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October 5, 2018

AJ Hinch

Houston, Texas - postgame 1

Houston-7, Cleveland-2

Q. A.J., Josh Reddick had a huge game for you guys today. He hasn't had the regular season that he wanted, but what can he bring to your lineup in the postseason if he can be the old Josh Reddick?
A.J. HINCH: Exactly what he did. He brings balance to our lineup. He's a tough at-bat. He will fight his way through any sort of lull of an at-bat or lull of the season. But right now I think the regular season is far in the past.

And you see really good at-bats today by him along with the rest of our team, and I think that quality is something that's attractive about him, and he showed it today.

Q. A.J., you obviously know what you're going to get out of a guy like Verlander, but the way he started this game and set the tone, what did that do for you guys today?
A.J. HINCH: Pretty much the same thing it does every time he pitches. He is a big-time, big adrenaline pitcher that never ceases to surprise you or amaze you. It's always -- he seems to be always there for you. These starts matter to him, and he shows it, wears his emotion on his sleeve. He's ultra focused and does a really good job of executing a game plan.

His fastball today was electric against a really good fastball-hitting club. He landed both breaking balls. If he'd have had a change-up, he probably doesn't get into the mess he got into in the sixth inning.

For him to be able to channel his emotion shows exactly why at this point of his career, why he's one of the most dominant postseason pitchers of all time and also one of the best current ones.

Q. You've run out of adjectives to describe Alex Bregman at this point, but what is it about him that is able to rise to the moment continuously and his growth in this game to get to where he is right now?
A.J. HINCH: I think he's got a calm heartbeat. That's pretty much proven in the really quick career he's had so far. He's very calm. I love how he describes pressure. He describes pressure as a privilege. That, to me, shows someone that gets it, someone that is going to be able to handle the moment.

It's amazing to watch him do it time after time after time. We're getting spoiled. Guys aren't supposed to do it at this level at that rate he's been doing. And it might be a single, it might be the homer to kick-start us today. He got one of the biggest hits in franchise history last year.

It's his heartbeat. It's his preparation. It's a combination of the "it" factor along with his ability.

Q. You kind of foreshadowed what was going to happen during your in-game interview saying the hitters need to find a way to get the ball off the ground. After that, all of the home runs. How did you see the guys kind of adjusting to Kluber, and what did you see as they accomplished it?
A.J. HINCH: I can't say enough positive things about our at-bats today against Corey Kluber and others. We had really great at-bats throughout today. We had a great game plan going in. The guys stuck to it and executed. Kluber is not easy.

And certainly when you get into these games and emotions start to take over, you can get off that game plan. But the guys did a really good job of having a good at-bat and letting the next guy have a good at-bat.

Obviously, we had some explosive at-bats with the home run. But he's not an easy guy to center up. You've got to be pretty disciplined on what side of the plate you pick. Which of his pitches that move all over the place that you're going to focus on. And don't miss the one or two or three mistakes that come from time to time.

Getting that ball elevated in the middle part of the inning -- I should have told him that at the beginning of the game, but it's better coaching.

Q. With Pressly coming in, bases loaded, with that part of the order due up, how important was it? A couple runs came in, but just to limit the damage with that.
A.J. HINCH: That inning was spiraling a little bit. J.V. really only made one bad pitch the entire game. I think the Lindor single, he would take back and do it a little different. Ran out of gas a little bit against Brantley. And all we asked Pressly to do was come in against Ramirez and Encarnacion. 60-plus homers, almost 70 homers with those guys.

He can really spin the ball, which in that part of the order we liked. He spun the ball in the dirt to start the at-bat against Ramirez. But one thing about Press that we've seen since we traded for him, he's not going to cave. He's not going to cower. He's not going to panic. He's been everything that we could have asked for and more by his ability to spin the ball, and then he's got 96 in his tank.

That feels like the game. We had a little cushion there. J.V. got in a little trouble. That game could have easily been tied at the end of that, and we still would have felt like it was successful the way the inning was starting to spiral out of control. Press took control of it, goes and sits down. One of the hardest things for these relievers is to sit down for a bit and then go back out there. He goes back out there and gets three more big outs.

Q. With all the dominance of pitchers going into this game, would you have expected your team to hit four home runs and score seven runs in a game like this?
A.J. HINCH: I don't know if "expected" is the right word. I'm proud of our guys. It's a good group of pitchers we faced today. Obviously, it's got to continue for the rest of the series, but kind of expect our guys to put up really good at-bats, yeah.

As much as I've heard different opinions about our offense, it's pretty long, it's pretty good, it's pretty potent. Case in point today.

Q. It wasn't a high-leverage situation by the time McCullers got in the game. Did you like what you saw from him?
A.J. HINCH: I want to define "high leverage." It's a pretty high leverage every outing these guys have. With an extended lead, it kind of helps out a bit. It doesn't feel comfortable in my seat or as a pitcher.

You know what's interesting about that moment, we expect this stuff out of our guys, but he's only had a couple of outings since missing a pretty significant amount of time. I don't think he had his best stuff, but he found the strike zone with some good fastballs. He found enough breaking ball. He had the ball hit at George pretty hard off of Lindor.

But this is about emotions. He's an emotional guy. He wants the ball in those big spots. He knows he's going to be limited this postseason because of the pitch count. Came in and did his job. Expect him to do it tomorrow too.

Q. Verlander's performance, then Altuve, Bregman, and Springer homer. A lot of star power tonight. Is that kind of what you expected? Once it gets to October, the best players --
A.J. HINCH: Be careful with the word "expected." It's what we want. We've got to fight and claw and battle and compete and do it again tomorrow and then do it again the next day. We're a confident group, but we're not going to get cocky and think -- expectations are that we want to win the game.

Who contributes in that? I think that's the beauty of our team. It could be anybody. Tomorrow it might be somebody different. And please somebody mention Maldonado's homer. That was a big one as well even though it felt like a tack-on run. Those tack-on runs this time of year are pretty huge. So tip a hat to him for that one.

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