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October 8, 2018

AJ Hinch

Cleveland, Ohio - postgame 3

Astros - 11, Indians - 3

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with AJ.

Q. AJ, I know your run here isn't over yet. After the World Series, you've won 103 games, you've swept a pretty good team here in the Indians, when you started this whole thing, were you at all curious as to how the season after would play out? What sort of things have you seen out of this team?
AJ HINCH: No, sure. As the season got under way, I was curious. But not after the first day of Spring Training. The first day of Spring Training, I had a pretty good feel about our team's approach and our mindset, which is all you can really control at that point.

Obviously, there are a lot of things have to happen to win in this league. Health, good fortune. You've got to catch some teams at the right time. You've got to win a lot of games. You've got to worry about the teams behind you if you're in first.

You get to the playoffs and you run into a really good team across the way. We can't say enough positive things about the Indians and their season, congratulate them. And they're a really good team.

I know after a sweep, and we did it pretty convincingly, it takes nothing away from that group over there, but our guys have an uncanny ability to focus on the day. Whether that's at the beginning of the spring, into the season when we were pushed by our division, the A's, into entering a playoff series with all the expectations, the target on our back, we're the only -- we're the reigning world champs, and we really have a good ability to show up for the day.

So proud of our guys, the work they put into the winter. It was a short winter for us. As you can see, our guys are pretty hungry to advance.

Wrap it up all in one question? That would be awesome.

Q. George Springer, since he got back from the DL, he had three home runs in a month and a half. He's had three home runs in about an eye blink since. What's going on there?
AJ HINCH: We had a couple days off, which our guys needed. Once we clinched, he didn't play a ton the last week. He got freshened up a little bit.

I said this to our team in there. Special teams do special things in October, and I believe that about players. George is one of them.

There is an extra gear that our guys have, and once we hit the postseason, it looks like, as of right now, that our guys really, really turned it on.

So George is a special player. We've seen him come up as an uber prospect, produce at an uncanny level, hit the lowest of lows in the World Series and then be the World Series MVP. I don't think this should surprise anyone. He's a really special player.

Q. Which players in the Indians lineup scared you guys the most going in, and how did you guys -- how did you do such an effective job of keeping them down?
AJ HINCH: They have a deep lineup and there's really no letup. They're tough to match up with the switch hitters. But obviously it starts with Lindor at the top.

He's very similar to George at the top of our order. There's no way to get around him. There's no -- the first pitch of the game brings anxiety. So he was important. We didn't really control him. He hit the ball out of the ballpark from both sides of the plate. We were able to minimize the people in front of him, the guys at the bottom of the order where it rolled around where he only ended up with an at-bat or two with guys on base.

Ramirez is not easy. Encarnacion is not easy. We didn't know what to expect out of Donaldson. At bottom of the order, they can mix and match with lefties. Kipnis hides at the bottom of the order and is dangerous. Gomes had great at-bats. So there's not an easy pocket where you're like okay, sweet, I can breathe. This is October baseball against a division champion.

So Lindor -- that Lindor-Brantley-Ramirez-Encarnacion top four is as good as anybody's. And controlling that group, and not only that but the group at the bottom of the order before the lineup rolled over, was important.

Q. AJ, remember we talked in Spring Training about Aaron Boone and your friendship and relationship. What would that experience be like, if you got to play him?
AJ HINCH: I don't want to give him any advice now, or Cora for that matter. I've got asked a lot about those guys. I have no idea what it will be like. I'm close with both managers over there. We have players all over the place around the league. We're a close-knit group.

Luckily, for us, we get four, five days off to watch how they fight it out to play us, and both men that are leading those clubs are great guys, and in a position to do some special things as well.

So I'll be paying attention.

Q. Marwin Gonzalez, we don't get to see him every day. But after seeing him every day in the series, how special is this guy?
AJ HINCH: He's a unique player because I can put him anywhere. I push him into left field because of the makeup of our team. At any given point on any team, this guy can play literally six positions every day.

You can put him in right and center if you want to. Switch hitter, getting hits from both sides of the plate. He was incredibly good this series. And as I've said earlier, he's the answer to everything. We have a problem, we inserted Marwin, no matter what, and he stepped up in a huge way.

Q. What was it about the match-up with their relievers that allowed your hitters to be so successful with the late innings this series?
AJ HINCH: We put pressure on the team in the beginning. We swing early enough, but yet our selectiveness got better as the year went on. Our bat quality got pretty good.

We usually make you make your pitch. You can't come in and just expect free strikes. And that makes you have to execute from the very beginning. And then when you make a mistake, we were able to, honestly, we were able to keep the ball off the ground.

That allowed the ball to get into the outfield for some extra base hits. We got into hitters counts. The Correa 3-0 homer, Marwin fighting back in the at-bat in Game 2 against Miller. We make you throw strikes, but we aren't afraid to ambush you.

That creates a little bit of a dilemma from pitch one for a reliever.

Q. Given the back and forth between Bauer and some of the guys on your team this summer, was there any discussion of that, going in to be -- a little extra there to beat the Indians?
AJ HINCH: We don't need anything extra. We want to get to the World Series. Trevor Bauer had a great year. I saw him at the All-Star Game. When he got hurt, it was tough for him to miss. But you're the first person I've had a discussion about Trevor Bauer with -- is that right, about Trevor Bauer with. I wanted to make sure that's right.

Q. Were you happy to see Clevinger go and get into the Indians bullpen?
AJ HINCH: The way the game started, I want the Clevinger out as fast as possible. He was striking everybody out. The pitch count started to go a little bit. Our bats got good.

We had runners on base eight out of the nine innings. He went through us, I think, in the fourth inning. I knew if we could put pressure on him, I knew I had White and Gattis on the bench to pinch-hit, bringing Martin in.

So we knew how we were going to play the game once, you know, they had to make a decision going right or left. But honestly, none of the match-up stuff worked for us. They came in, Whitey punched out, Gatty struck out.

So we knew putting pressure on them, their sense of urgency being up 2-0 was going to create some issues for them. Just from an anxiousness and anxiety standpoint.

Our goal was to get to Clevinger's fastball. We didn't do it early and we got some pitches to hit late, couple hanging balls and George hit the homer and we started to build that pitch count up.

Any time you've got to ask your bullpen, I don't care how good it is, to get that many outs, you feel like it's advantage offense.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks a lot, AJ.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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