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Oct. 18 A.J. Hinch pregame interview

MLB.com

Q. Considering Peacock hasn't pitched in the Series, if you have to go to your bullpen is there an ideal pocket you perceive utilizing him in?

A.J. HINCH: Peacock, any pocket is good for him. Certainly he's a very viable guy.

The No. 1 goal would be to get the lead and then sort out how to get the outs. If Dallas wants to get all of them, that's great. If he needs help we have a number of arms, including Peacock.

Q. What exactly does Altuve mean to this team? What does he mean to the city of Houston, too?

A.J. HINCH: He's everything. He's everything that you would ask out of a player. Obviously as a player, as a person, as an influence in our community, is a fan favorite. There's not a thing that Jose doesn't capture in terms of appeal. He's every bit what we try to be.

And watching him enjoy the postseason success that he's enjoying, the man he's growing to be, the father, now a leader in voicing his words a little more as he's grown up, pretty special for me to be his manager.

Q. We asked Joe about it, if momentum had shifted, and he said momentum starts with the starting pitcher from that point. How do you view it in that situation?

A.J. HINCH: I agree. I believe momentum is a dangerous thing to rely on all the time, because it can change in a pitch or two. We had pretty good momentum going pretty late in the game and then one home run by Aaron Judge and all of a sudden the ballpark woke up. So be careful what you wish for when you rely too much on momentum.

In this Series, you can get to 2-2 in a lot of different ways. And obviously it feels like momentum is on their side because they've won the last two games. We win today, who's got the momentum now? That is all fun fodder, it doesn't help you win.

Q. How much of a factor do you think pressure and circumstances are in the late innings, like in Yankee Stadium with the crowd? And some of your bullpen guys have really not pitched in that circumstance. How much do you sort of monitor that and maybe it is they're human, and could it be a factor?

A.J. HINCH: We're not going to cave to it. This is a tough place to play, a tough place to pitch. When they get things going, they're really good at home in how they perform, speaking of the Yankees.

So our players can handle it. I think it comes down to execution and making pitches. And every day is a learning day to get a little bit more comfortable in it. For me it's continuing to trust your players and put your players in a position that you think they can be successful. And then as they absorb a little bit more of it they're going to step up big and perform.

We can't run from it. We're not going to deny that this is a big moment for a lot of guys. I've got a group of men that can handle it. And we'll attack today the same way we attacked the last four days and try to get the lead in the Series.

Q. This is maybe a little related to the last question. When Judge hit that home run you mentioned the crowd kind of waking up. How would you describe the environment here in the 7th and 8th innings? And you enjoy a nice home-field advantage in the playoffs, too.

A.J. HINCH: The first inning is not quiet either. These guys are pretty loud from the very beginning. I've been to both Yankee stadiums as a player and as a manager here. It's a tough environment. These people love their Yankees. They love baseball. They love the moments. They're smart with how they try to get loud and put pressure on the players.

I haven't been here as much as all of you have been but I can sense they like their team here, the enthusiasm, the youth, the energy. Aaron Judge seems to capture that Yankee fame that guys before him have had.

For us we only come here hopefully twice a year, which is once in the regular season and now we're here in the postseason. You can feel why it's special to play here as a home player and why it's tough to win. Now, it doesn't mean we're going to concede and just give you the game to tip our cap to you because you're the New York Yankees, but we respect the way that their fan base supports them.

Q. A couple of your relievers said they have to make adjustments. For a relief pitcher, what does that entail? Is that mechanical, is that scouting?

A.J. HINCH: It's two ways: You're either going to make adjustments to make it to execute better or you're going to change the pitches that you throw. And usually the result oftentimes will dictate that.

If you throw a certain pitch in a certain count and it gets hit you're going to make an adjustment and maybe try something different the next time. Whatever their prepitch routine is, whatever their mechanics are, whatever their approach is going to be, they're going to make the necessary adjustments.

But what brings on adjustments is a little bit of adversity or a little bit of the lack of execution. And falling behind hitters you try to make an adjustment and throw strikes. These guys are working. It's not a matter of effort. It just comes down to maybe a little bit more fine-tune focus on what you need to do to be successful.

Q. Did the 2-2 pitch, the slider that Judge hit for the double last night, Giles said he was happy with the pitch, right where he wanted it. Does that tell you anything or even for that matter when curveball he hit off McCullers, those are two types of pitches he's struggled with in the playoffs. Does that inform you about the way he's swinging the bat?

A.J. HINCH: Judge? I think his takes in Games 1 and Game 2 told me he was pretty calm and pretty in the moment and feeling okay with himself. The base hit to leftfield that Marwin threw him out at home was the damage that he did.

You could tell in a sense he was under control in the first couple of games. He wasn't breathing heavy, he wasn't nervous, he was chasing a little bit. There's holes in everyone's game, but there's dangers all around it. He's a really impactful type hitter.

So I think for me his calmness in Game 1 and Game 2 led to better at-bats as the series has gotten longer, and now he's using the centerfield, hit the ball to the centerfield wall. A couple of doubles off the pitches that he hasn't hit consistently, but he has hit before.

He's really good, in case you haven't noticed. He's really, really good. When he gets locked in I can see how he puts up these big numbers, because there's damage that comes with the contact that he can make.

Q. Advance scouting is obviously very big. Does your team employ and utilize advance scouting any differently in the postseason? In a more general sense, how much has your advance scouting process evolved?

A.J. HINCH: There are no secrets in the game anywhere. You can find competitive advantages in a lot of different ways. And we have our internal advance scouting process. We have external, as well, out in the field watching guys. And we over-scrutinize every aspect of the game and every aspect of the team and try to have the matchups.

In some ways I think that's good, because there's no too-much-information mentality. But on the flip side of it you can get a little bit of paralysis by analysis if you're not careful. You've got to compete, play the game and let guys attack hitters with their strengths.

But we absolutely believe in it, it's in my background. It's also sprinkled throughout the organization. You have to have people in the field and people behind the scenes giving you information to make good decisions.

Q. Girardi said that Dallas didn't lay many eggs. When he makes mistakes, you better take advantage of it. He said they have to be close to perfect to win against him. What do you think about that?

A.J. HINCH: I hope he's right. I think Dallas is -- not just against the Yankees, but in big moments he's always ultra focused, he's ultra prepared. I love his perfectionist mentality, because he holds himself to a high bar and a high expectation. And he competes. And he'll make the necessary adjustments if he needs to.

But as far as a pitcher having conviction in his pitches, conviction in his playing, conviction in his ability to execute that, he's second to none that I've been around. And obviously he's even learned a thing or two from Verlander since we got him. He's a continuous learner and someone we trust with the ball in his hand. I can't think of a better guy in this stadium against this team to get us back into winning ways.

 

Q. Considering Peacock hasn't pitched in the Series, if you have to go to your bullpen is there an ideal pocket you perceive utilizing him in?

A.J. HINCH: Peacock, any pocket is good for him. Certainly he's a very viable guy.

The No. 1 goal would be to get the lead and then sort out how to get the outs. If Dallas wants to get all of them, that's great. If he needs help we have a number of arms, including Peacock.

Q. What exactly does Altuve mean to this team? What does he mean to the city of Houston, too?

A.J. HINCH: He's everything. He's everything that you would ask out of a player. Obviously as a player, as a person, as an influence in our community, is a fan favorite. There's not a thing that Jose doesn't capture in terms of appeal. He's every bit what we try to be.

And watching him enjoy the postseason success that he's enjoying, the man he's growing to be, the father, now a leader in voicing his words a little more as he's grown up, pretty special for me to be his manager.

Q. We asked Joe about it, if momentum had shifted, and he said momentum starts with the starting pitcher from that point. How do you view it in that situation?

A.J. HINCH: I agree. I believe momentum is a dangerous thing to rely on all the time, because it can change in a pitch or two. We had pretty good momentum going pretty late in the game and then one home run by Aaron Judge and all of a sudden the ballpark woke up. So be careful what you wish for when you rely too much on momentum.

In this Series, you can get to 2-2 in a lot of different ways. And obviously it feels like momentum is on their side because they've won the last two games. We win today, who's got the momentum now? That is all fun fodder, it doesn't help you win.

Q. How much of a factor do you think pressure and circumstances are in the late innings, like in Yankee Stadium with the crowd? And some of your bullpen guys have really not pitched in that circumstance. How much do you sort of monitor that and maybe it is they're human, and could it be a factor?

A.J. HINCH: We're not going to cave to it. This is a tough place to play, a tough place to pitch. When they get things going, they're really good at home in how they perform, speaking of the Yankees.

So our players can handle it. I think it comes down to execution and making pitches. And every day is a learning day to get a little bit more comfortable in it. For me it's continuing to trust your players and put your players in a position that you think they can be successful. And then as they absorb a little bit more of it they're going to step up big and perform.

We can't run from it. We're not going to deny that this is a big moment for a lot of guys. I've got a group of men that can handle it. And we'll attack today the same way we attacked the last four days and try to get the lead in the Series.

Q. This is maybe a little related to the last question. When Judge hit that home run you mentioned the crowd kind of waking up. How would you describe the environment here in the 7th and 8th innings? And you enjoy a nice home-field advantage in the playoffs, too.

A.J. HINCH: The first inning is not quiet either. These guys are pretty loud from the very beginning. I've been to both Yankee stadiums as a player and as a manager here. It's a tough environment. These people love their Yankees. They love baseball. They love the moments. They're smart with how they try to get loud and put pressure on the players.

I haven't been here as much as all of you have been but I can sense they like their team here, the enthusiasm, the youth, the energy. Aaron Judge seems to capture that Yankee fame that guys before him have had.

For us we only come here hopefully twice a year, which is once in the regular season and now we're here in the postseason. You can feel why it's special to play here as a home player and why it's tough to win. Now, it doesn't mean we're going to concede and just give you the game to tip our cap to you because you're the New York Yankees, but we respect the way that their fan base supports them.

Q. A couple of your relievers said they have to make adjustments. For a relief pitcher, what does that entail? Is that mechanical, is that scouting?

A.J. HINCH: It's two ways: You're either going to make adjustments to make it to execute better or you're going to change the pitches that you throw. And usually the result oftentimes will dictate that.

If you throw a certain pitch in a certain count and it gets hit you're going to make an adjustment and maybe try something different the next time. Whatever their prepitch routine is, whatever their mechanics are, whatever their approach is going to be, they're going to make the necessary adjustments.

But what brings on adjustments is a little bit of adversity or a little bit of the lack of execution. And falling behind hitters you try to make an adjustment and throw strikes. These guys are working. It's not a matter of effort. It just comes down to maybe a little bit more fine-tune focus on what you need to do to be successful.

Q. Did the 2-2 pitch, the slider that Judge hit for the double last night, Giles said he was happy with the pitch, right where he wanted it. Does that tell you anything or even for that matter when curveball he hit off McCullers, those are two types of pitches he's struggled with in the playoffs. Does that inform you about the way he's swinging the bat?

A.J. HINCH: Judge? I think his takes in Games 1 and Game 2 told me he was pretty calm and pretty in the moment and feeling okay with himself. The base hit to leftfield that Marwin threw him out at home was the damage that he did.

You could tell in a sense he was under control in the first couple of games. He wasn't breathing heavy, he wasn't nervous, he was chasing a little bit. There's holes in everyone's game, but there's dangers all around it. He's a really impactful type hitter.

So I think for me his calmness in Game 1 and Game 2 led to better at-bats as the series has gotten longer, and now he's using the centerfield, hit the ball to the centerfield wall. A couple of doubles off the pitches that he hasn't hit consistently, but he has hit before.

He's really good, in case you haven't noticed. He's really, really good. When he gets locked in I can see how he puts up these big numbers, because there's damage that comes with the contact that he can make.

Q. Advance scouting is obviously very big. Does your team employ and utilize advance scouting any differently in the postseason? In a more general sense, how much has your advance scouting process evolved?

A.J. HINCH: There are no secrets in the game anywhere. You can find competitive advantages in a lot of different ways. And we have our internal advance scouting process. We have external, as well, out in the field watching guys. And we over-scrutinize every aspect of the game and every aspect of the team and try to have the matchups.

In some ways I think that's good, because there's no too-much-information mentality. But on the flip side of it you can get a little bit of paralysis by analysis if you're not careful. You've got to compete, play the game and let guys attack hitters with their strengths.

But we absolutely believe in it, it's in my background. It's also sprinkled throughout the organization. You have to have people in the field and people behind the scenes giving you information to make good decisions.

Q. Girardi said that Dallas didn't lay many eggs. When he makes mistakes, you better take advantage of it. He said they have to be close to perfect to win against him. What do you think about that?

A.J. HINCH: I hope he's right. I think Dallas is -- not just against the Yankees, but in big moments he's always ultra focused, he's ultra prepared. I love his perfectionist mentality, because he holds himself to a high bar and a high expectation. And he competes. And he'll make the necessary adjustments if he needs to.

But as far as a pitcher having conviction in his pitches, conviction in his playing, conviction in his ability to execute that, he's second to none that I've been around. And obviously he's even learned a thing or two from Verlander since we got him. He's a continuous learner and someone we trust with the ball in his hand. I can't think of a better guy in this stadium against this team to get us back into winning ways.