practice — they get prepared to play every day, and that’s where you see the results is out on the field.

When we get out on the field, we already did all the hard work, and then it’s just about having fun and we’ve got a lot of guys that like to have fun, too.

Q. For either of you guys, nothing has come easy for this franchise, but you get up 7-0 in the first inning, how tough is it to keep the focus while they’re chipping away at things?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: I’ve seen it before from that team. So I knew they weren’t going to quit. I’ve said this multiple times to a lot of interviewers. That team over there and that organization, it’s one of the best. I knew they weren’t going to give up. I knew they weren’t going to roll over.

Their bullpen did a really good job of keeping it that way, and then they chipped away a little bit, but our bullpen did a great job, as well.

As far as getting out to — obviously, seven runs in the first inning is ideal, and then Pat threw really well. Pat’s done a lot. They’ve asked him to do a lot that he’s never done before. So he — the starting pitchers, all of them, they’ve asked to take the ball in multiple scenarios, and not one of them said no. I think for Pat to come out and throw those first four or five innings like he did and grind through it when he lost it, that’s just kind of the epitome of our team right there.

Q. Can either of you guys, or both, what’s the hardest — do you remember, and can you talk about the hardest conversation you guys had in the clubhouse when you were 19-31?
HOWIE KENDRICK: I don’t think we had any hard ones. Our mentality was still the same. Even though we were losing, nobody really panicked. I don’t think there was a sense of panic. Even Davey, at the time, he was like, man, we just — the guys that matter, all of the opinions that matter, they’re in this room, and we just looked at it like that. Hey, it’s up to us to turn it around. We didn’t blame anybody. We didn’t point the finger at any one person. It was us as a team.

Guys started grinding. We started getting a little bit of luck here and there, but at the same time, guys put in the work, and we started having success. I think that’s, like he said, that’s the epitome of our team. Guys just go out and try to work our way out of it, man. Guys just put their head down and got after it.

RYAN ZIMMERMAN: It’s simple. You could either quit, or you could play. You sign up to play 162 games. I played some where you lose a ton of games, and I played those games just as hard as I play these games now. That’s what I’ve always been taught. It doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you make or what team you’re on, you sign up to play 162 games. Whether you’re 31-19 or 19-31, you’ve still got to play the rest of the season out.

So we had a choice, we could either basically roll over and quit or come in, like we said, each day and try and win that game that day. We chose the second one.

Q. Has there been a moment for either one of you guys where you were really genuinely like, hey, we could take this game all the way to the Wild Card game, the Dodgers; where you thought you could compete with any team this postseason.
HOWIE KENDRICK: I think we think we can compete with any team any time. People always get caught up in the things that are on paper, but the reality of it is you have to go out and play. Once we get out on the field, anything can happen. Always look at it as who’s the best on that day because on any given day, anybody can beat you. You can take the worst team in baseball and put them against the best team in baseball, and they could lose that day.

So we play for that day, that moment, that time, and I think that’s what really matters is we’ve got to fight for just that one game because, at the end of the day, there’s no guarantee of tomorrow. All you’re guaranteed is this day. So we’ve got to go out and just live it like that and play like that.

Q. We’ve talked so much this season about how much fun you and this team are having, with the dancing in the dugout, the Baby Shark, all of that great stuff. But I wonder, when you go into this World Series, people talk about baseball being perhaps boring and slow. Do you think your style going into this World Series gives you maybe an advantage with going out there and having the best time of your lives at this point of the season?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: Yeah, I think you get to this point in the season, I hope every team is having fun. We just kind of had to start doing it a lot earlier. We were forced into it. Yeah, obviously, this is huge for us and for the city and the community. But we’re going to enjoy this a lot tonight, probably tomorrow, as well, and then we’re kind of on to the next.

But this is a huge accomplishment for everyone that’s involved in this organization.

THE MODERATOR: Ryan, Howie, congratulations on a great achievement.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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“We definitely like to celebrate the wins, that’s for sure. This is a game of failure for the most part. So as a team we like to go over the successes that we have and really try to pass credit around the room, but that’s probably the extent of how much time we spend on it. There’s a lot more work to do and it’s just too much fun to stay in the moment right now.” — Gerrit Cole

October 15, 2019

Gerrit Cole

New York, New York – postgame 3

Houston – 4, New York – 1

Q. The at-bat with Didi obviously one ball barely stays in the park. Did you think it was out? Also talk about the way you were able to get out of jams today.
GERRIT COLE: Yeah, I mean we wanted to go fastball in, we got it in for the most part. When he initially hit it, the trajectory was more towards second base or where the second baseman would normally be. We shift Didi so Altuve is in right field.

So initially off the bat I wasn’t worried, and then I turned around and realized where we were playing and so I got a little worried.

Reddick kind of drifted back. He usually — when he’s got a bead on it, it keeps my blood pressure down a little bit.

But the emotions kind of followed the fly ball, right? So it was kind of like low to freaking out to not so worried anymore. And we had to make some big pitches in some spots.

The first inning DJ did a great job on a good low-and-in fastball to drive it up the middle, just classic DJ. Judge puts us in a hole, beating the shift. I don’t know if he was trying or if he just got it off the end of the bat. But woke the fans up.

Still playing with the lead at that point. But needed to make some pitches. Fell behind, Gleyber wasn’t going to mess around there, just on to the next one. And made another good pitch to Didi to get out of it.

A couple other jams later in the game I felt like I was Chris coming out of the gate. And then faltered a little bit with the command, a little bit self-inflicted. Once again, just boiled down to making some good pitches under pressure, getting fortunate on the Didi ball. And playing some good defense towards the end of the ball game.

Q. You’re backed by Altuve and Reddick with the home runs. But that 7th inning it’s still a tight game, there’s a hit and run, sacrifice fly, loaded the bases with an intentional walk. What’s it like to watch your lineup and watch your teammates being able to almost self-create two runs right there?
GERRIT COLE: Yeah, it’s huge. Altuve is just so good at that. He can decide halfway to the plate where he’s going to place the ball. I’ve never seen that kind of talent before in my life, and I don’t know if I’ll ever see it again.

I mean, the approach from the offense from the get-go has been impeccable throughout the postseason. A couple of lulls in the Tampa series with some really bad-ass relievers coming in, one after another, posed a bit of a challenge for us. And the Yankees give us the same threat. Fortunately we were able to scratch a little bit of a lead.

Like I said, another fortunate thing was that Didi hit that to right center instead of right down the line. If Didi’s ball goes out, I feel like both of Maldonado’s balls go out and maybe we still have the lead, I don’t know. It’s not up to me.

Fortunately we kept the lead and the boys just kept putting pressure on them and it paid off.

Q. You mentioned that if Didi’s goes out maybe Martin’s goes out. What do you think of the idea that the ball used in the postseason is different than the one in the regular season?
GERRIT COLE: I mean, I haven’t really put much thought into it. I just try to respond to if it goes out or if it doesn’t go out the best I can. I don’t know if it was the ball or if it was the wind. It was a little chilly tonight. I’m not quite sure exactly how this park plays; I’ve only pitched here one other time.

But it’s baseball. Did Jeter’s ball really go out or did the guy reach over and pull it out? Come on (laughter).

Q. AJ defined your pitching philosophy as letting starters go deep into a game as old school. How does it kind of feel being part of a rotation that you’re obviously expected to go deep as opposed to the Yankees where maybe they’re putting their bullpen in a little bit later?
GERRIT COLE: Yeah, the Yankees have some fantastic starters. They just ran into the injury bug a little bit, where they haven’t really been able to stretch out Seve or Pax quite like they did. Let’s not sell out Tanaka’s outing short in Game 1; that was fabulous.

I just feel really blessed to be here. I was here last year with two Cy Young Award winners, and I was sandwiched in between their lockers. And then towards the end of the year, Greinke likes his space so he’s down on the corner, I don’t get sandwiched in between two, but we still have two Cy Young Award winners and an MVP on the pitching staff two years in a row.

Geez, what a fortunate position for me to be in. There’s so many opportunities to learn. I just feel real blessed.

Q. Kind of a two-parter, but you’ve been on such a roll where you’ve been so dominant for so long, and you weren’t quite there for a good part of today. Do you always feel that at some point during the game you’re going to get that? And is that how, you mentioned earlier you gave up a walk because you just didn’t want to mess around with the guy, but you know you can get the next guy because you’ve been able to do it?
GERRIT COLE: That’s pitching. Gleyber has been as hot as anybody. You make a couple of pitches there, and then you put some pressure on him with two fastballs just above the zone on either part of the plate, and if he doesn’t bite, whatever. You’ve got to respond to it. You’ve got to move on.

As far as the roll, I just try to take it one start at a time. Obviously tonight fastball command was a bit of a struggle and for some reason it wasn’t early in the inning, it was more late in the inning. I don’t really have a reason for that right now, but I know it will be better next time.

But we needed to score a few runs tonight, we needed to play some sharp D, especially towards the end of the game. Again the interior defense, can’t speak enough of it. And you just let Jake go out there and run down fly balls, and George go run down fly balls. It’s like they’re salivating out there to just go play catch. That’s just what they do.

Again, really fortunate to be on such a great team with a lot of talent and a lot of great teammates.

Q. AJ said he thought you were struggling in your command and rhythm until you found your curveball. Did you feel that way?
GERRIT COLE: Yeah, I told him — yep. I did. I won’t divulge like everything I said. But I said once I found it, I felt confident having it in my back pocket if I needed to.

But the fastball command came around in the fifth. I threw a really good slider to Encarnacion that put some more pressure on us in the fifth that he hit for the double, he was just fab with the swing. But I was still pleased with that inning.

So sometimes it comes and goes, and tonight I was able to make pitches when I needed to. And next time out I’m pretty confident I’ll be better.

Q. I’m sure you’ve been asked this in the last two rounds, but given the company you’re keeping, the one you’ve had the last few months, have you taken time to ponder it all, the success you’re enjoying, and some of the names that are being bandied about with you?
GERRIT COLE: We definitely like to celebrate the wins, that’s for sure. This is a game of failure for the most part. So as a team we like to go over the successes that we have and really try to pass credit around the room, but that’s probably the extent of how much time we spend on it. There’s a lot more work to do and it’s just too much fun to stay in the moment right now.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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“I think everybody knows I like swinging the bat. I don’t like wasting too much time on home plate.” –Jose Altuve.

October 15, 2019

Jose Altuve

New York, New York – postgame 3

Houston 4, New York 1

Q. If you go back to Correa’s home run in the 11th inning of Game 2, and you get guys get that walk off. You come here. You know in ’17 you lost three games here, but the series can swing. How confident were you guys coming to Yankee Stadium tonight knowing what you needed to do and what you were able to do?
JOSE ALTUVE: Well, very, very confident because the way Game 2 end by a homer. The Carlos hit. And if you go all the way back to 2017 he did the same thing in the Game 2. So that creates momentum, of course.

The team energy today was great. We attacked them early. Severino was throwing the ball really good. He just gave up like three hits, two homer, but he was pretty good. But the fact that we could get him out of the game early was big for us.

Q. Your single in the 7th, is that where you’re to go with the ball, to hit right behind Springer? Also does it get easier the more times you see a relief pitcher as the series goes on?
JOSE ALTUVE: I wouldn’t say it gets easier. It never gets easier. But at least you know how their pitches look and everything. To be honest with you, I don’t really like facing Ottavino, I just try to put the ball in play every time I’m facing him because before playoff I think I face him three times and he strike me out all three times. That’s the only thing I’m trying to do. But I think the key in the inning was Springer’s walk and then taking off. It wasn’t like a hit and run, it was just a steal. And then just because I put the ball in play we could create a good situation and good momentum for us.

Q. You’ve been so successful in your career attacking the first pitch. In the first inning off Severino you get a hanging slider. Were you looking slider or were you just looking for something over the plate, can you take me through that at-bat?
JOSE ALTUVE: Absolutely, I was just — I think everybody knows I like swinging the bat. I don’t like wasting too much time on home plate. But, no, I wasn’t looking for a slider, I was just looking something that I could drive and thank God I hit the ball out because for us it’s real important to score before they do, because that gave us confidence.

Q. What is it about the postseason that gets you going? You’ve hit in 12 straight games going back to 2018. Is it just something about the postseason that just amps you up a little bit more?
JOSE ALTUVE: I don’t know. I think I get ready and I prepare myself the same way I do for a normal game. We know in this case the games are more important and more intense. People, the fans, they get into the game maybe more. And maybe that’s why. I’m not trying to do anything different, I just trying to be the player I am, put the ball in play and get on base and steal some bases and in the end score some runs to help my team.

Q. The Yankees went to Houston and win one game and play very hard. Put some pressure to come here and play today. And Cole talk very nice about you. How do you feel about that?
JOSE ALTUVE: At least in the first game I would say, yes, it put some pressure on us because you have home field advantage you want to take. You want to win every single game at home. But I think the most important thing was that we lost that game but we didn’t give up. We work hard and we came up right after the second game, we ended up winning the game in a crazy way, extra innings.

And then coming here, we tried to do our game. We’re not trying to do anything different that we do in Houston just because we’re here. We know Yankees play really good at home. This is baseball and anything can happen. Gerrit is a great guy, great teammate and he set the tone really good today.

Q. In that seventh inning with the steal — Springer gets caught in the rundown between home and third and he’s kind of killing time and trying to get you over. What’s the thought process there and do instincts just take over, because that was a huge play and ended up sending up a sacrifice fly?
JOSE ALTUVE: That’s a great thing he did today. He got on base, steal a base and then kind of like a hit and run. He got on third. And then ground ball, maybe a double play ground ball and it ended up being third and second for us just because what he did. He run to the middle between home plate and third base, he stopped there, he was just waving everybody. It’s just easy for me to keep running. I think the hardest thing is what he did.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (4-2-1 – 9 Points) vs. WASHINGTON CAPITALS (3-2-2 – 8 Points)




ALL-TIME on the ROAD: 25-43-4-3 2018-19: 2-1-0

LAST 5: 2-3-0 LAST 10: 4-5-1


GAMES: Jason Spezza (40), John Tavares (37), Morgan Rielly (18) POINTS: Jason Spezza (38), John Tavares (32), Morgan Rielly (11)

GOALS: John Tavares (16), Jason Spezza (14), Mitch Marner (3), Auston Matthews (3) ASSISTS: Jason Spezza (24), John Tavares (16), Morgan Rielly (10)

PENALTY MINUTES: Jason Spezza (16), John Tavares (8), Morgan Rielly (4) MAPLE LEAFS – CAPITALS TEAM STATS

TORONTO WASHINGTON GOALS FOR (Rank): 28 (t-1st) 22 (t-9th) GOALS AGAINST (Rank): 23 (t-24th) 23 (t-24th) POWER PLAY [%] (Rank): 7/25 [28.0%] (8th) 6/27 [22.2%] (t-15th) PENALTY KILL [%] (Rank): 17/21 [81.0%] (16th) 21/25 [84.0%] (10th) SHOTS (Rank): 245 (t-2nd) 211 (9th) 5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPTS FOR (Rank): 318 (2nd) 250 (8th) 5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPT % (Rank): 56.0% (1st) 52.3% (9th)

FACEOFF % (Rank): 53.1% (t-5th) 53.1% (t-5th) MAPLE LEAFS

CAPITALS NOTES – Tonight’s game marks the 148th meeting between the Maple Leafs and Capitals. – The first matchup between the franchises took place on October 10, 1974 when the Maple Leafs defeated the Capitals by a 4-3 score in Washington.

– The Maple Leafs have a record of 63-70-10-4 in the previous 147 matchups between the clubs.

– The Maple Leafs have a record of 38-27-6-1 in 72 games in Toronto and a record of 25-43-4-3 in 75 games played on the road.

– Toronto’s last win over the Capitals in Washington came on October 13, 2018 (Toronto 4, Washington 2).

– Frederik Andersen played in his 300th career NHL game on February 21, 2019 vs. Washington. – William Nylander appeared in his 100th career NHL game on April 4, 2017 vs. the Capitals.

– John Tavares scored his 100th career NHL goal on March 9, 2013 against the Capitals and later skated in his 600th career NHL game on November 2, 2017 at Washington as a member of the New York Islanders.


GOALS 7 (Matthews) ASSISTS 9 (Rielly)

POINTS 9 (Marner, Rielly)

POWER PLAY POINTS 6 (Marner) SHORTHANDED POINTS N/A PIMs 8 (Kerfoot) SHOTS 32 (Matthews) FACEOFF WIN% 60.7% (Matthews) 5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPT % 70.6% (Spezza) BLOCKED SHOTS 16 (Ceci) TAKEAWAYS 7 (Tavares) HITS 15 (Muzzin) TOI PER GAME 24:10 (Rielly) PP TOI PER GAME 3:13 (Matthews) SH TOI PER GAME 3:25 (Ceci) MAPLE LEAFS NOTABLES – Frederik Andersen is tied for fourth among NHL goaltenders in saves made (151) through six starts this season.

– Tyson Barrie has a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 57.5 percent, which is the highest mark among Toronto defencemen who have appeared in each game this season and the highest mark among NHL defencemen who have appeared in at least seven games.

– Cody Ceci is tied for eighth in the NHL in blocked shots (16). He is tied with Morgan Rielly for the lead in takeaways (4) among Maple Leaf defencemen.

– Frederik Gauthier has started 5.6 percent of his 5-on-5 shifts in the offensive zone, which is the lowest mark among NHLers who have appeared in at least five games. – Michael Hutchinson made one appearance against the Capitals last season as a member of the Florida Panthers, allowing one goal on 11 shots in 31:45 to earn a shootout victory on October 19, 2018.

– Andreas Johnsson has been on the ice for 12 Maple Leafs goals-for, which is tied for the second-most on-ice goals-for among NHL left wings, trailing only Nashville’s Filip Forsberg (14).

– Kasperi Kapanen is averaging 24.0 shifts per game, which is the eighth-most shifts per game among NHL right wingers.

– Alex Kerfoot has won 55.6 percent (20 won, 16 lost) of his faceoffs when the Maple Leafs are leading in games, which is the 15th-most faceoffs wins when leading in the NHL.

– Mitch Marner is tied for second among all NHL skaters in power play points with four (2-4-6). He is averaging 3.43 shots on goal per game through seven games this season. His career-high for shots on goal per game in a season prior to this season was 2.84 in 2018-19.

– Auston Matthews is second in the NHL in goals (7) and is tied for the NHL lead in even-strength goals (5) through seven games in 2019-20. He ranks second among NHL skaters in shots on goal (32). He has been on the ice for the second-most shot attempts-for (103) among NHL centres. – Ilya Mikheyev is tied for third in points among rookie skaters (2-3-5). He leads all rookies who have appeared in multiple games in shorthanded ice time per game (2:23).

– Trevor Moore is tied for the lead among NHL rookies in hits (13) and is tied for second among NHL rookies in takeaways (5).

– Jake Muzzin is averaging 29.9 shifts per game, which is the fourth-highest average among all NHL skaters. He has been on the ice for the most shot attempts-for of any skater in the NHL (133 Toronto shot attempts).

– William Nylander has taken his shots from an average distance of 24.2 feet from goal, which is the fourth-closest average among Toronto skaters. He had three assists in two games against Washington last season.

– Morgan Rielly registered four assists in the second period on October 15 vs. Minnesota to tie the franchise record for assists in a period set by Rick Vaive. He ranks eighth among Eastern Conference skaters in time on ice per game (24:10).

– John Tavares is eighth in the NHL in faceoffs taken (127) and is tied for fifth in faceoffs won (70) through seven games. His 36 offensive zone faceoff wins are the fourth-most in the NHL.

CURRENT POINT STREAKS – John Tavares has points (2-1-3) in three consecutive games.


– October 15: Morgan Rielly recorded his 200th career NHL assist. – October 12: Nick Shore scored his first goal as a Maple Leaf.


– Frederik Andersen is two games from 200 games as a Maple Leaf. – Michael Hutchinson is four wins from 50 career NHL wins.

– Auston Matthews is five assists from 100 career NHL assists

. INJURY REPORT – Travis Dermott (shoulder) is on injured reserve. – Zach Hyman (knee) is on injured reserve.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS – Oct. 14: Recalled defenceman Kevin Gravel from the Toronto Marlies (AHL). Loaned defenceman Rasmus Sandin to the Marlies

“We weren’t able to break through. We weren’t able to get that hit tonight to really allow us to be in that game or even grab a lead at some point. Frustrating but overall I thought from a plan standpoint and giving yourselves a really good chance, I thought our guys were able to do that.” — AARON BOONE

October 15, 2019

Aaron Boone

New York, New York – postgame 3

Houston – 4, New York – 1

Q. In the first two games you played Gleyber in the third spot and you moved him today to fifth. And what do you think about Severino’s outing today?
AARON BOONE: That was just we had a few more lefties, so spacing our lefties out. Lineup-wise, we switch a lot based on who we have in there. With Hicks being in there and having a third lefty, just kind of getting some spacing within our lineup is all. I actually think Gleyber hit six the first game, if I’m not mistaken.

And I thought Seve was good. Obviously really had to labor there in that first inning, 36 pitches, then had to work really hard in the second inning, and I actually thought he settled in. As the night went on, I thought he got stronger.

And then the decision to send him back out there for the fifth, I thought he was at a point where he was still strong and throwing the ball well. Maybe the delay hurt him a little bit, where he gives up the — gets Altuve to lead things off and then the base hit and the walk.

But I thought overall he competed really well. Obviously got himself in some trouble there, a couple of solo homers, but overall I thought he was pretty good.

Q. Ottavino continues to have problems on the mound. What’s been the problem, and will you continue to use him?
AARON BOONE: Yeah, we’ll continue to use him. I thought he was in the midst of a pretty good opening at-bat there with Springer and then loses him. That’s obviously difficult when you come in from the pen and you have a lead-off walk, especially there at the top of the lineup. We’ve put him in some tough spots obviously in the lineup, and then they’re running. And Altuve’s first-pitch hit and the night’s over there.

Just got to be a little sharper with his command, a little sharper with his stuff, and we’re going to need him moving forward.

Q. I wonder what you’re seeing from S�nchez on both sides of the ball, specifically offensively. And would you consider going to Romine in this series as a starter?
AARON BOONE: No. I’m seeing Gary miss some pitches. I felt like he got another good one to hit today and put it on the net again. He’s got to take advantage of — especially when you’re facing a team like this with pitching like they have, when you do get a ball that you can handle, you’ve got to make sure it gets in play with authority and not on the net.

Defensively I think he’s been great. I think he’s, from a game plan, game calling, receiving, you know, had the block get by, but anytime a heater is in the — fastball is in the dirt, that’s kind of a tough one for a catcher. But defensively I feel like he’s been really good.

Q. A couple of times you had relievers who looked like they were close to ready when Severino is in the game. Did he earn his way past some of those matchups by you seeing his stuff was improving? Did you get close to taking him out and decide not to?
AARON BOONE: Yeah, 36 pitches there in the first inning, he’s a hitter away. Obviously we’re not going to let him go much more than that. And then there was another time that he was probably a hitter away. Yeah, just kept making some pitches when he needed to.

And again, then I felt like he got a little bit sharper. As he got into his outing I thought he got a lot better and stronger.

Q. You haven’t gotten a lot of length from your starters the last couple of games. With the prospect of the weather tomorrow, and needing to win three games in four days after that, do you need more length from your starters? Can you get by with four innings from a starter, despite how good your bullpen is?
AARON BOONE: No, we’re going to need some length. And Seve did get us into the fifth today and Masa six the first game. So really, it’s one short outing that we had ahead of an off day.

But confident that our starters can give us that. Obviously one of these days we’ll kind of bullpen it and have to go that way. But I’m confident that they can get us deeper into the game.

Q. As good as Cole was, did you think he was vulnerable with the five walks? And did you think he raised his game when the big spots with guys on base?
AARON BOONE: It’s obviously a little frustrating we weren’t able to break through with him. But I think up and down we gave ourselves a chance. And anytime you’re facing a guy like that, you want that kind of traffic. And we had that in several innings. He made big pitches when he had to.

I thought DJ had a really good swing on a ball, he hit to center with a couple of guys out there. And then Didi gets under it just a hair.

So anytime — I think we ended up with probably about nine baserunners against him. You kind of sign up for that. We weren’t able to break through. We weren’t able to get that hit tonight to really allow us to be in that game or even grab a lead at some point.

Frustrating but overall I thought from a plan standpoint and giving yourselves a really good chance, I thought our guys were able to do that.

Q. On that same note, we saw guys tonight like Edwin and Didi trying to attack Cole early in the count. Was that part of the game plan, trying not to get to two strikes?
AARON BOONE: Well, I mean, certainly you don’t want to allow a lot of pitchers, but certainly great pitchers to just get ahead with ease. So I think guys were up there being aggressive.

That said, I think we made him work pretty hard, too. I think he was up over a hundred pitches or flirting with that, even in that fifth inning where we got him up to about 90. I thought our guys did a good job of being aggressive, looking for a pitch early, but also getting in, working some counts.

Q. On the Didi drive, did you and the guys in your dugout think that was out?
AARON BOONE: I wasn’t sure. I knew he got it good. But I also knew he got under it and hit it high. So I was kind of just hoping a little bit.

Q. Do you put any stock in the idea that the ball that’s being used in the playoffs is different from the one you guys have used during the regular season?
AARON BOONE: I don’t know. I don’t think — hard for me to say at this point. I’ve heard a couple of things about that. I don’t know.

Q. If you do play tomorrow, who is your opener and where do you go from there? Do you have any sense if they’d make a decision tonight on tomorrow?
AARON BOONE: I don’t. I haven’t seen anyone since I came in. I’m not sure of that.

We’ll go talk through how we want to go with it tomorrow in the case that we do play.

Q. And if they do call it early would it be then Tanaka?
AARON BOONE: Good chance of that. That’s something we’ll talk through, also. But a good chance of that, yes.

Q. To the point of going deep into the counts, would you have preferred to see Didi take a few more pitches and swing at so many first pitches?
A. No.

AARON BOONE: No. I mean, I want our guys — we do a great job as a whole, obviously, of working counts and making pitchers work. But I always think it’s important to go in there on the hunt, especially when you’re up against a good pitcher. You can’t just give great pitchers strike one. I always expect us to go up there looking to be aggressive. So if there’s going to be some first pitch outs, that’s part of it.

Q. Considering how much time he missed, what did you think of Hicks’s at-bats, and if they were good enough for you, can you see him moving up from 9th to someplace more towards the middle or top of the lineup?
AARON BOONE: I don’t know. We’ll balance it out, kind of looking at how I want to go forward from here.

I thought his at-bats were really good. Two pretty big-time at-bats against Cole on his walks. A lot of long at-bats, some good swings and 3-2. It was a classic case of him being — I thought he was really aggressive but kind of that Hicks signature patience. So I think with what we’ve seen when he came in the other day and then his at-bats today, I think we’re all very encouraged by that.

Q. You mentioned splitting up the lefties in the lineup, Houston doesn’t use a lot of lefties in their lineup in the ALCS. Is there any pitcher in particular you worry about neutralizing left–handed batters specifically?
AARON BOONE: Well, I mean, they don’t have lefties but they have guys that are better at getting lefties out. So in a lot of ways it’s the same difference. So you’re still trying to — when we do have two or three lefties in there splitting them up because you don’t want to give their guys that are really good righty on righty, long lanes. Same can be said for splitting up their guys that are more their lefty assassins.

You’ve got to not get caught up in what they are, right, left-handed, and what they get out. When we can we’ll space them out. Obviously we don’t have that luxury, because we’re very right-handed usually. But I’ll space them out when I can.

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“Never take it for granted because it can change. These are both really good teams and you can’t get flippant about the fact that our starters are able to get us pretty far deep into the game where I can match up our guys hopefully appropriately against their lineup to get as many outs as fast as possible.” — AJ HINCH

Oct. 15, 2019

AJ Hinch

New York, NY – postgame 3

Houston 4, New York 1

Q. How would you describe what Cole was able to do tonight at Yankee Stadium in a swing game, to constantly be in trouble, load the bases in the first inning, and constantly get out of everything?
AJ HINCH: It’s a lot of what I’ve seen this entire year. He’s exceptional. And he gets better and better and better.

I actually think the beginning of the game he had a hard time finding his stuff and finding his tempo, his rhythm. He was still getting through his outing, made some really big pitches, had some pressure on him. Then once he found his curveball it was pretty lights out. I think he finished his outing as strong as ever.

And he was able to manage his game at the beginning of the game and avoid the bad pitch. He had a couple of walks that — they’re not all bad walks. He kind of knows what he’s doing out there and how to navigate around certain things.

But a big night and clearly our team really does respond when we know he’s pitching.

Q. You had a great view from the third base dugout of Didi’s at-bat. Were you concerned, did you think it was going to go?
AJ HINCH: Yeah. Off the bat — first off, I think every fly ball in 2019 is a homer. In season, regular season, postseason, I don’t care. It’s kind of been conditioned that way.

But the ball off the bat, I immediately watched the hitter. The hitter tells you the most. And he didn’t respond right away with sort of the pure excitement. He kind of watched it for a minute and then I looked up and saw Reddick getting back, settling underneath it, I watched Didi again, then I felt a little bit better.

But to answer your question, yes.

Q. I know at this point you’re hoping this doesn’t go to a Game 7, but how reassuring is it to have Gerrit Cole ready to go in that Game 7?
AJ HINCH: It goes without saying that anytime you can target another day for him to pitch it feels pretty good. I think there’s a lot of baseball left to play before that factors in.

But he’s — I think he’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. His competition is right next to him in the clubhouse. They’re certainly a good pair. I watch what Strasburg is doing, I see what Scherzer is doing, deGrom in the city. There’s a lot of big names. But obviously I’m biased to my games.

But Gerrit is locked in. And to see him do it on the big stage in a playoff game with the magnitude of this game, it was pretty awesome.

Q. You also had another great view of George Springer and his play when he was trapped on the base path. What can you say about how smart of a play that was just to move the runners ahead?
AJ HINCH: We had a chance, it was the pitching change gave us a chance to talk about it at third base, Gary and George and I. I went out, I thought they were going to play the infield about halfway, which is what they did. Britton can generate some soft contact so you have a chance to score on that.

So we’re going there until the ball stops you. When it stops you, you have to give yourself enough time. And fortunately for us two of our better baserunners, and specifically Altuve, one of our fastest baserunners at first base can get to third. Brantley did a great job of following it so we end the play with second and third, which puts pressure on their dugout as to what you’re going to do with Bregman.

George executed it flawlessly, being able to stay at kind of that 45-foot mark and not run into an out was huge. The batter-runner Brantley getting to second, made him intentionally walk Bregman, and set up our inning. And it was a good play all the way around.

Q. Prior to the series a lot of talk about bullpens. Can you talk about how your bullpen has performed and how your offense has performed against their bullpen?
AJ HINCH: We’ve come up with some timely hits off their bullpen. We put pressure on a lot of their pitchers. They were really good. Their bullpen was really good in that extra-inning game for a really long time. We got to Happ at the end.

But both bullpens are under the microscope right now, especially nowadays in this series, and they’re going to be close games and big swings. I know Joe Smith had a really good night the other night, gets a big out on Encarnacion and then Torres hits a homer. I think Will Harris has come in and been great.

I think defense on both sides, you’re seeing the positioning advantages when guys hit into these positions. And pitching defense and timely hitting, right now we’ve done a little bit better getting up 2-1. But both bullpens — these guys are going to see a lot of their bullpens.

Q. You guys are 9 and 1 when Altuve hits a homer in the playoffs. What does it mean for your club to get him going, especially —
AJ HINCH: You know, he’s such a great player and a spark plug for all of us. And one of the things that we always say is, it doesn’t have to be him or it doesn’t have to be George, it doesn’t have to be Bregman, anybody. We’ve got a lineup full of guys that can carry us any given day. There’s something about the top of that order, including George and Josey and Brantley swinging the bat a little better this last game.

When they get going our offense really does start to take off. Today specifically, you come into this stadium, you have to try to take the lead. And the homer kind of kick-started everything. Reddick gets a big homer.

Part of the heart and soul of what we do is Jose. He’s been here the longest of anybody on this team. He’s an energy provider. He’s a spark anytime he’s on the field. I’ve said this before, but he’s everything right about the Houston Astros is Jose Altuve.

Q. Between your three starters so far in this series, if my math is right, you pitched 19 and two-thirds innings from Cole, Verlander, and Greinke. How much of a comfort is it knowing that you maybe don’t have to piece together a bullpen game and having those three guys at the top of the rotation?
AJ HINCH: Yeah, that’s old school, right. We like when the starter gets to pitch a little bit. We have some of the best. I always believe that the starting pitcher sets the tone of the day. And our guys really do a good job of taking that to heart. They take their starts as serious as any guys that I’ve been around; their preparation, their entry into the game, their first innings. They really do a good job of setting the tone for our team.

Our team knows exactly who is on the mound and what the opportunity is for us, that we’re going to be in these games.

Never take it for granted because it can change. These are both really good teams and you can’t get flippant about the fact that our starters are able to get us pretty far deep into the game where I can match up our guys hopefully appropriately against their lineup to get as many outs as fast as possible.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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