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World Series Game 3: Hinch postgame interview

MLB.com

Q. After Game 2 the way that ended, maybe some of the -- not confidence, but a little bit of a boost you guys got back, how important was it at home to come out early, especially in that second inning, put up a four-spot and knock Darvish out of the game?

A.J. HINCH: Four runs in any game is big. Four runs in the World Series is huge. To get that kind of momentum started, get the crowd into it, have a lead puts a ton of pressure on the other dugout. Obviously the quality of our at-bats tonight were incredible. That's more of our identity. That's what we're about. And to see it carry over from the last game to this game was welcome.

Q. After Game 2 the way that ended, maybe some of the -- not confidence, but a little bit of a boost you guys got back, how important was it at home to come out early, especially in that second inning, put up a four-spot and knock Darvish out of the game?

A.J. HINCH: Four runs in any game is big. Four runs in the World Series is huge. To get that kind of momentum started, get the crowd into it, have a lead puts a ton of pressure on the other dugout. Obviously the quality of our at-bats tonight were incredible. That's more of our identity. That's what we're about. And to see it carry over from the last game to this game was welcome.

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Q. What was the conversation like when you went out in the third inning to talk to Lance, and what did you think about the way he worked himself out of it?

A.J. HINCH: Lance, it just looked like he fell apart mechanically, and just his command fell apart, three walks in a row, and created his own mess. I don't know if it was the layoff with the big inning or if it was just some poorly executed pitches, but we just wanted to settle him down. At that point the game could get pretty fast and he gets away from himself. You start trying to pitch away from runs, you can turn a big inning into a bigger inning. Instead we played some excellent defense behind him. That double play is not easy to turn from the 3-6-1. The shift we played, feels like the game is getting back into their favor little bit. For us to end with one run in that inning was a tribute to Lance being able to control his emotions and make a pitch at a time.

Q. Yu Darvish had pitched very well here previously. The team sure got to him early. Was there a certain hitting approach in the lineup, some do's and don'ts that really worked well against him today?

A.J. HINCH: Today I think two things stood out to me: One, he had a hard time landing his slider. He didn't have his normal slider in the strike zone, so we didn't chase. He couldn't really get it for a strike. It was backing up on him. It was all over the place. So when you can essentially disregard a pitch, that will go advantage to the hitter. And I think once we had some hitter counts, we put some pretty good swings on some pitches. We hit his fastball, which was really good. He started throwing a few more changeups, trying to disrupt us, a fewer slow breaking ball. So it looked like he was out of sorts based on how he's pitched in the last month. I think our discipline, our approach was very, very, very refined to just getting a good fastball to hit once we thought his slider and cutter weren't as effective.

Q. This is a team you guys haven't seen a ton of, but now you've seen their entire bullpen, most of those guys multiple times. How does that help you going forward, and as a manager how does hurt Dave?

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A.J. HINCH: Well, I don't know his bullpen the way he knows his bullpen. How it hurts him is going to be on his side. But for us, the quicker you can get into a bullpen, the more looks you get at a guy, the more comfortable guys are. It's not always easier; it doesn't guarantee success the next time. Whether it's fatigue, whether it's pitch recognition, whether it's just being more familiar with their bullpen, that's helpful now. They're a pretty good bullpen. So be careful what you wish for. You keep bringing some of the big boys in, they've had some pretty good seasons. I think it's about leverage. It's about he's been trying to match up, and he's done it pretty remarkably, with where the numbers are. But I think our players have responded to the competition and put up some good at-bats at key times. But it doesn't make Game 4 any easier against their bullpen. It's still an elite bullpen.

Q. Gurriel had a really good game, can you address his contributions, and Josh Reddick, and what he's meant.

A.J. HINCH: The good part of our lineup is that we can score from anywhere. And we have really good hitters up and down the lineup. The bottom of our order, especially the big inning, we just put good at-bat after good at-bat after good at-bat, and we just missed an explosive at-bat from George later in the game. But wherever we are in the lineup, we feel we have a good chance to get on base early and somebody behind him can drive him in. Yuli has been very good for us. He's a professional hitter that can hit any pitch, any count, any place in the ballpark. Getting us kickstarted today with a home run was huge. Josh Reddick coming back from a difficult Championship Series and difficult first night, has really responded with quality at-bats; kind of what we're used to seeing. And tomorrow it might be somebody different. Game 2 it was Springer. Game 3 it's Reddick and Gurriel, tomorrow maybe somebody completely different.

Q. Why Peacock there and why did you decide to let him finish it out and what has he meant to you?

A.J. HINCH: Peacock there because he was the right guy at the right spot against that part of the order. We felt like his strengths matched up against some places we want to exploit in the strike zone. And why keep him in is if we all watched the game, it was pretty obvious, he was cruising. Their swings weren't good. His fastball was playing, his slider was playing. This postseason I've really enjoyed bringing back the three-inning save; that's cool. And there's no reason to take him out. He was in complete control of every at-bat. So why not leave him in?

Q. What has he meant for you?

A.J. HINCH: Starting out in the bullpen, going into the rotation, was arguably our best starter for a period of the season. Got squeezed into this bullpen role, even had taken a little bit of a step back with some mis-executed pitches, bounces back with some really, really good outings, and got his first career save in the World Series, he'll remember it forever.

Q. You you have to go back to the other guys tomorrow. Talk about your confidence in them.

A.J. HINCH: Not really. It's about getting 27 outs. At this point if they didn't see Peacock pitching well, then they should watch the game, too. I love our bullpen, and our bullpen is going to get outs, but this is a race to 27 outs with a lead. When a guy is doing his job, there's only so much explanation I need to give.

Q. In the fourth Puig's single brushes off of Bregman's glove and lands into no man's land, Carlos Correa gets the ball and cuts him out on second. Do you think that play has any effect on the outcome of the game? And what does it mean to you when one of your best players is giving 110%?

A.J. HINCH: Obviously the runner on second would have been rough to start. Anytime a runner gets in scoring position in the playoffs, that anxiousness comes, that anxiety comes. This ballpark, we're very aware with the angles and what plays to keep playing. And I'm proud of Carlos for continuing the play. Just complete the play, it's something we talk about from the beginning of Spring Training all through now, is you've got to complete the play; that's an example of it. And again, I think the awareness, any ball that goes inside the line but hooking a little bit has a chance to catch the corner. You see it in Fenway, you see it here. Being familiar with your ballpark is a huge advantage.

Q. It appears that Gurriel kind of made a racist gesture toward Darvish. Are you aware of it and your thoughts?

A.J. HINCH: I am aware of it. Obviously the game just ended. I barely have been briefed on it. He's going to have a statement. I know he's remorseful. But other than that, I don't know a lot. I came into my office and then came into here. So I do know that he's remorseful, but I think he's going to have a statement.

Q. In the biggest game before the World Series McCullers picks up Morton, and tonight Peacock picks up McCullers. Coming into this did you see a scenario where you could get through the game with two starting pitchers?

A.J. HINCH: Maybe it's not the perfect ideal, because we're not used to it, and we haven't seen it a lot, and you don't know how they're going to respond out of the pen. I think the unknown is bringing a starter into the game out of the pen. When it doesn't go well, it feels like they weren't prepared. When it does go well, we get to the next game. The quality of the pitches, we absolutely thought we could get through games like this. It wasn't mapped out this way. Just when you map out a game plan, it could have gone completely different. There were points during the game I thought McCullers was going to cruise deep into the game, and I also had a reliever up in the third inning when he couldn't throw a strike. You have to react to the game, use the players the best way to get to 27 outs. These are unique ways to win the game, I'm not sure you can do it all the time, but you can do it sometimes.

Q. Seven home games, you guys are 7-0 at home. And it seems like anytime you hit a wall, you're able to come back here and get it going again. What's so special, you can hear it and see it, but it seems they like playing in this stadium in the playoffs?

A.J. HINCH: The energy in the building is second to none. It's loud. They're loud from the very beginning. There's energy during batting practice. There's great enthusiasm around our fanbase with this team. They've fallen in love with this team. Anytime you get the comforts of home, whether you're going for a home-cooked meal or coming home for a home game here at Minute Maid, there's something special about it, and our players respond to it. We're very comfortable here. I think the belief that this is an offensive ballpark, that we've hit a ton in this season helps. But I think the energy in the building provided by the fans and executed on the field by the players is the most special part of it.

Q. How happy are you with your defense this postseason? It might be the difference (inaudible)?

A.J. HINCH: You know, I think it's easy to go to our offense, I think some of our pitchers that have stepped up, Verlander, Keuchel, Peacock tonight, McCullers, the defense has been steady since beginning of the postseason. And we have athletes all over the field. We do execute plays. We handle the ball pretty cleanly, it's something we talk about a lot. To see it on the biggest stage is where why we're having the success that we're having. These plays are not easy. We practice a lot. We have an attention to detail. The players are playing tremendous defense, and not giving away too many 90-foot increments, which is great.

Q. Evan Gattis factored in both of your scoring inning. What tipped your DHing tonight against their only righty starter? And influenced at all by stringing together three straight games with him, and against the lefties tomorrow?

A.J. HINCH: He'll be in there tomorrow. I think Evan Gattis has not been overlooked this season, but I think he's kind of caught the raw end of the deal when it comes to at-bats. And he's just dangerous. We know that. We know the kind of numbers he's put up in the past. And when he's inside the strike zone and disciplined, when he drew the walks tonight, he got a free pass from the Dodgers, when he's swinging at strikes and taking the balls, his zone discipline, he becomes like crazy, crazy dangerous. And we've seen it come to play this postseason, and he's earned these at-bats. And we're at the tail end of the season where these games can be decided by one swing of the bat, and right now he's a little bit more dangerous than our other guys.

Q. You win your first World Series game for Houston the other day on the road. You win one at home. And you've spoken so well about this for the whole series, but what would it mean for the city of Houston to win at home?

A.J. HINCH: I want the fourth World Series win. I think that's the key for the city. We've got our work cut out. I can really appreciate what this city has gone through, what our team has gone through, but we're going to be able to keep it in proper perspective. We represent the city, we wear this patch for a reason. We're proud to be Houstonians; some of us live here year-round. To see the city respond to the team and us respond to this city's needs is something that I'm most proud of.