Q. So you guys played really well on the road this year. At this point does home, road, even matter? Can you look at that and say that there's any kind of advantage that you have done well? A.J. HINCH: Not really. I think it's just about playing the game
Q. So you guys played really well on the road this year. At this point does home, road, even matter? Can you look at that and say that there's any kind of advantage that you have done well?
A.J. HINCH: Not really. I think it's just about playing the game wherever the venue is. We know, I think, what the situation is going to be tonight. We know our Astros fans that have made the trip are going to be outnumbered; it's going to be loud. So I think you just play the game.
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And we're confident that we can win any ballpark. We've shown that over the year. Obviously we need to win another road game; that's the most important thing.
Q. We saw how McCullers closed out the LCS, could he close out Game 6 tonight?
A.J. HINCH: He could, yeah. I think it's a possibility. I think all bets are off. You just try to win the game. I think saving things for the unknown is probably not the way to go. But obviously it starts with Verlander, we'll see what he can give and how long he can be in the game. And the National League rules with pinch-hitting, does he get to pitch deep in the game or does the game situation dictate otherwise?
I think you play to win the game tonight. I think if you complicate it and try to manage two games at once, you'll find yourself having two games. And so if we need to use our guys to win the game, I'll do it.
Q. You said that Ken Giles wasn't available in Game 5. What's his availability tonight?
A.J. HINCH: He's ready. I think everybody is available. If you walk into any room, any clubhouse that is playing in the World Series, they're going to tell you they're available.
I chose not to use Ken in a save situation. He was available, though. And he'll be ready to pitch, if he needs to. I think the game context, we have to understand and remember that I don't know what the situation is going to come up. Ken Giles has a role on this team. And if he needs to get an out, if he needs to get three outs, then he'll do it.
Q. I know Verlander has been really big from a pitching perspective, but just how big has his presence been for this team?
A.J. HINCH: He's been big. I think the day we got him, there was an emotional tie to the city because we were coming back from the hurricane, being relocated. There's something different when you put a major piece like that in your clubhouse. And I think his presence alone gave guys hope and belief that things were going to be good for us we had two months left in the season. We hadn't done won the division or hadn't done anything yet. But I think his demeanor, his preparation, his personality, his performance, all raised the bar for the organization. And I think we expected that. We knew he would have a big role on this team. I think the behind-the-scenes stuff and the way that he's blended in and really been a key figure behind the scenes has been very welcomed.
Q. What does it mean to be in this position in Game 6, up 3-2, one win away from winning it all?
A.J. HINCH: Well, it means a lot. We've earned the right to get to this point. I think it will mean more if we can win. I think our team is very loose today. They're very ready to leave it all out on the field. And these are dream scenarios, when you start the season out, there's so many goals that are put in place. And the goals get bigger and better and more realistic as the season goes along.
So there's no stress. There's no anxiety. There's no drama. It's Game 6 of the World Series; we're going to leave it all on the field.
Q. Back to Verlander, it would seem that with his career path and what he's done in the postseason that today's game was just a game that he was meant to pitch, don't you think?
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, I think he was meant to win it, so let's start at that (laughter). That's a better story. Not to write it for you, but let's write that he won it, okay?
A.J. HINCH: I think this stage is set. Obviously he's such a big-time pitcher. And we want him to step up and do well. And he's prepared to do that. I think being the pitcher in the game clincher -- or the division clincher, was too good to be true. It happened and he pitched great. The Game 6 against the Yankees, where we needed him to get us to a Game 7 he stepped up, he was big.
Why not have a third time where we've needed him to step up and lead this energy that's going to be in our dugout? We have nobody better to have there.
Q. For you and your family, do your daughters sense the excitement of the World Series? And how different is it trick-or-treating in the hotel?
A.J. HINCH: No, and they've been with us along the way. I think they've been to school six days this month, which is hard for me. A Stanford grad, it's hard for me to pull my kids out of school.
But they've been with us. My kids and my wife have been with us. And there's so much of this story behind the scenes. All of us in baseball cherish our families and what they sacrifice for us to live out this dream and do this crazy stuff.
So the nervous energy is real. The trick-or-treating in the hotel was suffice, because I think this is special circumstances. So is missing school. But you should stay in school.
Q. What did they dress up as?
A.J. HINCH: You know what, I'm not a bad father, but I'm not really sure (laughter).
Q. I understand Brian McCann had purchased a luxury suite and took a few of his teammates to the Clippers game last night, something that he did back in April when he first joined your Astros. So I'm thinking it's kind of a full-circle moment. How much has this camaraderie, this team bonding contributed to your success to season?
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, I've never seen anything like it. And I've been on a lot of teams, and I think a lot of winning teams will always brag about their chemistry and the culture and the camaraderie you talked about. To live it is pretty special. And it started back in the spring. We had a mixture of guys: We had some core guys that had come back from our '15 and '16 team. We had some veterans, like Beltran and McCann and Reddick, guys that chose to be here. Charlie Morton, another free agent that we signed. We had some guys that were making our team for the first time, guys like Bregman, and Gurriel, that were on our team but really didn't have quite the chemistry that they all have now.
So it contributes at some level. I think it's hard to measure. But when you see the postseason -- we've celebrated every win in grand fashion, like to the extreme, with strobe lights and music and the belt. These guys all create that chemistry among themselves. And I've seen more guys, that's different, going out on the road, to dinners, to the games these guys play behind the scenes. So it doesn't surprise me at all with what McCann has brought, specifically in those type of things. And there's perfect attendance pretty much at these team dinners or teams parties. We've had multiple guys. Gregerson hosted it at his house in Chicago. It just never stops for this team in building this bond that will ever be together if we pull this out.
Q. Getting on your point that you just made, when you look at Altuve and Correa, they're younger guys, but in terms of their attitude, what kind of influence does that have on your whole team, when your best players go about their business like they do?
A.J. HINCH: Again, I haven't been in the coaching ranks forever, but I've been around the game forever, and I watched different sports. I heard this phrase from guys, when your best players are your best examples, how easy it makes the job of your leader, me. And I think that goes true with these guys, that they are -- not only do they play up the middle, that's a key point of our sport, second base, shortstop, their engine never stops. They don't usually have a bad day. I don't mean a bad performance, I just mean a bad-attitude or bad-approach day. If they do, the other guy usually steps up and they'll get on each other.
And I think that type of identity is something that's flourished on this team to where you look at every angle of our team, we don't have a bad apple, we don't have the drama, we don't have that one outlier that doesn't seem to buy in. And again it's a tribute to what we've built, but it's a tribute to how these players have really demanded that out of each other, starting with guys like Altuve and Correa.
Q. You've talked about what it would mean for your team if you guys won a World Series, what would it mean for all the people in the organization to win a first World Series championship?
A.J. HINCH: You know, I sit at this podium and get to be in front of you guys and in front of the cameras and talk about this feeling or wear this hat, wear this top. There are so many people that have built this team. And obviously Jeff and his staff have done a tremendous job. But the scouts, the player development, ticket people, the in-game hosts, just the proud part of being -- any part of being of a Houston Astros World Series-caliber team, hopefully a World Series championship team, it will mean something to them. Then you factor in the big city and obviously it could mean the world to these people.
There's not enough thanks, whether you're the manager or whether you're behind the scene doing something. For the people that are Astros, and the people that do the work, and the people that provide all these services for us to be on the field to play this game. We can rattle off as many names as we can, but our gratitude will go forever.
Q. What's been your favorite moment of the World Series so far?
A.J. HINCH: I don't think I've had it yet. I still want that last win. That fourth World Series win would be the best moment.
But on a bigger topic, my favorite part of all this, outside of chasing this championship is watching our players. And watching them grow and mature and grind out every single part of this playoff run. And we want it to finish with a win. It will feel hollow if we don't. But watching this team grow up and being a part of this, being their manager, watching the smiles after these crazy games, watching the demise after the crazy losses, all of that is connecting with people, connecting with our players and living through those guys and understanding what it means to all these guys has been my favorite part of the World Series.
Q. For the guys who were with you two years ago, just the playoff experience of how that unfolded against the Royals. How do you think that's sort of impacted kind of those guys?
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, you know, I think the craziness of Game 1 through 5 probably is more valuable to them today than what happened in '15. But I think all of it, everything you do in this game is helpful in one way or another. It either teaches you that you were right or it was wrong. It teaches that your process is right or wrong. Your success, failure part of this game.
So we build on this all along. I think things that happened in Altuve in '13 and '14 help him. Not just the playoffs in '15. I think the journey that Dallas Keuchel had to take has built him into what he is today. I think we grab all kind of experience and lessons from being on this stage and being in this game. And we're hoping to change our lives by winning one more game.