Q. Start with McCullers, obviously exceeded all expectations.A.J. HINCH: He was awesome. And really proud of him because I know how important this start was for him. He has had an up-and-down season, but who can top the first half, All-Star, 2A. A very difficult second half for him, and
Q. Start with McCullers, obviously exceeded all expectations.
A.J. HINCH: He was awesome. And really proud of him because I know how important this start was for him. He has had an up-and-down season, but who can top the first half, All-Star, 2A. A very difficult second half for him, and not knowing he was going to be in the rotation, his first relief outing in Boston.
And then to come up and pitch with a ton of heart, really one mistake the last pitch of his outing, I'm not even sure it was a mistake, Judge has done that a couple of times this year.
Really, really proud of him. I thought he threw tremendously well.
Q. Did you have a lot of discussion in the dugout whether to have him start that seventh inning?
A.J. HINCH: No, zero discussion. We were really comfortable with it. In hindsight, it was a really long half inning, both on their side and the in between innings for that.
But he felt great. He was throwing the ball great at the end of his outing, and got him out after the one pitch. We had the pocket for Devenski with the two left-handed hitting guys. We were sending him out the whole way.
Q. This is a gut punch. How do you take it, how does your team take it?
A.J. HINCH: The series wasn't over after two games; it's certainly not over after four.
Q. What's it like for you watching that thing unfold in those 35 minutes?
A.J. HINCH: No, it's rough. It's not a great visual from my side of the dugout. I'm not sure how it was from the other side.
But for us, we just couldn't get the inning to end. We were trying to match up and get and make pitches. They were putting really great at-bats together. Even their outs, they had productive outs, nobody likes that term, but they got 90 feet whenever they needed to, whether it was the sac fly or Gardner's ground ball to second base.
The key really in that inning is not turning Headley's ball into an out. We had an out, obviously Carlos was making an athletic play, Yuli makes an athletic play, Jose tries to tag him, it goes to replay and we don't get the out. Looking back, I think that was a big play, because it set up a ton of pressure on us for the rest of the inning with guys all over the place.
Q. On pulling Lance in the 7th, any consideration keeping him in after the home run? Did he fight you on it? Any consideration using Peacock in that spot?
A.J. HINCH: That spot right there with the lefties, Chris Devenski is really good against left-handed hitters. At the beginning of the game we definitely had plans for Devo getting that pocket. I think coming in, Gregorius falling behind him and then getting the base hit set up the whole inning, and then the walk to Bird. Bird's a good hitter, he laid off a couple of tough change-ups. We just didn't get the results we wanted; we had the matchup we wanted.
Q. I know it's tough to take right now, but you're two wins from the pennant and you've got Keuchel and Verlander lined up. You would have signed up 6 months ago for that.
A.J. HINCH: No question. This is a great series. This is two really good teams fighting for the chance to represent the American League. I don't think anyone thought the series was over two games ago. These has been two exciting games for the Yankees.
But you've got to win four to advance, and no one has won four yet.
Q. The bottom of the fourth, the Aaron Judge play, so he didn't touch second on his way back, can you take us through from your vantage point.
A.J. HINCH: When they went to replay they were reviewing the out/safe at first base. And in the middle, obviously the screen is as big as the state of New York, we could see that he didn't touch second base on the way back. They saw it, as well. Judge knew. As soon as the ball was put back in play, Judge was going to be out either way, so why not try for an easy base. If he gets to second base safe then we can't appeal, because that play is a live play.
So pretty smart decision by them trying to steal that base. We were fortunate to get the tag out.
Q. What impact does tonight's performance or game have on future decisions regarding your bullpen?
A.J. HINCH: Well, we're trying to get outs. I don't think there's anybody that's losing their job over this. They're the guys we're going with. These guys are getting outs. They have gotten outs for us all season.
Obviously this next game, Dallas Keuchel, he's pretty good at getting deep in the game. We'll hand the ball to this bullpen with the lead tomorrow feeling good about it, if that's the case.
Q. The overall quality of at-bats, what do you feel you're getting?
A.J. HINCH: Their lineup is good. I'm sorry, their pitching lineup is really good. They're throwing some good guys out there. And we've come up with some big hits, maybe not enough to feel like we're at our best. There's a little bit of anxiousness, but I'm not sure too many people play in October without a little bit of anxiousness.
Whether we're swinging out of the zone a little bit, whether they're executing pitches depends on who you root for, who you want to talk about.