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October 12, 2015

AJ Hinch

Houston, Texas - Postgame four

Royals - 9 Astros - 6

THE MODERATOR: Who has the first question for A.J.?

Q. You guys were six outs away from clinching an ALCS berth at home. How did the game change there in the 8th inning?
A.J. HINCH: Well, the 8th clearly wasn't a good inning. They put together some good at-bats. They put, what, five or six singles in a row. Had the ground ball up the middle.

They just never quit. They put together really good at-bats, and we couldn't get the inning to end in any way.

So that's a tough inning. That's -- they put up quality at-bats, we didn't finish the at-bats, and we end up in a tough spot there.

Q. As it was falling apart, how do you wrestle with who to use in that situation because there was a lot of bleeding singles through the course of that 8th inning.
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, going into that inning, we have got six outs left in the game, four-run lead, I've got my three best relievers, and they went through that whole inning. All of them pitched.

So, wrestling with it, it wasn't -- there were really no tough calls for me. We got to the pocket with Hosmer, where I wanted to use Sipp, and then Luke obviously coming in with Butera.

So the way it mapped out was fine. I take my chances with six outs left with Harris, Sipp, and Gregerson. It just didn't work out today.

Obviously seven runs after the 8th is not a recipe for success for us, but, look, this group has been very good for us, and they will bounce back. We have a day off tomorrow, we have Game 5, but clearly this one's a tough one.

Q. Harris specifically, he wasn't hit really hard, but how do you size up an outing like that when he's not hit hard?
A.J. HINCH: The thing that's interesting about that inning is they didn't try to do too much. Harris seemed to make a few pitches. They kept the ball really low. To get singles -- what is that? Five singles in a row and even the ball that bounced up on Correa is on the ground, so when they were trailing by that much, it looked like their approach was going to be take whatever Harris gave them or whatever Sipp gave them or whatever Gregerson gave them.

They never tried to come out of their shoes and try to change the score with one swing. So credit to them for their approach. Obviously, to get six baserunners on in a row, that's good team offense, which we have seen out of them for a lot of games. Not only in this series but as you study them and see how they're successful, it's usually involving quality at-bats and they executed them.

Q. First, who is going to throw Game 5? And, second, how did you think Lance settled down? He hit Escobar in the first inning, looked like he was a little amped up but settled down really nice after that.
A.J. HINCH: McHugh is going to start Game 5, so he'll be ready to go. I'll have everyone available in Game 5 that you would expect. Including Kazmir. So the way McCullers pitched, I was proud of him. He came out of the game hot with a lot of adrenaline and a lot of intensity, which we would expect. I thought after the Perez homer, I thought it was nice to see him settle down and execute some pitches and get some big swings and misses. He was starting to land his breaking ball as the game went along, and to finish his outing the way he did was very, very impressive.

Obviously, he's not trying to hit Perez, he's trying to pound him in after the home run opposite field. That pitch got away from him. But other than that, and the Perez homer, they didn't do a ton against him, and that's a credit to Lance and his stuff.

Q. You guys have had incredible highs this year and then some lows. But that 7th where you're up 6-2 and the crowd is earsplitting and then the 8th, is that the biggest -- that has to be the biggest up-and-down you guys have had all year.
A.J. HINCH: I guess I'm not really into ranking that kind of stuff. It's just like ranking losses. I mean, you either win or you lose.

And we have got Game 5, we have just as good a chance to win Game 5 as the Royals. And we're going to hop on a plane, go work out tomorrow, and we're going to show up ready to play in Game 5. It's going to be an electric atmosphere in Kauffman Stadium.

So the emotional swings in this game, they happen all the time. And then in playoff baseball, it can get crazy. No one's going to give up on the season, no one's going to give up on a game. That's demonstrated today.

They came out on top today, but at the end of the day in a playoff series, the way this series has gone, if you take a step back, it doesn't surprise me that it's going to come down to Game 5.

Both teams are going to be ready to play, and I would expect a good one.

Q. Is that the message to them when you came into the clubhouse, that as crushing as it was, it wasn't the end of the series?
A.J. HINCH: I don't have to give my message to our team. I'm going to spend the next 24 hours with them and then leading up to the game we know exactly what's at stake. This group, man, they are as resilient as any group I've ever been around in any role that I've served in this sport.

They don't need to be told that this was a tough loss. They don't need to be told that Game 5's a big game. We will show up with our personality. We're going to give it everything we have to continue the season, as is the club across the way.

So, everyone that watched that game, everybody that was a part of that game knows how difficult it is to feel like that game was closing in our favor and then have it not go our way.

But it's big-boy sport. We'll adjust, and we will be ready to play.

Q. With a young team, the travel day tomorrow, is that a good thing or a bad thing?
A.J. HINCH: I think it's probably a good thing for us. Physically Correa gets hit in the elbow, Altuve fouls another ball off his foot, give all our relievers a chance to breathe a little bit. The extra day for McHugh will be nice. Castro's been going at it pretty hard.

So from a physical standpoint, I think it's a very good thing. From a mental standpoint, there will be a little bit of anxiousness to get to Game 5. These are fun games. I know it doesn't feel that way coming out of this game with a loss and we're not celebrating, but we put ourselves -- we have continued to put ourselves in a position where we control our own destiny to advance.

And we have that, so we'll use the day tomorrow to recoup a little bit, get the taste of this game out of our mouth, and be prepared to get after it in Game 5.

Q. How odd were those bounces on the ball that tied it, that got by Sipp and also by Correa? And more generally, does the way that inning unfolded speak to the roster construction of these two teams, a high-contact Royals team and a contact bullpen?
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, you know, they did a good job of putting the ball in play, which they did it in Game 2, ended in their favor. They did it in Game 4, now it's ended in their favor.

They got hits. They found different ways. I don't think they were directing the ball where they ended up going, but contact's your friend sometimes. And we certainly have a contact-driven bullpen. We have a really good defense. The ball checks up on Correa, which is a little bit unlucky. It goes from a double-play ball with Morales running to an extremely different outcome.

So, how it's constructed, how it works -- this team across the way didn't get to the World Series last year by accident. So they're a good club. They put up some really good at-bats. And we also didn't get to Game 5 by accident either. We got a pretty good team, we got a good resilient group, we have youth on our side, we'll have a ton of energy, and we'll show up ready to play.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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