Q. I guess in the last 24, 36 hours or so, what's your sort of assessment of the at-bats that you guys have had the last few games?A.J. HINCH: I've tried to forget all those at-bats, they don't do us any good tonight. But I think obviously the adjustment that
Q. I guess in the last 24, 36 hours or so, what's your sort of assessment of the at-bats that you guys have had the last few games?
A.J. HINCH: I've tried to forget all those at-bats, they don't do us any good tonight. But I think obviously the adjustment that we're going to have to make is pretty obvious, we need to stay in the strike zone. It's a tough pitcher tonight to do that against because he's got electrifying stuff.
Like I tell our players, we don't want to relive what's happened. We're going to reset after yesterday's off day. And talk about what we're going to do, not what we're trying to correct. That's going to be key. We're pretty electric when we swing at strikes. And obviously that's the way for us to be run producers.
Q. Just kind of relistening to your postgame interviews after Game 5, just getting back here, the advantage they feel here, is it the crowd, is it the comfort, is it all of it? And do you sense a difference in your guys when the crowd is really rocking?
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, we're home. This is an environment where we're playing well. It's an environment that's comfortable, our daily routine, our home clubhouse. We get out to the game and there's going to be quite a few people there that are rocking Astros gear and ready to cheer us on.
All of that can create a buzz that's all pro us. And I think players feed off that. Obviously the first time something happens, and you talk about the momentum adjustments we have to make, then all of a sudden the crowd gets into it, and the guy has to make pitches. Our version of 45,000 people screaming for us.
Players love it, they adapt. And obviously we're proud to be home.
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Q. What signs do you look for from Verlander?
A.J. HINCH: I consider him to have a bionic arm. He's never fatigued. Whatever that pitch count, I hope he gets as many outs as he can.
I talk to these guys every day, every inning of the days they pitch and constantly trying to read them and see what happens.
I think executing pitches is key. And any pitcher, whether it's a rookie all the way up to a veteran, if they stop executing pitches it's hard to be effective.
And so for him whether it's arm side misses, when he's trying to go down and away, or spinning breaking ball out of his hand, that's the same across the board for most pitchers. The quality of the pitch starts to suffer then obviously there's some fatigue in there.
But this guy is pretty locked in with himself. I trust him. I trust he's told me days ago that he's great, he's told me days ago that he's grinding through it. That's been since day 1, and I don't think today will be any different.
Q. What have you learned about the process you went through?
A.J. HINCH: Just the time that it took. Obviously some players in there that have been here in the lean years. It was a cry for those guys. This is an awesome opportunity for us to be here. There are a couple of guys in there that had to suffer through some pretty rough years. So I think for them the growth that I've seen, even in my short time here, watching Altuve grow, Dallas Keuchel went from a mid rotation guy to a Cy Young winner. I think the work put in prior to me getting here and while I've been here has all helped us get to this point right now.
And I've also watched our players raise their expectations. We're not satisfied with being the ALDS champions; we want to win this championship and then get to the World Series and win a World Series. And the work that's put in well before my time here had to have contributed. To see an organization grow up and be a part of that has been very fulfilling.
Q. Have you noticed anything different with the way you're pitching Judge, have you noticed anything?
A.J. HINCH: Well, when he hits it, it goes a long way, I did notice that. He's been good at hitting a couple of different pitches. I think his ability to stay grounded in the batter's box and not over-swing has been very evident in this series. He's hit every pitch, whether it's been up and in pitch, a breaking ball from McCullers, a slider, these are really, really good pitches that don't normally get hit by anyone. And also it's been a weakness of his throughout the season.
These adjustments that he's made has made it tough to go to an area inside the strike zone to get out. He's as dangerous as anyone. He can miss hit balls and carry it out of the ballpark.
Since Game 1, I was asked about him, his balance in the batter's box and his ability to control his body, especially for a big man, was very notable coming out of that series where the results were miserable for him. He's been able to maintain his balance and composure and obviously he's made some tough adjustments that have not been good for us.